Cheese in the Trap: a drama I didn’t have any intention of watching until it was mentioned to me on this blog, by Fatima. I have been following Kim Go Eun on Goblin, and since I think she is doing a great job, I thought I should give this a shot. Added to this is the fact that the drama features Seo Kang Joon and even though Cha Young Bin, his character in Entourage was absolutely pathetic, I still saw a good actor lying underneath the banal plot. As for Park Hae Jin, I had seen him in My Love From Another Star, but he had not exactly left a lasting impact on me back then so I was rather double-minded of how I would find this drama.
Cheese in the Trap didn’t cease to amaze me till near the end. For a drama playing with some Boys Before Flowers themes, and some Heartstrings themes, I found it to be an oddity in the Korean drama universe. Based in a university, it narrated the life of a Business School Junior year student: Hong Seol (played by Kim Go Eun) and her love interest, a Business School Senior year student: Yoo Jung (played by Park Hae Jin).
Yoo Jung is portrayed as a very suspicious individual from the very beginning, an introvert who seems to have a sadistic streak, close to being labelled a bully, but yet, there is something about him that does not place him in the label that everyone tries so hard to do. His actions may hint at his sadism and yet one can never catch him being sadistic, which is why he happens to be a very different kind of male lead in any Korean drama. He’s not a pretty flower boy, and neither is he a carefree young adult. He seems to bear the weight of the world on his shoulders and is also reserved and isolated from everyone around him despite being highly intelligent.
Hong Seol on the other hand, is also a rather curious character because she is very intelligent and top of her class, academically. She comes from a humble background but has made most of whatever her family possesses financially. She is hardworking but also very weak at having herself heard. She struggles to put up a fight or demand her rights in uncomfortable situations and often gives in to pressure by more dominating people. Added to all of this is the fact that Seol is excessively paranoid and since she is the narrator, the audience develops a skewed view about the people around her, specifically Jung.
The story cannot develop with just two characters though, and that is where the sibling duo of Baek In Ha and Baek In Ho come in, played by Lee Sung Kyung and Seo Kang Joon, respectively. I’m currently watching Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Ju and have developed great respect for the acting chops of Lee Sung Kyung who is one gifted actress. She can play a selfish gold digger in one drama and then transform into an innocent weightlifter in the next. Even though her role in Doctors was very two dimensional, she possesses a great gift of acting and is not afraid of going a little crazy and wild for her roles. Which is essentially what Baek In Ha is: selfish gold digger who uses the scars of her past to earn sympathy from rich people, but actually never realizes how cruelly she is used by these very people over and over again. Her younger brother, Baek In Ho, on the other hand bears some scars that he shares with his sister and then comes with his own emotional baggage, having been bullied in high school.
It is when all of these emotionally scarred and bruised individuals come together, that we get an incredibly unique and gripping plot, which is moved by various internal as well as external conflicts all of these individuals have to face. The only problem I had towards its end was a) how makjang it got, and b) the fact that Yoo Jung, the male lead ended up with little screen time, and hence little development in the romance department, even though this was supposed to be a romantic drama. Even more so, the fact that the writer of the drama and Park Hae Jin got caught in a scandal where there were serious complaints regarding the professionalism of the writer makes it seem like it wasn’t Cheese that was caught in the trap, but poor Park Hae Jin who essentially turned into a ghost towards the end, which was probably the reason the drama became makjang in the first place.
Note: Kwon Eun Taek (played by Nam Joo Hyuk) could have been a much more exciting character if he was not just acting as lackey to Seol and her best friend, Bo Ra. Nam Joo Hyuk is doing a superb job as Jung Joon Hyung in Wightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Ju, and he has such great chemistry with Lee Sung Kyung, that I wish Kwon Eun Taek had been as fulfilling as a character.