Cheese in the Trap could have been the best drama for the first quarter of 2016, but the whole story presented failed to meet the viewers’ expectations. Rinchan and I have been discussing CITT that ended last February. Here is the product of our discussion. Join us as we reminisce, share random thoughts and say our farewell to CITT.
Jung’s past & his present:
It’s high time for someone to tell you the truth about yourself, to strike you if need be and remind you of what you are. – Albert Camus, from The Possessed: A Play
Leila: Yoo Jung didn’t know that for people to be genuine to you, you have to be the same to them as well. I really like what Sunbae Sang Chul told him.
Rinchan: Yet, it was so strange for that message to be communicated through Sang Chul, because never once did he present any indication of being a friend nor did he ever extend his hand out in sincerity, he just mooched. Coming from his mouth it all fell flat from him, as a matter of fact this would have been better coming from In Ho, who sincerely cared for Jung despite his callously expressed opinions of Jung. This advice would have been nicely fit into a storyline where their friendship was mended.
Leila: I think Sang Chul’s character is one of those that needed other people to survive and uses his status to take advantage of the privileges attached to it. What resonated to me more is what he said not because it came from him because there is truth behind those words. Sang Chul also lost his opportunity to be a true friend. The things that happened to him is his fault too, not just because of Yoo Jung. I believe our actions, both good and bad, has consequences in the end.
Rinchan: I feel like Sang Chul resigned himself to failure and adopted the belief that he could only succeed if he mooched off others. The sad thing is he never tries, people would be inspired to help him if he made an effort, his false nobility did not communicate anything to me because he is always so keen on pushing the blame on others. It was not Jung’s fault Sang Chul was that way, but I kind of felt he wanted Jung to shoulder the blame. Sang Chul loses the opportunity to be a true friend to anybody because no one wants to open up to someone who sucks the life out of them.
Leila: In this world, one of the best thing you can do is to be true to yourself. We shouldn’t live to satisfy and please other people. I think Jung missed this mark, and others too, sadly Jung only saw his schoolmates as someone who would take advantage of him, and nothing more.
Rinchan: So true, however what’s sad is that we often fall victim of how we are viewed in the scope of another’s lens. It’s hard for Jung to see anyone as being genuine when he couldn’t be genuine with himself. He set himself up as a doormat so he could fit in and people naturally stepped on him, it’s unfortunate that there weren’t many people around him offering true friendship, but it didn’t help that so many people behaved according to his bias. Overall his bias did prove to be a hinderance when he mischaracterized Seol in the same light, lucky for us he regained his senses.
Leila: He learned to trust Seol, and I like the transition they had. You gave a good point in our earlier conversation about Seol and Jung. They are similar but they react differently given the same situation. Jung is really simple, but they way he handles a situation makes it more complex. I think he was on the way to mending his wrong childish behaviour when In Ho came. I believe In Ho meant a lot to him that’s why Jung suffered the most after he learned that In Ho is just like the people he met. Sad, especially because it was a misunderstanding.
Rinchan: I think what Jung found in his relationship with In Ho was acceptance. In Ho was someone he had an affinity with and it seemed as though In Ho reciprocated, but when Jung felt that construct was a lie it most certainly reinforced his negative belief about others, and he most likely dug his heels in.
Leila: His transformation was scary, he had to devise a plan where In Ho would feel the pain he inflicted to him. It’s really “an eye for an eye” at best! I know their schoolmates were hugely involved without Jung having to tell them what exactly they should do. The impact of Yoo Jung’s action can influence others just by his words alone. He doesn’t even have to lift a finger because other people will fight for him and he will be unscathed. I’ve had this impression the moment I’ve watched this drama, and now I can see where Jung is coming from. What a terrible childhood!
Rinchan: The crazy thing is that he didn’t even have to say anything, it’s unclear if he initially set things up, but we are left to assume he took advantage of the situation. I think due to his upbringing which promoted restraint over being vocal about his feelings, Yoo Jung learned to express himself through the manipulation of others. The irony is glaring though, he often is upset about how people use him, I guess he thinks it’s fair play to use them in return.
