Cheese in the Trap: Episode 15 Recap

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Holy cheese and mackerel. This is quite an intense episode, even though it clocks in at a cool 59 minutes. All the kids are a little messed up, and I think we can blame Mr. Yoo for it. He is the original crazy one, and his actions years ago have now made a couple of them a little more crazy than they should be. You can probably guess who.

After her comforting hug, Seol again pleads with Jung to be more reasonable towards his classmates. She can’t blame him completely for what he did to Sang Chul; she herself hated Sang Chul too. But she does remind him that karma can be a b*tch so it would be better if he could be a better person to others like he is to her.

That evening, In Ha texts Jung in hope for some gossip or news that he and Seol broke up. But Jung doesn’t text her back. In Ha realizes that Seol is a lot harder to get rid of and plots to meet with Mr. Yoo about it. Is it because she’s jealous? Vengeful? Not quite sure, but she seems intent on hurting Seol in order to gain something more from Jung.

As for Sang Chul, he wakes up quite early from a call from his sunbae at Sunju Produce. Turns out, Sang Chul got the job because the sunbae put in a good word for him with the president. And he got the job because Jung set up a deal between Taerang Group and Sunju Produce in exchange for Sang Chul getting the job.

Back at school though, news of Jung being a chaebol spreads like wildfire. Seol has to steel herself for all of the questions and rumors surrounding them, with Da Young asking if it’s all true, and Do Hyun spreading gossip that Jung ruined Sang Chul on purpose. People even start viewing Seol badly as a gold-digger. At work, Jung must now deal with all of his coworkers trying to suck up to him and gain favors too. Only Bora and Eun Taek act the same; though shocked at the news of Jung being an heir, they don’t really care. They’ve now got couple rings!

Eventually Jung returns back to school to hand in his last paper and Seol has to rescue him from a horde of classmates who keep showering him with compliments. Surprisingly, Sang Chul approaches them and asks to speak with Jung alone. He knows what Jung did on his behalf, but he can’t bring himself to thank him because he feels he’s still being treated as a fool. All these years, Jung has looked down on them and hid his true self, thinking that he’s the only one observing them all. But they’ve been observing him right back. They’re not idiots, and some of them did try to genuinely be his friend. But because of Jung’s attitude and his prejudices, no one ever could be his friend. Sang Chul apologizes for all those times in the past that he bothered Jung, knowing that there is no reason for them to ever see each other again.

And here ends the Saga of Sang Chul.

Jung drives Seol back home, and raises the topic of a vacation after exams. After all, once she enters her fourth year she’ll be really busy, and he’ll be busy working. Seol readily agrees to a trip to the ocean or the mountains, but then Jung asks, “Can you stay out overnight though?” Heh – awkward. But Seol is all, “Isn’t that the point of lying to the parents then?” Hehe – she must really want to go on this trip!

When they get to her place, Seol asks for his hand. She got him a couple ring as a surprise! (It barely fits his finger though.) She had been jealous of Eun Taek and Bora’s, and so instead of waiting for Jung she decided to get it herself. Jung is at loss for words, and when he’s quiet you’d think he hates the gift. But he doesn’t – in fact, it delights him and makes him really giddy.

That, and Seol’s surprise peck on the lips before running out of the car. Yeah, she makes them a cute couple.

The following morning, In Ha prepares to meet with Mr. Yoo at the office. She carefully dresses the part of a rich heiress, freaking out In Ho in the morning, before going off to tell on Jung. Her purpose? To reveal Hong Seol’s presence in Jung’s life as a gold-digger.

Meanwhile In Ho goes to the concert hall to practice, as Professor Shim got him one hour of rehearsal. As he plays, he has a surprise spectator. It’s another pianist who actually looked up to In Ho back in the day and saw him when he was still Professor Noh’s student. He’s really happy to see In Ho playing again, and that he’s going to be performing at the concours. He’s even going to be a judge, per Professor Noh’s request! But before he leaves, he notices In Ho’s left hand twitching.

It’s getting really bad, so In Ho finally goes to get it checked out. Turns out he’s got an infection on one of the metal pins in his hand, and he got it when he scratched up his hand during his fight with Jung. The doctor recommends surgery, but it will also take two months for the hand to completely heal again. Until then, In Ho is advised not to do anything strenuous with his hand. Oh boy…

He wanders to the library where he sees Seol trying to study, but she can’t. She gives up and naps, only to get up minutes later for coffee. But when she comes back, she finds another warm coffee at her seat already. Wonder who gave that to her, huh?

