Kim Ki-duk’s 'Moebius' Approved for South Korean Theaters After Latest Edits

Kim Ki-duk - P 2012

The Venice Golden Lion-winning auteur cut three minutes of sex scenes to get the equivalent of an NC-17 rating from the Korea Media Rating Board.

SEOUL —Kim Ki-duk’s Moebius will hit South Korean theaters next month after the much-contested film was finally approved by the Korea Media Rating Board (KMRB).

The board has now given the film a “teenagers restricted” rating (18 and over, or equivalent to NC-17 in the United States), following a second appeal by the filmmaker for a re-rating -- the film previously got slapped twice with a “restricted rating” by the board for depicting incestuous sex. A “restricted rating” amounts to a de facto ban in Korea, since it means the movie can only be shown in specialty theaters, none of which exist in the country.

STORY: Oscar Hopeful Kim Ki-duk on His Controversial Film 'Pieta'

Kim had to cut about three minutes of Moebius' running time.

“We were able to receive the ‘teenagers restricted’ rating after cutting three minutes of a scene that is crucial to delivering the central message of Moebius,” Kim said in a statement released to the press. “The KMRB’s rating is unfortunate, but I feel glad that Korean audiences will be able to see the film in September as the cast and crew members urgently wished.”

Kim held last month a private screening July 26 at the Korean Film Council for local press, critics, and cineastes to hold a vote on “the appropriateness of the film for adult audiences.” He said he would give up the prospect of finding a way for the film to hit local screens if 30 percent of votes were negative. Of 107 votes cast, 93 (86.9 percent) were in favor of the film’s release while 11 (10.2 percent) were against it and three (2.8 percent) were blank ballots.

Moebius tells the story of a young man's decision to become a person of religion following the downfall of his family. It will premiere later this month at the Venice Film Festival and is the Golden Lion-winning director’s sixth film to be invited to the Italian event. Last year, Kim won the Golden Lion, the festival's top honor, for his film Pieta.