Cheese in the Trap: First impressions (Episodes 1-6)

Before love comes misunderstanding and this drama is full of them. Cheese in the Trap is proving to merit much of its praise as its story unfolds. There is a rich variety of characters that come in different categories mainly “the easy to love,” “love to hate,” and “Oh please go away, Sunbae don’t like you.” At the core of it all, I am finding a story worth binging on.

It’s a common kdrama staple to have the leading characters hate each other then consequently fall in love as life throws them together. For Yoo Jung (Park Hae Jin) and Hong Seol (Kim Go Eun), their love hate relationship begins at a gathering. Yoo Jung arrives and is characterized as the perfect man, he practically walks on water and the ladies love him for it, flocking to him, aggressively like that last marked down item during a black Friday sale. Keeping in compliance with his nice guy persona, Yoo Jung politely endures the chaos of his schoolmate, the moocher Sang Chul, using him to order more food and paying off the tab, while Ah Young and Nam Joo Yeon vie for his attention. As Joo Yeon invades his personal space, his level of discomfort markedly increases. At the height of the commotion, Yoo Jung underhandedly allows a pitcher to fall on Joo Yeon, ending the squabble. To all, this was seemingly an accident, however Seol, who quietly observed the exchange knew better, he carried his actions out deliberately and his sly smirk confirmed it.

Joo Yeon: Sunbae, what do you want?                                                                                                                                        Yoo Jung: Hmmm……some space

This is where I start to fall in love with the drama as it demonstrates the power of perception and the multi-dimensional nature of humanity. Yoo Jung has been presenting a façade of niceness that has fooled all those around him, because no one has taken the time to actually look at him and see him as a person. Those who are the recipients of his kindness file it away and make use of it as they will, but they never grow closer to him, because the lie fits in with what they want to believe. Seol is one of the few that actually saw him, his perfection was actually coldness, it keeps people at a distance while allowing him to avoid being an outcast. It is a burdensome standing as there are those that wish to take advantage of him, but also it also serves to create a lonesome figure stuck on a pedestal.

Seol’s poor first impression of Yoo Jung undermines the development of any type of positive relationship and becomes the root of many misunderstandings. Each negative incident that occurred following their meeting is seemingly connected to Yoo Jung, whether it be being accused for reporting Sang Chul for embezzling or being forced to endure Joo Yeon’s harassment. It all seemed as though Yoo Jung has been using people to give her a hard time like a devious puppet master LOL.

Her paranoia is exacerbated when Yoo Jung does a 180 and begins to act nice to her, even inviting her out to eat. She is of course perplexed because she believes he is up to something as if he lives to torment her, but slowly things change. After someone deliberately drops her from a popular lecture course, she begins to suspect Yoo Jung, after all he was the only one there when she forgot to log off from the computer and a classmate confirmed that he was there. However footage from the school’s security camera vindicates him. As a matter of fact it turns out that it was Sang Chul who was the offender, a truth Seol never discovers but what’s important is that she realizes that Yoo Jung is not as bad as she initially thought. Yet still she is not completely ready to trust him. As she continuously receives his genuine generosity she warms up to him and realizes how good a man he can be. So much so that she tries to set him up with her friend (as per her friend’s request) while she runs off to a blind date, an act that puts a strain on their growing relationship.

His words of hurt and disappointment speak volumes about what Seol meant to him, a genuine relationship where he is free to grow close to someone because they do not have a hidden agenda. Because she did not want something from him, he did not have to emotionally distance himself from her, he did not have to fear that he was being used nor believe that the person before him was a fake because she had no reason to look good in front of him. It must have been refreshing to have someone confront him as oppose to fawning or sucking up to him. She was someone who could be real with him, a type of relationship that one can’t do without.

