DIFF: 'Pieta' is a reflection of post-recession Korean society

'Pieta' bagged the Golden Lion from the Venice International Film Festival. (SUPPLIED)

Director of a South Korean movie, 'Pieta', tells a story of a violent and cruel debt collector. 

The movie is based on real life incidents in the South East Asian country in the aftermath of global recession, where loan and debt collectors use severe tactics to collect default loans and credit card dues, forcing many people to take their own life.

Speaking to Emirates 24|7, during the Dubai International Film Festival screening of 'Pieta', Director Kim Ki-duk said the brutal debt collector depicted in the movie is a representative of selfish bankers and their goons, who make life miserable for common man and small scale businessmen, who have defaulted in repaying their loans.

Korea has the highest suicide rate in the OECD countries and in 2010, 15,000 Koreans committed suicide, a fifty per cent increase from 2006 –40 Koreans take their own life every day, and the economic crisis has caused a surge in suicide rates.

The Film bagged the Golden Lion award from the Venice International Film Festival and many other awards.  In Dubai International Film Festival the screening has been well received by the house full audience.

It has been viewed as a sickeningly violent move, and one of the violent scenes, includes the loan collector using a roller machine, to twist and crush the arms of a loan defaulter.
The award winning Korean writer, editor and direct said the story is based on events and situation in his own home town, where he worked as an industrial worker for fifteen years.

The movie is shot in the industrial slum of Cheonggyecheon, a down town congested industrial cluster in Seoul, severely hit by the world economic crisis.

“Most of the export oriented small scale industrial units are hit hard by recession and the poor residents are ready to even barter their arms and human spare parts for money."

There is an overdose of violence in the movie, but the director justifies it by saying that things are not rosy in Korean society and he said most of the film makers have inherited a violent past: “a bloody invasion by the Japanese and another bloody war following the separation of Korea into communist North and capitalist South Korea."

Kang do, the antihero of the move, casted by Lee Jeong Jin, works for loan sharks to threaten, intimidate and harm innocent loan defaulters. He is represented as a very brutal and immoral man, who resorts to various intimidating tactics to make people repay their high interest loans and many small businessmen in Korea are victims of loan sharks.

The shanty town and a steam passing through it has been the last asylum for many war displaced Koreans. In the violent movie, some of the victims of loan sharks commit suicide by jumping from high rise buildings, or by using drugs.

The movie is violent with scenes showing debt collector using the machinery and cutting machines in small closed or sick factories to cut off arms or fingers of creditors.

The anti-hero in the movie is a merciless criminal assigned by loan sharks to gather unpaid loans from improvised residents of a small industrial South Korean town.

He does not mind using arm twisting methods, most of the times using the tools and machinery that provides livelihood to various employees in the crisis hit units, and the loan sharks claim insurance money form these innocent people, who are physically abused by the hit man, in front of their loved ones.

Many of his victims end their life until he is emotionally and psychologically trapped by a middle aged woman, who claimed to be his mother, who abandoned him immediately after birth.

The immoral man in the movie, who represents money lenders and Shylocks, ultimately dig his own grave, as he undergoes a total change in his attitude.