Fall in the (Cheese) Trap

I don’t like Korean manhwas. The art style, the story writing. At least, this is what I thought.

Until I discovered “Cheese in the trap” (치즈인더트랩).

Pick a bit of slice of life, a bit of campus drama, a bit of comedy, a bit of romance, and a big ladle of mystery and you’ll have a (tiny) idea of what this manhwa is about.

I usually love my mangas with a fair amount of romance (well, there are still exceptions), but with “Cheese”, I really don’t mind the lack of it. I swear. Scout’s honor.

Ok, I do. A lot. I want MooooAAAAAARRRrrr.

In spite of that, the author (Soon Kki – 순끼) has a real devilish knack of tormenting her readers, and each week you find yourself craving for your next fix of “Cheese”. As if I wasn’t craving cheese enough, as a French. Heh. But it’s easier for me to find some Cantal out there than to wait for Thursday, the Holy Day of Cheese’s chapter release. And I take this opportunity to give a big shout out to the webtoon live community (Yuko, you’re my (and all my fellow Cheese lovers) hero!), which is the team that translates/recaps this manhwa.

So, what the deal? Well, if you read the synopsis, I’m pretty sure you’d think: “boring”, “dull”, etc. Here how Baka-Updates summarizes it:

Hong Sul is returning to college after a long break. But so is the rich and charismatic upperclassman, Yoo Jung. Unlike her peers, Hong Sul suspects a dark personality behind Yoo Jung’s innocent facade, or… is she just being paranoid?

Nothing worth holding your breath for, right? Following the hackneyed Shoujo pattern, Girl meets Boy, she misunderstands him, BUT he’s actually a good guy, they fall in love, they kiss, END.

Thing is, “Cheese” definitely plays in the big league. If you believe it’s an other cliché shojo/josei, you would miss a very good story. You have a brilliant university student as a heroine, and she’s one of the best female character I’ve seen in a comic so far. She’s poor, kind, and hard-working, but Hong Sul is not your average shoujo heroine. Intelligent and independant, she is incredibly perceptive and love is really the least of her worries. She’s even the only person (not even girl. PERSON) to suspect the sincerity of the campus idol: Yoo Jung.

Looking like the perfect boyfriend/chum/son-in-law (Lee Seung-gi, is that you?), Yoo Jung is revered as a God. The fact that he’s rich and pays most of his so-called friends’ shindigs must play a part in it. But don’t be fooled: this guy is no pushover. Far from it, actually. He calculates and analyzes each situation, so as to look best and reap praises. Too bad for him, Sul soon catches on his game. And she doesn’t really like his two-faced behaviour, to say the least.

But disliking the campus star is like screaming “I hate AKB48” in an idol convention: you quickly get isolated. Sul is a clever girl, and keeps her thoughts to herself (and the one time she lets her opinion slip becomes a lesson-learned). Despite of that, she falls prey to way too many petty snares, and Yoo Jung is never far away.

At first, Yoo Jung openly gives her the cold shoulder, and does worse, but one year later his attitude changes, and he tries to befriend Sul as he’s more and more involved with her life.

Things get complicated when a third character, Baek In-ho, enters, who’s closely associated with Yoo Jung’s past, and also gets close to Sul. His character is important, as he knows the “real” Yoo Jung and feels a strong resentment against him. Plus, he’s such a hottie (look, even Sul’s friends agree).

The story is full of suspense, as we never get to understand Jung’s motives. He suddenly changes his opinion and act towards Sul, and lots of events make you, the reader, doubt about his motivation. Are his feelings genuine? Is he scheming something against Sul? Will she be a pawn in a war between the two male leads? Simply put, is she the Cheese in the trap? Har, har…Lame, I know.

Yoo Jung becomes awfully cute and adorable with Sul, and we almost forget how he can be creepy at times. His character is kind of fascinating, because he has all the charms of a romantic hero, but Sul (and us) suspects him of being a twisted person, scary and menacing. Creepy eyes galore~

This feeling of danger is deeply entwined with the pleasure of Yoo Jung’s seduction, and this spices up the suspense. Will Sul fall in the trap? That said, Yoo Jung’s wickedness may only be a creation of Sul’s wild imagination, and she’s maybe the real psycho. Heh.

