Cheese in the Trap, by Soonkki

Today we're going to review something a little different: an ongoing Korean webtoon by Soonkki called Cheese in the Trap. Normally I would wait to cover this kind of thing until it was finished and fully translated, but A) I'm not that patient, and B) this story is so interesting, you guys—it's totally worth the inconvenience of reading it online.

The heroine of Cheese in the Trap is a hardworking young woman named Seol Hong. Seol has just returned to college after taking a year-long break. All she wants is to finish school, get a good job, and continue flying quietly under the radar. Unfortunately, a handsome, popular upperclassman named Jung Yu seems to have taken an interest in her. Her classmates are wildly envious... but Seol is convinced that there's something dark lurking underneath Jung's unfailingly kind demeanor.

I genuinely don't know what's going to happen in Cheese in the Trap. Will Seol end up with Jung? (Is that even something I should root for?) In most romantic stories, it's obvious from the first chapter who the heroine will end up with, and the plot is generated by the path she takes to get there. I can't tell you how weird—but exciting!—it feels to read a romance where the end is not a foregone conclusion.

Cheese in the Trap isn't perfect. For a “slice of life” drama, the heroine encounters a lot of stalkers, the artwork is mediocre, and it's being translated at a glacial pace. Still, I absolutely love introspective, diligent Seol, I'm fascinated by the constantly shifting tone used to depict her relationships, and the series has a lot to say about some of the more frustrating aspects of Korean culture. I've never read anything quite like Cheese in the Trap, and that's not something a book critic specializing in romance and YA novels gets to say very often.

Note: Cheese in the Trap has been made into a 16-episode-long Korean drama, with translated episodes available here. It's well-acted and beautifully shot, but it will be over long before the webtoon finishes. So please beware possible spoilers, if that's the kind of thing that bothers you.
Posted by: Julianka


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