Seol is now on the receiving end of Yoo Jung’s cold shoulder, but she still holds a place in his heart. He can’t ignore her plight as life continues to deal her a bad hand. He softens towards her as he witnesses how she is being taken advantage of by her groupmate, which lands her in a drunken mishap that leaves her vulnerable to a man known for liquoring women up and bringing them to motels. Yoo Jung successfully blocks the pervert and threatens to block him from any job prospects in the future if he were to ever harass Seol again. Ultimately Seol pays the price of having bad groupmates by landing a D when the professor figures out that all the work was done by Seol. Her life seems to be in a state of ruin, the chances of her receiving a much needed scholarship is gone, her relationship with Bora, her bestfriend, becomes strained after Seol loses her temper on Bora when Seol didn’t want to talk about Seol’s grades, and she lost her friendship with Yoo Jung. Through a bit of contemplation and an act of kindness from Yoo Jung, spotting her some change at the vending machine, she became resolved to fix what she could fix, starting with an apology towards Yoo Jung. He also admits he was wrong, and she offers to buy him a meal, by the end of the night the two started dating.

As soon as their romantic relationship begins, obstacles pile up. On their first date she is overly conscious of how different they are, for example her frugality clashes with the ease with which he spends money or how their tastes in movies differ. Frankly their interactions were awkward and at best strained as each tried to cater to the other, but there was a clear disconnect. Their initial date starkly contrasts Seol’s interactions with Baek In Ho. There is an openness and ease in their interaction probably, because In Ho is not as reserved and polished like Yoo Jung, but is rough around the edges as well as very expressive. Although they fight and bicker, their interactions amount to nothing more than the harmless teasing characterized by friendship. Despite their chemistry, it is clear where Seol’s heart lies, and is probably also one of the reasons she is so awkward with Yoo Jung. She is overly conscious of him and their situation, which results in her inability to simply enjoy being together.

Another obstacle is found in Yoo Jung’s lack of transparency. There is clearly bad blood between In Ho and Yoo Jung. As viewers we are allowed to see via a potentially misleading flashback that Yoo Jung may have indirectly contributed to In Ho’s, a piano prodigy, hand injury, subsequently ruining In Ho’s life. As recompense, Yoo Jung’s family financially supported him and his sister In Ha, however In Ho rejects any help that comes from Yoo Jung family, too bad the same can’t be said about In Ha, whose spending habits could drain an ocean of money dry.

In addition to this, Yoo Jung dabbles in a bit of blackmail, which when this fact comes to light Seol disapproves. Seol learns from teaching assistant Heo that Yoo Jung threatened him so that Seol could retrieve the scholarship that kept her in college. She reprimands Yoo Jung for his actions especially since she feels guilty that the TA now has a reputation for being incompetent, because of her. Moreover she is distressed over the fact that she was shaken by the fact he did this for her leaving her morally conflicted. Ultimately these series of events do not change how she feels about Yoo Jung, they make up, but she lays down some rules for him, when the issue pertains to her, he must consult her first before taking any actions.


So far, I find myself enjoying the flow of this drama as well as the characters that compose it. One of my favorite scenes in this drama is when Yoo Jung, after his fight with Seol, reflects on her actions as well as the actions of his peers and concludes that they, not him, are weird. He is aware that he is misunderstood, but he doesn’t believe himself to be wrong. I find his concept of justice to be interesting, he can either do the manipulating or empower someone to do so, but fundamentally he has made himself the judge and jury. His simplification of his threats to TA Heo as an exchange may seem strange to us or at least Seol, but from his point of view he is receiving pay back for being slighted. As oppose to resorting to violence or going to the police, he makes these people owe him, unfortunately the favors he calls for place these people in difficult situations. It garners Yoo Jung the accusation of being apathetic, but in truth if some of his accusers were to exercise empathy themselves they would not have been caught by Yoo Jung taking advantage of others by, for example, stealing coveted class placements or money from people’s wallets. People are quick to judge him as oppose to understand him or his actions, whether they be right or wrong.

Seol: Sunbae, I’m really having a hard time suppressing these naughty thoughts.                                               Yoo Jung: Maybe it’ll help if we act things out

Needless to say, I do enjoy watching the Seol-Yoo Jung pairing. Despite the hick ups in their relationship the love is there. I look forward to see them grow in their relationship as they learn to accept and understand each other. One of the major themes here is that there are two sides to every story, and I imagine it will reoccur often as the writers explore more of Yoo Jung’s darkness and its immediate effect to those around him.


  • Teleri says:

    I enjoy this drama, but I was actually married to a non-violent sociopath – actually the more common type – who loved to manipulate the world around him & tried it on with me. I see a lot of that in Yoo Jung, so much that I’d be running for the hills in Seol’s place. The other young man, troubled & a rebel tho he is, is MUCH more my type – although his attitude could easily be put on – hard to say what such a glib, cunning, charming young man really feels.
    So although I find this drama very interesting and want to see what happens, I’m leery of both our guys.