Leila: Did the back story helped explain Yoo Jung better?
Rinchan: Not in the least bit, I guess it explains why In Ha and In Ho was latched onto him, but they basically blamed his actions on a genetic predisposition. I felt like it could have been polished more after all there isn’t much to explore with that explanation, but it leaves me to wonder how Jung went about “fixing” it as he went to find himself off-screen somewhere.
Leila: The writer clearly wants us to use our imagination!
Heck, what is the purpose of this drama then? Running away to meditate elsewhere is not an ideal plot for this type of drama because most of us want to witness how Jung will surpass his problems properly. He is the main character of the story, sadly the writer of this drama lost track of what to do with him.
Rinchan: I wanted to be a part of that journey of self discovery. Maybe he got some psychiatric help, or volunteered around the world, or spent all his time meditating at a temple. I just feel the writer lost creative steam on how to end things a way that would please everybody.
Leila: A writer should only aim to please no one. I know they have to respect the webtoon writer Soonkki, but they could have asked permission to give the drama version its own ending.
Rinchan: To only further complicate the situation In Ho was thrown into the mix. What do you think was his role in this situation?
Leila: For me In Ho is a catalyst for change. But the drama writer loves him so much, he made his story a highlight. For me there is nothing wrong about his character but it was the way that Jung was neglected that made In Ho shed a bad light. In Ho is interesting enough without the unnecessary drama. It just made his screen time seem overdone.
Rinchan: Aside from adding more drama to a relationship that didn’t need it, In Ho showed us just how different Jung was from the norm. Both men having their own charms, we saw how Jung commanded the attention of those around him, he is automatically treated like a prince, but he seems as close to the family as a prince is to his subjects though he may mean well. In Ho easily infiltrates Seol’s family and her immediate inner circle because it’s easy to let your guard down around him, he easily exudes warmth with everyone, unlike Jung who only did so with Seol. The triangle gives us the chance to peer into the setbacks of being a golden child.
Leila: I love Jung and In Ho, they could have been the best bromance out there! I was really hoping they’d be able to mend their friendship because they truly know and love each other. Jung might have a different feeling, but the fact that he still remembers what happened, it means it mattered. Sadly Jung isn’t someone who is gonna make the first move.
Rinchan: Yessss! Instead of doing an extended feature on In Ho’s backstory, I would have liked it better if they created a bromance arc where Jung repairs his relationship with In Ho, as Jung seeks self discovery.
Leila: I really thought In Ho could help Jung turn things around. After the fight, they could have been given a chance to further mend it after showing as more flashback. But instead, the drama writer added more weight for Jung to hate In Ho because of Seol. I wish they could have changed that instead.
Rinchan: I feel as though this would have been hard to accomplish because they often met with hostility. Yoo Jung tends to see In Ho as someone trying to take his stuff. Where as In Ho was made to feel inferior to Yoo Jung, in that In Ho always played guard to Jung and his things. Therefore Seol is a sore spot, but their issue goes deeper than that. They need to address those issues before true amends can be made.
third wheel: Baek In Ho
Leila: I really like Baek In Ho as a character. He is someone you can drag to eat ddukbokki in a street corner or have soju in a tent on a bad day. I enjoyed watching him with Seol, but not to the extent I want them to be together. There’s a difference there. I know I have the classic SLS, but In Ho was never a contender for Seol’s heart. It is obvious from the start, In Ho knows it well himself. He is just a man who can’t help but like Seol. On top of that, he respects Jung as the boyfriend. He didn’t cross any line.
Rinchan: I think that’s one thing I liked about In Ho. Sometimes you can’t help who you love, but that doesn’t mean you can wreck the object of your affections relationship. He genuinely loved Seol and supported her happiness, instead of stepping in the way of it, and stating “look at me!”. Sadly it also plays into the narrative that In Ho has an awareness of where his place is, and being unable to attain the place Jung has while standing close to it.
