Every big artist has their own story about the roots of their inspiration, about what tickles and triggers them, making them express their thoughts to the world.  We still don’t know exactly what Kim Ki-duk’s story is – the famous director is known for being discrete when it comes to providing clear answers, choosing instead to offer “plotlines flexibility” not only in his films but in life itself. In one of the interviews Ki-duk mentions troubled communications with the “paternal generation” (the director’s father participated in the Korean war) that was later resolved. Curiously enough, Kim Ki-duk almost never touches upon the topic of war, one of his rare takes on this matter was his film “The Net” (shown at 39th MIFF) which offered a unique perspective of South Korea as an actual society of captivity – as opposed to viewing North Korea as such. The rusty warship in his latest, “Human, Space, Time and Human” (to be shown at 41st MIFF), can also be considered the director’s “homage” to the topic of society damaged by war… 2011 release of his semi-documentary (or rather mockumentary) film “Arirang” has caused a storm of questions regarding Kim Ki-duk’s biography of the “did it really happen?” kind, but the director remained stoic, gracing all these with the brief answer: “I don’t know. Maybe not”.
We don’t get to know the roots, but we are able to follow the development of his artistic style through the Kim Ki-duk’s long love affair with international film festivals. At first, critics had slammed him for being prone to the “cult of violence”, but he swiftly proved that not only is he more than capable of various emotional range, but also that the rigidity of the plot doesn’t necessarily come around as stressful to audience. His film “3-Iron” (2004) is seemingly a story about an abused woman inflicting sophisticated revenge on her husband, and whose path to freedom (complicated by the problems with the law) leads her to an uncommitted surrender. This same plot suddenly turns out to be a story of true love and longing to find a true home, even if this search proves fruitless. “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… And Spring” (2003) is based on the premise of a contemplative flow of life (and the denial of death in a way), and even the murder committed by the hero doesn’t come as contradiction to the spirit of non-violence the film is filled with. While filling in the blanks and complimenting Buddhist rituals and symbolism, the director proves to be open-minded when it comes to religion: we can see this in “Human, Space, Time and Human”, where the Christian tradition of depicting the relationship of God and men gets a new and unexpected treatment. 
The diversity of sentiments and ideas in Kim Ki-duk’s films is even more curious considering that stylistically he tends to stay true to his very recognizable aesthetics, avoiding any artificial diversification of plotlines or character types. His method of repeatedly and insightfully studying the topics that interest him brings him respect of even those who are not fascinated by his style and philosophy. The main object of this study is humanity. The topic of violence is just one of the many instruments to explore it. Kim Ki-duk knows that frequent change of instruments doesn’t necessarily bring any significant aesthetic result – the artist sticks to a hammer and a chisel knowing that one day, maybe tomorrow, maybe in a week or a month, but his efforts will conquer even the hardest of stones.