For the past two decades, South Korean maverick filmmaker Kim Ki-duk's low-budget films have given him international acclaim, highly coveted awards and many controversies. Now, one of the most accomplished and critically acclaimed Asian directors is turning to China to make his first multimillion-dollar film. Kim recently signed a US$24 million deal with a Chinese production company to make an epic war film with Buddhism as a central theme, with another US$6 million for marketing. "This movie is not just targeting the Chinese market. The subject will interest the US and Europe as well," Kim said at the Busan International Film Festival. "I want to talk about how politics manipulates religion." Although religion inspired many of his previous works, the new project will be an outlier in Kim's career. The budget for the film, written by Kim and tentatively titled Who Is God in English, is nearly three-times more than the sum of the budgets for his 21 other films. It will be his first time working with a full Chinese cast in a Chinese-language film. The staggering growth of the Chinese film industry has been irresistible to many South Korean film directors. But Kim, who visited Busan with his latest work, Stop , said it was not the commercial success that attracted him to China. It was the film set and the filmmaking system in China that appealed to him at a time when he felt worn out and alienated from the South Korean industry. "I'm too exhausted. It was so hard to make Stop alone," the veteran filmmaker said. "Now I just want to sit on a [director's] chair and look at the monitor." Stop , the story of a young Japanese couple conflicted about a pregnancy after moving to Tokyo from an area near the disaster-struck Fukushima nuclear plant, was filmed entirely by Kim, with no cinematographer, no art director and no lighting technician. He made props in the morning and filmed in the afternoon, while the actors served as their own costume designers and offered their homes for the film set. Costing less than US$10,000, it was filmed in 10 days. Stop may not stand out for the profound insight into human nature that made Kim a top film director. Some critics called the work "amateurish" and "sloppy". But the anti-nuclear energy film will stand as evidence of Kim's attempt to find an alternative filmmaking venture outside of the South Korean system, where the top three film distributors control nearly three quarters of the cinemas. "To be popular in South Korea, one has to have three [elements]: major investment, major distribution and a well-known actor," Kim said. "I have come too far away from those things." Although he became an internationally acclaimed director - his earlier works Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring and Three Iron still inspire young filmmakers around the world - at home he hasn't enjoyed the popularity or reverence reserved for peers such as Park Chan-wook and Bong Joon-ho. Many Koreans, especially females, say Kim's works are too difficult to watch because of their brutality and grisly details of violence, rape and castration. Kim said that top Korean film stars and K-pop stars are reluctant to join his projects. Kim, the willful outsider, said he wants to stop telling stories as a Korean and wants to deal with issues concerning humanity. "Removing prejudices between people and class," he said. "I think that's the cinema's goal."