Kim Min-hee's recent win of the best actress award at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival renews a spotlight on her scandal, but the actress does not shy away from controversy.
The professional and the personal are inextricably linked for Kim Min-hee in her winning performance for "On the Beach at Night Alone". It is a movie about an actress coming off an affair with a married filmmaker, directed by Hong Sang-soo, who she has been having an extramarital affair with.
Korean netizens were in an uproar when news first broke in June 2016 about Kim Min-hee's affair with Hong Sang-soo. The common perception appeared to be of a seductress snatching a man away from his wife and daughter. When Hong Sang-soo's wife refused to give him a divorce, the online community were supportive of the scorned woman's decision. Korean netizens took every opportunity to voice their disgust with each new smutty detail.
The latest development came during press after the Berlin win. Kim Min-hee bluntly stated that she has not felt sexually discriminated against in an admittedly male dominated movie industry, and therefore, has no complaint. Journalists appeared offended by how indifferent Kim Min-hee was to discrimination against women in the film industry, especially as someone in the privileged position of a Best Actress award winner.
Korean netizen reaction to Kim Min-hee's latest comments has been unusually muted, and even supportive of the vilified actress. Like Kim Min-hee, they fail to see a problem with a patriarchal society that heavily favours men, and blamed the reporting journalist for trying to stir up controversy, "catering to feminazis". It is interesting to see that Korean netizens are more offended by personal misbehaviour than society wide inequality.
Regardless of whatever charmed professional experience Kim Min-hee has experienced thus far, her scandal is sure to make her feel the full brunt of sexual discrimination in the Korean entertainment industry. Having already been painted as a marriage destroying hussy, Kim Min-hee has received more hate and attention than her fair share as a partner in her affair with Hong Sang-soo. She will probably be forced to work in exile from Korea for the foreseeable future.
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