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Jung Il-woo shines in web drama High-End Crush

If you’re a Jung Il-woo fan and are impatiently awaiting his return to dramaland, you’re not alone. Though we’ll get to see him soon in SBS’s Haechi which will air early this year, the web drama High-End Crush might be just what you need to tide you over. On the off chance that you’re not a Jung Il-woo fan, this web drama will probably make you one — it’s Jung Il-woo at his most smitten, exaggerated, and hilarious.

High-End Crush was a joint Korean-Chinese production, released in 2015 on Naver TV Cast and China’s Sohu TV. Comprised of twenty 15-minute episodes, High-End Crush is about a third of the length of our standard primetime dramas. Thus being, it moves fast and wastes no time with its storytelling, quickly introducing the story of a narcissistic CEO who falls madly in love with a simple girl from the mountains.

The fast pace of the drama fit with the flavor of the story though, and while it could have come off as hurried, it actually felt fun and frenetic. A little madcap and a lot slapstick, High-End Crush will either have you glued to it and giggling (me), or lose you after the first episode.

High-End Crush used every tool available in the bag of comedy tricks. There was physical humor and sound effects — it even had a theme song, played often throughout the show, which was set at a circus-y pace and pitch that perfectly fit the drama’s action. Think pratfalls, office cartwheels, and fast-forwarded conversations with words flying around on the screen. All of these storytelling elements were used to set a strong and consistent tone.

I sometimes find comedic sound effects and exaggerated acting a little overdone, but in the case of High-End Crush, there’s no such thing as overdone, since that was the modus operandi of the entire drama. Luckily, they had a leading actor who shined in that environment.

Jung Il-woo is always entertaining to watch, but he’s a riot in High-End Crush. If you enjoyed Jung Il-woo’s performance in 2011’s Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, this role was similar, but a little zanier, since it’s about his character experiencing a tangle of emotions he’s unable to cope with.

Jung starred as Choi Se-hoon, the CEO of an entertainment label who’s known for his “Midas touch” that could skyrocket people to rockstar celebrity status. CEO Choi was needy, conceited, and completely self-absorbed. If you take Park Seo-joon’s narcissistic CEO in What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim, ratchet it up to the nth degree, and add a helping of slapstick comedy, you’ll get an accurate picture of CEO Choi. As his secretary once explained (with CEO Choi proudly listening), “Our CEO doesn’t understand other people’s feelings. He has the amazing ability to hear only what he wants to hear.”

CEO Choi was frequently shown venting to his psychiatrist (played by Jung Sang-hoon) who clearly hated his guts, and spent their sessions doodling and online shopping. He was drained by their relationship that he needed to get therapy after giving CEO Choi therapy. It’s a ridiculous relationship that acted as a way for the audience to get an unedited look at CEO Choi as he struggled comedically through emotions he couldn’t get a grip on. But his psychiatrist actually did have some insight into our CEO: he tells him he is bored from having too much and getting everything he wants — and that the cure is to find something he can’t have.

Right on cue, that unattainable goal appeared in the shape of Yoo Yi-ryung, played by Jin Se-yeon. A simple country girl who lived alone in the mountains, she made a living by selling what she grew. A twist of fate saw her accidentally get involved with some drama at CEO Choi’s company (because there was always drama), and as a result, she was roped into doing a camera test for them.

When CEO Choi sees her, it’s like the heavens opened up to reveal the very “unobtainium” he didn’t know he needed. Because he’s a little off his rocker, he doesn’t realize he’s smitten — instead, he decided to make it his mission in life to transform her into the next big celebrity. He was willing to do anything and go anywhere to make this happen.

Of course, none of it went according to his plans. His obsession with signing her to his label took over the entire company. They fought like cats and dogs at first, but it’s the fact that she stood up to him and resisted his offer that made her so appealing to him. Their dialogue was often hilarious. He offered her the road to stardom, saying, “I’ll raise you.” She responded, without missing a beat, “I’m already grown up.” The sound effects (*cuckoo*) and the facial expressions of CEO Choi and his secretary made it clear he had never been denied before.

