[FOUNTAIN]Mind your languageFilmmaker Kim Ki-duk has started a scandal in the Korean movie industry. Mr. Kim’s latest work, “Time”, finally opened in Korean theaters after marketing and distribution-related troubles, and Mr. Kim revealed his frustration and despair over the Korean film industry, where he is degraded as an unprofitable director, despite his admirable success in film festivals abroad.
“I might not open my movies in the domestic market in the future,” he said, thus creating a big stir. When he criticized blockbusters dominating screens around the country and included the Korean monster movie “The Host,” net users became furious. As the waves from his comment spread, Mr. Kim sent a letter of apology to the media, in which he wrote, “My movies are all trash. I am a monster feeding on an inferiority complex and my conscious has been disabled. I feel lucky that I am quietly leaving the Korean film industry.” For this, he was criticized for being irresponsible and overly emotional.
Although Mr. Kim announced his departure from the Korean film industry, he has, in fact, been away from the domestic industry for the last few years. Because he could not find financing in Korea, Mr. Kim has long been making movies with funds raised in Japan and other countries. His movies have performed far better in foreign box offices than in Korea. The Berlin International Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival awarded the director, who is branded an anti-feminist outsider. He was not yet another lucrative director in the domestic market but a filmmaker whose unique auteurism was internationally acknowledged.
Mr. Kim’s comments are the result of his frustration over his long friction with the domestic film industry. Of course, his public remarks were inappropriate and unsophisticated. Just like his movies, he spoke in a way that cannot be understood in the eyes of common sense and social norms.
In an interview right after taking office, former Minister of Culture and Tourism Lee Chang-dong pointed at a pile of documents in a corner of his office and declared, “I would not use that kind of official language, the language of bureaucrats.” As the first cultural minister with an artistic background, the former filmmaker found a calling in using a new language, not the rhetoric of politicians.
However, the language of artists is different from the language of politicians. While Mr. Lee’s attempt was valuable, it should not be generalized. Lacking diplomacy is a problem for an artist who represents a country. Similarly, it is problematic if politicians freely use the rhetoric of fury and outburst.
by Yang Sung-hee
The writer is a culture and sports desk writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.