In Defense of Yoo Jung Sunbae

Instead of the usual review after watching a drama, I decided it would be less depressing to write something else about Cheese in the Trap. Don’t get me wrong; I loved it, especially Yoo Jung, it’s just that they managed to ruin the drama in the last 30 minutes. It took me forever, (well, about a month and a couple amazing dramas) to get over the disappointment the writer decided to call an ending.

Like I said Yoo Jung Sunbae and his character completely captured me. I loved to wonder what made him tick and how he thought. So, here are my thoughts on him! Enjoy and share your own views!

“Am I weird? The way I do things and the way I think? Why? what about it? I’m not the one that’s strange. It’s all of you. You were like that too. You found me out and laughed cynically. You made judgements about me on your own and turned the other way. Seol. I’m not strange.”

Yoo Jung, portrayed by the brilliant Park Hae Jin, is logical and calm. He manipulates and calculates. He is someone who doesn’t like to fuss or explain himself. He doesn’t concern himself with people he doesn’t care for or isn’t interested in. He isn’t worried about them, at most he forces himself to act nice around them.

He learned this behavior through years of only being approached by people with a hidden agenda. They either  wanted something from him or wanted to use him in some way. The way he acts, usually uncaring and like a pushover, is just a way for him to get off easier. But as he does that it becomes a presumption; when he pushes back people think of it as odd and that he should just give in like usual.

Yoo Jung manipulates in the background. He doesn’t work his magic out in the open; it’s hidden behind other people and he makes them do his dirty work for him. That’s his own way of fighting back. Yoo Jung sunbae lives by the code of Hammurabi;  “An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, notes for notes.”  When someone wrongs him, or later Seol, he expects something in return to make up for it, and he is extremely smart and patient in taking his revenge.

He doesn’t see the need to empathize with people. To him people are only selfish; they want what’s best and easiest for themselves. They don’t care about the people involved, so why should he? For example when Yoo Jung “punished” Sang Chol for stealing the notes from Seol, he had already put up with him for years. When he started messing with Seol, the only person Yoo Jung cares about, because he is unable to pass the test because of his own laziness, Jung had enough. Sang Chol had been mooching of off other people, taking the easy way out, not thinking of the other person doing all the work. He deserved to learn his lesson and Yoo Jung taught it to him. However, in the end he helped him get a job, so was he really succesful? Did Sang Chol even understand what he did wrong?

“Only what’s yours is special and what’s someone else’s is measly and unimportant.”

To some Yoo Jung is just a scary, manipulative psycho, but I thought he had a teddy bear like side to him too. He was extremely cute in his awkwardness and newness to the things others think as mundane.

Part of the fault as to why he is like he is falls on his father. He was viewed as different since he can remember. He wasn’t allowed to express his emotions but only to smile. That would mess anyone up. There is no person that can live in this world pleasing everyone. No matter how much he himself or his father tried, the only thing they ended up doing was hurting Yoo Jung. He lost his trust towards people because he was betrayed by the people who he loved and who were supposed to love him, the most.

“At first you were like me. That’s why I liked you.”

There’s no question that Yoo Jung sunbae approached Seol at first because he thought that they were similar. Maybe he was interested in her before but the driving force behind his attitude change towards her was the fact that he was lonely and wanted to find someone who was similar to himself and so could understand him. Don’t we all want someone like that?

However he didn’t take into consideration the fact that it wouldn’t have ever worked if Seol was just like him; he calculates relationships and his actions, but hates when other people do so. In the beginning he treated Seol just like any other girl; he acted perfect around her and didn’t real seem to care for her more than anyone else. At first he was just curious about her but it later turned into something real. It was great seeing his walls finally break down.

“Your feelings are sincere, right?”

Like I said before to Yoo Jung people are only selfish. The reason he suspects everyone’s real reasons is the fault of his father, and partly, In Ho and In Ha. We can’t blame him for this though. If you were always approached with alternative motives or in order to use you in some way, you would be more than suspicious of people’s reasons to approach you too.

“How perfect do you expect me to be?”

Sunbae gives off the vibe off a perfect man. He works hard to keep it up by being nice to everyone. The problems that arise between Seol and him are due to his inability to show his real emotions. He is so stuck in his habit off being nice all the time he can’t express his negative emotions without fearing. This is partly the reason why he doesn’t talk about himself. The other reason is because he thinks that others won’t accept him or would see him as an odd ball if he revealed himself like he really is.