Jin Se-yeon’s heroine was likable and resolute, yet generic — honestly, this drama belonged to Jung Il-woo and his secretary, played by the ever-wonderful Lee Shi-un. They owned the show with their hilarious and dysfunctional relationship. Secretary Heo enabled, indulged, comforted, and kowtowed to CEO Choi. But, in the same breath (and not always behind his back), he mocked him, enumerated his lousy personality traits, and had no qualms about victory dancing in the office when CEO Choi was on the losing side of a battle.

Secretary Heo was at CEO Choi’s side as he went on his ultra dramatic journey trying to sign Yoo Yi-ryung to his label. CEO Choi ultimately admitted defeat, when he finally realized his obsession was simply because he liked her. In his lowest moment, CEO Choi sobbed hysterically, throwing used tissues around his office and offering hilarious lines like, “Why did I have to build this steel wall of defense?!” But High-End Crush also punctuated the madcap comedy with some soft and sweet moments, like when we saw CEO Choi caring for Yi-ryung in the hospital, and gently covering her ears from the ruckus around her so she could rest.

For all the incredible hyperbole and ridiculousness in this drama, Jung Il-woo sure proved he could turn on a dime. He would go from storming around like a kid having a tantrum, to these moments of intense maturity and seriousness. Jung Il-woo can also turn on the charm. When he wasn’t flipping tables and wrist-grabbing the girl he couldn’t seem to get a read on, he was actually quite swoony.

In one scene, Yoo Yi-ryung told him she heard that he was a good CEO who protected what was his with everything he had. He responded, “That’s right. And you’re already mine.” I know I should have balked (at the very least, a little), but Jung Il-woo’s delivery carried this scene. It went from being about possessive ownership, to being a perfectly appropriate (for him) and moving mid-show confession.

While this sort of drama wasn’t really big on overarching messages or themes — nor did it have much time to dig deep, High-End Crush did try to show the growth in CEO Choi’s possessive infatuation. He evolved from a conceited CEO who believed only in the power of ownership, to the hero who’s brought down to earth by what turns into a very deep (and requited) love. By the end of the drama even Secretary Heo had been convinced, telling CEO Choi, “I’m awed by your innocent feelings.”

High-End Crush also drew a nice parallel between the metaphorical corruption of the city, and the purity of the country. Yoo Yi-ryung, raised by her grandfather in the mountains, lived without a cell phone, TV, and other distractions of the 21st century. CEO Choi even nicknamed her “Organic Girl” in a silly bit of wordplay.

Yi-ryung frequently recited the Chinese proverbs she was taught as a girl to ground her when she was troubled, and it was her stable moral grounding and ability to keep her word that made her character more three-dimensional.

In the end, Yoo Yi-ryung not only impacted CEO Choi’s life with a power of 10,000 tornadoes, she also affected the people around her. This was especially evident during the time she spent at CEO Choi’s entertainment company. For example, her maxims wound up in the next song written by the company’s idol group. The group, played by Monsta X as themselves, was a weird mix of guest appearance and self-promotion.

Though the idols came across as a bit forced and self-conscious, it actually fit the scenario: these idols were always in performance mode and painfully conscious of the camera. Another star in CEO Choi’s company was played by Sistar’s Bora (clearly Starship Entertainment had a heavy hand in this project), whose diva attitude was tempered by her friendship with Yoo Yi-ryung.

Despite being over-the-top in every way, High-End Crush was enjoyable because it didn’t take itself seriously. It was silly, and it knew it. The drama had no shame in using any trope or gag that could add to the crazy. For instance, I lost count of how many times Yi-ryung was romantically (and conveniently) caught from falling by CEO Choi. Still, it used them well and consistently. And it was fun watching midnight fevers, cramp-induced near-drownings, and other great rom-com tropes play out with the flavor of this drama.