Leila: Exactly, and that is the misunderstanding that I was hoping to be clear for Jung. Jung had a bad impression that In Ho was stealing his family, then Seol without realizing that it wasn’t In Ho’s intention. He has easy affinity with others. I was hoping Jung would understand that. When I read comments that there were more scenes of him in an episode, it was unpleasant. Clearly it is the drama writer’s fault. If you concentrate the writing in one character the focus will be diverted and some characters will be left half-baked. In Ho became a highlight while Jung was pushed aside. As much as I want to understand In Ho, I want to understand Jung more.
Rinchan: I think that is the main problem, the drama writer detoured to explore In Ho’s story line while Jung was forced to grow off-screen. I think I could have been satisfied if I can see the point of it all, but it didn’t add much to the main storyline which is a red flag. As a matter of fact some of In Ho’s screen time should have been given to In Ha, allowing her character sometime to grow instead of turning her into a ticking time bomb.
Leila: Scenes could have been divided equally. Sad to say, no matter how beautiful In Ho’s character is and how amazing Seo Kang Joon acted, it left a sour taste to viewers.
Rinchan: Agreed, because of this Seo Kang Joon caught some backlash, the whole situation seems shady especially when we are aware Park Hae Jin shot more scenes than was aired, so it is hard to believe his reduced screen time was due to lack of content. I think the situation was unfair to all the actors since they performed phenomenally.
the main love line: Jung and Seol
I just wanted to be with you always. – Yoo Jung
Leila: Yoo Jung was never painted to be a perfect boyfriend, and I really like that. I know that I have swoon a million times whenever I see him with Seol. But apart from that Jung is really perfectly imperfect in more ways. I’m glad Park Hae Jin was able to show that. At the same time, I’m disappointed because he is so capable of MORE but the trajectory of how his character was written seemed to fall short in this drama.
Rinchan: The character of Jung is a fairly challenging one, Park Hae Jin was capable of carrying off the subtlety of Jung while being able to pull more expressive levels of emotions, showing great range in his acting. Jung’s imperfections as a boyfriend played into the narrative that Jung was faking the “perfect guy” persona. Although Jung loves Seol, he tried to act in the way he thought a perfect boyfriend would act, so he bought her things, and tried to be pleasant. His intentions were sincere, but he was clearly holding himself back.
Leila: I really saw how Jung made an effort to reach out, and that made him more endearing. He tried to understand Seol and respected what she wants to see happen. For me to witness that, I thought he had great potential to change and open himself more to other people. Surely, he made bad decisions with consequences. Jung was slowly learning from it. But then I didn’t understand why we never get to know him learn from it more.
Rinchan: Based off of what he said to Seol when they were breaking up he couldn’t really understand what she was asking, therefore couldn’t really follow through.
Leila: Jung didn’t understand that the answer is love, that’s why Seol is with him uncoditionally. Jung’s reason was absurd, it was selfish. Anyway the breakup felt flat because we know “it will happen” per K-drama rule. The momentum leading there didn’t feel right, either.
Rinchan: It just didn’t feel necessary with this couple, so the only excuse that could be used without deviating from what we know about the characters is to indicate Yoo Jung is dangerous.
Leila: True. He could have made Seol understand why he doesn’t want her to suffer alone. Setting aside all of this, I believe Seol and Jung was the right fit. Every time Jung comes to Seol for refuge, I just want them to stick together always. Nothing beats being with a person who truly understand you, without judgement. I’m glad they reached that point! But then, it went down hill. It shouldn’t have happened that why.
Rinchan: The break up between Jung and Seol contributed to my dismay, Seol was like a cool balm to Jung’s sore heart. She was just what he needed because she could patiently wait for him and cheer him on even as he behaved poorly. She was able to open her mind and truly accept him, however Jung was never truly free of his demons that haunted their relationship. He could never love her properly while he was behaving the way he did.