News of Seol approaching Jung because he was the Taerang Group heir unsettles Mr. Yoo, and he calls Jung in as soon as In Ha leaves. Jung figures that In Ha had something to do with this (he saw her leave the lobby) and tells his father to not speak so carelessly about Seol. Yes, the whole company may know about Jung’s position now, and yes he may not treat In Ho and In Ha kindly. But Jung asks his father to really think who is the one who cares so much about one’s background and manipulates the situation.

Mr. Yoo won’t have it, and he tells Jung to end it in a month. For in a month, Jung will become a full time employee and sent off to a European office.

Jung leaves, and Mr. Yoo’s gaze settles on an old photo of young Jung and his wife at a party. It’s the party where Jung pushed a little girl who had broken his toy because she wanted his attention. Mr. Yoo scolds his son for his temper and asks his son what he should do in public. As if trained from when he was born, Jung forces a smile. “Yes, you should smile like that,” Mr. Yoo intones, and he encourages his son to play with the girl again. Jung notices a young Joo Yong pouring wine in a paper cup and then goes over to the little girl. With a fake smile he asks if she wants to play, and they go outside to the yard. Joo Yong follows, and Jung steals the cup right out of Joo Yong’s hands and gives it to the girl to drink.

It’s weird that Joo Yong doesn’t even do anything to stop this.

The little girl gets drunk, and eventually she breaks her stuffed bear’s arm to give it to Jung. That’s when he tosses it aside disdainfully and says, “Now that I think about it, I don’t really want it.” So this is cruel, quiet Jung. The Jung that came out because his father repressed all of his outbursts because the father himself was an uncontrollable angry child. It was because of Dr. Baek that he was able to calm down, and it’s because of Dr. Baek that Mr. Yoo learns his son may not be able to build real relationships with other people. Not unless he has siblings with whom to vent or share feelings with.

And that’s why Mr. Yoo forces siblings upon his son.

Of course Jung is not going to take this quietly. He tells In Ha she’s crossed the line, and then calls up his father’s secretary. Jung and In Ha will be attending a formal event in the next few days, and he has some people he’d like to add to the guest list.

We have a brief interlude regarding Hong Joon. The boy still doesn’t know what he wants to do, and Seol advises him to listen to his heart for once. Don’t follow their dad’s plan for him just because. Instead, Joon should go back to school and study what he wants. But what he wants is to be with Ah Young, and he just goes to the campus to bother her. She’s a bit busy preparing for an art competition with her other (male) sunbaes though, which makes him jealous. But what can he do?

It’s the day of the formal party, and In Ha calls up Jae Woo to drive her over. Unfortunately he’s not as rich as she thought and drives a boxy (Kia?) car. Definitely not fashionable. He wonders what her relationship is to Jung and offers to help protect her if Jung were to do anything to her. In Ha thinks it’s all cute and quickly gets out when they reach their destination, not giving him a chance to ask her out to an art exhibition.

When In Ha gets there, she strides over to Jung and offers to help him make peace with his father. After all, she’s the favored “daughter” so with just one word she can make things all better between Jung and Mr. Yoo. Jung smiles and encourages her to look around. Next thing she knows, one of the guests recognizes her. She had dated him some time ago for his money. She’s surprised to see him there because this party is too elite for the likes of him, but then it gets worse when another rich son recognizes her. The first one realizes that she’s been playing all the men for their money and throws a bit of a fit.

In Ha takes offense at being called a “scammer” and throws her martini on him. Suddenly she’s screaming her head off and ready for a fight with the two other guys. It’s really embarrassing as everyone stops to watch, and Mr. Yoo calls the security guards to escort her off the premises. Not believing what is going on, she starts calling for him, “Ahjussi! Ahjussi!” But her cries fall on deaf ears and she’s thrown out of the party. But not before she sees Jung’s smirk and him pleasantly talking to the guys she hooked up with before.

When In Ho returns home he finds his sister lying on the floor in a catatonic state. She finally explains what happened, and In Ha is in complete denial over what Mr. Yoo did. Doesn’t he like her the most? Why would he completely ignore her? In Ho tries to gently wake her up from her delusions: does she not get it? They were in the Yoo household as “pets,” playing pretend-siblings to the messed-up son of the house. They are not cared for at all. But In Ha is in such a state that In Ho gets defensive and heads over to Jung’s apartment to confront him.

