Cheese in the Trap tells the story of students on a college campus. It follows the relationship of a girl named Hong Seol (Kim Go Eun) and the mysterious Yoo Jung (Park Hae Jin) who has a bit of a dark side. Their relationship forces them each to examine not only everyone’s motives around them, but even the motives they themselves have.
Cheese in the Trap was an interesting watch that provided a world populated by a variety of unique characters. It was interesting that the characters have a realness in the way they react to each other and to situations around them, but some of the scenarios were pretty crazy.
Park Hae Jin did really well at portraying our mysterious Yoo Jung. He certainly does creepy well! But when actually given the opportunity, his smile genuinely lightens the mood. Yoo Jung has quite the personal journey to go on as he learns to relate and empathize with others. His struggle with this shapes many of the events that take place in the drama.
Kim Go Eun nailed the awkward, shy character of Hong Seol. I always found her amusing and enjoyed her interactions with both Yoo Jung and In Ho. She goes on a journey of her own throughout the drama. She learns that she needs to stop letting people take advantage of her and also that she needs to be more open. She expects Yoo Jung to be honest with her, but she frequently hides her feelings from him. Yoo Jung ends up giving her the opportunity to grow.
I really liked Seo Kang Joon as Baek In Ho. I may have had a bit of second lead syndrome, but I was more 50/50 in who I liked best between our guys. In Ho was just so endearing and sympathetic. He easily pulled at my heart strings with his sad backstory and his pursuit of his dream in order to make something of his life. He also as gave me plenty of reasons to smile because of his honest and genuine character.
But I really enjoyed Seol’s relationships with both guys. She had a more natural, at ease relationship with In Ho. They were always comfortable to watch, at lease until you have to watch the poor one sided love of In Ho. But their relationship was the example of how people should relate to each other in an open and honest way.
Her relationship with Yoo Jung took more work for sure, but it was because she saw something different in him and wanted to understand it. It was worth it to her to pursue the relationship and be the first person to truly accept Yoo Jung as he was.
In Ho’s sister, Baek In Ha (Lee Sung Kyung) was quite a girl. She was so over the top and borderline crazy. Her behavior was very comical at times, but it made me really dislike her as a person. She was just so obnoxious from start to finish. Even in the end, it was difficult to sympathize with her.
Aside from In Ha, there were a lot of strange people at this school. We had stalkers and creepy people lurking everywhere, always ready to cause problems for Seol. She seemed to be a magnet for trouble. These characters certainly provided good entertainment value though. Are there this many stalker types running around in real life?
I felt like about two-thirds of the way into the drama, it sort of started to meander along like it wasn’t sure where it wanted to go. We delved into a variety of characters and side stories along the way. Luckily, the drama still maintained its charm, and it was all enjoyable enough.
But the drama spent a lot of time on these other stories, and it seemed to miss a big opportunity with our main story. The huge draw to the series is the mysterious Yoo Jung. You want to know why he has these creepy looks and does these manipulative things. You just want to understand him.
While the drama did provides snippets throughout the drama to explain his motivations, they really weren’t handled appropriately. It’s halfway through the drama before they even start to hint at his motives.
And in order to feel a greater amount of empathy for his character, they really needed to include additional scenes to adequately explain his behavior. I just had to go with the fact that I knew our hero wasn’t a horrible guy, so I was able to create my own empathy. But I shouldn’t have hade to do that, the drama should have presented his character better.
ENDING SPOILERS AND CLOSING THOUGHTS BELOW
I guess I will weigh in a bit on the controversy surrounding Cheese in the Trap. This is another case where I have not read the webtoon, so I didn’t have any source material to compare the drama with. While watching a drama, I also do my best to avoid a lot of behind the scenes stuff as it can dampen my experience with the drama itself.
While I did avoid a lot of it, it was practically impossible to not catch bits and pieces of what was going on behind the scenes in this case. The fan community was in an uproar over the major deviation from the source material which resulted in a shift in plot that left our leading man, Park Hae Jin, as almost a secondary character for several episodes toward the end of the drama. Add that to the fact that as I mentioned above, his character motives weren’t adequately presented.
Now I didn’t find it as dramatic as most of the drama community made it out to be. Yes, some of the episodes chose to focus more on secondary characters, but it was really only for a couple episodes. Yoo Jung was still around and was in a pretty good place with Seol during all of this. And the secondary characters that were focused on, especially In Ho and In Ha, had a large presence throughout the drama that was very intertwined with Yoo Jung, so it makes since they would want to wrap up their story arcs.
But again, they did drop the ball on Yoo Jung’s story arc. He should have got more attention throughout the drama rather than the focus on so many side stories. We do finally get a bit an info dump in the last couple episodes of the drama that better explains Yoo Jung’s personality, issues stemming from his father, and how all of that fractured his relationships with In Ho and In Ha. It just should have been done earlier.
But those last couple episodes really highlighted the theme of the drama: we are all imperfect people and strange in our own way. If you only judge people by their outward motives, you may miss what’s really going on in their heart. The drama makes it pretty clear that the things Yoo Jung did was wrong. Although he was right in wanting people to have to pay for their wrong-doings, he always took things too far because he was unable to empathize with their situations. But thanks to Seol, and her actually taking the time to understand him, he is finally able to learn this and better himself.
If you watched Cheese in the Trap without knowing any of the behind the scenes drama, you would probably notice a few less scenes with Yoo Jung at the end and wish they would explain him better. And that would be the end of it. So I encourage people to watch the drama for yourself and make your own decision. The story wasn’t handled perfectly, but it wasn’t the disaster that it has been made out to be.
Cheese in the Trap was more than enjoyable overall, and it highlights why I try to avoid real life stuff when watching a drama. I want to enjoy the story for what it is whether good or bad. While the story could have been executed a bit better, it was fun and quirky with a dose of melodrama. It’s world was filled with interesting characters, and it explored some complicated themes. I really enjoyed Cheese in the Trap, and I hope you were also able to.
My Rating: 7.5/10
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