“I was scared. That you might leave me if you found out who I truly am.”

After he starts sincerely caring for Seol he becomes even more conscious about how he thinks he should conduct himself. He becomes extremely worried about Seol hearing things about him from someone else and that affecting their relationship.

“Don’t think of me badly.”

He doesn’t want Seol to leave him, and becomes concerned, even worried, about their relationship’s future.

In reality Seol and Yoo Jung have more in common than they are different. They’re both quiet, hard-working, pushovers that do others’ work too without being able to complain or say anything back, and most importantly, they both are alone; they don’t talk about themselves or how they feel to anyone. Only when the two get together they start opening up to each other and to others too. Their relationship was good for the both of them.

To Yoo Jung sunbae it was almost impossible to be able to understand the fact that as Seol cared for him sincerely too, she wanted him to be honest to her about everything.  He is so used to lying and sugar-coating his words to other people that it’s hard for him to trust someone and be honest to them. When he realized that Seol really wanted the ugly, honest truth, not the good guy act he was putting on, he was in shock for a while. When he finally let his walls fall down their relationship became really good.

Yoo Jung didn’t try to change Seol at any point. He accepted that Seol was more different than what he thought and loved her like she was. He does, to some point, control what happens to her.

“You were holding it in for too long.”

Because they are so similar he knows how she feels while being pushed down and blamed by other people. He wants what’s best for her and works sometimes behind her back to achieve his goal in his own personal way.

As he falls more for Seol he becomes just as defensive about her as he is about himself. In my opinion, there isn’t another person he cares about. Yes, he loves his father but their relationship is about controlling and pleasing, and here too, he has to put up a front. Because Seol becomes so important to him he starts getting back at people bothering Seol the same way he would get back at people bothering him.

One of the things I loved most about this drama was Yoo Jung as he was and the way Seol, or sunbae, didn’t try to change each other. They accepted each other as they were, the good and the bad.

“Don’t say a word. I know what happened and I know why you did it. And I know how you must be feeling right now, too. So don’t be anxious. I won’t ever run away.”

In the end the reason why Yoo Jung changed so drastically was Seol. Not because of his love for her, but because she was the only person he wanted to protect. When she got hurt because of him, it killed him. When his father wanted to sweep things under the mat, just like Yoo Jung would’ve done if the person involved wasn’t Seol, it made him realize what he was doing to other people and how they must have felt.

A question; is it really that bad not wanting the person(s) you don’t like near yourself or someone you care for?

This is and Yoo Jung’s past scars are what dominates his relationship with Baek In Ho. In Ho is like Yoo Jung’s weak point. He believed they were true friends, even as close to each other as brothers would be, but when he realized the fact that he and In Ha were just as fake as everyone else around him, he broke and started to hate them. They and their relationship kind of symbolizes Sunbae’s whole image of people; they’re not to be trusted since they only want something from you.

When Seol starts getting closer to In Ho Sunbae becomes jealous and his old scars from when In Ho and In Ha were invading his relationship with his father come to the surface again. So Yoo Jung starts working harder and harder to get them out of his and Seol’s life, but In Ho and In Ha keep blaming him for everything without taking a look at themselves.


Even though Yoo Jung has his fingers in many people’s lives, ignores what he doesn’t want to understand, manipulates and casts aside the people who aren’t necessary for him, he was very human.

Yes, he manipulates but so does everyone else. Everyday people say things in order to get the reaction they want.Who isn’t annoyed by people who lie and act, or approach you to get something they want?

In reality it is hard for us all to admit the pure and unpretty truth that we do bad things. We can’t always like everyone, but that doesn’t mean that we’re abnormal. It’s our actions and words, the ones we do and the ones we choose not to go through with, that ultimately define us as humans.

While it is true that Yoo Jung isn’t what our society would consider normal, but he isn’t as bad as many people make him out to be.

“Behind that sweet smile he was cold, lonely and child-like. I guess I was quite curious about Senior who had a completely different side to him that was only visible to me. That he only chose to show to me.”




4 thoughts on “In Defense of Yoo Jung Sunbae

  1. So true! Glad that ive read this as i cannot really understand Yoo Jung, at first.. Now i see him in a different light.. And i kinda pity the guy.. and im sure he will get back at me if he read my comment! lol


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