He has to wait a while though, as Jung first picks Seol up at the campus after the party (with a designated driver’s help) and then takes her home. They are so cutely excited for their upcoming vacation. Finally when the car turns into Jung’s building, In Ho blocks the car from going any further. He wants to talk to Jung.

In Ho: Why are you doing this to us? Is it because I like Dog Fur? Is that why you [hurt] In Ha? Fine, I’ll leave. I’ll get lost like you wanted. Just leave us alone.

Jung: Actually, can’t you two leave me alone? Since you came into my home all the way to now… Haven’t you guys done enough? I understand that you want to look good in front of my dad, and I don’t care that you make me out to be the weird one for your own gain. It’s all in the past. [Clearly referring to that high school incident after the concours.]

In Ho: What are you talking about?

Jung: (defeated) I didn’t want to go that far either. But if Baek In Ha was left alone… she would have continued acting out. So make sure you tell her – if she mouths off about Seol again I don’t know what I’ll do next.

That stops In Ho for a bit, and he lets Jung go up to his apartment. After all, if In Ha hurt Seol he wouldn’t stand for it either. He goes home and observes his sister sleeping, wondering just what exactly did In Ha do against Seol. If only Jung just said it! If only Jung weren’t drunk and tired!

The next morning, In Ha looks at herself in the mirror. She’s an absolute mess. But she won’t be defeated. She cleans up and heads to Mr. Yoo’s home one more time to explain herself. She blames it all on Jung, saying that those guys were jealous of Jung and so she fought with them before. That’s why they weren’t happy to see her there. But Mr. Yoo knows they don’t have any issue with Jung. In fact, they were all getting along at the party. Mr. Yoo never realized that In Ha acted that badly towards sons of families he knew, and it’s embarrassing for him.

In Ha begs him not to believe what Jung said, since he’s a little “strange.” Mr. Yoo: “What do you mean “strange”! Is that what you thought of him this whole time? Have you gone around speaking this way?” Outraged, he now regrets bringing them into the household. He only wanted them to join his family to help his son be a better person, but now he has no need for them. And he won’t abandon his own son to side with them. He doesn’t dislike them completely, but he doesn’t want to have anything personal to do with them either. And so he officially, permanently, kicks In Ha out of the house.

That definitely does not sit well with her and she barges to Jung’s apartment, banging on his door and smashing a fire extinguisher on the handle to break in. Jung quietly waits inside; he had been packing for his vacation with Seol but now has to call up Secretary Choi for assistance. When In Ha breaks in, she gives him the loudest slap in the drama-verse. She hates him completely, especially because he’s ruining her life over some girl like Seol. “I’m the only one in the world who’d know and understand you!” she yells.

“So what?” Jung replies calmly. “Does it mean I have to love you?”

In Ha is the embodiment of craziness when rejected over a poisoned one-sided love. she breaks everything, smashing a photo of Jung and Seol together on the ground. She won’t let Jung just throw her away like she’s nothing after all that she’s done for him. She won’t be replaced by some random measly girl. Eventually security comes in and drags her out of the apartment building, once again throwing her out. She cries desperately at the door – how is she to live? She’s been completely abandoned by the two men she relies on for money and love because she used and abused them.

She’s so used to getting her way that she can’t believe a humble girl like Seol could take it all away.

So when she sees Seol coming to Jung’s apartment, surprising him with a visit, she freaks out and attacks her. If she must lose everything, it’s only fair if Jung does too. She pushes her out on the street from the sidewalk, blaming her for everything. And then a car rounds the corner.

And it slams into Seol just as she’s trying to get up from the ground. Holy shit. 

Seol lies on the ground, bleeding from her abdomen. And Jung reads Seol’s text of her imminent arrival. And he knows she would have bumped into In Ha at this rate. And as the ambulance sirens wail in the distance, Jung runs out of his apartment.

What a crazy episode.

