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South Korea, 1998 (MIFF 2002, Beauty within the Beast – Kim Ki-Duk)

Director: Kim Ki-Duk

Touring Berlin, Montreal, Moscow and LA Film Festivals, Kim's third film shook audiences with its haunting images of two women reconciling polar differences. Unique in positioning two female characters centre-stage, the film's dividing line runs along class, sex and social status. Jin-Ah, a tough Seoul prostitute exiled from the red-light district, sets up shop at a beachside motel called the Birdcage Inn, closed due to high levels of pollution. While the motel owner is thankful for the extra income, his daughter, Hea-Mi, looks down on Jin-Ah - a situation worsened when Jin-Ah sleeps with Hea-Mi's boyfriend. The issue of sex, which originally divided them, becomes the channel for their reconciliation, as Hea-Mi finds herself filling Jin-Ah's shoes in more ways than one.

The film's striking content, framed within brilliantly composed scenes, placed Kim Ki-Duk square in the eye of the International film world. Following the more sober tones of his first two features, Crocodile and Wild Animals, Kim was able to inject degrees of compassion for the two women in Birdcage Inn - the result is an extraordinary film.

See also...


Set in the back alleys of Paris, Wild Animals sketches the unique friendship between two Koreans living abroad. South Korean Chung-hae goes to Paris to study art but, lacking scruples, he soon winds ... More »


Kim's most experimental film to date, Real Fiction was shot in just 200 minutes with eight 35mm cameras, ten digital cameras and twelve sequence directors. It's title, translated literally from ... More »


"The recurrent themes in my films are space and captivity. The woman in Crocodile and the man in The Isle are captives; they're characters who become prisoners through a violence which, ironically ... More »


"Hyunshik, an ex-cop in deep pain and on the lam, arrives at the end of his road, an isolated lake dotted with floating huts, serving as a retreat for fishing and a host of sordid activities. Its ... More »


Reminiscent of the films of Japan's angry masters (Seijun Suzuki and Shohei Imamura in particular), Kim Ki-Duk has earned a reputation for his unflinching exploration of the sexually and emotionally ... More »


Hang Gi, a tough pimp ruling his brothel with an iron fist, has a huge chip on his shoulder. Moments after setting eyes on Seon-hwa, a pretty and proper college student, he forces her to kiss him ... More »

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