Leila: I understand that Jung had to figure out things on his own too. But with Seol, he didn’t have to go far because she was willing to understand. In any relationship, mistakes can’t be avoided. What matter’s most is communication and the willingness to make it work. Jung is lucky to have Seol, but he didn’t know her importance so he thought breaking up is the best idea. Stupid.
Rinchan: I feel like the situation is so crazy, the couple was making so much progress, Jung was really letting his guard down, and he truly fell in love with her, and she reciprocated. Yet everything spiralled out of control when Seol’s words came back to bite him in the backside. Because of Jung’s actions Seol was hurt, he must have realised that he couldn’t really love her properly if his actions were the source of her pain.
Leila: Seol is the consequence of his actions, and the best way to learn Jung’s lesson is to have the most important person in his life to make him realise it. But then again, Jung didn’t learn the lesson from his mistakes well enough, because he chose not to face it properly! To make it worse, he chose to leave the only person who understands and knows him best. Why does it have to be this way? I detest!
Rinchan: That’s the thing, up until Seol’s accident, Yoo Jung was unable to sympathize with any of his victims. Experiencing his father’s nonchalance, which is analogous to Jung’s, made him realize what the recipients of his revenge were feeling. Jung’s inability to relate has been a learning block for him.
hate her or love her: Baek In Ha
Rinchan: If only to muddle this love polygon further we have Baek In Ha. This character was so wasted, the potential that was embedded in the character could never be fully explored because she was the primary vehicle for irrational behavior. She was a character, I couldn’t entirely hate but she lost me when she threw Seol onto the street. The loose end with this character was never properly tied, did she show any growth? They could at least show she got a job in the end, unless she is still mooching.
Leila: The effect of abuse during her childhood is permanent and this is the scar we are seeing. It is not a pretty site.
Rinchan: Her final antics were what was most likely her breaking point, when Jung and his father abandoned her, her security blanket went up in flames. She actually expected to be taken cared of forever, and now she felt she lost everything when what she really needed was a sense of self. During her breakdown when she exclaimed “what will I do?” I immediately thought, “get a job.” Her world was ending but she was waking up to a reality that we all face everyday, and most of us are thriving.
Leila: So true! In Ha won’t even lift a finger to work a day in her life! She’s high maintenance, and I can’t believe she’s not even asking herself how on earth will she afford living by her own means? She’s interesting and I was hoping that she’d learn something out of the circumstances given to her. Jung is trying to teach her something valuable but she’s not interested to have it in Jung’s way. I was expecting that after she got out of the hospital, she’d be an independent woman already. But then, this is not the drama for that.
Rinchan: With that time gap she could have become superwoman for all I know LOL. At least she found love with someone who is willing to care for her.
Leila: That is far from the ending I have in mind for her.
side dish: Bo Ra and Eun Taek
Rinchan: Despite the crazy, I loved the supporting characters Eun Taek and Bora, they formed an awesome support system. These are the friends people look forever for and Jung has probably longed for.
Leila: Bo Ra is so frank and gullible while Eun Taek undeniably adores her! It was so natural to watch them together. They could have been together since day one, you know. I’m glad Bo Ra finally came to her senses and took her chance with Eun Taek.
Rinchan: I thought it was sweet how the two got together. Bora conflicted feelings pertaining to losing Eun Taek was a fear born out of the desire to be with him forever. Friendship is what’s safe, but with risk comes rewards, when someone is worth it, you need to take the leap.
Leila: Touché. I think there’s nothing more left for me to say. I also like that Seol and Bo Ra are besties that feel more like a family already. It is so genuine!
Rinchan: Yea, true friends are hard to find in this drama.
I want deeper connections with the people around me. I need to reach out more. Because not everyone leaves. Sometimes if you reach out, the person you’re trying to reach will be right there waiting. – Susane Colasanti, So Much Closer
Leila: Seol is really extraordinary. She is a typical K-drama heroine who makes a difference. Seol has a way of surprising me, through her bubble thoughts and actions. She is a contradiction, very reserve yet strong. Conservative yet bold.
