Remember: War of the Son is such a dour melodrama that Cheese in the Trap is a nice choice to offset the mood of my watching experience. Oh boy is it really easy to watch. Its first week wasn’t particularly strong albeit intriguing for sure; the second week was a lot more engaging in my book. The more i see it the more i’m drawn to the characters. By the end of the fourth episode, i’m already boarding the other ship, the one that i know will never sail. This really took me by surprise too, since i’m essentially tuning in for Park Hae-jin.
I’m not the type to easily fall for the second-lead guy just because he’s nicer and kinder and sweeter than the leading man, because the latter has the entire series to woo the lady (and us viewers), especially when the endgame has already been set in stone like this one. I know i’m doomed, but what i can do when i’m enjoying the secondary pairing’s interactions and scenes more (thus far)? That’s not to say i dislike the main couple’s, theirs just come off stiff and awkward, which certainly is bound to change and get better in the coming episodes. I hope love triangle won’t be the main focus, since there are other aspects of the story that are as if not more compelling to be explored further, like campus life, friendship, and personal growth.
The spotlight is on Hong Seol (Kim Go-eun) and the mysterious sunbae hanging around her, Yoo Jung (Park Hae-jin). “Mysterious” is the second impression i had of Jung, the first one being “creepy”. I’m aware of the dark side of his character unbeknownst to most of the other characters: he’s nice and accommodating, if cold, on the surface while selectively pulling rank on and covertly being sinister to those who are in his way, because he seems to have the power to ruin someone else’s life refusing to back down and follow his veiled threats. He’s such a moody ball of mystery it’s hard to read his mind or intention. Despite his penchant for giving mixed signals when it comes to Seol — e.g. ignoring her greeting then buying her drinks, hovering around her but getting defensive thinking she’s approaching him with ulterior motive, asking her out then not contacting her for days — he looks genuinely drawn to her as well as livelier around her. The moment he drops his smile, though, marks the appearance of creepy Jung, which is a throwback to his psychotic role in Bad Guys (both Jung and Jung-moon even sport the same hairstyle!).
With such personality, it’s easy for Jung steer Seol. (A totally random note, but i think i get why this drama is titled “Cheese in the Trap“. In the first two episodes, Jung was busy trying to ‘catch’ her and all Seol did was scurrying away from his advances like a jittery mouse. Two episodes more, he already got her in the trap. Hee.) At the moment she’s quite a pushover i’m rooting for her to grow a spine and hold back less. Hardworking and smart, she’s taken advantaged of on multiple occasions due to her lack of assertiveness as well as inability or reluctance to say no. It’s sad to see her unable to speak her mind even before her family that it’s nice to see her let loose with Baek In-ho (Seo Kang-joon) even if that’s because he’s such a pesky nuisance to her.
Well, he looks very much a flippant brat at the outset i can’t blame Seol’s frustration in having him in her vicinity. Although his dorkiness can get on the nerves, such disposition also allows him to get through to her. Naturally, Jung isn’t pleased to see him near Seol not only because In-ho is the other guy but also because they’re frenemies. We are yet to be privy to the bitter history between them — it surely has something to do with the beatings In-ho received which severely injured his hand — but my heart already went to him largely because he seems to be hurting more then and thereafter, whereas Jung stays nonchalant about it. I have a soft spot for wounded souls i guess. However, Jung doesn’t seem the type to blackmail or cut off others without reason so let’s see if the rift was caused by either’s grave mistake or both’s ego.
Whatever it is, i’m glad In-ho isn’t as blithe as he appeared to be — willing to work odd jobs and firm-yet-politely turns down Jung’s father’s ‘support’ — unlike his good-for-nothing sister Baek In-ha (Lee Sung-kyung) who happily mooches off the Yoos claiming that’s the only thing she can do. She’s also the most cartoonish character in the show although i’m still amused by the campy portrayal. I wonder if she’ll amount to anything but a freeloader though.
Other side characters with decent screentime are Seol’s buddies chatty Jang Bo-ra (Park Min-ji) and Kwon Eun-taek (Nam Joo-hyuk) crushing hard on her. While isn’t tiff-free, the friendship is genuine. I’d love if it develops into something deeper and more meaningful. So far, i have yet to spot an antagonist role (i thought that bitter girl infatuated with Jung would be one, but she seems to bow out from the story already, which is a good riddance), not that it needs one but… i just expected it.
For a manhwa adaptation, Cheese Trap is unexpectedly relatable — the characters and the struggles they’re facing. As a sucker for heart-tugging coming-of-age stories, i’m pleased with the amount of such moments presented in each episode, and already i’m swept along by its sentimentality and pensiveness. There are contrived plot devices (case in point: the homeless drunk man) but the plot points remain mostly true to life i felt like reliving my university years through them, for better or worse. Due to the dark undertones, i don’t feel any romcom-y quality although i do like the tone and flow.
It’s still a rich guy poor girl story at heart, and while the contrasting social class isn’t on the foreground, their differing lifestyles and tastes are striking enough to make Seol utterly uncomfortable on their first date and sighing a lot even after it’s over. She does what she thinks needs to be done — thanking for the treats and saying she had fun — then cringes at the awkwardness at it all. Good thing is, it’s only their first date, although i couldn’t help noticing how free Seol is when she’s with In-ho. Perhaps that’s why i’m enjoying Seol/In-ho’s interactions more — bickering, ribbing, and whatnots — that my heart broke a little upon seeing In-ho’s face to Jung’s “she’s my girlfriend” declaration…
Let’s stop here. As much i want the love triangle to not be the focus, i want who’s-the-better-guy to not be the main point of my post of the drama. I did that in School 2015, and boy was it exhausting. I just want to enjoy the show for what it is, not what i want it to be, because i rarely got what i expected =( For now, Cheese Trap is endearing and easy to watch, and that’s all that matters.