High-End Crush was cheeky and outrageous all the way through, but as CEO Choi once said, “All those who achieved greatness in the past were weird.” According to that logic, High-End Crush definitely succeeded.

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this was actually the first id seen Jung Ill woo in and i became a fan because of his hilarious snarky character. I hope his upcoming show is good *fingers crossed*

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Same here. This is how I get to know and love him, which made me jump headfirst without any hesitation into Cinderella and Four Knight... and we all know how that drama burned us all

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Oof, I'd forgotten about Cinderella and 4 Knights... Hopefully his new show will be good!

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This looks fun
I love Jung Il Woo in ramyeon - he’s one of those actors that does the proud male lead that flails very very well (and make me laugh out my lunch) although i’ll be a little critical that he’s often choosing similar roles which limits growth.
Then again why change what works? 😂

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Now I might recognize one or two of the idol faces but at the time didnt realize that is who they were. I just thought they were extras or something, lol .

Have they ever done a serious drama around an entertainment company and its trainees and idols?

Honestly what i most remember are his suit shorts outfits .

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I think the idol group had a very brief cameo in The Best Hit before.
And Bora was a supporting role in Hwayugi.

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I mean... I don't REALLY need to get hooked on any more short web dramas with affiliations to China and I should PROBABLY finish Return of the Iljimae... but... Sounds cute *to- watch listed*

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I cringed all the way through with several moments of Jung Il Woo-induced laughing and flailing. It’s another web drama, lol, entertaining and stupid.
I also need to finish Return of Iljimae...

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"entertaining and stupid" - unfortunately I only found it stupid.

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Lol! Good to get other people's opinions hahaha then it might drop to the bottom of the to watch list

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Yes I agree it's stupid and made me cringe.

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For some reason I've only ever watchef the first episuof ROTI... And I don't know why it stops there hahahha

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....
same
😂

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*hmmm maybe there is a reason since it happened to more than one of us*

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I found this a great drama to have on in the background while crafting, or puzzling, or enjoying any other such hobby. So, recommend?

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I can't wait to see him in those traditional costumes again. He is most dashing in them. But I am disappointed in the choice of the female lead. Honestly, I found her irritating. Her acting is painful as shown in Hwarang. I had high hopes for Hwarang what with Park Seo Joon and Park Hyung Sik but what a flop! All because the female character cannot connect the two unlike Park Bo Young in SWDBS. So I wish the team good luck!

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Err Really???

Did I really read this: "On the off chance that you’re not a Jung Il-woo fan, this web drama will probably make you one"

NO.
NOPE.
NAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Avoid this drama like the plague. It's basically MBN level: It's way below average plus it contains all K dramas clychés of the early 2000s. And nope I'm sorry, even Jung Il Woo and nostalgia couldn't save this drama from being completely insipid.
Jung Il Woo is "every childish chaebol character seen ever" and his co-star is just bland. No personality whatsoever.
In short, it sucked. I couldn't even have a hint of a smile even after turning my brain on "off-mode".

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I will be honest here, I didnt read this because I'm a JIW fan or about to be his fan but because I see JSY and hoping a dramatic review about her newly found acting ability...heheh
Well... I take generic over bad, I guess...
sigh~ Joo Ji Hoon and Kim Kang Woo combo is making my new year resolution at risk.....

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While I am JIW's fan, I agreed with you regarding JSY. I was also hoping that her acting improved do that I will be more motivated to watch Joo Ji Hoon & Kim Kang Woo's drama. Sigh.

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I was like yasss!! JJH x KKW but the moment her casting is confirmed... all the hype just die
hoping JJH just stay in chungmuro probably is not a bad idea now~

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i was interested until i saw JSY’s name. since doctor stranger i will not watch anything with her as the lead...

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I will never, ever, ever forget the episode when her boyfriend lost the surgery competition and he had to go in a correct the mistake....and she walking in there wanting to 'talk' and he justifiably snapped at her to leave the OR and she was ready to turn on the waterworks.

Come to think of it, that was when I stopped watching it. It already wasn't great up to that point anyway.