*Aw. Puppy*

What I love about her is that even when I fall for Yoo Jung’s charms, she doesn’t. In aww-inducing scenes, so romantic you could die, she’s always wary of Jung, and maybe she’s right. But her unsentimental behaviour cracks me up. Even though it seems she’s currently letting her guard down…

Let’s not forget that we are introduced to a whole gallery of characters, all very well written. So far, I’m even interested in secondary characters’ story. We follow them in the present time, mostly through Sul’s eyes, but we also get to see the past year in a series of flashbacks peppered throughout the chapters (which can be confusing at first). And thanks to that system, you can trace how characters change and evolve. I swear, it feels so gratifying to follow a series with actual character development!

Cheese in the trap’s world is rich and varied, thanks to Soon Kki storytelling chops and drawing style. It feels like a mix of european comics and manga (I don’t know manhwa enough to compare). I love the colors choices and the frames’ design, both playing such an important part in attracting us to the story, and leading us in each chapter. Also, the way she portrays the characters’ feelings and emotions is really spot-on.

I really feel like I’m watching a very good drama, only there’s no sound. There is movement though, thanks to the webtoon system (scrolling from up to down). I didn’t know that before, and I really enjoy it now. When the scenes are suspenseful, the fact that you scroll down highlights the action (in my opinion), but you can also slow down when quiet moments come. By the way, one other thing I enjoy are these slice of life scenes that give us some samples of the modern daily life of young Koreans (or rather Seoulites), allowing a fresh breath of realism in the story.

Here, there’s no world to save, nor demons to kill or whatever. This is just the story of a modern girl, showing her worries and the way she deals with them. This is a really human manhwa, and what matters and gets us completely hooked is the interactions between all these characters and their feelings. I’d even call it a psychological study, as we are able to read what’s on the heroine (and sometimes other people)’s mind. In a country like Korea, where propriety and hierarchy are so important, social relationships are particularly complex, and I enjoy learning more about it through Sul’s life.

A friend of the artist did a drama version of Cheese, but it was quite lousy (IMO), and clearly inferior to the original Cheese, though the live version didn’t respect the manhwa story. But thanks to it, I got to have THIS picture of Yoo Jung and Sul. I confess, I’m a JungXSul shipper. (What? It wasn’t obvious enough? kekeke)

To promote the voice webtoon DVD (I didn’t even know such things existed), a video was released, which kind of present the story. For what it’s worth, you can check it out here:

I didn’t intend to write so much, yet I feel like I haven’t properly conveyed my love for Cheese. One thing is sure, though: I don’t know for Sul, or for you, but I totally fell in the Cheese Trap! Join the fun!

21 thoughts on “Fall in the (Cheese) Trap

  1. well, thanks for sharing about this^^

    for me, manhwas look like Kdramas, but Jdramas look like mangas. LOL that’s a confusing statement actually. I prefer mangas over manhwas for most of the time, but for dramas, it’s a tie. Kdramas hold the charms for sappy love stories while Jdramas are all about life and sometimes dramatic (which set Jdramas into their own standards).

    sorry for the rant, but I’m so looking forward to other manhwa introduction in the future! 😀

    • haha, I know I know!!!
      I tried manhwas in the past, and didn’t like it. Mostly because I feel like they’re trying to copy mangas patterns, and the result is bland and tasteless. And don’t even get me started on the art style. *urgh*
      Cheese in the trap really is different, and I’d dare to say that it even outshines a lot of mangas.
      I’m thinking about an other manhwa or manga introduction, so I’m glad you’re looking for it 😀

  2. I know what you mean… I generally prefer mangas over manhwas as well. There are some exceptions:

    -Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Di-Do (yeah, the one where they did a film adaptation with JGS)

    -Nineteen – Twenty-One (quite short & really simple, but it’s very beautifully drawn – some images are amazing, e.g. the cherry blossom petal in the coffee cup)

    Kind of like “Orange Marmalade” too although it’s progressing rather slowly.

