Directed by Hong-sun Kim, who has previously worked on projects such as ‘Son: The Guest’ and ‘L.U.C.A.: The Beginning,’ ‘Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area’ is a South Korean heist action drama series. The story is set in a Korean Peninsula that is about to reunite. North and South Korea have set up a Joint Economic Area where the mint for United Korea has been built. The unification was supposed to benefit all Koreans, but in reality, only the rich have gotten richer. Under these circumstances, a mysterious man known simply as the Professor assembles a group of talented individuals to rob the United Korea Mint.
As indicated by the title and the premise of the series, ‘Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area’ is closely linked to the massively popular Spanish series ‘Money Heist’ or ‘La Casa De Papel,‘ which was created by Álex Pina for Antena 3 and Netflix. If that has made you wonder whether ‘Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area’ is a sequel or spin-off of the Spanish show, we got you covered.
Is Money Heist Korea – Joint Economic Area Sequel?
‘Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area’ is neither a sequel nor a spin-off but a remake of Pina’s original series. Pina made his show quintessentially Spanish, but the setting, narrative, and characters of ‘Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area’ are unmistakeably Korean. Scriptwriter Ryu Yong-Jae said during a press conference in Seoul in June 2022 that the differences between the original series and the Korean remake (which also streams on Netflix) can be compared to paella and Korean fried rice.
“Similar to how paella and fried rice are both famous rice dishes, the series may look similar with their charming characters and the heist plan,” the ‘Psychopath Diary’ writer stated. “But we have added some Korean flavors, making the series refreshing for Korean and foreign viewers — including an imaginary area named the ‘Joint Economic Area’ created by North and South Korea, who are close to unifying.”
Hong-sun Kim stated that he had believed that the premise of ‘Money Heist’ would fit any setting, including Korea, since the first time he saw the show in 2018. “Watching the original series back in 2018, I was mesmerized by the fascinating characters. I was certain that bringing them to another time and space, like South Korea, would definitely catch the viewers’ attention,” he explained.
Ryu revealed that he and other creators of the Korean remake thought the show needed a new setting because Korea is surrounded by sea on three sides and a land border. As a result, they developed the concept of the Joint Economic Area. In the adaptation process, Kim, Ryu, and their team were careful to incorporate various aspects of Korean culture. For instance, the famous Dali masks of the original series were replaced with hahoe masks.
“Unlike the Dali mask, which symbolizes freedom, the hahoe mask was originally used to mock upper-class social elites,” said actor Park Hae-soo, who portrays Berlin in the Korean remake. “I believe this goes well with our storyline. The hahoe mask alone creates a unique atmosphere that will mesmerize viewers,”
Park also hinted that his portrayal of Berlin would differ from the original series, where Spanish actor Pedro Alonso plays the character. “To me, he [Berlin] is an embodiment of pain and sorrow that the two Koreas are experiencing,” the ‘Squid Game‘ actor stated. He reportedly even insinuated that Berlin in the Korean remake might not be the Professor’s brother but a “cold-hearted” North Korean who experienced enormous hardship in a forced labor camp in his country.
Aside from Park, ‘Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area’ stars Yoo Ji-Tae as the Professor (played by Álvaro Morte in the original show), Jeon Jong-seo as Tokyo (Úrsula Corberó), Kim Ji-hoon as Denver (Jaime Lorente), Yoon-ju Jang as Nairobi (Alba Flores), Hyun-Woo Lee as Rio (Miguel Herrán), Won-jong Lee as Moscow (Paco Tous), Ji-Hoon Kim as Helsinki (Darko Perić), and Kyu-Ho Lee as Oslo (Roberto García Ruiz).
Yunjin Kim portrays Seon Woojin, a co-head of the task force taking on the robbers along with Kim Sung-oh’s Cha Moohyuk. Seon Woojin is most likely the Korean remake’s counterpart of Itziar Ituño’s Raquel Murillo, who assumes the alias Lisbon later in the original series.