Cheese in the Trap: Episode 5
Yay, now I can join the Cheese party! This show is a nice gust of fresh air, and I’ve really been enjoying its contemplative, slice-of-life feel, especially the way it handles heavy themes and light romance with equal skill, without ever having to veer into melodramatic territory or stray from its thoughtful, slightly off-kilter tone. It’s also nice to come across a set of characters who don’t always do the thing you expect them to do, and in the case of this drama hero, it’s thrilling and maddening all at once.
SONG OF THE DAY
Bily Acoustie – “그대도 나와 같다면” (If You’re Like Me Too) [ Download ]
EPISODE 5 RECAP
In-ho walks Seol home, and they’re both taken aback to see Jung standing in front of her door. Jung tells her that he came to check on her doors and windows because of the recent burglar scare in her neighborhood, and In-ho scoffs to see Jung show concern for another human being.
Jung simply turns to him and says, “Because she’s my girlfriend,” and In-ho gets riled up, thinking that there must be a connection between Seol being his girlfriend and Jung cutting off his sister. Before Seol can figure out what that even means, Jung tells her to go inside.
Once they’re alone, In-ho asks if it’s because he approached Jung’s girlfriend that he’s acting like this toward his sister In-ha. Jung doesn’t confirm or deny; but he says that In-ha will have to find someplace else to live next month… or In-ho could quit the tutoring academy job, his call. Yeesh.
In-ho says he has no intention of disappearing like Jung wants him to, and challenges, “What, are you going to destroy my right hand this time?” Jung doesn’t flinch and asks if that’s what he really wants. In-ho laughs bitterly and says, “That’s right, this is the moment I like best—when your mask comes off.” Though Jung had remained impassive in front of In-ho, the minute he walks away, there’s a momentary flicker that crosses his face. Annoyance? Anger? Something else?
Seol runs back out and chases after Jung, who’s mad at her for ignoring his warning to stay away from In-ho. She explains running into In-ho by coincidence and not telling him because she didn’t want him to worry, but all Jung does is instruct her to stay away from In-ho no matter what.
As the rain starts coming down, Seol thinks to herself that Jung only ever says what he wants and that’s the end of it. She’s always been patient, she thinks, but today the dam finally bursts: “Why? Why do I have to avoid Baek In-ho? Why do I have to listen to you no matter what?”
She asks to be given a reason she can understand, but Jung just gets angry that she’s not doing as he asked. He realizes they’re both soaked and opens up his umbrella overhead, and says he doesn’t want to fight anymore. He tries to tell her to go inside and they’ll talk tomorrow, but Seol challenges, “And tomorrow? What’ll change? Whether I apologize or ask questions, you don’t listen to me. You tell me to avoid or stop with no explanation. What am I supposed to do? What am I to you? Is this dating?”
Seol walks away and answers a call from Bora, who’s incomprehensible and crying. When Seol turns back around to go to Bora, Jung is standing in the same spot wanting to talk. But when he hears that Bora’s father has collapsed, he says they’ll take his car. Seol worries that Bora is all alone because her mother passed away and all she has is Dad, and Jung speeds so they’ll get to the hospital sooner.
Eun-taek arrives at the hospital first, and Bora wails as she asks why he’s only just arriving now and what he’ll do if something goes wrong with her father. He apologizes and hugs her, reassuring her that everything will be okay.
Seol arrives and holds Bora as she cries, and Jung asks the nurse for a spare room for Bora before she collapses too. Eun-taek carries her away while Seol and Jung wait outside the surgical ward.
Meanwhile, In-ho broods at home thinking about Jung’s “she’s my girlfriend” declaration, clearly upset by it. He convinces himself that it’ll be fun, though he doesn’t look like he’s having much fun.
As Seol and Jung wait, he notices her dozing off and tells her to take a nap, but she wants to wait up. He wonders why, when it will have no effect on the outcome of the surgery. Odd. And then when a patient is rolled past them and Seol gasps at the bloody hand, he shows no reaction and wonders why it would frighten her. Odd again.