Rinchan: Although she was created on the same canvas of the common K-drama heroine, she carries authenticity. She is a hard worker not solely because she is an optimist who sees the bright side to everything, but because she knows what it means to persevere. She has met many challenges and continues to charge forward to rise above them.
Leilal: She is the eldest, her sense of responsibility and leadership quality naturally exudes.
Rinchan: She also sacrifices her happiness for others, but she also has grown to rely on herself and doesn’t expect to lean on anyone.
Leila: Jung is difficult to understand and love – in general. Seol is on a league of her own for loving Jung. It takes a woman of her caliber to accept Jung just the way he is without any motive except for love.
Rinchan: Most people are easy to love if we can overcome the desire to project character traits on our significant others, choosing to accept and understand who they are. In Ha was right, you are either the type of woman who accepts Jung and stays, or can’t and leaves. Seol had to initially see Jung for who he was, as oppose to what she wanted him to be, but what makes Seol stand out was that she made him feel accepted while imploring him to change.
Leila: Exactly! Seol has her own way of blending smoothly with people she loves and cares for the most. First of all, she isn’t a people-pleaser, she is simply true to herself. Those bubble thoughts she had at first allowed us to take a peek on her mind. She make mistakes and learns from it then move on better. I like that about her. The way she handles herself is admirable.
the drama within the drama:
Leila: When I first read about the issue, I didn’t understand why it was happening. IMO, I didn’t realise that it was a big problem after I read the full story and read more about it. Thanks to you Rin for additional information as well. The outpourings of discontent from fans was immense, I felt sad that a wonderful series can be ruined.
Rinchan: It’s unfortunate that back room shenanigans is what tanked a perfectly good drama. I can’t help but imagine the writer basically gave up after not knowing what direction to take. Park Hae Jin’s discontent was palatable, it was like the production team was trying to pull a Yoo Jung sabotage in the end. This development was so strange because there were no signs of discord behind the scenes until that moment.
Leila: I decided to watch this drama without reading the webtoon. It would be unfair to comment or compare. Though I really felt the fans fury, but sometimes the more you expect, the more disappointment it will lead to.
Rinchan: The webtoon has long been on my reading list, but I have never gotten around to reading it. I can understand and appreciate the move the drama made from the original, but if I was a fan of the series I would be upset. Even without reading the webtoon it is clear that the essence of the drama was lost some where.
Leila: It was out of focus come Episode 13 onwards, IMO. Everyone is already looking for answers, but we’ve been given something we don’t need. Surely the webtoon was able to express each character more. The drama script was finished early and I thought that was an advantage. Then again, everything went awry instead.
Rinchan: One of the issues was that the writer of the webtoon was not pleased with the ending and how similar said ending was to what the writer originally had in mind. The webtoon is currently ongoing, and has the opportunity to create a more fleshed out story line. The drama on the other hand is only 16 episodes, managing the storyline to be concise and interesting is key. Normally 16 episodes keep the fillers to a minimum this writer amazes me though. LOL.
Leila: This is a drama adaptation, I don’t expect a carbon copy from the original. It’s like the Harry Potter movies vs the book series. Not everything I’ve read was included in the movie. Things can change.
Rinchan: The webtoon writer can’t hear you over the micromanaging of the drama. LOL.
Leila: I am hoping the success and best ending for Soonkki’s webtoon, AJA!!
Finale thoughts: Open ending
No matter how far you travel, you can never get away from yourself.
Leila: There are really some type of love that you have to let go and give some time off.. but Seol and Jung didn’t need three years for that.
Rinchan: I think the writers needed to interject some type of anticipation to keep the momentum going all the way up to the end. The open ending better mean there is a season 2.
Leila: Is Park Hae Jin going to be in that season? I will watch it!
Rinchan: *crosses fingers* You know I’m already in, but I am afraid TVN might become the symbol of heart ache when it comes to endings *cough* Reply Series*cough lol. Sadly I expected a far better ending.
