Kim Jee-Woon wrote and directed the 2005 South Korean drama film A Bittersweet Life. The plot of this film starts with Lee Byung-hun as Sun-woo, a hitman whose boss, Kang, tells him to spy on his mistress, Hee-soo.
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The film was released in only South Korean theaters on April 1st, 2005, and grossed $7.6 million at the box office. This film received nominations and numerous significant prizes, including Best Music at the 25th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards; Best Cinematography at the 26th Blue Dragon Film Awards; and the Fantasia Film Festival’s Silver Prize for Best Asian Film.
Furthermore, this film won appreciation from both critics and audiences, earning it an out-of-competition screening at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.
A Bittersweet Life (2005) Cast Then And Now
Lee Byung-hum – played Sun-woo
Lee Byung-hun, a South Korean actor and singer, portrayed Sun-woo in the film A Bittersweet Life. Lee was 35 years old when he was cast in this film as a hitman.
Lee’s performance as a hitman in this film was so engaging and convincing that he received the 25th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards and the 13th Chunsa Film Art Award for Best Actor.
We must say Lee’s acting career was pretty satisfactory. He did work with some major franchises both in films and television, including The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2008), I Saw the Devil (2010), and Mr. Sunshine (2018).
For working on the film Inside Men (2015), he received the 52nd Baeksang Art Awards, 37th Blue Dragon Awards, and 53rd Grand Bell Awards in the Best Actor category.
We have recently seen this 52-year-old actor in the Squid Game, a Netflix original series. He appeared as the Front Man in this highly renowned series.
Shin Min-a – played Hee-soo
Shin Min-a played Hee-soo in this film. Sun-woo was tasked with keeping a close watch on Hee-soo, a young mistress of a mafia leader called Kang.
This model was 21 years old when she took on the role of Hee-soo. However, she did not receive any honors for this film.
If you’ve seen Netflix’s hit show Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha, you would recognize the character Yoon Hye-jin. In 2021, Shin Min-a played the role of the intelligent and attractive dentist, Hye-jin.
Her other successful shows include My Girlfriend Is a Nine-Tailed Fox (2010) and Oh My Venus (2015).
This 38-year-old model and actress have received several awards during her career, including the KBS Drama Awards for Best New Actress, the 2nd Style Icon Awards for Female Fashionista, and the Korean Advertisers Association Awards for Good Model.
Kim Yeong-Cheol – played Mr. Kang
Mr. Kang, the mafia leader, was portrayed by Kim Yeong-Cheol. Mr. Kang ordered Sun-woo to keep a watch on Hee-soo in case she was cheating on him.
Kim Yeong-Cheol was 52 years old when he played Mr. Kang. Despite the fact that this film received multiple nominations and awards, Kim did not get any for his part.
This South Korean actor has reached the age of 69. President Kang in Returned Earthen Bowl (2008), Grand Prince Suyang in The Princess’ Man (2011), King Taejo in My Country (2019), and Boss Cho in The Con Artist (2014) are some of his most famous appearances on both television and movies.
He gained a number of significant prizes during his acting career, along with KBS Drama Awards, the 16th Chunsa Film Art Award, and the 1st Korean Drama Awards.
Kim Roi-Ha – played Mun-suk
Kim Roi-Ha was 40 years old when he portrayed another gangster, Mun-Suk, in this film as a supporting character.
Kim, on the other contrary, did not receive any accolades for his performance in this film.
Aside from A Bittersweet Life, his other well-known picture was Memories of Murder (2003). In this film, he portrayed the character of a detective.
Furthermore, this 56-year-old actor acted in several television series, the most noteworthy of which being Kingdom: Ashin of the North. This was a Netflix original series that premiered in 2021.
In 2001, he received a Dong-A Theatre Award for Best Actor.
Oh Dal-Su – played Myung-gu
In the film A Bittersweet Life, Oh Dal-Su portrayed Myung-gu, a weapons smuggler. Myung-gu played a supporting role in this film and did an excellent job.
Dal-su was 37 years old when he was selected for the part of Myung-gu.
54-year-old Oh Dal-su is a well-known supporting actor in the Korean entertainment industry. His other significant work includes Foxy Festival (2010), The Thieves (2012), and Miracle in Cell No. 7 (2013).
Dal-su also recorded the voice of the monster in the film The Host.
Dal-su received several awards for his outstanding performances in a variety of genres, including the 15th Chunsa Film Art Awards, the 21st Korean Culture and Entertainment Awards, and the 36th Blue Dragon Film Awards.
Jin Goo – played Min-gi
Jin Goo played Min-gi, another supporting character, in A Bittersweet Life movie. He was 25 years old at the time.
However, Jin did not earn any recognition for his performance.
This South Korean actor’s major breakthrough was playing a supporting character in the 2009 thriller film Mother, for which he won the Best Supporting Actor at the Grand Bell Awards and Blue Dragon Film Awards.
Jin achieved another success in his acting career when the series Descendants of the Sun got huge popularity and critics and the audience acknowledged his role in this serial.
Jin Goo is now 42 years old as of July 2022.
Hwang Jung-min – played President Baek
Another character in this film is President Baek, a son from the rival family of Mr. Kang, who was portrayed by Hwang Jung-min. President Baek’s henchman kidnapped and tried to kill Sun-woo for beating one of his men.
Hwang was 35 years old at the time of his characterization as President Baek.
Hwang Jung-min is one of the highest-paid actors in the South Korean entertainment industry. Most of his films were box office hits and commercially successful.
Some of his notable works were Ode to My Father (2014), The Himalays (2015), and The Wailing (2016).
Hwang Jung-min is currently 51 years old and busy shooting for some of his upcoming projects.
Lee Ki-young – played Mu-sung
Lee Ki-young played the character Mu-sung in this movie. He was 42 years old back at that time.
Mu-sung is one of the supporting characters and didn’t receive awards for the performance.
Lee Ki Young’s well-known works include Once Upon a Time in Seoul (2008), Circle of Crime (2012), and Night in Paradise (2020).
Lee, 58, was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 4th Korean Film Awards and the 42nd Grand Bell Awards.
In conclusion, A Bittersweet Life is more than an action film. Fans described this movie as an emotional rollercoaster. The lead character, Sun-woo, put on a great display of acting till the end of the movie, and also the action scenes were very well made. Overall, it’s well directed and produced, making it a must-watch movie on weekends with friends and family.