The doctor comes out and tells them that Bora’s father had a brain hemorrhage, but they caught it early and the surgery should go well. Seol is relieved, and when Jung goes to get a blanket, she thinks to herself that it’s nice to be able to depend on him, but something’s been off between them since earlier that night.
Jung grabs a blanket from Bora’s room, where she and Eun-taek have fallen asleep side-by-side, holding hands between their beds. That’s so sweet.
Seol is already asleep when he comes back out, so he quietly covers her with the blanket and sits next to her, and spends a while staring at her hand. He inches his hand closer and closer until their fingers touch, and then gently takes her hand in his.
Seol wakes up to find that they both fell asleep that way, and she in turn covers Jung with the blanket and sits next to him. The surgeon finally comes out and tells them that the surgery went well, and they run to tell Bora the good news.
Bora checks on her father and thanks them all for staying so long. When she sends them all home, Eun-taek says he couldn’t possibly leave her here alone, and everyone smiles. It only lasts for a second and Bora is back to nagging him about not answering her calls right away, but Eun-taek just grabs her hand again and says he’d never ignore her calls.
As they walk out of the hospital, Seol apologizes to Jung for getting mad over something so little, and he admits to going overboard too. He sits her down and tells her that In-ho is the grandson of a professor that Jung’s father respected, and when the professor passed away, his dad became In-ho and In-ha’s benefactor.
Jung says that In-ho used to play piano really well, but in high school a fight broke out and he hurt his hand, and In-ho thinks it’s Jung’s fault. Jung insists that it’s a misunderstanding and that he’s tried to explain it several times to In-ho, but he won’t believe him. He says he wanted Seol to stay away from In-ho because he was worried that In-ho would somehow try to get back at him through her.
Seol thinks to herself that the feelings run a little too deep for it to be a simple misunderstanding, but decides to trust Jung for now. Jung asks if there’s something else that’s bothering her, because it seems like she’s been mad at him all day. She decides that clearing the air would be better than carrying more misunderstandings, and tells him about running into Joo-yeon yesterday, and what she heard about the night she had a run-in with the homeless man on campus.
She says that it confused her to hear that he’d walked away without caring, and wondered why he asked her to date. Jung finally tells her that he called the security guards and went to go check on her that night, and then the next day he checked on her again, and thought she lied about where she got the wound because she didn’t want any rumors floating around.
She’s relieved and a little mortified, especially when he asks in disbelief if she took Joo-yeon’s words at face value. She says she’s sorry and promises not to let any misunderstandings fester from now, and Jung promises not to do anything to make her mad from now on.
They smile at each other, but then a rumbling from Seol’s stomach breaks the mood. She says she hasn’t eaten all day, and he remembers that he bought food earlier and takes out triangle kimbap and offers to unwrap hers. He seems so proud, it’s adorable.
As they drive home, Seol thinks to herself that Jung doesn’t like a fuss, and doesn’t defend himself until he’s asked, even when it causes misunderstandings. That’s just his way, she thinks, and she tells herself to forget the past and start over because that’s the right thing to do.
The next day, Seol walks up to In-ho at the tutoring academy and asks hesitantly if he got home okay last night. But he’s suddenly very cold and huffy, calling her “Yoo Jung’s girlfriend” and acting like she’s being haughty, even though she’s hardly said two words.
When class is over that night, In-ho follows her out just to say that he’s not going to go home now if she’s going home, because her boyfriend might get mad. You’re hilarious. Are you going to pull her pigtails next?
Seol tells him to stop picking fights with her and just say what he wants to say, and that just flusters him even more. He says that they should act like strangers from now on, and is thrown when she blurts that she agrees and storms off.
She chats with Jung on the phone that night and tells him about her parents opening up a new noodle shop and says he should visit sometime. He jokes that it’s a little early to meet the parents (he uses a word that means a formal set-the-marriage-date meeting), and she’s so shocked that he has to explain he was kidding.
She offers to buy him dinner because she got paid today and says they can eat anything he wants, so he says he’s going to choose something really expensive. He’s joking again, but she can never tell, and he grins to himself cutely because he can practically hear her brain doing cartwheels over the phone.
