Cheese in the Trap: Episode 9
It’s an important day for our couple, who make big strides in their relationship that needed making. Of course, they’re not all super-adorable happy strides, but sometimes we have to weather a rough patch to get to more adorableness, right? I do really enjoy that this drama features our couple’s relationship as a work in progress, as something that requires growth as much as it results in growth, so that when we do hit bumps, I feel like we’re still heading somewhere. A somewhere that isn’t round in circles, I mean. Those kinds of travels are much less entertaining, and thankfully absent from Cheese in the Trap thus far.
SONG OF THE DAY
Vanilla Acoustic – “너와 나의 시간은” (Your and my time) [ Download ]
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Seol nods off on her subway commute, and dreams she’s on campus as her friends crowd around Copycat Min-soo, treating her like she’s Seol. They ignore Seol on the sidelines calling out that she’s the real one, and then even Jung leaves her side to sling an arm around Min-soo, calling her Seol. Ack, that just feels so wrong. Stoppit.
Seol calls after them plaintively, “She’s not me! Where are you going? Don’t go!” as they leave her behind.
She awakens cranky from the dream and gets crankier at a call from Stalker Boy Young-gon. She ignores him, so he decides that she’ll have to see his text exchanges with Jung firsthand to realize who the real bad guy is.
“I wish you’d open your eyes,” he says. “Open your eyes, Seol!”
Seol repeats that refrain to herself: “Even if small things come rushing at you in ripples, they’re only ripples. Like everyone does, you can endure them.”
So she puts on her endurance face when she sees Copycat Min-soo in the library, pushing past stoically. When Young-gon tries to stop her to talk, she runs away before he can succeed. Then she confronts Sunbae Sang-chul for his continued slacking on their class project, and he sweaaaaaars he’ll send his assignment in this time.
“But if ripples keep hitting a person,” she thinks wearily, “you can’t just keep enduring.” When Sang-chul misses yet another deadline, she deletes his name from the team report.
Sang-chul comes to class on presentation day full of lame apologies but expecting to jump into the presentation anyway. He flips his lid when he sees his name is gone, ranting like Seol’s the evil one for being mean, causing a ruckus.
Seol stands her ground and her group backs her up, but Sang-chul keeps bellowing at them to put his name back until Jung warns that the professor’s on her way. Sang-chul accuses him of taking his girlfriend’s side, but Jung wishes the group well and joins his group.
Jung notices Copycat Min-soo staring at the picture she secretly snapped of Seol’s brother Joon, now her phone wallpaper. To make sure, he asks her for the time and watches as she checks her phone, noting the photo.
The professor arrives and presentations begin—aptly enough, on business leadership—starting with Seol’s group. Sang-chul sits miserably in his seat while his group presents, and the professor just notes the team change and comments that people don’t change easily. It’s an appropriate remark for Sang-chul, though I’m proud of Seol for being an example of the contrary.
Then Jung’s group presents, and when Min-soo steps up for her segment, Bora and Seol sit up in alarm—her material is stolen from their project last year. Seol sits with a pounding heart, thinking that making an issue of this now could get very uncomfortable for everyone.
“But,” she thinks, growing angrier, “I don’t want to have more of myself stolen away.” When the professor opens it up to class questions, she speaks up, asking if Min-soo did this work herself. It’s a bold question and Min-soo gets huffy, going so far to suggest that Seol has a personal grudge against her. But Seol points out a typo she’d made last year, which is also in Min-soo’s slide.
The professor steps in to say that Min-soo did an outstanding job on her presentation… unless the accusation is correct and she stole her work. She calls in Min-soo, Seol, and Bora to her office after class.
There’s a flurry of accusations among teammates after class, and Seol thinks that while she expected this to cause talk, she’s tired of people thinking they could treat her this way.
Min-soo tells her group defensively that Jung helped her with all the materials (aha!), but Jung says calmly that he only told her what site to look at—anyone with sense would have known better than to rip off something wholesale.
Even the girl who’d taken Min-soo’s side before, Da-young (Stalker Boy’s girlfriend), snaps at her now for messing up their group project. Da-young says everyone’s calling her Faux-Seol and doesn’t bat an eyelash when Min-soo bursts out that she’s not copying Seol and runs out in tears.
