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Award-winning SKorean director Kim Ki-duk dies in Latvia

Last Updated Dec 11, 2020 at 8:24 am EDT

FILE - In this Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 file photo, director Kim Ki-duk attends a news conference during the 68th edition of the International Film Festival Berlin, Berlinale, in Berlin, Germany. South Korean director Kim Ki-duk who won the top award at the Venice Film Festival in 2012 and later faced allegations of trying to force an actress into shooting off-script sexual scenes while making another movie, has died in Latvia. He was 59. The Baltic News Service said Kim passed away Friday, Dec. 11, 2020 after falling ill with Covid-19. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, file)

COPENHAGEN — South Korean director Kim Ki-duk, who won the top award at the Venice Film Festival in 2012 but later faced allegations at home of trying to force an actress into shooting off-script sexual scenes while making another movie, has died in Latvia. He was 59.

The Baltic News Service cited Latvia-based Russian documentary filmmaker Vitaly Mansky, president of an international documentary film festival in Riga, as saying Kim died after falling ill with COVID-19. Mansky was not immediately reachable for comment.

Kim’s death was indirectly confirmed by the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, which said that a “South Korean male in his 50s died while being treated for COVID-19 at a hospital in Latvia during the early hours of Dec. 11 local time.” It declined to identify the director due to privacy concerns.

Kim came to Latvia on Nov. 20 in order to buy a house in Jurmala, the country’s seaside resort near Riga, the capital, and apply for a residence permit, the Lithuanian public broadcaster said.

Kim won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival with his 2012 film “Pieta,” a brutal mother-and-son tale of revenge and redemption. He also won prizes for best director at festivals in Venice and Berlin, and grabbed another award at the 2011 Cannes festival for his movie “Arirang.”

While his movies often garnered critical acclaim, many moviegoers, especially women, considered them to be disturbing because of excessive violence and depictions of rape and castration.

A year after the Venice success, Kim faced the allegations at home, which he vaguely denied, saying there had been a misunderstanding. The actress dropped out and the movie, “Moebius,” a dark and violent story about an estranged family, was finished with a different actress.

Kim’s career in South Korea effectively ended in 2017-18 after three actresses made new accusations on investigative news show “PD’s Notebook,” which was broadcast on Korean public broadcaster MBC.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry said its embassy in Riga was contacting the man’s family and offering help in arranging a funeral. The ministry said it cannot release specific details about the man to anyone who isn’t family.

The Associated Press