Prickly sunbae Yoon-sub (Seol’s boss at her university admin job) spends the night curled up in the corner of someone else’s room. It’s not until morning that the person comes home, and it turns out to be Seol’s next-door neighbor Joo-yong.
Joo-yong greets Yoon-sub as “jagi-ya,” and though he seems to call a lot of people that, these two definitely seem like boyfriends. Yoon-sub gets mad about Joo-yong staying out all night and catches him in a lie, and when he hears that Joo-yong went home to see his mom because his father wasn’t around, Yoon-sub snaps at him to just go home to his mommy then.
Joo-yong tries to get him to stay, and while they’re arguing in the hallway, they run into the owner’s grandson, who looks super shifty about being seen. He says he came to check on some things that need fixing, and makes a comment about the two guys having spent the night together, and sneers about it when he’s alone.
Seol agonizes over the menu at a restaurant, and when Jung sees that she’s got a coupon for a specific dish, he readily suggests they order that. Seol tells him not to worry about In-ho because they’re distant now, and that seems to make him happy. He asks how she became friends with Eun-taek and Bora, and she says she met Eun-taek through Bora, and met Bora through tutoring when they were high school seniors.
Seol remembers Bora as being very aggressive at first and laughs about it now. She says that there are some people whose first impressions remain constant as you get to know them, and others who end up completely the opposite. Jung asks if he’s any different from her first impression of him, and she freezes, not knowing how to answer. He says that things are really different between them than a year ago, and says with a smile, “I like it.” She says she does too, but can’t even lift her head to meet his eyes.
As they walk down the street, a motorcycle zooms past and Jung grabs her out of the way, but instead of swooning like in any other drama, Seol flips out and pushes him away, like he just accosted her or something. That frightens him and then they’re both scared. She cracks me up with her flailing, though her reaction makes me curious.
They browse a store and Seol picks out a hairpin and sees Jung looking at watches, and he picks up a little redheaded lion cell phone charm and says it looks just like her. She doesn’t seem flattered and self-consciously touches her hair, but he buys one for each of them anyway.
At home, Seol looks at the lion and wonders if it really does look like her, and eventually breaks into a cute little smile, deciding that maybe it does. Jung waits up for her to text, and he looks so happy when she calls.
It doesn’t take long for In-ho to break his own rule and approach Seol at the tutoring academy, and he does it by picking another stupid fight, naturally. She reminds him that they’re supposed to be strangers, and he starts mopping at her feet like a little kid, making her drop her notebook right into the sopping puddle.
She storms off angrily, and In-ho chases after her. His sister In-ha happens to walk in and see this, because she’s here to demand more money from him in person after he ignored her calls. She follows Seol to the convenience store and makes her pay for her snacks without the slightest introduction or explanation.
In-ho convinces one of the instructors at the academy to let him make a copy of the book he ruined for Seol, by promising to get the teacher’s shoes shined. He starts to make a copy when In-ha calls from Seol’s phone and warns him to show up with money before something happens to his girlfriend.
In-ha asks Seol about her relationship with her brother, and Seol says they hardly know each other, and it’s not what In-ha is assuming. In-ha watches her brother run towards them like his feet are on fire and says he showed up way too fast for them to be nothing.
In-ho gives Seol the book and drags In-ha away kicking and screaming, and she demands more money because she’s all out. He’s so infuriated that he lifts a hand like he’s about to strike her, and though he stops and doesn’t actually do anything, she challenges him to go ahead and hit her then: “You’re just like our aunt. Go ahead, hit me. Hit me!”
He pales as she screams in his face, and we fade into a flashback of In-ha as a child, screaming at their aunt who hit her repeatedly. Little In-ho had dragged her away and asked why she always provoked her, and In-ha said that woman wasn’t their aunt, and they should run away.
He argued that their parents and grandfather had passed away and they had nowhere else to go, but In-ha was determined to get away. So In-ho jumped out the window and In-ha was right behind him, but their aunt caught her before she could jump… and he kept running.
