South Korean Filmmakers Voluntarily Censor 'Mizo' After Initial Ban

As cineastes protest the controversial film's de facto ban, filmmakers have voluntarily censored "problematic" parts in hopes of releasing the controversial film in Korean theaters.

SEOUL — The controversial South Korean film Mizo may finally hit local theaters next week, as filmmakers have voluntarily censored parts deemed problematic. Filmmakers hope blur effects will help overturn the Korea Media Rating Board's (KMRB) de facto ban at home.

The film by Nam Ki-woong made headlines last month when KMRB gave it a "restricted rating"—a virtual ban here since such films can only be shown in "specialty  theaters" and Korea has no such venues. Last year, maverick filmmaker Kim Ki-duk faced similar troubles for his incestuous drama Moebius.

Nam, however, did not cut out entire scenes like Kim. Instead the filmmaker opted to censor "problematic" parts of Mizo through blur effects, which the KMRB is in the process of reviewing. The final decision is expected due to be announced by the end of the month, as the film's theatrical release date has nevertheless been set for July 3.

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"We have made the decision [to employ blur effects] so that local audiences will have better access to the film, since the theatrical release of its original version has become virtually impossible," said the film's local distributor Mountain Pictures.

The incenstuous drama is about a young woman who, after having long been sexually abused by her adoptive parents, sets out to find her biological father. She seeks to make him fall in love with her only to eventually kill herself, thereby breaking his heart and avenging her pain.

"The premise of the film damages and distorts our sense of human dignity and value, and has the potential danger of disrupting social order and public sentiment," KMRB said about the restricted rating for Mizo.

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Shortly thereafter, cineastes from near and far vehemently protested the decision. Director Chung Ji-young said "the restricted rating is proof that Korea remains a culturally underdeveloped country," while Tokitoshi Shiota, programmer of Japan's Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival, expressed regret and said that the film is being considered in the festival's lineup for next year.

Mizo premiered at last year's 15th Jeonju International Film Festival, and its uncensored original version will open in Japanese theaters in October.

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