Comments

In the past week there’s been a lot of controversy surrounding the production of Cheese in the Trap. (Dramabeans does a nice summary of it here.) I wasn’t aware of it, and I was kind of glad of it, until I found out today. The controversy regards the way the drama has deviated a lot from the webtoon, how Seo Kang Joon‘s In Ho has had a greater presence than Park Hae Jin‘s Yoo Jung in Seol’s life, and how Yoo Jung seems to be written out of the latter half of the show (once he starts his infamous internship). In the context of episodes 13-14, where it was very In Ho-centric, it makes sense. It validates some of the confusion I felt regarding the resurgence of In Ho as a viable second male lead in this love triangle. And it validates some of the confusion I felt in reading webtoon-Yoo Jung versus watching drama-Yoo Jung. (Webtoon-Yoo Jung is a dork. Drama-Yoo Jung… is not.) The scene where In Ho watches Seol in the library didn’t add much to the narrative in this drama, but just helps emphasize the point that In Ho’s character is in the spotlight more than Jung’s for no real reason.

However, regardless of the drama that happened behind the scenes and who’s right or wrong in this instance, I do believe that Cheese in the Trap is probably the best drama it can be. It could have been more faithful to the webtoon if it were a 20-episode drama, but alas that is not the case. Hence we get some rushed scenes to explain backstories and overdrawn piano-playing scenes. While I do wish it could have been more faithful, I also do enjoy Cheese for what it is. I think that by giving In Ho a greater presence, it follows the conventional conflict we get from a K-drama. And conventional love triangles are not all bad; while we do like dramas that break the norm, you do need some good ol’ tension of the heart. It gives it a bit of a “human feeling,” that people can have doubts even though they believe or are in love with someone.

Not to mention, Kim Go Eun did seem like she had more chemistry with Seo Kang Joon. For me, they make the screen pop a little brighter, so why wouldn’t you want to showcase that a little more? Seo Kang Joon is amazing in this role, and he deserves his screen time too. I want to say that episodes 13-14 were his time to shine, and I’m okay with giving him that attention. But I also think that it caused a lot of ire and backlash because these episodes should have happened earlier. Regardless of whether it happens in the webtoon or not, the timing of it all just messes up the internal roller coaster that I think all the viewers are on. It’s like, we’re near the end of the ride and we’re supposed to be easing to the end with Seol and Jung – but then there are just three more hills that came out of nowhere that we have to get through.

I do wish the drama had portrayed Yoo Jung as less of a villain, and made him a lot nicer like he is in the comics. Park Hae Jin did mention that he was drawn to the duality of Yoo Jung. So I didn’t like seeing Yoo Jung become a straight up villain at times; his manipulations were sometimes hard to bear because it made him less likable. But for the drama’s benefit, by making him more evil it just upped the tension between Yoo Jung’s dual selves and with Seol. (And adds fuel to the love triangle.) You wanted his good side to “win” and you wanted Seol to understand him. And she does. But had we seen him more happy and kind, we might understand better why she likes him so much. With the character of Jung, you definitely do feel that something is missing. And that’s probably what Park Hae Jin took umbrage on. You don’t see much of Yoo Jung’s duality and you don’t see what makes Seol like him so much.

And that’s why I really hated the fact that the childhood memory showed up now. (It’s the one I describe in my episode 12 recap.) It was too late in the series to show up. It should have happened a lot earlier – closer to when we met Joo Yong, because we’ve technically moved away from the character now. Had this been earlier we would have understood Jung better. We would have already decided to root for him to be a better person based on his interactions with Seol. And we would have understood why he hated the Baek siblings so much. It wouldn’t have taken us soooo long to get there. (12 episodes!) This flashback scene is a mix of bad directing/writing to me – it was introduced too late, was written in hurriedly, and was done from the father’s point of view when there was no real reason for him to dwell on this memory at that moment.

In summary, even though this controversy about the drama writing has put the last few episodes in a better context (and you can understand the decisions made), I also think that the drama itself has been able to breathe a life of its own. I’m disappointed if the drama takes after the webtoon’s ending (as I have not even finished the webtoon!!) and ruins the surprise for me. But I’m also glad that it deviated from the comics just enough that I’ve been able to enjoy both equally. So while I do feel bad for Park Hae Jin and how he felt about the show, I have to admit – I really like the show as it is.

Let’s just hope episode 16 doesn’t screw things up.

As for comments on this episode: Mr. Yoo f—ed everyone up. And sadly, you’d think In Ha is the most clear-eyed person in the family about her position, but after a while she really loses it. Such a shame. But such great work from Lee Sung Kyung. All the fun is gone. It’s just heavy melodrama from here on out.

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