  • bmore says:

    I’m mad about this show. I’ve watched all the episodes 3 or more times, and I am absolutely positive that there are 2 weeks between Mondays now.

    Trying to keep in mind that this is kdrama/fiction, it’s hard not to join the bandwagon and armchair psychoanalyze our characters….and what characters they are. Wonderful food for the emotions and the brain. I would love to read the manwha, though, from the comments I’ve seen, the webtoon author is deviating from his original story and characters. Fine with me. And it’s his story so he can do what he wants! I’m sure he has all kinds of alternate story lines for characters he has spent so much time with and is enjoying this opportunity to create them. Still, if he is this good at creating characters in a shortened format like this, I imagine the complexity of their stories is exponentially increased in the manwha.

    For me, Seol is the sun around which this story revolves. She is the Voice of Reason and gravitational pull that our 2 guys revolve around. I love her to bits. I love Kim Go-Eun’s portrayal of her. This would not be the same drama at all without her. (the very thought of Bae Suzy in this role makes me cringe!) Seol seems to be flighty, and nervous, and unsure of herself; jumping at shadows and afraid of so many things, especially in expressing her opinion or standing up for herself, and, most especially in love…but it’s her first time so understandable. Yet, at the same time, she is strong in her sense of right and wrong, slowly, yet confidently, now beginning to express those feelings to those around her. Despite the fact that Yoo Jung intimidates her, he seems to instill confidence in her at the same time as she is growing in assertiveness with each episode. She is intelligent, but not genius level like the two guys, her success comes from hard work and commitment to not being unemployed. Her parental examples have, I’m sure, shaped much of her drive to succeed. Pursuing a dream is not part of her motivation in life. She has lived a life of struggle, insecurity…in finances and in love. Her brother has received the lion’s share of love and attention from her parents. She seems to be cared about, but when push comes to shove, she is expected to subjugate her needs and desires to her parents’ needs and their concentration on the Only Son. Seol, to me, is a person filled with the need to love and be loved. She is one of those people who is capable of giving her entire self to the right person, loving them unreservedly and truthfully. The exact kind of person Yoo Jung needs.

    Yoo Jung has been given a lot of diagnoses…sociopath, Asperger’s, high functioning Autism, whatever. We’ve been given little insight to his growing up years, a comment here and there, a quick scene. But… it appears he is someone who grew up without love and surrounded by sycophants and exploiters due to his wealth. He has spent his life building walls, bolstering them with bitterness and anger and a valid sense of being used and betrayed. All of this is tamped down under a veneer of benign amiability. He is portrayed as a genius, which has it’s own personality complications causing difficulties with social integration. No wonder he is twisted in his perception of what normal relationships should be. Now, along comes Seol. The initial meeting is fraught with potential. Neither of them are aware that their first impressions are only harbingers of deeper feelings. I think Yoo Jung fell at first sight, but he saw how she looked at him, knowing what he had done, and his walls came up automatically in defense. Instinctively he knew she could cause him great damage and at the same time, unconsciously, he was deeply hurt by her immediate rejection and lack of understanding. Of course that’s unreasonable, but his instincts for self-protection are deeply ingrained. From that first encounter, through all that first year, we have the darker equivalent of the school boy pulling the girl’s braids and teasing or bullying the girl of his dreams in order to get attention. The flashback scene of her caring for him when he was sick with a cold was his turning point…when he opened his eyes and saw her for who she really is, realized his hidden feelings, and started his pursuit.

