Winter K-Drama Binge Watching: 치즈인더트랩 Cheese In The Trap

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This is a 16-episode series about an empathy-challenged, unselfconsciously and effortlessly manipulative chaebol college student with level 1 autism, and the girl who loves and suffers for him.  In the end, his estranged adopted sister pushes the girl into traffic out of jealousy, she recovers and continues to love him, and he dumps her and makes her more miserable on the theory that he is protecting her from his dickishness.   3 years later (the standard cut time for the K-Drama transition from adolescence to full adulthood), he returns, eventually reads one of her emails, and in the sketchiest and laziest wrap-up to a K-Drama that I’ve ever witnessed, the narrative hints that they are reunited happily ever after in the last 2 or 3 seconds before the final credits and series recap photo montage.

Blog critics in the K-Drama world hated this series as being an unfaithful adaption of the webtoon that it is based on.  Apparently, and can you believe this, the author of the webtoon was not consulted on all details of the adaptation by the experienced female director that helmed the series.  Even more outrageous, the male lead was not given enough scenes towards the end of the series,  in particular where it diverged from the webtoon, and in consequence, he either decided to skip or was not invited to go to the wrap-up party, and didn’t do much publicity for the series.  All of these details are apparently quite scandalous to native K-Drama and K-Webtoon enthusiasts.

Be that all as it may, I soldiered on through the whole 16 hours.  Many of the K-Drama reviewers did not, because of the severe defects cited in the previous paragraph.  I rather liked it.  I kind of respect it for staying with the logic of its dramatis personae.  I found the ending, up to the last 3 seconds, to be somewhat reasonable.  The relationships between characters were reasonably well fleshed out, and they were mostly compelling.  There were stretches that were rather painful to watch, not because poorly produced, but because they explored emotions and situations that are not typically classified as entertainment.  I bought it.

So let’s set this one aside as an acquired taste.  It is for the more advanced connoisseur of the kind of K-Drama that walks the line between comedy and the kinds of creepy familial over-reactions that only seem to arise around 38 North.  So I appreciate the honesty and the vibrant emotional colors of a detailed, workmanlike portrayal of daily, mundane yet intimate life.  Also, who knew henna hair coloring was so popular in Korea?

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