[Review] Cheese in the Trap – 치즈인더트랩

DIFFERENT AS CAT AND MOUSE

Hong Seol (Kim Go Eun) is an introverted but hardworking college student.  Her life is filled with studying and taking part-time jobs in order to support herself.  Because of her kindness, she is often taken advantage of by others.  Yoo Jung (Park Hae Jin) is a smart, rich senior at her school who is also very popular.  At first, they are indifferent to each other until Jung begins paying attention to Seol.  Seol is unnerved by all the attention because she notices that while Jung seems kind, he also has a dark side that she doesn’t understand.

Monkeyz – 사랑인가 봐요 (It Must Be Love)

몽키즈 – 사랑인가 봐요

He seems to especially hold a grudge against his childhood friend, Baek In Ho (Seo Kang Jun), who befriends Seol.  Unlike Jung, In Ho is incredibly upfront and frank about his feelings and emotions.

I think I was turned off by the title at first because it sounded incredibly cheesy, no pun intended.  However, once I got past that, I began to see how fitting the title is for the story.  It’s about differing personalities that get to know each other and what better setting to explore that than on a college campus.  It’s an age where you’re not really grown up but you’re also not a child anymore.  It’s also a time in your life when you begin to figure out the rest of your life.  The drama does a great job of providing a provoking character study and exploring that within the mundane lives of college students.

At the heart of the story, there’s Hong Seol.  She’s a character that I can identify with as she’s the introverted type that just wants to fly under the radar.  She just wants to study hard, get good grades so that she can find a great job.  All the time and effort she puts into her studies is for her future.  Because of her diligence and her kindness, people assume that it is okay to take advantage of her.  It’s not that she’s okay with it but rather she doesn’t openly express her dissatisfaction.

Kang Hyun Min – Such (Feat. 조현아 of 어반자카파) (Such (Feat. Jo Hyun Ah of Urban Zakapa))

강현민 – Such (Feat. 조현아 of 어반자카파)

As for Yoo Jung, he’s known as the nice senior but rather he’s got a darkness lurking underneath.  As a chaebol, he’s always been taught that he not only has to study well but also show a positive image as people are always watching him, waiting to take him down.  He’s experienced that feeling of betrayal before and he’s adapted by becoming passive-aggressive.  He takes his anger out on others by deflecting the blame away from himself.

While Yoo Jung carefully surveys the relationships around him and calculates his own actions, Baek In Ho is the complete opposite.  He is quick to react.  While it often gets him into sticky situations, he is not afraid to be himself in front of Seol.

Tearliner – 너를 채운다. 너를 지운다. (feat. 서프라이즈) (Fill You. Erase You. (feat. 5urprise))

티어라이너 (Tearliner) – 너를 채운다. 너를 지운다. (feat. 서프라이즈)

I think that’s what bonds Seol towards In Ho right away.  Even if Seol doesn’t agree with everything that In Ho believes in, his honesty and openness reveals what kind of person he is to Seol right away.  His actions doesn’t appear to have another agenda unlike Jung.  What’s interesting about the drama and the way Park Hae Jin portrays Yoo Jung is that he’s almost shown as a monster.

However, it appears that the only way he can deal with the relationships around him is by having moral myopia.  He’s so focused on Seol that he doesn’t see or care about anyone else.  Although Jung’s actions are well-intentioned, Seol shows him that ruining others just so that he can protect her is misguided.  However, Seol also learns from both Jung and In Ho that it is important to stand up for herself as well.  I think all three actors do such a great job in expressing such internal emotions.

The other thing that was great about the drama were the portrayals of the antagonists.  They really completed the world in that you could understand the pressures that the protagonists faced.  Oh Young Gon (Ji Yoon Ho) was by far the most memorable.  I don’t recall seeing Ji Yoon Ho before but he completely threw himself in the role by embracing the underhandedness of Young Gon’s obsessiveness towards Seol.  I almost feel that his stalker tendencies are what caused Seol to lose confidence in herself.

Son Min Soo (Yoon Ji Won) was an interesting antagonist only because I think Seol could relate to her character.  The main difference in their characters is that Min Soo jealousy of Seol was the fact that she felt that they were on the same level and deserved to have the same attention that Seol was receiving.  The old Seol would have internalized her dissatisfaction but as Seol gains confidence, she vocalizes her feelings when things come to a head with Min Soo.  It’s something that even takes her other classmates by surprise as they’re not used to seeing Seol this way and Seol must get used to their criticisms of her as she can’t please everyone.

As for Baek In Ha (Lee Sung Kyung), she has quite a twisted view of what she deserves.  Losing their parents at a young age, In Ha and In Ho came to live with Yoo Jung’s family.  She becomes accustomed to living the high life but no matter what, In Ho is always there for her.  And yet, I can’t help but feel sorry for In Ha as the lack of love in her life caused her to seek it in monetary form.  The truth is that the money will always run out while true love does not.

Unfortunately, she was a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.  Without giving it away, I don’t think anyone expected how destructive she would get.  The end of the penultimate episode was incredibly intense.  What follows is a lackluster finale and I can understand why many viewers had a problem with it.  To be honest, I felt that the ending was realistic so I didn’t hate on it.  The truth of the matter was that even an intense trauma, life does move on in a banal series of events.  However, because the previous episode had delivered such an intense shock, it would have served the drama better to have met somewhere in the middle in the rollercoaster of emotions.  Or else, what was the point of the shocking climax?  And what is the point of the drama except to show how people come and in and out of lives?

These are the type of characters that we don’t often find in K-Dramas and the drama does a good job at expressing internal emotions and thought processes without too much exposition.  However, I can’t help but be left with a lot of questions about what I’m supposed to take away from this drama.  I didn’t hate the ending but even now I’m still left with a lot of questions.  But perhaps, that’s the point.

Rating

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