Top South Korean film director accused of assault

South Korean prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into award-winning filmmaker Kim Ki-duk on Thursday amid allegations that he hit an actress while shooting a movie, a spokesman said.

Kim’s glittering career prizes include the Golden Lion for best film at the Venice Film Festival for “Pieta,” a brutal mother-and-son tale of revenge and redemption, in 2012, the same year he took Berlin’s Silver Bear for “Samaritan Girl.”

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

According to the South’s Yonhap news agency, an actress whose identity is being withheld filed a complaint with prosecutors accusing Kim of slapping her in the face on the set of his 2013 film “Moebius,” insulting her and forcing her into a nude scene.

She subsequently quit the movie, a thriller themed around incest, and her role was taken over by another actress.

Ahn Byung-ho of the Federation of Korea Movie Workers’ Union said the actress recently reported the case to the union after suffering from “psychological pain” for years.

“A criminal complaint has been filed against director Kim Ki-duk and prosecutors have opened a probe into the case,” the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office spokesman said. He declined to elaborate, citing privacy.

Kim’s agents denied the allegations as groundless, adding they would issue a detailed comment later.

“Moebius” was initially banned from being screened in South Korea on grounds of obscenity before being allowed to be released after some controversial scenes were removed.

It was screened out of competition at the 70th Venice Film Festival.

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