KIM KI-DUK’S ARIRANG – An Autobiographical Examination

by JC Gonzo

Today the trailer for Kim Ki-Duk‘s latest film was released, to premiere at Cannes. The boundary-pushing South Korean auteur returns after a 3 year absence due to health problems to examine his film career and personal life in what appears to be an unconventional documentary. ARIRANG’s trailer is about as mysterious as his disappearance. The trailer gives hints, featuring no text, but stills and poster images from his filmography inter-cut with footage of hands building, firing, and manipulating a revolver. The film’s title is from an over 600 year old Korean folk song. Professor and Vice-Chair of the Asian Cinema Studies Society Dr. Joelle Collier informed us that not only is “Arirang” considered the cultural national anthem, but was the basis for the first Korean film ever made back in the silent era.

Kim Ki-Duk’s released statement on the film:

Arirang is
about Kim Ki-duk
playing 3 roles in 1.
Through Arirang I climb over one hill in life.
Through Arirang I understand human beings, thank the nature, and accept my life as it is now.

We are now…
in the terrestrial world lurking with desires,
in the ghostly world lurking with sorrow
in the imaginary world lurking with dreams,
with no beginning nor end,
slowly going crazy.

What is affection that it still remains all around me decaying?
It’s still stuck to the crown of my head, testing my emotions.
It’s still hiding deep within my heart, testing my sense of compassion.
If I didn’t give my heart, they would be bad people erased from memories but if I gave my heart, I couldn’t let them go till the day that I die as despicable people.
Ah…
Arirang
Alright
Let’s mercilessly kill each other in our hearts till we die.

Even today
I hold back as I get angry
I laugh as I get jealous
I love as I despise
And forgive as I quiver with the urge to kill.
Wait
I will kill
Myself, who remembers you.

Kim Ki-Duk is known for startling works such as SPRING, SUMMER, FALL, WINTER… AND SPRING, THE ISLE, ADDRESS UNKNOWN, 3-IRON, and many more. He is considered a leading figure in South Korea’s New Wave Cinema.

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