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I'm pretty sure I watch-snark dr stranger but I dont even remember this...
lol

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"He was drained by their relationship that he needed to get therapy after giving CEO Choi therapy. ".
OKAY, I NEED TO GIVE THIS A WATCH, this recap is making me. >.<
I might either finish it in one go or not make till ep 2.

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I watched this a few years back and didn’t finish it. I didn’t like it at all.

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Me too. Partly at that time the subs were bad or missing, but I couldn't get behind the couple. It was not a convincing pairing.

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agree. Sometimes it felt like they were in 2 different dramas.

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I'm a little confused. This drama was released on DramaFever back when it was made. With that service gone did it pop up licensed elsewhere accessible? Viki doesn't have it.

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I don't see this currently licensed anywhere, either. There are "other" sources, but nothing legal that I've seen.

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You had me at 15 minutes episodes..*search for drama*

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Awww. This was just what I needed today. I have a cold AND an ear infection, and Jung Il-woo's presence on my screen is working better than the antibiotics. Two eps in, the wrist grabbing and chaebol entitlement quickly gets answered in literal punches for our hero, so I think I'm going to enjoy this. XD

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Feel better soon!

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I remember watching this show and feeling that it was incomplete. It did, however, have a lot of real comedy. For a short episode drama it was better than most, but it does not hold a candle to Noble My Love.

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@oldawyer @festerfaster @parkchuna @mayhemf @hotcocoagirl @sicarius

For a short web drama, the only one I feel I can recommend is One Sunny Day

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Ooooh more short drama reccs... yasss *bookmarks page*

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@sicarius @parkchuna @hotcocoagirl @festerfaster
I actually re-watched One Sunny Day a couple of days ago and it's great for a web drama. Not really melo, has a proper ending ie not open-ended and is satisfying. 😃

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it has So Ji Sub! but it looks quite mellow..

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Ooh that’s one I haven’t seen yet! *adds to list*

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I think I can squeeze one more short drama into my convalescence. XD Thanks for the rec.

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I actually really liked this web drama. It had me laughing so hard when he was in the mountains trying to convince Yoo Yi-ryung to come to his company. I love Flower Boy Ramen Shop and that drama made me fall in love with Jung Il-Woo, and his character in this reminded me a lot of his character in that. Jin Se-yeon was a little emotionless and boring, but Jung Il-Woo's over the top character made up for it. I think he is is best in comedic roles.

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i watched it and i loved it! but that might be because i love JungIll Woo!

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This has been on my to-watch list since forever! :) You might've bumped it up a few places.

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Me too!

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You have to be in the right mood for it, but when it's right, it works. I watched it twice! lol

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I guess watching it twice is better than finishing some of his other dramas... haha *sigh* Jung Il-woo please pick better shows! *sends a prayer for Hatch*

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This sounds . Where can I watch it with English subs please?

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*sounds fantastic.

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Sold. I’m going to watch this as soon as I can.

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this post came right in the time after a finished this web drama (last week) and how i've being thinking a lot about Jung Il woo careers, his choices and what could've been if he choose better works. mainly after see him in 49 days, FBRS and Return of Iljimae. the last one, one of his finest works, underrated and little seen.
(i tried to get into Golden rainbow and failed (his adult self doesnt excited me and for me me he plays the adult version of Cha Chi soo.)
i found JWI in High end crush sometimes funny, others annoyed and also his dramatic scenes were better than the ones he tried hard. i do not think it's all his fault. mb the pds wants something overreacting from him so. His best it’s when he plays dramatic ones. But it seems at that time they tried really hard made him a romantic lead roles, something that he wants too maybe
But this is better than Love and Lies that I couldn’t pass 2 eps. The funny things is that the roles he chooses for both this production one with Chinese production and other thai prod. Is the ones where he is inside the entertainment industry. Which made me think must be cathartic from him this since he lives all the fame stuff.
I wonder if fame, being popular got to much into him. His choices were so lacking, the same again. Nothing evolves from 49 days. He wastes his potential to please partly of the audience which is a shame mostly bc his 2010 interviews vibes are more likely to be aactor actor than a idol. Gosh, even in high kick, he was better being still, sarcastic and serious than funny.
I hate compare, but his pearl like Yo ah in is better in choosing and career and doesn’t seem explore much of the fandom with expensive fanmeetings
Also, the fact that he showed support to the one accused from multiple victims and suicide is really a shame. Deleted the post and acting that nothing happens was onethe lowest pints fpr me as a fan.. He didn’t even apologize.
Now that his is back from military, with a new management I hope he begins picking better roles, get rid of his teen roles. That Haechi be the one where he shows his acting chops that got lost in 2011, (ok Cinderella was not the best drama but I like how he played. Only the writer choose screw up everything) , that his charcter don’t be a dick with the only female lead – Go Ara .