    They are so charmingly awkward with one another. The writing of the intimate movements of their scenes together is one of the most brilliant and emotionally enchanting I have ever watched. These two actors (with the skillful assistance of their director and writer I’m sure) are living their characters on screen in every movement of their bodies, facial expressions, and eyes. It’s masterfully done and, after watching as many times as I have, only becomes more wonderful with each watching. Yoo Jung’s life and relationship experiences are light years ahead of Seol’s. His watchful yet hopeful behaviors around her are delightful, especially in the context of knowing what a damaged and unloved and untrusting person he is. He desires her, but is inordinately patient considering what he is probably capable of in different circumstances with a woman he did not care so much about. He is very much aware of how innocent she is where love and relationships are concerned and takes such joy in that fact. My favorite scenes are when he teases her and then gives those secret smiles as she tries to hide in mortification. There are countless scenes that flash through my mind where he exhibits this. But the scene where he says goodbye to her after eating at her parents’ restaurant…where they are walking to his car and she is internally agonized that he is so seemingly oblivious and uncaring of how important that previous night’s first kiss is to her…he suddenly leans in and gives her this sweet, loving kiss and says “I didn’t forget, I remember everything.” Then turns, gets in his car and drives away. I can’t imagine how hard that would be for him irl. I’d think he’d want to grab her and kiss her breathless at that moment. But equally, I’m really surprised he didn’t stop his car and watch as she skipped away in happiness…though I’m absolutely positive he was seeing that mentally and smiling that secret smile of his all the way home.

    Sorry about all this…I haven’t even gotten to Baek In Ho…and I won’t since your eyes are probably already crossed…if you even made it this far! As you can tell. I am well and truly addicted. I have visions of this drama being on continual rerun for me. 🙁

    • Teri says:

      BMORE, great write up! I read through the whole thing and was smiling all the way. You certainly watched the drama more times than I did. I’m going to go back to enjoy it all the way from Ep1….AGAIN!!! 🙂

      • bmore says:

        🙂 I’m already itching to start again, but resisting with all my might! 😉

        • Reverie says:

          Wow……. Usually skip long comments, but yours is exceptional. Good review from Rinchan too. Enjoying this drama…..

          • bmore says:

            thanks. I’m thankful, in a way, that CK isn’t recapping this on a weekly basis. I would have co-opted the comment pages every week obsessing over every detail, as I have done once before. At least this time it would have been over a joyful drama instead of an agonizing makjang fest!

  • tessieroo says:

    LOL “marked down item during Black Friday”.
    I’m enjoying this drama too but I’ve got second-lead syndrome. O__O I feel like Seol has more natural chemistry and is more comfortable with In Ho. He’s easier to be around, easier to talk to, they have fun teasing each other, etc. I don’t think Yoo Jung is a sociopath but every red flag I have went up with that guy! He’s just not the type I would find attractive since I always go for the guy who makes me laugh.

    • Keona8 says:

      I don’t have the second-lead syndrome. She views Baek In Ho more like a sibling than a lover and the fact that she is so comfortable with him means there isn’t the same excitement she feels towards Yoo Jung.

      • bmore says:

        yeah, he’s definitely in the friend zone for her. She is very attached to him though. The fact that she barely knows him but was so upset at the idea of him leaving that she started to cry, tells me she has a bit of conflicted feelings for him. She is so full of love for those she regards as her friends though, and she is such a kind person, I think she becomes attached to people very quickly….especially if she senses they are in pain. And BIH definitely is.

    • bmore says:

      agree. BIH is a marvelous character,damn it. It’s so unfair to make us choose! I really hate it. He needs her too! And, for a character who is, on the surface, so open, fun, adorable, and friendly, (and gorgeous) he is hiding as much, if not more, of himself from Seol than Yoo Jung is. And BTW…I’m kinda surprised I haven’t seen any articles on Seo Kang Joon’s rather prodigious piano playing skills. When he was showing off his skills to Seol, my jaw dropped as much as hers did. I thought they had been faking his piano playing up to that point.

  • tessieroo says:

    Hey Bmore! *waves* I’ve missed you! 😀
    I agree, she has friend-zoned InHo (although YooJung doesn’t like it) which brings me to another thought: I hate it when someone tries to tell me who I can be friends with. A warning is okay but let me make up my own mind about people! If there is some reason to be wary of InHo, let Seol find that out for herself. Oddly enough, I don’t think InHo “needs” Seol (he’s pretty much friend-zoned her too) but he does look like he could use some good friends, his sister is a nightmare. (LOL) It doesn’t feel like he has any romantic feelings for Seol to me? I don’t know yet! I think he likes spending time with her and teasing her but I don’t feel like he’s out to steal her from YooJung?
    I’m rambling, LOL. Maybe it’s just me but I personally would prefer the type of guy I’m very comfortable around, who makes me laugh. YooJung is too serious & it’s too awkward. I get that K-dramas think “awkward” means love but I don’t agree with that. *heh* But don’t worry – I know exactly who the lead male is so I know who Seol will end up with. 😀
    Agree! Kang Joon’s piano playing was astounding!

