Cheese in the Trap- A journey of developing social relations

College student, Seol Hong, lives around her basis of avoiding strangers, but in her eyes, it has helped her avoid people who take advantage of others. That is- until she started getting close to  Jung Yoo. 


People’s personalities can shift depending on who they are with. A person may not know another person to the fullest extent no matter how they try. However the same goes for people who judge a person and their actions. Society exists with all these norms, and while distinguishing people solely on their judgment of others cannot be prevented. 


Starting this novel, one thing that I found a bit surprising is that the story started off very slow. The first chapter begins with  Seol going to a fortune teller who tells her to be careful of those around her, and the following few chapters goes onto flashbacks  Jung- a student who is hiding something from his peers, and the person that Seol is sure the fortune is talking about. The story then continues with Seol’s daily life – going to college,  being stressed about assignments, and finding time to socialize.


While it was nice to see the little snippets of the main character’s life,  the story itself did not start its main conflict until much later. 


One thing that I like about this story is that it touches on how social relations can be developed, but also on how social relations can also be abused and used for the wrong purposes. Another thing that is refreshing about the story is that it leads the readers through a narrative from Seol to Jung.  When the story starts,  the readers only know Jung through the lens of Seol, but not why his personality became the way it was. 


In Seol’s eyes Jung seems to be an extroverted individual who uses others in his college for his own satisfaction and overall grades. When people catch onto the fact that he uses others, he would manipulate his behavior, twisting his words, which lead him to eventually discard any classmates. He is able to get what he wants because he was never taught about punishments and to accept things as they were. 


Another thing I like about Cheese in the Trap is that it demonstrates how people’s influence can cause others to behave in ways that they normally wouldn’t. People’s habits might not be noticeable to them, but to others outside it can be obvious. Even Seol who at one point develops a relationship with Jung, uses similar manipulation tactics when she sees that a classmate is purposefully trying to copy her style, getting the same marks on college exams, and excluding her from talking to her friends. 


When Jung sees how his manipulation affects Seol he realizes that his advice and morality need to be re-evaluated. He does not think that Seol should end up becoming the same person as him, which is an interesting turn of attitude for him, especially from the way he acted towards Seol in the beginning of the story. It also shows that he knows that he needs to change this toxic relationship between them. 


The morality of Cheese in the Trap is that society judges people no matter what, and it is an endless trap that people have made. People can change, but if one’s personality has been the same and repetitive over time, it takes time to change them. 


Cheese in the trap also develops the concept of maturity taking time. Maturity is a messy cycle. Some people can progress to be more accepting of others, but others make no progress at all. Within the relationship of Seol and Jung they never realized the mistakes they made to each other until everything had been taken away from them


I highly recommend Cheese in the Trap because people can get more insight into how society, friendships, and communities are formed. While it is more of a slower paced story, it dives deeper into the complexity of all the main characters and their personalities.