Da-young turns to Seol next, saying she’s scary and unnecessarily mean, exposing Min-soo publicly rather than quietly. Bora snaps back and pulls Seol away while Da-young keeps sniping.
In-ha shows up on campus and gets into an argument at the convenience store over prices, until a nerdy student just pays the difference to get her out of the way. She sizes him up, smelling potential money, and turns on the charm, turning Nerdy starry-eyed.
He’s one of Jung’s teammates, and when In-ha asks if he knows Jung or where he is, Nerdy points off into the distance at Jung’s girlfriend and tells In-ha she would know better.
In-ha’s eyes sharpen and Nerdy wisely excuses himself as she goes after the girlfriend, who turns out to be Faux-Seol, ha! In-ha trips Min-soo, offers “help” up by yanking her hair, then chases after her when Min-soo tries to scamper off. Muahaha. I find it extra delightful that Min-soo’s impersonation is turning on her, since this is what we call being hoisted by one’s own petard.
In-ha warns that anyone dating Jung has to get her permission first, and her tirade is only stopped by In-ho, who happens by to witness the scene. He darts in and picks up In-ha around the middle, running away with her while In-ha continues yelling curses backward. Min-soo is left bewildered, having really the most terrible day (that I don’t feel bad for in the least).
In-ha complains about Jung kicking her out of her apartment, and In-ho does feel a burst of indignation over that until In-ha adds that she was only given 10 million won (around 10,000 dollars), which she’s already spent most of instead of finding a new place to live in. He tells her not to come back to campus and go shopping instead, while she whines that she can’t shop without money.
Seol speaks with her class professor about the presentation, then runs to meet Jung. They’re both thrilled to finally get a moment to with each other and hug for a long while, saying they’ve both missed each other. She apologizes for speaking up about his group project, but he assures her it’s fine.
Holding her, Jung sighs happily, “I feel like I can live now.” She says, “Me too.”
Then he adds, “We only seen each other a short while and we have to split again. I feel like dying.” Seol sighs, “Me too.” Finally, they manage to part ways after making plans to see each other later tonight.
Stalker Young-gon finally corners Seol, holding up his phone tauntingly and insisting she has to realize Jung’s true nature. Seol isn’t interested, but at his pestering, she takes a look—and reads all those texts, hearing them in Jung’s voice.
She snatches the phone out of Young-gon’s hands, races inside the building, and holds the door closed while calling that number. “I have to confirm it,” she thinks. “I don’t know what it is, but I have to check.”
It’s In-ha who answers, and she refuses to identify herself before her caller does. So Seol gives her name—and In-ha recognizes it, cackling at the coincidence. She declares, “I’m Jung’s girlfriend. I hear you seem to think you’re his girlfriend, but delusion is a disease. Why don’t you try going to a mental hospital?”
The fight goes out of Seol, and Young-gon shoves open the door, chirping that the girl is Jung’s other girlfriend.
So later when Jung tries calling from the office, he gets no answer. When he runs into his father, Dad has a few words of wisdom for him: That the real world isn’t easy, that it shows you that you aren’t the center of the universe, and that there are things you can’t control. Sounds obvious, but I wonder if those are thinks Jung needs to learn.
As Seol heads over to meet Jung that night, her mind is awash in confusion, trying to make sense of the call. She tells herself not to be too quick to trust Young-gon or In-ha—first, she has to check with Jung himself.
He’s waiting for her, looking cheerful until he sees that she’s upset about something. Seol reminds him of her incident with Young-gon last year, and tells him about seeing the text messages from Young-gon. Did he really send them?
His face falls and he doesn’t answer immediately. She prods, and he replies, “Yes, that’s right.”
That’s a blow, and she fights tears as she asks why In-ha answered the phone and called herself his girlfriend. He says In-ha was just playing a prank because she’s upset with Jung, and while Seol doesn’t seem totally convinced, she moves on to the more problematic part—where he seemed to be actively egging Young-gon on to stalk her.
Jung apologizes, saying he takes full responsibility for his mistake, not knowing Young-gon would react that way. But Seol doesn’t believe that and presses repeatedly: “You didn’t know? You really didn’t know?” To herself, she thinks that it’s not true—Jung disliked her last year, and wouldn’t have sent those messages without a reason.
