치즈인더트랩 (Cheese in the Trap Final)

I have a feeling this is going to be some sort of a rant post. Did the show really just end that way?!

I wasn’t aware of the behind-the-scenes issues going on with Cheese in The Trap until I’ve noticed that Park Hae Jin has been getting less and less screen time. I thought Yoo Jung sunbae just went a little off the radar for a while only to come back full force and steal the whole show again for a couple more episodes. I thought the Sang Cheol-notes-stealing issue would be the start of a bigger turning point but it all stopped there and just veered off course towards more exposure on Baek In Ho and Baek In Ha.

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In Ha has the potential to be the best antagonist considering how much she knows (and claims to understand) Yoo Jung. In her own crazy way, she can probably make Yoo Jung realize how much he’s scarred the people around him, but the way things wrapped up were just quite incomprehensible and too disappointing that I don’t even know what to write here anymore. Those who have read the webtoon are probably just as disappointed as Park Hae Jin. I read that some of the scenes he filmed were even edited out. I admire him all the more for handling these unfair treatment and controversies like a class act.

Cheese in the Trap started off really strongly – a highly anticipated drama with a fresh, good looking and talented cast in a slice of life romantic comedy with a touch of psychology. All the actors suited their roles and lived up to the hype. I appreciated all of them, even Lee Sung Kyung, who was initially criticized for her exaggerated performance. She was a bit annoying in the beginning but she’s beautiful and she managed to control her acting as the show progressed. In spite of her deviousness, In Ha handled her past really well and used it as means to survive and keep her luxurious lifestyle. If only more people cared for her, she is easily a redeemable character.

The show has these good actors with interesting background and story arcs that started out with Yoo Jung being a mysterious character and Hong Seol, an exact opposite of his personality who turns out to have a lot more in common with him than expected. She serves as a catalyst to unravel his unusual way of thinking and start his eventual change but instead, the focus of the story got stuck on Hong Seol being caught in a love triangle. Second lead Baek In Ho got more screen time and a proper closure. Not that I hate him. Seo Kang Joon is really attractive in this drama and Baek In Ho is badass and interesting, it’s just that I felt that the story crumbled the moment the show shifted its attention to In Ho’s journey instead of Yoo Jung’s.

I’ve been curious all this time and I’ve been anticipating the episode where we could finally get an explanation as to how Yoo Jung’s mind works and how to find a way for him to let go of his painful past, his insecurities, his pride, and all things that might have contributed for him to bottle up his feelings. He may have been strange in the way he tries to suppress his resentment, but somehow, I don’t completely blame him since he grew up being reminded that expressing himself would tarnish their precious chaebol family name.

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We were given proof of Yoo Jung’s manipulative ways but somehow were eventually justified when his side of the story revealed that he only acted upon things when they get out of hand. It’s not like he would plot revenge for trivial things. He just thought he was serving justice and honestly I enjoyed watching those annoying characters get humiliated. I feel like I’m with Hong Seol in this because while we know that what Jung’s doing is bad, we also know that those people deserve it. His confrontation with Sang Cheol is a great example. Yoo Jung gave his notes to Hong Seol and this fat lazy sunbae stole it. Yoo Jung took revenge by manipulating his job application. Then he asked, “What’s it like to lose a measly job?” That was one hell of a life lesson for Sang Cheol so why is Jung the bad guy?

I’m not glamorizing the “hot psychopath” stereotype, though. I think Yoo Jung isn’t even exactly as pyscho as the drama paints him initially. He once said he is unsure of himself and sadly the show is also unsure about what to do with this character. The resolution for Yoo Jung, which is supposed to be the drama’s main story arc, was not made clear. In the end, the writer simply decided to just send him to an internship while the other main characters are in school. Finally, he goes overseas so he could just figure things out on his own! Off screen!

I thought we’d be getting the whole “slowmo, running and finding, and stopping the love of your life from boarding the plane” fluffy Kdrama cliché but no, Hong Seol just unbelievably let Yoo Jung leave just like that. I get that he broke up with her and that she has decided to let him go but she could have at least send him off with whatever cheesy gesture to reassure him that not everything is his fault and tell him she’s waiting for him instead of stupidly staring at unread emails. Until the end, Jung was depicted as a “bad guy” who didn’t check up on her when she woke up from the accident and broke her heart immediately after she healed her physical wounds. And all these happened while Seol’s family eats noodles with the brother of the woman who pushed their daughter into a moving vehicle and possibly to her death.

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The show is from Hong Seol’s point of view so it gets quite frustrating that her voice-over in the finale is like more of a recap of the first half of the drama (mentioning Min Soo, Young Goon, and Sang Cheol) instead of how her relationship with Yoo Jung changed her life. At least Yoo Jung realized the consequences of his past actions but in Seol’s case, her life went straight back to where it was, just in a different setting. 3 years have passed and she thinks her life is as fierce and repetitive as ever, surrounded by the same annoying stereotypes. I thought the whole point was that she’s already learned how to handle these people but she seemed just as indifferent as she was before. I thought she realized and understood that Min Soo couldn’t have done what she did if only she accepted her friendship but when this nerdy coworker with glasses approached her, Hong Seol just lazily answered and shrugged off the compliment.

Jae Woo hits the jackpot and surprisingly ends up dating In Ha but we don’t really know if she really fell for her or if she’s just dating him for money. People don’t change overnight.

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And of course, there’s Baek In Ho who returned to his glory days as a pianist but hasn’t really figured out why or when Jung started to hate him. It would have been better if they shared the responsibility for that broken friendship.

I haven’t read the webtoon and I heard it’s not even finished yet. The latest news is that the PD apologized to Cheese in The Trap‘s writer,Soonki, for refusing to share the script for the second half of the series and for making an ending that’s close to what she intended to do for the webtoon. Whatever Soonki has planned, I’m sure it’s not as disappointing as the drama. This live-action adaptation is an utter disappoint since it had an amazing start but eventually, it simply ended with a female lead who experienced a challenging and life-altering relationship only to go back to who she was in the beginning; and a male lead who has just started opening himself up and yet decided to just do the whole personality development away from people whom he’s supposed to learn to coexist with.

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