He didn’t get far, since Jung’s dad was on his way to see them, and In-ha eventually ran out the door and caught up to them. She showed Chairman Yoo all the bruises on her body and screamed that they’d been abused, begging and pleading for him to take them away.
We fade back to the present, and In-ha counts her money with a smirk on her face, thinking it pitiful that In-ho is still so guilt-ridden about that. Damn, she’s cold. Seol brings In-ho a coffee and thanks him for the book, and leaves him alone to brood some more.
After helping out at her parents’ new restaurant all weekend, Seol is exhausted when Jung calls about their date. He suggests doing something near her house instead, and she tells him to meet her at a bar in her neighborhood.
Jung arrives first and runs into Joo-yong, who’s shocked to see him here. Jung calls him “hyung” and it sounds like they’ve known each other for a long time, though Jung doesn’t look especially happy to see him. He’s surprised to hear that Joo-yong left home because his parents disapproved of his relationship, and wonders why that’d be something to leave home over.
Joo-yong says this person is the only one who loves him for him, and guesses that Jung wouldn’t know anything about love, adding offhandedly that no one in her right mind would be with him. He catches himself before he can even finish that sentence and tries to take it back, and stammers, “I’m not saying you were in the wrong!” Hm, innnteresting.
Jung says he’s been drinking too much and tries to get him to go home, and that’s when Seol arrives and wonders how Jung knows her next-door neighbor. Joo-yong in turn is shocked to find out that they’re dating.
In-ho sees a suspicious man pick up a brick and turn down Seol’s street, and it niggles at him enough that he turns around and follows the guy. Yoon-sub steps out and calls Joo-yong for the millionth time, when Brick Man creeps down the dark street and SLAMS the brick down on top of Yoon-sub’s head. It’s the landlord’s grandson, and it seems that he’s been waiting for Yoon-sub to come outside.
In-ho runs over just in time to see the guy run away, and screams for a lady to call emergency while he presses his shirt against Yoon-sub’s gaping head wound.
Meanwhile, Joo-yong gets so drunk that Jung has to piggyback him home, and Seol helps him get Joo-yong tucked into bed. She wonders why his door was unlocked, but doesn’t have a chance to dwell on it. Jung tells her to lock up and give Joo-yong his keys tomorrow.
She trips over the doorway on the way out and Jung catches her by the waist, and she’s so awkward that she just stands frozen like that in his arms, wondering to herself what a normal person does in this situation—invite him over for coffee? Ramyun? You are so spazzy, and I love it.
He smiles and answers as if he just heard her thoughts: “I want to, but next time.” He pets her on the head sweetly and tells her to lock up before saying goodnight, and she winces in mortification once he’s gone.
The next day, Seol comes home to a big ruckus in her neighborhood. A lady is accusing Joo-yong of being the underwear thief, and a cop questions him about where he was last night. He says he was drinking with Seol, who backs him up on this, and she goes with him when the cop asks to search his room.
There’s no reason he’d even be interested in women’s underwear, not that they know this, but Seol defends him to the cop and says he wouldn’t do something like that. But then a pile of women’s lingerie is discovered in his room, and Seol’s eyes widen to see something of hers in the stash.
When Jung calls, Seol explains what’s happened and says she’s at the police station with Joo-yong, and Jung just says very dispassionately that it’ll get cleared up if he’s not guilty. Seol wonders to herself, “Didn’t they say they were close?”
And then while Joo-yong is being questioned, he finds out that Yoon-sub is the victim from last night, and he runs out of there in a panic. Jung just hangs up and continues his workout, not caring in the least.
Seol steps out of the police station to find In-ho there, and as they walk home, she tells him that he did a good thing and that he saved a sunbae of hers. She doesn’t know why Yoon-sub was here, and asks In-ho what HE was doing in front of her house last night.
In-ho gets all flustered and says he wasn’t there for her or anything, and she points out that she never insinuated that, finding it amusing. She thanks him for what he did, and he apologizes for his noona the other day. He tells her that if In-ha ever comes by again, she should just run away.
