K-Drama Review: “Money Heist Korea: Joint Economic Area Part 1” Binds A Thrilling, Dramatic and Funny Storyline

Delivering the “Heist of the Year”, Money Heist Korea tops Netflix charts worldwide!

Riveting fans with angst and thrill, Money Heist Korea: Joint Economic Area Part 1 chronicled a fascinating caper series set in the futuristic union of the two Koreas.

This series adaptation promised diversity in casting and multi-layered characters. With six episodes, the first half of this Netflix Originals gifted fans with a uniquely Korean twist to the well-loved “La Casa De Papel.”

Nathan Llantos watched Money Heist Korea: Joint Economic Area Part 1 on Netflix

Money Heist Korea: Joint Economic Area Poster


Money Heist Korea: Joint Economic Area Part 1 Quick Plot Recap

The series adaptation follows the same premise as the original Spanish version. It chronicles the story of a group of thieves banding together to pull off the largest heist in the world. Of course, with the exemption of the tale being fitted in the context of Korea.

In 2025, the war between North and South Korea finally seized. The unification talks began by printing a new unified currency for the two divisions. As a result, the Joint Economic Area (JEA) came to life.

The North had begun opening its borders allowing South Korean culture to enter the country. Meanwhile, residents were free to cross between the two nations, promising a better life for their citizens.

Assembling the Team

One of the citizens that were enticed by this new opportunity was a woman that goes by the name Tokyo (Jeon Jong-Seo). It didn’t take long for her to discover that capitalism wasn’t all it promised as she struggled with her new life in Seoul.

On the night when all hope for her life seemed lost, the Professor (Yoo Ji Tae) came across her. He recruited her for a heist in the Korean Mint. Subsequently, the story introduces the group of thieves with codenames after cities (Tokyo, Berlin, Rio, Moscow, Denver, Nairobi, Oslo, and Helsinki) except their leader, the Professor.

The group enters the Korean Mint, where they will print their own money to steal. All the while, the Professor instructs the team from the outside to handle any interference from the police force.

The Heist

Inside the Mint, the gang took employees and visitors hostage for the duration of the heist. Tensions continue to rise as the team faces hatred from some hostages. This includes the director of the Mint and even the daughter of the American Ambassador of Korea.

Simultaneously, from the outside, the Korean government established a joint task force to rid of the thieves headed by their negotiator (Sun Woo Jin).

Here the Professor began toying with the task force. Almost like a game of chess, desperate to not only outsmart each other but also to buy more time for his team to complete the heist.


Money Heist Korea: Joint Economic Area Part 1 Highlights

Great Casting

The actors and actresses of the series are indeed befitting for their roles. For instance, they demonstrated their different charms and appeals. Hence, they owned the characters they were portraying.

Both the ones playing as robbers and cops show why their characters belong to them. Indeed, they were versatile in acting out scenes that range from comical to thrilling action.

In particular, the Professor’s team for the heist not only embodied the original series’ cast’s personalities. They tweaked it into something uniquely Korean.

Besides that, the cast ensemble exudes excellent synergy. It is evident when they share screentime in almost all of the episodes.


Impeccable Production & Set Design

They attempted to create a fictional area in the Korean Peninsula. A “Joint economic area.” To make this happen, the team really gave their best to deliver impeccable production and set design.

The creative team behind this Korean adaptation did not hesitate to spend. In fact, they maximized their production budget well to make the series grand.

The set design, the backdrops, the wardrobe of the casts, the visual effects, and the props are all well-thought-out.

Money Heist Korea: Joint Economic Area stills


Impressive Cinematography

Outstanding cinematography is integral in making a series gripping. Very true to its elements, Money Heist Korea: Joint Economic Area is crafted with immersive camera angles, motions, and excellent color grading. Additionally, the series exhibited good visual and audio effects that go very well with the performances of the casts.

Despite primarily using dark tones to bring to life the dark theme of the series, there is appropriate lighting. In fact, the color grading gives room for humor and a bit of romance despite mainly using dark colors. The transitions are great as well.

Money Heist Korea stills


Noteworthy Performances

Money Heist Korea

In particular, the characters that stood out are Berlin (Park Hae Soo), Director Cho Youngmin (Park Myung Hoon), Kim Misun (Lee Joo Bin), Tokyo (Jeon Jeong Seo), and Inspector Seon Woojin (Kim Yujin). Notable mentions are Nairobi (Jang Yoon Ju), Denver (Kim Ji Hoon), and Rio (Lee Hyun Woo).

The character Director Cho Youngmin is great at being annoying. Meanwhile, the character Misun and Denver have good chemistry despite the toxic Stockholm syndrome root of their relationship. Not to mention, Nairobi is such a fun and chill character. And to balance the thrill and angst, Moscow (Lee Won Jong) is a great addition.

On the other hand, Tokyo, Berlin, and the Professor (Yoo Ji Tae) are spectacular. It was great to witness them shifting from cold-blooded criminals to funny and amazingly multi-layered characters. Most especially Tokyo (Jeon Jong Seo). She had been receiving (well-deserved) love from fans for being such a beauty and a fighter with a heart.

Money Heist Korea


Money Heist Korea: Joint Economic Area Part 1 Series Musings

A Penny For Some Thoughts

Unfortunately, the series arguably had slow and anti-climatic beginnings. Comparatively, the original series had a more gripping opening sequence and a more nerve-wracking first episode.

Nonetheless, it made sure to reel in viewers at the edge of their seats come episodes 4 to 6. More importantly, it really did serve amazing visuals and decent plot twists.

Although it stayed true to the core of the original Spanish series, this adaptation demonstrates its distinction from it. It did not merely replicate the original storyline.

However, fans of “La Casa De Papel” would see that the Korean adaptation did not stray away from the original series’ plot premise.

Money Heist Korea: Joint Economic Area stills

However, the most noticeable weak aspect of the show is how the characters were introduced. The narration needs more flair. Not just that, parts 1 and 2 of the adaptation only consist of 6 episodes each.

The pacing is a bit inconsistent. In particular, the build-up for the characters’ backstory is seemingly done half-heartedly. (Though we would probably get more scoop of this on Part 2.)

The original series ran for five seasons. On that note, the plot and the characters were given ample time to demonstrate their prowess and origins.

Money Heist Korea’s pacing fluctuates from fast to slow as the episodes go by. Nevertheless, it was able to hook viewers during crucial moments in the series’ trajectory.

Hopefully, when part 2 comes out, viewers’ questions would be answered and get major loopholes fixed. More importantly, it has to continue the good start that part 1 had.

Witness how the Professor and his team play cops and robbers with the police on Money Heist Korea: Joint Economic Area Part 1. All six episodes are available for streaming on Netflix.

In case you missed it:

PRESS CONFERENCE: “Money Heist Korea” Creative Team And Cast Ensemble Gear Up Viewers For The Series’ Premiere”


Photos: Netflix


 

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