Poster for New Kim Gi-duk Film to Provoke Controversy

      January 16, 2004 15:13

      Controversy is expected to follow film director Kim Gi-duk's use of the teenage leading lady of his latest movie, "Samaria," in a provocative "half-nude nun" pose in the film's poster.

      The film deals with a relationship between a teenage girl and an older man. While shooting the poster for the film, the leading actress, Kwak Ji-min, 19, posed topless, wearing only a coif -- the veil used by Catholic nuns. Photographer Lee Jeon-ho, who did the poster work for the hit film, "Old Boy," shot the photo in a studio in Seoul's Gangnam district last December.

      The film is scheduled to open in March. The film, which has been invited to the 2004 Berlin Film Festival, to be held in February, tells of the mental anguish felt by a father (Lee Eol) whose teenage daughter (Kwak Ji-min) is prostituting herself to an older man.

      Kim's piece ties together a whole assortment of peculiar and extreme situations, like when the father, a detective, witnesses his daughter engaging in improper sexual relations. As for the use of "religiously provocative" imagery, there is precedent for this in Hollywood -- for his 1996 film "The People vs. Larry Flint," director Milos Forman used a photo of leading actor Woody Harrelson hanging from a cross, causing an uproar. Benetton also used a scene of two models dressed in a nun's and priest's attire kissing in one of their advertisements, but it’s hard to find such precedents domestically.

      An insider said that the poster tried to be provocative in order to match both the production style of the director, who has received a spotlight internationally for his movies' sometimes shocking imagery and themes, and the mood of the film. The slogan the film company is considering using for the poster -- "Aren't I too young for that..." -- is expected to cause quite a stir by making a strong statement about the kind of relationship dealt with in the movie.

      When one considers that Kwak, the leading actress of the film and model in the poster, was a senior in high school (and hence, a minor) when both were shot, the controversy that are expected to result will be that much greater.

      Another movie insider said that Kwak was quite concerned about posing for such a poster before her high school graduation in February, but forced herself to do it anyway because she believed in its artistic quality. Out of consideration to the actress, the poster will not be released for use in theaters until after her graduation ceremony.

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