Top South Korea director Kim Ki-duk accused of rape

Women and men around the world are taking part in the #MeToo movement. (Shutterstock)
Updated 07 March 2018
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Top South Korea director Kim Ki-duk accused of rape

SEOUL: A South Korean actress has accused award-winning film director Kim Ki-duk and a top actor of rape, as the country’s nascent #MeToo movement begins to spiral.
The fresh allegations against Kim come after his presence at this year’s Berlin Film Festival caused controversy following a fine for physically assaulting a different actress.
In the latest case an actress, who refused to be named, said that Kim repeatedly tried to enter her hotel room when they were shooting a movie in a remote village several years ago.
“It was a living hell... so many nights, he came to my room and slammed the door or phoned me at the room repeatedly until I responded,” she told Seoul’s MBC television station.
Kim eventually summoned her to his room to “discuss a script,” she went on. “Then he raped me.”
The film’s male star Cho Jae-hyun also raped her, she said.
The two men “shared stories of raping actresses and there was a sense of competition between them,” she said in an investigation aired late Tuesday.
The actress said she had quit acting afterwards and was in therapy for years.
Her accusations come as the #MeToo movement gradually gains ground in South Korea, which remains socially conservative and patriarchal in many respects despite its economic and technological advances.
Earlier this week a provincial governor and former presidential contender resigned after an aide accused him of multiple rapes.
Kim — who has won prizes at the Berlin, Cannes and Venice film festivals — was fined 5 million won ($4,600) by prosecutors last year for physically assaulting an actress on set.
They dismissed sex abuse charges citing lack of evidence but the case sparked controversy at this year’s Berlinale, which invited Kim despite its support for the #MeToo campaign against abuse and mistreatment of women.
Kim told MBC television in text messages that he was only involved in “consensual sexual relationships.”
“I never tried to satisfy my personal desires using my status as a film director,” he added.
Kim has previously rejected abuse accusations against him, saying he ensures no one “suffers” on the sets of his ultraviolent, sexually explicit art movies.
Cho, who has starred in many of Kim’s movies and is known as his “alter ego” told the station he would talk about the accusations “once an investigation begins.”
“I’m panicking,” he said. “I am a sinner. But many of the things I see in news are so different from truth.”
Cho apologized last month after being accused of sexually abusing female crew members and students. He was fired from the college where he was teaching and removed from a TV drama production.
Another actress interviewed by MBC Tuesday said Kim repeatedly asked to see her breasts and her naked body during an audition process that felt “deeply humiliating.”
All three of Kim’s accusers remain anonymous for fear of public shaming.
Women in South Korea’s movie industry, both on screen or behind cameras, shy away from making open accusations against senior staffers or directors for fear of permanently damaging their careers.


Antarctic researchers mark winter solstice with icy plunge

Updated 21 June 2018
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Antarctic researchers mark winter solstice with icy plunge

SYDNEY: Scientists based in Antarctica welcomed the winter solstice by plunging into icy waters Thursday as part of a “mad tradition” heralding the return of brighter days after weeks of darkness.
In temperatures of -22 degrees Celsius (-7.6 degrees Fahrenheit), staff at Australia’s Casey research station marked midwinter’s day by cutting a small pool in the thick ice before stripping off and jumping in.
Casey station leader Rebecca Jeffcoat said midwinter day — the shortest of the year — was the most anticipated occasion on the Antarctic calendar and has been celebrated from the time of the early explorers.
“Swimming in Antarctica’s below freezing waters is something of a mad tradition, but our hardy expeditioners look forward to it, with 21 of the 26 people on station brave enough to take an icy dip this year,” she said.
“Midwinter day is really important in Antarctica because it marks the halfway point of our year here on the ice and it means the sun will spend slightly longer in the sky each day.”
Celebrations took place at all three of Australia’s Antarctic research stations and its sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island base, with feasting, an exchange of handmade gifts, and messages from home read out.
Jeffcoat, who is experiencing her first Antarctic winter, said the continent was extraordinary.
“The environment is spectacular and harsh, and we experience the most incredible range of conditions, from below freezing blizzards to auroras, or the midwinter twilight as the sun skims the horizon,” she said.
“It is challenging being so far from family and friends, but we have built a really close-knit community of friends on station that we’ll likely have for the rest of our lives as we’ve shared this great experience together.”
Australia currently has 75 researchers living and working on the frozen continent as part of the Australian Antarctic Program, with most of them on 12-month postings.