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Park Hae-jin doesn't want to be boxed in by original 'Cheese in the Trap'

All News 11:58 January 25, 2016

SEOUL, Jan. 25 (Yonhap) -- A TV series based on something else -- a web cartoon in the case of tvN's newest soap opera "Cheese in the Trap" -- invariably faces a dilemma: how much wiggle room do they get?

For actor Park Hae-jin, the answer is simple -- as much room in which it retains the attributes that make "Cheese in the Trap" what it is.

"Instead of trying to stay true to the original, I've set my goal to not stray too far from it," he told Yonhap News Agency in a recent interview.

Park stars as Yoo Jung, a college senior who appears perfect on paper but has a dark side only recognized by Hong Seol. Actress Kim Go-eun plays Hong, the female protagonist who is one year his junior.

Though many people would characterize Yoo as enigmatic and difficult to read, Park says he's actually more simple-minded than you'd think.

"Yoo Jung is an innocent kid. If something is taken away from him, he wants it back. If he's given something, he wants to return it. In a way, he's like a child. He's very true to his instincts. He just displays them in a different way than most others do," Park said.

Eighty-percent of "Cheese in the Trap" has already been filmed and edited. But Park said he'd had to go back and refilm the first few scenes to fine-tune his character.

"To emphasize Yoo Jung's sweet side, I needed to make him more brutal in other scenes," he said. "I realized he wasn't as fierce as I would have liked in the first few scenes. So I went back and refilmed them."

Though Park passed the test of the demanding fans of "Cheese in the Trap," he was initially against playing the role of a 25-year-old.

"I was 32 at the time of the casting. I was worried that if I took the role of Yoo Jung, the whole cast would become be a generation older than the original characters," he said. "I didn't want that because it would take away the youthfulness of the web cartoon series."

For better or for worse, however, the rest of the cast turned out to at least seven years younger than Park.

"I joked about working with such young talent. It's hard to conceal my age when I'm around such young actors. But I'm fortunate that my colleagues act mature for their age," he said.

Park also got to vicariously attend college, which he hadn't been able to do in real life due to financial reasons. He had dreamed of becoming a designer, he said.

"Yoo Jung is a business major. After experiencing college life, discussing and listening to various business management theories... oh boy," he said, laughing.

sojungpark@yna.co.kr
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