Jung says that she has a right to be angry, but Young-gon is purposely doing this to get between them. He asks her not to get caught by Young-gon’s intentions, saying that it’s all in the past.
She notes that he hasn’t changed at all, that he’s just like he was with the TA situation, and really presses him to answer whether he’s told her the whole truth. He asks what she wants him to say. She wonders to herself, “What kind of person are you?”
In-ho walks by after his piano practice, and stops to recognize Jung and Seol standing in the middle of the sidewalk. After grumbling that they’re fighting again, he turns back the other way, feeling like he can’t interrupt.
Seol suggests that they both “take some time,” which makes Jung look stricken. She says she can’t understand him: “I want to go closer to you, but I can’t. This time, please give it deep thought.”
She heads off, leaving him stunned and staring after her.
In-ho is torn between feeling sympathy for Seol, knowing that Jung is likely to have put her through some heartache, and telling himself this is their business and none of his concern.
Jung comes home to find In-ha waiting in front of his door with suitcase in tow, airily informing him she’ll be crashing with him since it’s his fault she got kicked out of her apartment. He calls her bluff about taking it up with his father, since telling him she spent all her money is likely to wear on Dad’s patience as well, which forces her to backpedal.
She uses Seol’s name to get his attention, having figured out that the girl who called today was the same girl he’d had her text last year. She offers to get rid of Seol again, calling her a wad of gum for being stuck to his side, and Jung barely holds onto his simmering temper as he says In-ha is the gum stuck to him, not Seol.
In-ha warns that she won’t be easy to get rid of, and Jung tells her to give it a try if she wants. Seething, he says with difficulty, “Right now, I’m using all my strength to hold back because of what you did today—know that.” He advises her not to hang around the people around him and shoves past her, leaving her locked out of the building.
Having swiped In-ha’s phone, Jung reads the additional texts she’d sent to Young-gon, which it doesn’t look like he’s read till now. And yeah, they’re pretty bad: “You know girls say they don’t like something even when they do, right? Seol likes you back but she’s just playing hard to get. You look really good together, so keep pushing.” He throws the phone in the sink and turns on the water. Sorry, buddy, guilt doesn’t drown that way.
Seol struggles with her feelings, trying to figure out if Jung’s true nature is what she thought last year, and if she’s being fooled now. Moreover, could she break up with him now?
In the morning, Jung tries to write Seol a few messages but ends up deleting the ones that say “I miss you” and “About yesterday…” In the end, she gets one that says simply, “Good luck on your test.”
She’s surprised to find In-ho outside waiting for her, since he’s also on his way to school. Aw, he’s there to cheer her up, isn’t he? He hands her a beverage and tells her it’s the best thing for when you fight with your boyfriend, then plays it like he was joking and happened to be right. In-ho pesters her for details, offering himself as the Jung expert, Seol snaps at him, and they’re back to bickering in no time.
When Seol arrives for her midterm, Young-gon is there to ask if she’s broken up with Jung yet, texting that he’s the only one who really cares about her feelings. She ignores him, and Young-gun turns his attention to Min-soo, asking if she’s apologized to Seol yet for stealing her report and launching into a whole speech, probably formulating the next phase in his plan to annoy Seol into loving him. It’s… not a good plan, but Young-gon is not a smart boy.
While waiting for his lesson, In-ho goofs off on the piano and is caught by his teacher, tired of his basic exercises. His teacher says he’s going to graduate him from Hanon today and In-ho leaps for the new music… only to complain when he sees it’s only “Fur Elise.” Of course, the instant his teacher snatches the music away, In-ho’s all over it, since he’s all about the reverse psychology.
After the midterm exam ends, Min-soo goes up to Seol and apologizes for copying her report, while Young-gon snickers in the background. I swear, this guy is the real-life incarnation of an internet troll, who lives for the lulz. Seol is initially mollified at the apology, until she sees her lion charm hanging from Min-soo’s bag, which reminds her that this isn’t only about the report.