    • I’m checking the manhwas you recommended, and while I’m a bit repelled by Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Di-Do’s art style, I’ll give it a try.
      Right now, I’m reading “Nineteen – Twenty-One”, and enjoying it. It’s not breaking new grounds so far, but I like the calm and retrospective atmosphere…Also, I want a caaaaaaat!!!
      Thanks for your recommendations! Looks like we also have similar tastes in comics ;D

  3. I just rather like some of the ‘moments’ captured by Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Di-Do (like waiting in front of the house with the umbrella). Be warned though, the English scanlation is incomplete, so you might not even want to start reading it. And the story can be frustrating (the film only confirmed this).

    Well, there is barely a story to Nineteen – Twenty-One, I think that manhwa is really primarily about the ‘feel’ of it, and the imagery.

    Art style wise, I think you’d have to generally go over to mangas anyhow. With manhwas, as long as the style a la Han Yu-Rang is avoided, I’m already relatively happy!

    • oh my, you’re welcome darling 😀
      If you’re reading what’s happening now, you’ll realize that some parts of this review have to be revised! hahaha
      Sul-ah, be careful!!

  4. Forme i dont really like comic books. I real lot of mangas during my pre-teen years, girl manga? Im Not very in to it but the main character(girl) is very typical and i find them dependent on boys and relationship so i dont really read romance mangas. Havent read manwha , but anyway cheese in the trap is titally different from other mangas or comic book. It is basically a hint of romance, and a handsome buy but the girl isnt typical manga girl at all. Thats the part i like . Also the tense between people and love how the story flos 😀

  5. Question, is this manhwa done yet? I’ve read a lot of it, but i can’t find any more scans so i was wondering if they aren’t released yet. But anyway, thanks for your review. It was nice having someone else’s opinion about the creepy Jung xD

    • No, the manhwa is still ongoing, and published as a webtoon every week. I personnally read the summaries on the webtoon live forum, thanks to yuko’s translation, and check the naver page for the pictures.
      I used to read the scans, but the author specifically asked not to have her work translated. Though I’ve heard that the Odd Squad translation found a way to get around the problem…
      Hahaha, Creepy Jung! He’s gotten worse (both in the cute and creepy department)

  6. Nice to see another CITT french fellow !(where are you from ? I was starting to think I was the only one ^_^.)
    “As if I wasn’t craving cheese enough, as a French. Heh. But it’s easier for me to find some Cantal out there than to wait for Thursday, the Holy Day of Cheese’s chapter release.” That’s it ! every wednesday it’s like : Cheeeessseeee cheeeeessssseeee, and I always go cheaking naver and webtoon just in case Soon Kki released the next chapter early (I can dream can I ?)
    well personally what I like the most about CITT is how the flashbacks and the present are mixing. It force you to pay attention to every details from the beginning to the end. I love Jung, he can be sooo cute sometimes (well a bit creepy too but it wouldn’t be this fun if he was really perfect)…

    • aaaaah, désolée pour ce retard!
      I was about to reply only in french, but I kind of hate not understanding a comment when I visit a blog.
      No, you’re not the only french in love with cheese. I mean, cheese in the trap of course, the other meaning is a given, right? haha
      I just read the raw of this week’s release and…..OH MON DIEU, a Jung flashback! I believe you’re as delighted as I am. Indeed, you must pay attention to every detail, and since we’re only humans, we have to re-re-re-re-re-read. To our greatest pleasure!!

