Director Kim Ki-duk said Tuesday that he thought of his teen years as a factory laborer when he received the Golden Lion award at this year's Venice International Film Festival for his latest film "Pieta."
"That was no other person but me," Kim said during a news conference held at a Seoul movie theater in celebration of his award win. "The memory of myself carrying a heavy box of copper at Cheonggyecheon as a 15-year-old boy sprang to my mind at that moment."
The Cheonggyecheon industrial area near Dongdaemun market in central Seoul is the setting of the movie about a ruthless young debt collector who gradually changes after a mysterious woman who claims to be his long-lost mother visits him.
The dark and dilapidated back alleys of the area where the lead male character Gang-do and most of his clients dwell is also where the 51-year-old director spent his youth as a factory laborer.
Kim returned home Monday after attending the 69th Venice film festival along with the film's lead actor and actress Lee Jung-jin and Jo Min-su.
He, however, showed the humbleness to ascribe the honor to the local film industry.
"As I said before in Venice, I think this prize was given in honor of the many good Korean movies that have begun to be introduced on international stages and are bearing many fruits from seeds planted in the 1990s," he said.
He thanked all his fans who have silently supported him.
Kim became the first South Korean movie director to win a top prize from any of the world's three largest film festivals -- Venice, Cannes and Berlin.
Debuting in 1996 with "Crocodile," Kim won the best director awards for "3-Iron" at Venice and for "Samaritan Girl" in Berlin both in 2004. He is also known for his 2003 film, "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring." (Yonhap)