Seol overhears an argument next door at Joo-yong’s house, and is standing out in the hallway when Yoon-sub comes storming out mid-fight. Awkward. Yoon-sub asks what she’s doing here, and accuses her and Jung of having a great time messing with him because they know his weaknesses, and asks bitterly if she enjoys going to school for free. Oh. What.
Seol doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and he can’t believe that she has no idea that Jung threatened him to act like he lost Jung’s report last year to make sure that Seol got the scholarship in his place. Behind him, Joo-yong gasps to learn that the person who’s been threatening him all this time was Jung.
Seol is stunned, but this time she asks Jung directly instead of holding it in. She asks if it’s true that he threatened Yoon-sub and made him misplace his report, making Jung’s scholarship go to Seol and tarnishing Yoon-sub’s reputation as an irresponsible admin. Jung admits to all of it, and says that he didn’t want her to take a semester off.
She points out that they didn’t speak back then, but he says that’s why—they weren’t friendly but he wanted to get to know her, and he had no other way of helping her out. He argues that he never would’ve done it if it had caused Yoon-sub harm, but Yoon-sub wronged him in the past and he asked for the favor, and it’s all in the past.
Seol argues, “How can everything always be so clear-cut and simple for you?” She says that Yoon-sub is being talked about at school and hates her, and she asks if Jung has ever once thought about it from Yoon-sub’s point of view. He says he’s sorry if he didn’t think it through enough, but says in his defense that it was all for her.
He tries to stop her when she gets up, and she thinks to herself that this is such a blow to her pride and she can’t breathe when she thinks that someone else has already been hurt because of her. Out loud, she says, “I can’t say thank you.”
She walks away and thinks, “I didn’t want to get used to receiving things from others. I didn’t know that I had already been receiving many things from Sunbae, but what angers me more is that I was shaken by his words that it was all for me.”
Jung stands there wondering why things still turned out this way when he told the truth, and calls Yoon-sub. Uh-oh. In flashback we see that Jung caught Yoon-sub stealing money out of someone else’s wallet at that department party at the start of the semester, and he’d then asked Yoon-sub to lose his report and they’d call it even.
Back in the present, Joo-yong worries that Yoon-sub pissed off the wrong person because he knows that Jung is someone who repays every wrong done to him. And when Jung shows up, the pleasant, polite veneer is completely gone. He’s cold and vicious as he sneers at Yoon-sub for mouthing off, and when Joo-yong jumps to his defense and pleads for Jung to let him off the hook, Jung asks what their relationship is and says condescendingly, “Well isn’t that a sight.”
Jung accuses Yoon-sub of being a credit card thief and Joo-yong of being an underwear thief, and asks if Joo-yong’s parents know he’s living like this. Joo-yong says that everything Yoon-sub has done was for him, and swears that the underwear thing wasn’t him. Jung wonders who’s to say until he’s cleared of suspicion, and Joo-yong notes that this is the real Yoo Jung—incapable of understanding anyone else’s emotions and ignoring them completely.
Joo-yong says he’s even worse than before, and Jung erupts in anger at that: “Are you saying this is my fault?! He messed everything up!” He includes Joo-yong among the things that Yoon-sub messed up, and charges at him when he thinks of Seol. Joo-yong begs him to let it go and gets down on his knees, pleading for him to let it go just this once because Yoon-sub sacrificed so much for him.
Jung agrees to let it go under one condition, and tells Joo-yong to go back home. He doesn’t want them together in front of Seol and asks if Joo-yong doesn’t know what state his family is in, and tells him to get it together before walking away. Yoon-sub is beside himself at the idea that Joo-yong will go back home (they never say it outright, but the implication is that his parents would never accept him being gay), and Yoon-sub cries over and over, “Are you going home?!” Joo-yong just hugs him and asks not to fight today.
At home, Jung plays video games and thinks over what Joo-yong and Seol said about him today. He wonders, “Are they strange? My ways, my thoughts? Why? The truly strange thing is you people.” He thinks of everyone he caught doing something wrong and the way they’d all pleaded with him to let it go, and what In-ho said about him acting like a god who looked at people.
