Warning: Spoilers for the article “Money Robbery: Korea is a Joint Economic Zone” below!
With the release of Money Heist: Korea — Joint Economic Area, many are wondering how this is related to the original Money Heist series. The original was originally cancelled after it was shown on television in Spain. However, after Netflix picked up the series, it became a global phenomenon and the second most popular series in the history of the streaming service. With the success of the Korean game Squid Game, the number one most popular series on Netflix, it’s no surprise that the streaming service released the Korean version of its popular Spanish crime drama so quickly.
The original series “Paper Robbery” tells the story of a Spanish crime boss “Professor” who channels his frustration about property inequality into the robbery of the Royal Mint of Spain. The professor, along with his eight recruits, raids the Royal Mint, steals money and takes hostages to help negotiate with the authorities. The robbery of money has become a source of inspiration for resistance to real protesters. Some even wear the iconic Dali mask, named after the revered Spanish artist, as a symbol of overcoming oppression.
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The action of Money Heist: Korea takes place in 2025 on the threshold of the reunification of North and South Korea, which created a joint economic zone, where the robbery eventually takes place. Despite the differences in cultural aspects, the new version of Money Heist embodies the original theme of wealth inequality — which is also noticeable in Squid Game — and the illegal actions of those who take matters into their own hands. Many characters, such as “The Professor”, even have the same names as their original counterparts. Thus, Money Heist: Korea is a remake of Money Heist, based on Korean culture and the growing inequality of national welfare, a strong connection with the original, but this does not mean that it is devoid of flaws.
The main drawback of the game Money Heist: Korea is its pace. Compared to the 22 episodes of the first season of Money Heist, the Korean counterpart has only six, although six more are expected to be released later in 2022. from an interesting LGBTQ+ plot to a complete lack of replicas. This was further compounded by the close similarity to the plot of the “Paper Robbery”, which, in fact, eliminated the possibility of exciting moments and suspense, which often play a central role in the success of crime dramas.
On the other hand, Money Heist: Korea cleverly integrates Korean culture into an existing plot, and not just by including K-pop in its soundtrack (which it does). For example, in the show, the iconic Dali masks are replaced by traditional Korean folk masks known as Hahoetal, which are often used in the theater. There are twelve versions, each representing different character archetypes; the one used in Money Heist: Korea is the aristocrats, who are often ridiculed for their power and conceit. Instead of acting as a symbol of resistance, as in the original series, masks in Money Heist: Korea are used to mock the authorities who protect the capitalist system of Korea.
It’s too early to say whether Money Heist: Korea will be as successful as Money Heist, but it seems unlikely. The overall predictability and refinement of the original storylines detract from some of the magic of Money Heist. Nevertheless, it may attract new attention in Asia, and it is still worth watching for avid fans who would like to take a fresh look at the original, and regular viewers of Korean dramas. If “Money Robbery: Korea — United Economic Zone” doesn’t relieve you of the itch left after the finale of “Money Robbery”, there is always a spin-off prologue based on its main character, Berlin, which will be released in 2023.