Min-soo gets indignant to have her apology fall flat, and marches back to Young-gon and his girlfriend Da-young, exclaiming loudly how unfair this is. Da-young sniffs that Seol is being pretty uppity, making it sound like she’s being unreasonable in thinking Min-soo’s copying her style.
Min-soo’s thankful for her support and expresses envy over Da-young having a boyfriend (…yes, but it’s Young-gon). Da-young says Min-soo’s is cute too, referring to the picture on her cell phone. So Min-soo finds herself going with it and fabricating a story about her adorable younger boyfriend and how doting he is. “It’s not a lie,” she tells herself, “since I could end up dating him.” Um… back away slowly, folks. Back away.
Not-boyfriend Joon is, at the moment, hanging out on campus with Seol’s friendly hoobae Ah-young, and they’re certainly quite flirty. He’s tired of studying abroad and has taken to the idea of going to school here, and tells Ah-young he thought of her a lot while he was away, and even calls himself her boyfriend. Since she wanted a date with Jung not long ago I’m guessing they’re not quite official, but she does seem to flirt back.
Young-gon spies on Seol while she’s studying in the library, taking secret photos of her and leering like a super creeper. When she gets up for a break, he sidles over to her seat and takes a picture of her agenda, then plays innocent when she returns to grab her stuff.
He chases her outside and insists on talking, harping on how Jung’s a total jerk… and over in the bushes, Bora and Eun-taek surreptitiously take video of the exchange. Young-gon makes a case for himself as boyfriend material, promising to dump Da-young soon, saying he was only using her to ingratiate himself with the others.
In-ho ambles by and crouches down with the friends, wondering what they’re doing. They hurriedly shush him, and when Young-gon calls Seol a sly fox, Eun-taek has to hold him back from going after the punk. They want the money shot and keep filming as Young-gon tries to grab Seol’s wrist, then goes for a full-on hug—and In-ho bursts out of the bushes and launches himself at Young-gon, chasing him off. Aw, his interference cuts off the last part of the video, but I have to say it makes me love him extra hard.
Afterward, In-ho hears that the friends planned the scene to gather evidence and scoffs at Seol for thinking up such a risky plan. He insists on staying to walk her back, and offers to teach her self-defense: “No, that’s too weak. Learn weaponry.” Haha.
Seol brings up the idea of In-ho taking his high school equivalency exam, then attending university and learning piano. In-ho dismisses it right away, since he’s never been much of a student.
Seol asks how close Jung and In-ha were, noting that they seem to be in touch regularly. In-ho replies, “That’s the extent of it.” He assures her that they’re definitely not dating, so she needn’t worry about that. When Seol says the siblings are quite similar for looking pretty and talking coarsely, In-ho balks and says his sister is super scary, advising Seol to run if she ever sees her coming. And if she can’t run, then go for the hair.
In-ho gets a message from his sister, and it sends him running. She shows up outside his place, begging for a place to crash, acting the pathetic victim. She’s full of complaints at his messy place (though I notice she accepts readily), then sees the piano books on his table and deliberately spills ramyun on them. He jumps to salvage the books while she mocks him for being a former prodigy who’s still dreaming.
In-ho wonders how she turned out this way, and she asks back, “How do you think things turned out this way? Things were really nice in the past.”
Flashback. It’s high school, and a couple of guys apologize insincerely for losing Jung’s nice fountain pen. It’s In-ho who gets worked up on Jung’s behalf, while Jung wants it to blow over and just says it’s fine. So the guys sneer at In-ho for picking fights for no reason, and In-ho asks indignantly how long Jung will act the pushover: “Doesn’t it make you angry?”
Jung replies that it’s easier if he just takes it, but In-ho insists that Jung should fight back if something like this ever happens again, promising to cover him. Jung’s surprised at the idea of fighting but In-ho assures him that he could take them if he tried. So Jung slaps In-ho’s cheek lightly and says, “You said to hit,” and the two friends start laughing. Urg, it’s so sweet to see how they once were that it pinches to know it’s no longer.
Some time later, the siblings are setting off fireworks, and Jung says it must be nice to be them, doing as they please. In-ho tells him to live more freely, and when Jung wonders what they’ll be doing in ten years, he replies that he’ll be playing piano and Jung will inherit the company.