Leila: I hope they scratched that time jump. It’s ridiculous. I know that they have to respect the webtoon writer, but since they adapted it already, they could have used their own imagination and ended it properly. I am sad for Jung because as a lead character, I am not satisfied with what happened to him. Open ending doesn’t have to be done this way. Though I love that crossroad shot! Why did they not even stop to meet? That could have been a better ending..
Rinchan: If they just met at the crossroad shot and had coffee that would have been a better ending, but to just restrict it to an email, that she misses. Leila at the end of the year I will be handing out the biggest troll of the year award and this production team will get it. With a drama this good, how can you mess up this bad!? LOL
Leila: By the power vested in me at the couch, you may give that award! LOL. This show is so promising because all the characters were interesting, and has depth I was intrigued to explore. If only it ended differently.. or proper explanation was given.
Rinchan: Yeah the depth was abandoned for a hasty ending, the only depth found in that ending was my disappointment. How a drama ends really affects how we look back upon it.
Leila: The ending is the last impression, like the dessert in a meal. This series felt like I received a crème brûlée that looks perfectly caramelised but it tasted bitter instead.
Rinchan: At least if they gave us a plain vanilla ending it would be digestible. What they did was put crap on my plate and called it brownies. LOL. The silver lining to all is that it is generally a happy ending where everyone is either in a better place or content in managing what they have. For example Seol is aware that wherever she goes there will be people like her problematic classmates, but now she is equipped with the tools to deal with them through past experiences. Also since Jung contacted Seol he must be ready for a relationship and has hopefully overcome his demons.
Leila: When the email was now set to “read”, it might mean Jung is ready to begin again. And that is what we call hope.
Leila: It’s gonna be the time Jung made effort to constantly ask Seol to have lunch or eat a meal with him. I especially enjoyed it when Yoo Jung lit up the moment she finally agreed! Those were good times and heart fluttering too. #fangirl
Rinchan: That moment nicely reflected Jung’s innocence and the purity of the emotions motivating his pursuit of the relationship. Seol was exciting to him, she was so different to what he has become accustomed too, a bright light in his dim world.
Leila: I also love the first time Jung stayed at Seol’s room. Moreover it was interesting to know the first time he finally took notice of Seol. That was a sweet moment. That hand holding – nay finger holding, explained how simple things makes a difference. It explained how much they needed each other, even without them knowing it. All of their hand holding scenes were my absolute favourites!
Rinchan: I want counter with loving the first time Seol stayed over at Jung’s place, but also loved how on that day, they had their tearful reunion. The moment was so powerful to me because she was looking for comfort, but reminded herself that she was used to caring for herself. When Jung showed up it indicated a shift in her world, because it meant that she was no longer alone and she had someone who willingly desired to shoulder her burdens.
Now… I’m afraid you’ll leave. I like you a lot too. Really a lot. – Yoo Jung
Leila: Lastly, after Jung had a fight with In Ho he immediately went to see Seol. That conversation was when I truly realised that anything can happen because of love: acceptance, forgiveness, change, comfort, happiness. It’s not just knowing that their feelings is mutual that made the scene so moving, but moreso because Jung was so vulnerable and his fear was well-founded. It felt real. Yoo Jung has a heart after all, just like any of us.
Rinchan: It just shows how much the two had progressed, she is his safe haven. I love how much Seol grew to love and understand this man. One scene that stands out for me is after Yoo Jung’s altercation with Sang Chul, Seol didn’t runaway or harshly reprimand him. She instead opened her arms and gave him a warm embrace, eating back his fears of rejection with her, most needed, acceptance.
Leila: It wasn’t the typical K-drama cliche where the couple will argue at this point. Seol did the opposite that Jung didn’t expect. Only Seol can do that to Jung. That’s why despite what happened to them, I can still look back with joy coz it will take a long time before I can see the kind of love they had shared. They showed me that with love, everything is possible. It doesn’t matter how it ends, the memories will stay. No regrets.
Credits: Dramabeans (translations) | Poems Porn tumblr (quotes) | Authors as tagged |