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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Cheese in the Trap" Episode 8

2016/01/26 | Permalink

Min-soo (played by Yon Ji-won) used to be an apparently irrelevant background character in Seol's class, but she became more noteworthy last episode by taking the somewhat creepy step of trying to perfectly mimic Seol's personal appearance. This episode expands greatly on Min-soo's motivation. She's lonely, she wants friends, doesn't know how to get them, but Seol seems to be nice and she also has positive personality traits. Who does this remind you of?

The parallel with Yeong-gon is no coincidence. Their first scene together I was wondering whether "Cheese in the Trap" was trying to throw together a vaguely unsettling third tier romantic subplot. It quickly becomes clear, though, that these two are going to end up mutually reenforcing each other with bad advice. The bad advice is disguised as good advice, though, on account of the fact that it manages to acquire desirable results on a fairly regular basis. Not good results- desirable results.

Every scene with these characters plays out like some sort of weird social gaming contest. As in, getting along with people is not a good goal to try and achieve in and of itself. It's a competition where the person who's able to get the most sympathy from peers is "the winner". If this has to be managed from obviously staged situations, so be it. That was the lesson Yeong-gon learned from his stalking adventures. It wasn't to change his behavior, but to get the right kind of witnesses.

Scenes like this really hurt me. I have known people who do this. At some rather shameful moments in my own life, I have done this. So as tempting as it is to dismiss this behavior as a creative writing sham, I can't. With these scenes "Cheese in the Trap" is able to show itself off as disturbingly true-to-life, functioning as it often does as a dark take on the university experience, where good deeds aren't rewarded and bad deeds aren't punished provided they can be spun in the right context. Even artistic talent is no guarantee of the good life- just ask In-ho.

In between all this general discomfort the love story between Seol and Jeong is a much-needed breather. While technically speaking Seol and Jeon are the main characters in retrospect their scenes have the least long-term relevance, even if they're always so much fun to watch in the present day. Jeong still has that tremendously awful dual-selfie saved to his phone, and he practically volunteers for a task that would terrify most boyfriends. What's not to like?

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.

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