What a difference a mere change in tone can make...gone are the eerie, mysterious ominous musical chords that director Lee Yoon-jeong had been using to imply that Jeong is a creepy little sneak who's up to no good. Granted, Jeong still smiles like a serial killer but it's hard to be mad at a guy who's so aggressively nice. Jeong even manages to act pushy in a way that doesn't seem all that pushy by ackowledging how he's being a tad too forward.
There's a weirdly paranoid element to "Cheese in the Trap" which at minimum justifies the title. Seol sees herself as a weak little mouse that's easy prey for men. Her whole attitude is such bizarre doubleback feminist thinking that I can't help but find Seol's character rather fascinating. Seoul has a strong sense of personal agency. She's aware of her attractiveness. And yet Seol uses these character traits to act excessively reasonably cautious, while still being enough of a scatterbrain to struggle with being late to class and forgetting important school materials.
The funny part about all of this is that Seol does have enemies. They just aren't Jeong. In-ha (played by Lee Sung-kyung) comes up with an immensely petty plan to harass Seol, for which the only defense is that it's not clear In-ha was expecting anything to actually happen. She did kind of make it up on the spot although really. All Seol has done so far is ineffectively try to avoid Jeong. That's not exactly a crime that warrants retaliation.
While there's a great deal of interesting material in "Cheese in the Trap" it remains difficult trying to piece together where the drama is actually going. I really do feel like I'm going to have to read the webtoon at some point because director Lee Yoon-jeong keeps sending us mixed messages. It's like she's saying that of course "Cheese in the Trap" is just an innocuous college romance...or is it?
Regardless, any annoyance I have on that point is fairly minor. "Cheese in the Trap", in addition to being reasonably funny, also manages to be clever in a way that's not overbearing. The conflict, to the extent we have conflict at all, is just Seol overthinking every possible line of innocuous dialogue while completely ignoring explicit hints from her friends regarding a possible blind date. How can Seol simultaneously be so smart and so stupid? Well, she is a college student.
Review by William Schwartz
"Cheese in the Trap" is directed by Lee Yoon-jeong, written by Go Seon-hee and Kim Nam-hee and features Park Hae-jin, Kim Go-eun, Seo Kang-joon, Lee Sung-kyung, Nam Joo-hyuk, Kim Ki-bang, Park Min-ji and more.
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Cheese in the Trap" Episode 2"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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