    • bmore says:

      I’ve missed you too dear girl! I think In Ho started out just liking her as a friend, but he is confusing himself now. There have been a couple ‘looks’ from him at her in these last couple episodes that are rather telling. You know there is supposedly no such thing as being just friends between a guy and a girl…it can start out that way, but hormones often interfere!!! 🙂 And he naturally distrusts and resents Yoo Jung and cares enough about Seol to be protective of her since he is aware of how dark and angry and cold Yoo Jung can be and wants to protect his new, innocent friend from him. It’s very easy and only a tiny step from protectiveness to thinking you are in love. I don’t think he thinks Yoo Jung is actually capable of loving someone, so he totally doesn’t see that Yoo Jung is head over heels for this girl and he is worried she will be hurt in some game he is playing. In the manhwa he intentionally decides to pursue Seol to goad Yoo Jung. There were some hints of that in the convenience store scene where he meets Seol and they eat together. But it appears the writer is deviating from that in this drama.

      We’ve had some hints of the events that destroyed the 2 young mens friendship, but I’m anxious to see what actually happened. I can see where In Ho is fixing some blame. It appears that he feels YooJung either had some direct involvement in the beating, perhaps thinking he knew about it or stood by? And Yoo Jung is angry that he is being blamed for something he didn’t do and can’t forgive his friend for believing him capable of such a thing.

      In Ho ‘needs’ Seol in much the same way and for many of the same reasons Yoo Jung does. He is very alone and a very lonely young man. He is an orphan and has no family (his sister he cannot trust nor depend on), no close friends, and he’s been deprived of love from anyone for his entire life. In addition, he’s lived most of his life in a very transient way, first in an abusive home, then living on the largess of a family friend…no sense of stability ever. And now he has been wandering the country for 5 years, dealing alone with the loss of his future and his dream. Seol is a person capable of loving unconditionally. Both of these young men are drawn to her instinctively because they sense that in her. How she feels about them in return is where the difference lies in whether they are friend or lover. And yeah, the dramas are always very clear about who our lead couple is…so why even bother discussing it!!!???? 🙂 …because it’s fun!!

      But what if????? no…kdrama never goes there…?????????? there is that tiny tiny thing that makes me wonder. Will they do something totally different this time? What a great time it is in kdrama…the number of quality dramas and the dramatic improvement in writing are a joy. I’m so lucky to be able to spend hours and hours a day in this world! Or is it luck? Obsession and lack of any life aren’t a good thing are they?

  • tessieroo says:

    LMAO, obsession is a good thing. 😀

    I haven’t read the manhwa, I think that might be my goal for next weekend. I didn’t even realize Yoo Jung and In Ho were friends to begin with! For some reason, I thought it was more a forced family friendship? (something to do with their families being the reason they’re forced to interact).

    • bmore says:

      I’m still confused on their past relationship too. I’ve seen comments that say (in the manhwa) that they started out as friends growing up together, and there are hints of that in the flashback scene they keep replaying with the fireworks. It appears that Yoo Jung’s father took in the 2 kids after the incident where he showed up to visit? them at their aunt’s? house and In Ha showed him the bruises she accused the aunt of causing. (I’m still a bit suspicious of that too. She appears to have been an extremely troubled and volatile child) Also In Ha says in one of her voice overs: ‘what happened to us, we were happy back then’ or something like that. Somewhere along the line the relationship changed. Since the flashback fireworks scene shows them happy together as teenagers, I have been assuming that the beating In Ho got in HS was the break. I’m guessing the guys who beat him insinuated Yoo Jung was behind it. At the same time, Yoo Jung coming upon the scene and just looking and walking away hints at a break earlier than that event. I’m sure all of this will be explained soon. But, my head is going 90mph in the meantime. AND. I just finished watching all 8 episodes AGAIN yesterday! I need an intervention NOW!!! 🙁 Lord help me! But I’ve started Signal and now my addictive personality has become split. I’m going to be rewatching all 4 of those episodes again this weekend! Wow oh Wow…what a great show!

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