      Well, just to say that I’m recently shifting a bit towards In-ho, given the recent developments, though he still seems to be lacking to pretend become Sul’ suitor…

      merci encore pour ton commentaire ! ♥

  7. I’ve been more into Manhwas lately. I can’t help but really hate a lot of them though, I’m more into the web comics. Kubera and CITT are on my top lists of must reads. I have read a few that were okay and would follow up on later but Manga is more my style. The Manhwa artistry is a big turn off for me, the hair is always wild and in some of the first ones I have read the hair was wild and squared off at the ends like the character has dreads or something. I was always like.. What is this?? I couldn’t stand it, honestly, and the facial expressions and faces in general need some cleaning up over all the entire thing was messy to me. Also one thing that gets me every time is every one I have been reading lately seems to have the same plot. A loud mouthed and violent girl who falls for the Jjang of her high school who also happens to be seemingly rich or just as loud mouthed and violent. I have read plenty of Manga with that sort of plot that I have ultimately ended up enjoying but in the end these particular Manhwa and the characters annoy me. There is really no progression in their behavior and their personalities rarely seem to change and to keep a reader interested I just feel like most of them lack development.
    BUT when I stumbled upon Cheese in the trap I didn’t know if I would like it. I fell for it immediately though and I’m sad that it’s only translated up to ch 63 for now, you’d think it would be further along at this point. The artistic styling’s of the Manhwa I found that I really actually don’t mind them, in fact as the story progresses it’s only gotten better. I hope that more people start reading it and if they have stumbled upon it and don’t know yet if they wanna pick it up, definitely do! I’m hooked and I can’t wait for more to be translated ^^

  8. Really really really LOVE Cheese!
    (Both: the manhwa and the food)
    Its really hard to explain how such a simple modern girl story can be so captivating.
    Because this kind of plot (naive girl + complex psycho guy = love…hopefully) is a not really a fresh or a new innovation.
    But the author SoonKki-shi twisted the story into something more.
    The naive girl is not stupid and unemotional and lame. She’s smart and level-headed. She’s not cold towards love, she just preoccupied with study and money issues.
    Plus she is not so poor (in some other shoujo stories, the heroines are so dirt poor which sometimes can be unrealistic). She just born in the middle class family with financial problem.
    And she’s kinda cool with it: no whining, no blaming. She’s will try to find solution. I really like her! She’s a good role model to young girls out there.
    And the guys. Both Yoo Jung and In Ho are attractive in their own way.
    Both reminds me of the characters in Mawang (http://wiki.d-addicts.com/The_Devil).
    And I totally a Yoo Jung x Hong Sul fan!

    And I crossed my fingers for this manhwa turned into drama.
    Yoo Jung = Joo Ji Hoon / Lee Min Ho / Choi Si Won / Kim Hyun-Joong
    Hong Sul = Shin Min Ah / Park Shin Hye / Park Min-Young / Ku Hye-sun

  9. Haha, I just found Cheese in the Trap a few days ago a thinks meh… maybe this’ll only be a one time read that I won’t continue….. but hoho was I very wrong! I finished it on a whim and BAM! I’m now just lost, desiring for more and more Cheese~ Looking at the raws and summaries wasn’t satisfying enough 😛

    And omg SulxJung all the way!!! hahah they’re so cute together! And I think they both changed because of each other and that is really sweet!

    you might want to try
    -Dear, Only you don’t know ((THIS IS AWESOME!!! welp, not as awesome as Cheese but close….))
    -Mrs angel
    -Pink Lady

  10. Hi i’ve been reading for a week now, and unfortunately i read it too fast sooo, i’m stuck waiting for translations.
    and i cant find it anywhere else…but oddsquads… they take tooo looong to translate!!!!!
    i cant even find the comic book itself to purchase…
    i feel so empty…. help?

  11. I love love love this webtoon! I discovered it a while back and I am able to read most of it in Korean without a dictionary now, so I’m really proud of myself! I was skeptical of Korean manhwa/webtoons at first because as someone who lives in Japan, I see a ton of manga/anime all the time. But I have been really impressed lately and reading webtoons helps me study and have fun at the same time.

  12. I have a question that is bugging me, and I can’t sleep at night!
    Q: What is the possible Myers-Briggs Personality Type of Yu Jung and Hong Sul?
    Q: Is Yu Jung an INTJ ?

    If anybody have a clear vision into the webtoon, please, please enlighten me.

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