Jung thinks about Seol and how they first crossed paths, and thinks, “You did it too. You saw me and sneered and judged me however you wanted. And you turned your back on me. Seol-ah, I’m not strange.”
Oh you’re definitely strange; it’s just the quality of what kind of strange that’s in question. I swear, after every episode I feel so completely turned around on my Yoo Jung stance. First he’s weird, then he’s sweet, then he’s cold, then he’s warm; he’s vicious, then kind, scary, then sympathetic. I don’t know which way is up and I wonder if I’ll ever know. It’s maddening in a good way, as far as the story goes—I just want to figure him out so badly that I keep wanting Seol to give him the benefit of the doubt just to see where this goes, even though I honestly would have run away if I were in her shoes. We’ve already seen signs today that she doesn’t inherently trust him, and has to tell herself to trust what he says or accept his explanations for now, and even though I’m pretty sure he genuinely likes her (whatever that means, in his head), he keeps doing things that make me think her gut is right and he can never be fully trusted.
I know that Seol is a little more paranoid than the average bear (or just more observant?), but her worries about Jung are obviously not ALL in her head if he has a history of this kind of behavior that others from his past know. He clearly has trouble with empathy, but what worries me more is this eye-for-an-eye business, where he always repays every wrong done to him in kind. Of course, that’s just Joo-yong’s interpretation and it could be wrong; up until now I had thought of Jung as being more opportunistic about calling in favors owed when it suits him, but Joo-yong made it seem like he carried grudges and never let things go if the score weren’t even.
That worries me in a new way, especially after his confrontation with Joo-yong and Yoon-sub at the end of the episode. He was more vicious and condescending than we’ve seen up until now, and I flinched when he was so intolerant of discovering that Joo-yong was gay. I had gotten the sense that he was quick to judge before this, but that was a new low. It’s not like I don’t see his argument that other people judge him just as harshly, but there’s a power imbalance with Jung that makes his actions seem crueler, like he’s always bestowing forgiveness on people when he’s no god.
And yet, even after all that, I can’t shake the feeling that he’s learning how to love and think of others because of Seol, and I really felt something when he so hesitantly reached out and touched her fingers and held her hand as she slept. He scares me, but I want to see more of that genuine warmth and curiosity from him. The scholarship thing is a huge setback though, and I was fuming when he didn’t understand why she’d find it patronizing and not something to be grateful for. It’s just all wrong for him to get mad at Yoon-sub for spilling the beans when he never should’ve manipulated his grades for Seol in the first place, and I hope she doesn’t let him off the hook too easily just because his heart was in the right place. With a guy like Jung, I think that excuse could lead to some very dark places all too readily.
Structurally, I like that there’s such a push and pull in the relationship without the usual romantic ambiguity. They’re already dating and we know they like each other, but I find that their dynamic and my impression of the relationship changes every time, because there’s so much character ambiguity clouding the way you might read an otherwise very average interaction between a couple. Like when Jung pulled Seol out of the way of the motorcycle, was she just a flailing nervous wreck, or was she actually frightened? Is their lack of skinship because he’s being respectful, or because he’s never let himself get that physically close to anyone before? Is he doing what she wants in order to sincerely gain her trust and be close to her, or does he just want to do whatever it takes to keep the peace and not fight? And then of course when you add in a second lead like In-ho who seems to fit with Seol so easily and naturally, it’s hard not to wonder if she’d be happier without Jung. Basically, this show fills my head with crazy questions, but it’s one case where I’m happy to be left guessing.
- Cheese in the Trap: Episode 4
- Cheese in the Trap: Episode 3
- Cheese in the Trap: Episode 2
- Cheese in the Trap: Episode 1
- Oh Snap! Everybody say cheese
- Fortunes of romance and fate for Cheese in the Trap
- Character posters for Cheese in the Trap’s campus crew
- First official still from tvN’s Cheese in the Trap