Craving nuance and subtext more than usual, and longing for safe places to express complex wonderings without being jumped on before fully forming thoughts, I’ve decided to revisit and write about Cheese in the Trap.
I watched it ‘on air’ last year, riding the many elations and frustrations… by the end not able to stop loving what I’d loved, nor to recommend the story to anyone else, especially not without strong forewarning that might ruin their experience in the first place. I wanted to know what a second viewing, with heart more guarded and expectations tempered, would be like. The experience 5 episodes in, is a rich one.
I could re-watch these first episodes over and over, just noticing the entanglement of inner detail and outer projection, much like in Jane Austen novels. The main characters, at least the beginning main characters, are both introverts, yet of quite different sorts, and each is misunderstood by many around them.
This is what draws them toward one another, although I think Jung understands Eun Seol better at first, especially her intricate defense mechanisms and difficulty letting others into her world.
Through Eun Seol’s inner dialog, we understand her penchant for overthinking and spinning things out of proportion, but we are faced with a Rorschach test about Jung’s motivations. Each scene paints distinct sides of Jung, warm or icy depending on the filter the audience is privy to. This is the main captivation of the drama.
An exchange in episodes 4 and 5 mirrors a conflict between Hae Soo and So in Moon Lovers Scarlet Heart Ryeo, which is interesting to contrast… the process of building or destroying trust… intentions, sins of omission, masks. Also conflicting desires.
Eun Seol is turned against herself, wanting to be on his side, touched by things he does for her, but also intensely aware, empathetic, unable not to consider other people even when they are clearly wrong in some way.
Jung is almost always right, but is he good?
These questions of psychopathology or Spectrum disorders that many are fascinated by, are handled especially well in these episodes. Although based on a webtoon, the character of Jung is dimensional, his sweet and vulnerable side apparent alongside his shrewd one. However, Jung seems to exist in the eye of a hurricane others are not able to withstand the edges of.
Differences in introversion between Jung and Seol:
– One has a circle of close and real friends, while the other has a lot of acquaintances based on exchange.
– One has a hardened attack mechanism when their sense of justice is threatened, while the other is more likely to cope and puzzle the right thing to do.
– One’s universe is well ordered with non-negotiable rules and habits, while the other’s time and attention is continually tugged in different directions by others.
– One holds grudges and keeps sharp record of debts and repayments while the other takes a longer process to close the door on someone or ask retribution.
– One avoids other people, while the other uses them.
(I’m sure there is more)
What is so moving toward the end of episode 5, is that we get to begin to see the fear of loss beneath Jung’s ruthless streak clearly for the first time… his life of obligation, having been born into a family of notoriety, and the wounds of his father’s seeming impartiality in caring for In Ho and In Ha. Understanding and adhering to the lines is critical to Jung. On top of his already ‘distant’ disposition.
Yet at least with Seol, he trusts and believes in her as a person enough to begin to examine his behaviors, comparing feedback against her words and feelings. Maybe with others, their cowardice or feelings of entitlement are enough to draw what he sees as clear lines of right and wrong, but he can’t dismiss Seol’s feelings so quickly out of hand.