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I think that the actor that was accused of sexual harassment is Jo min ki who played a father role in Golden Rainbow . I did hear that they did became very close and the accused became like his mentor.( that was before the harassment case was revealed). It must be a quite a shock to JIW to hear the news. There are men who behave perfect gentlemen then do something totally opposite to others. Jo min ki might be one of them. Then when the actor committed suicide, JIW voiced that he wished people should also care ( in particular around the time his funeral was held) for the actor's family members. I am sure JIW was very bashed by Korean nitzens with his remark. Jo min ki had a daughter so I kind of understood his well meaning. Jo min ki might have been a monster to some women but I am not surprised that he was a nice father to his daughter. The incident must be horrific to his daughter in every level. When I heard the news that JIW voiced his concern for the actor's family, I thought he was rather courageous because it was the time when every news source was frenzy about the news and JMK was treated as if the worst person in Korea. At the same time I also realized that it was not just JIW's lip service that he said that he was close to JMK( and showed his respect towards JMK) during an interview but he really meant it back then( way before the scandal broke).
Since I am not Korean, I was not informed much about this scandal and eventual suicide so I must have missing something JIW said about this case.

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You mean where he wears those ridiculous ‘suit type pants but shorter’ (shorts) with a matching suit? Wait let me rephrase that...

You mean where he wears those matching shorts with business style jackets?

No thank you! 🤣

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I watched it.
Three times.
Just for Jung Il Woo.
Once again, I'm okay with Jin Se Yeon. She is pretty.
I miss him
Can't wait to see him in good project.

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Thank you for this write up, I actually enjoyed this drama for what it was (though I did employ the fast forward button a few times despite its admittedly short run time).

If I recall correctly, I binged it in the evenings while taking breaks from homework, so this bite sized drama was perfect for me. I also agree that it is the comedic relationship between the secretary and boss that really kept me coming back to the end.

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I binge watched this entire series in one sleepless night back in the Dramafever days just for JIW.
He is crazy and obnoxious and the story is silly but he has some really swoony moments. Plus each episode is short esp if you ff thru the recap part so I kept telling myself I could stop at any time....
The heroine is super bland and entirely forgettable but I doubt she is the reason most people watched it.
If you want to see JIW looking really handsome /swoony and like silly crazy slightly weird then its worth watching.

Wish I could say the same for Cinderella 4K... so much pretty but what a waste of time!

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Flower Boy Ramyun Shop is possibly my favorite drama, and Jung Il Woo in comedic roles my favorite actor, so I definitely loved this one! It was like a little gift, a bit of extra FBRS. I would also recommend that fans watch the episode of High Kick 3 that he guest starred in if you can find it! So funny and perfect!

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I end up watching this drama after read this recap and I'm not regret it. the story side is not really that great but Jung Ill woo really shine in here. I really love ill woo in here aside his other drama. I really .. really hope he got a great drama with a great role because I'm so absorb with him in this drama. Every time he play a broken heart man, my heart broken with him (I can't get over from Moon Embraces the Sun), thanks got he got a happy ending here. I may need to rerun watching this drama, just to see him miserable with his one sided love :D

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