“But we’ll all still be together, won’t we?” In-ho figures. The three light more fireworks, then stand around watching the sparks fly, laughing together.
Jung comes home and turns on the lights, thinking of Seol saying that she doesn’t understand him and that she wants them to take time. He flicks the lights off, standing there in the dark. “At first I thought you were like me, so I liked you.” Lights on. “But we’re quite different.” Lights off.
In the morning, In-ho nags his sister to go to classes and get her certificate so she can start earning a living. It’s in one ear and out another with her, and she reaches for her phone to kick off Step 1 of her plan, which happens to involve Nerdy, whom she “runs into” again on campus and finagles into promise of a meal. But when she asks for information about Young-gon and where to find him, Nerdy looks annoyed and excuses himself, hurrying off quickly. Haha.
In-ha manages fine on her own, though, and texts Young-gon’s phone, calling herself Jung’s real girlfriend. His furtive texting makes his girlfriend suspicious, and she demands to see his phone while he insists on keeping it from her. Watching from nearby, In-ha figures this is enough for Step 1, smirking that her result will be even bigger than Jung can expect.
Seol walks into class with her friends, and a sunbae calls out to the empty seat near him, which is next to Jung. Uncomfortably, she steers her friends to seats in the front, which gets noticed by everyone, who wonder if they’ve broken up already.
Seol excuses herself for a coffee break, feeling awkward, and tenses to see Jung heading toward her… but he passes right by without saying a word, beelining for the vending machine.
Feelings hurt, Seol’s pretty glum as she steps out of the restroom—but there he is, waiting with a drink in hand, which he offers her.
She declines it and continues on, and Jung holds onto her arm, drawing her quietly into a hug.
Aw, that’s sweet, and maybe the only kind of thing Jung could have done in this situation—offer up a gesture for reconciliation without the excuses or explanations, because frankly he doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on this time. It’s one of those things where “I didn’t mean for you to get into that much trouble” doesn’t hold much weight, no matter how true and sincere that statement, since it comes with the tacit statement “…although okay, I did mean to get you into some trouble.”
I do believe when Jung says he didn’t realize things would get so far out of hand, but I also feel Seol’s skepticism that he must have had some idea things could go askew. Perhaps the more accurate statement is that he didn’t really care until she confronted him about it last year, at which point he swiftly stepped in and sent Young-gon away, and he felt in his wayward sense of justice that he’d set everything to rights. But this is a case where he has to accept the blame for the whole situation without trying to excise himself from part of it, because that just sounds like he’s still trying to defend himself when he distinction is less important than the overlying issue: He did mean her ill will, and she did suffer.
And no matter how regretful he feels now—and I do believe that he feels regretful—I have to join Seol in wondering what he’s really like. Maybe he’s sorry because she’s upset and because she was hurt by it, but does he get it? Does he connect the dots and see exactly why she’s angry, or is he only addressing the symptom of her anger and not the root of the problem, where he often crosses the line in meting out what he thinks is justice?
Also like Seol, I worry that he hasn’t changed even after meeting her, because we saw him stepping in to sabotage Min-soo, although perhaps it’s more accurate to say help her sabotage herself. He gave her just enough rope to hang herself with, and Min-soo fell right into it; like all the previous instances, it was the other person who behaved badly and caused their own downfall, but he certainly manipulated circumstances to ensure that it would happen.
The thing is, I feel like Jung is trying very hard to do as Seol wants, but I still don’t know if the reasons for her desires click in his brain. I SO want for him to get it, so that he’ll learn to trust people again and not hold back all his feelings and turn into some freakishly smart robot with Jedi mind-tricking abilities. And every time he comes close, then shows another glimmer of that darkness, I feel the same sinking feeling that Seol does and worry that he’ll never change.
So it makes sense (and I like) that their rift didn’t come about from some random third party playing interference, but what was already there between them. It was the truth in Young-gon’s accusation that was the problem, that Jung encouraged him intending him to act on it, and not all the crazy other stuff flying around. I like that in this drama, the usual suspects—jealous exes, meddling third wheels, vindictive crazies—aren’t really threats to the couple’s stability. What’ll get them is the real stuff between them, of trust and faith and all that hard relationship stuff.