Sunday, January 10, 2016

First Take: Cheese in the Trap

Webtoon adaptations has been the rage recently and it almost seems as if every other Korean drama is adapted from webtoons of various kinds. The most recent, most buzzed webtoon adaptation is probably Cheese in the Trap, currently airing on tvN. The crazy media coverage on its much argued casting by fervent fans made me perk up to the webtoon and subsequently the drama.

Cheese has been described as a romance thriller which I didn't understand at first. I read a bit of the webtoon and maybe because I was reading the English translated version, the vibe didn't come through. I mean, people went crazy over this webtoon, but it's such a simple one. Hong Seol (Kim Go-eun) is a college student whose campus life turns upside down when she gets on the bad side of charming senior Yoo Jung (Park Hae-jin). Just when she thought her life is over, Yoo Jung started becoming nice to her just a year later.

The webtoon gave an air of campus romance and not much of the thriller. The drama clearly amped up the thriller aspect with well-timed music and an amazing performance by Park Hae-jin. Seriously, if he was in another drama, Hong Seol should be scared for her life. This Yoo Jung guy is interesting. You never know if he's well-intentioned or secretly a puppet master. That's the whole thriller portion of the drama and it's so good. It's chilling enough to keep you up on your seat but not scary enough to shoo this easily frightened viewer.

As for Hong Seol, whose casting is highly debated, Kim Go-eun definitely nailed it. Webtoon Seol and Drama Seol are similar in their personalities: they're sensitive and worries way too much. The differences are mostly in the looks department, which did get a lot of the fans slightly angry, if not very much so. Webtoon Seol is supposed to be effortlessly chic and is envied on her looks (said the fans). But I think the story line actually fits Drama Seol much better who is an average-looking girl who cares more about being able to go to school than being able to buy the nice boots. This made her relationship with dreamy Yoo Jung all the more satisfying, since this means he isn't one who only looks on the outside *cough*Nam Joo-young*cough*.

When you get down to it, the cast just works. They were able to bring out the best out of each character and made it even more complex than their webtoon counterparts. That's great acting right there. Although, I did have a slight problem with Baek In-ha (Lee Sung-kyung). I think she was playing in another drama. A makjang perhaps. Her tone is amped up way too high compared to the grounded dramatics of the rest of the cast. I'm hoping she gets better over the course of the show.

Since the first two episodes covered more than half of what I've read, I'm coming along the ride much like people who haven't read the webtoon at all. And based on the two episodes so far, I'm very excited. I'm hoping for more thriller moments but also exciting romance. Bring it.

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