100 Days My Prince - Korean Drama Fan Review

Bitter Sweet Life
aka La Dolce Vita
달콤한 인생
MBC (2008) 24 Episodes
Melodrama (For Mature Audiences)
Grade: B+
Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA

(Some Spoilers)

I'm usually not a fan of Korean dramas which have as a sub-theme married characters cheating on one another (adultery), but I am a fan of all the actors in this particular melodrama classic Bitter Sweet Life (2008), having enjoyed them in other dramas that were not always so dark, so I decided to make an exception in this case and seek it out and watch it, to see how well the actors did in this heavier-themed melodrama. Also, actors Lee Dong Wook and Park Si Yeon had worked together in the classic romantic comedy My Girl (2005), so I wanted to see how they would do together in this drama made three years later. Actor Jung Bo Seok I had loved as the sweet father in Can You Hear My Heart? (2011) but here I had a BIG adjustment to make where he played the cheating husband, whose eyes I wanted to scratch out. Lead actress Oh Yeon Soo I had loved as the sister of Gong Hyo Jin who had tragically died in Snowman (2003), and as the lover of Nam Gil Kim in Bad Guy (2010). It was so great to see her in a primary lead role, and to me she was the most sympathetic character in the story because her heart was truly broken as a cheated-upon wife and mother, who had given so much to her family, only to see it all come to naught.  

Oh Yeon Soo in Bad Guy (Left)
and Snowman (Right)
K-drama Classics

I wouldn't recommend this drama to anyone seventeen years of age or younger. They don't really show any sex scenes, but they are implied. Best not to imply them to younger people at all. Mature audiences are more likely to understand that when characters cheat their lives often spiral downward, and the end results are not pretty for them. Some might even take warning not to duplicate the same mistakes in their own lives after watching a drama like this one, where the end results are not positive for characters who behave in self-destructive or selfish ways. There's really no redemption in this drama, which I thought was appropriate, though sad. They didn't whitewash sin in this drama. So different from trash like 2014's Temptation where the two abominably selfish adulterers dance off into the sunset together all happy and content, while the cheated-upon wife disappeared sadly behind some bushes, which was completely offensive to me and therefore received a D grade. (So many times while watching this drama I could just mentally visualize the reactions of actor Lee Dong Wook's prim and proper mother in real life - I'd bet anything she didn't like this drama of her son's, and wish he hadn't made it, LOL!).

The Story:

We begin with witnessing the apparent murder of a young man named Kang Sung Gu (Jung Gyu Woon, God's Gift: 14 Days) who falls to his death from a high balcony apartment window, and when a middle-aged detective named Park Byung Sik (Baek Il Seob) arrives to survey the scene he soon discovers the victim had been a fugitive criminal he had pursued for years without success. Was it a murder, or could it have been a suicide? Now fate had taken a hand in bringing him down (to me this early scene was symbolic of the eventual falls of the other characters). We then jump back in time six months earlier, to see the events which led up to Sung Gu dying in such a terrible fashion.


Married Couple Hye Jin & Dong Won
Putting On Largely Fake Smiles

We then meet the upper-class wealthy married couple Yoon Hye Jin (Oh Yeon Soo) and Ha Dong Won (Jung Bo Seok) and their two young daughters named Ha Nari and Ha Narae (a very young Moon Ga Young - Mimi! - and Kim Ji Min - who reminded me so much of the two young daughters in My Rosy Life). Hye Jin has a part Japanese ancestry, and had been a translator professionally until she married. She was only too happy to escape the working rat race to become a traditional wife and mother. She gives all to her family; cooks them gorgeous meals, keeps a gorgeous house, talks and listens to her husband as a supportive wife would, takes care to keep herself attractive, raises two beautiful, moral children. She thinks her life is just about perfect, and then the unthinkable happens.

Look How Young & Cute My Mimi
Was Here In 2008 :)

Dong Won (Don Juan? haha!), a successful businessman who runs a lucrative hedge fund, has been having a rather consistent, though secret, affair with a woman named Hong Da Ae (Park Si Yeon) who owns her own popular jewelry store in the city called Scarlett. She keeps telling Dong Won that she doesn't love him, and doesn't want to be his mistress or his wife, but she's lonely and succumbs to his flirtations and professions of love (really lust). It's obvious he would just about give up everything to make her his own exclusive property, but Da Ae is not impressed. Nothing complicated like an affair really interests her, but her life is soon to become even more topsy-turvy as time goes on because, bottom-line, she is pretty much a totally selfish person.

Park Si Yeon, whose character
can use sex as a weapon, but
who doesn't really know how to love

When Hye Jin discovers the affair her husband is having she becomes distraught. In her despair she plans a solo vacation to Hokkaido, Japan, for an entire month, to ostensibly have some breathing time all her own to think things through, but in the back of her mind she contemplates whether or not she should commit suicide there and end all her pain that way. (All the scenes shot in Japan reminded me so much of 1995's Love Letter classic film, in fact the film is even brought up in the drama as a topic of conversation, yet another example of Koreans being obsessed with that movie!). Hye Jin tries to think back to happier times when she had first met her husband, hoping to rekindle her early feelings for him, but all that does is make her unhappier and more frustrated.

Dong Wook Always Looks His Best
With A Little Facial Hair -
Right, Ladies?

However, while there Hye Jin meets the mysterious and handsome businessman Lee Joon Soo (Lee Dong Wook) who is immediately attracted to her and senses she is troubled and unhappy, even suicidal. She touches his heart, and he helps her forget her misery that's sticking hard to her, like a glove that is so tight it can't be pulled off. They end up having a brief affair and then painfully part ways. Hye Jin returns to Korea, perhaps understanding her husband's sexual weakness a little better now. Will she be able to forgive him and re-commit to her marriage, or should she divorce Dong Won?


Ater Hye Jin returns to Korea she discovers to her shock that Joon Soo had been the ex-boyfriend of the woman Da Ae, who has been having a long-term affair with her husband! When Joon Soo comes to Korea, not able to forget Hye Jin, it's not long before Da Ae discovers what transpired between them. She makes a new concerted effort to win Joon Soo back to her. In flashbacks we learn that the man we had seen at the beginning of the drama who died, Sung Gu, had been Joon Soo's best friend for years. That best friend had turned against him and made a play for Da Ae, who had brushed him off at the time, but this betrayal by his friend had hit Joon Soo hard at the time. Could he have been the one to have killed Sung Gu? 

When Marriage Is Not Bliss

Hye Jin's husband finds out the truth eventually about his wife's own brief fling, and becomes torn between two lovers, his wife and his long term mistress. What a complicated web all these characters find in dealing with one another, again and again. Will anyone be able to become sane in this terrible situation, or will everyone's lives sink further into unhappiness and tragedy?

Last Embrace?

If you love an intense melodrama with complicated romantic sub-plots then Bitter Sweet Life is for you. In many ways you need a strong stomach, however, because no one here, except the innocent children, is completely admirable. Be forewarned. It's rather hard to find this drama anymore except on dire bootleg sites with nasty ads, screen bugs galore, and Trojans attacking your computer or cell phone. I bought the DVD set on Amazon to watch it, unimpeded by that garbage, and that's the only way currently that I can recommend you watch this drama.