‘Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area’ Review: Korea’s Remake Feels and Looks Cheap

Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area

Money Heist or “La Casa de Papel” in its original Spanish language, was a phenomenon of a show. The Spanish crime thriller made waves around the world thanks to its endearing characters, tight plotting, and incredible plot twists. The show had every single necessary element to become a hit, on a level that is not often seen on television. The actors became famous all over the world, and the uniform, along with the Dali mask, were only precursors of what would happen with the uniforms and the masks of Squid Game.

It is quite funny, that both Squid Game and the original Money Heist feel, so similar, One feels like a response to the other. They both deal with capitalism, and corruption as some of their main themes. They also use similar iconography as with the previously mentioned uniforms, and masks, and they also tackle the universal theme of the struggle between social classes, the rich against the poor, and so on. Money Heist came first, but Squid Game took that same concept and themes to the next level.

This is why when watching “Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area” the first thing that comes to mind is “Why does this exist?” South Korea had already made its own Money Heist in the form of Squid Game, and it was, and still is, the most successful Netflix TV show. Everybody saw Squid Game, so why go a couple of steps back and remake something that has already been done? There seems to be no logical reason from a creative point of view, instead, it seems like milking the IP to its limit is the only real reason.

Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area

Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area is a TV show produced by Netflix. The series is said to take place in the same fictional universe as the original Spanish TV series. The series stars Yoo Ji-Tae, Park Hae-soo, and Jeon Jong-seo. The series is based on the original concept created by Alex Piña. And tells the story of a group of criminals who intend to commit the biggest heist ever, by stealing 4 billion wons from the new Joint Economic Area that has been created as the two Koreas are closer to unification.

Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area begins in a very different way from the original. The series takes the Korean setting and applies a sort of “5 minutes into the future” kind of execution where the idea is that both South Korea, and North Korea are closer than ever to unification. As both countries have been separated for more than 70 years. The first step into this unification is in the economic aspect by creating a unified currency.

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This entire concept is quite interesting. The fact that the two Koreas have been separated for so long has made the two countries completely different on an economic and cultural level, so seeing a scenario where they are starting the unification process is quite compelling. In reality, such a scenario would be quite complicated, and it would mean very big changes for both countries. To explore that idea would be interesting by itself.

However, Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area takes that idea and simply uses it as the backstory for the character of Tokyo, as she is North Korean in this version of the story. The idea basically serves as justification for some characters to be North Korean and still manage to be part of the group with the South Korean characters. After the idea is used for this, it is then simply abandoned for the rest of the season, as the show goes into full remake mode.

It is quite jarring that if this show is set in the same universe as the original one, then the events of that original show are repeating themselves here step by step. Why is this happening, is there a sort of glitch in the Matrix that is repeating the events of one country in another? There is no explanation for this, and the show should have never told that this series serves as a continuation, it doesn’t make any sense if it is. They should have said it is a remake, and that is it.

Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area

Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area follows the plot of the original show and also uses the same characters. However, this first season never manages to reach the highs of the first season of the original show. The original show became such a hit because the first season truly showed that Money Heist was more than just any other Spanish TV show. The production values, the writing, and the acting were all top-notch, and they worked together into creating pure entertainment.

Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area tries to use the same elements, but fails to capture the same magic. The production values look way cheaper than the original show. The actors are playing the same characters as the original, but they don’t feel the same at all, even when the actors are really trying to hit the same beast. And also, the sense of urgency that made that first season of the original so addictive is completely gone here.

It is really hard to say who is the audience for this show. Maybe, it really is only aimed at the Korean audience that has never seen the original show and doesn’t want the hassle of reading subtitles or listening to a dubbed version of the original. If that is the objective of the show, then I guess that is the only one because this version does exactly the same as the original but worse. There is really no value in Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area, especially if you have already seen the original series.

Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area feels like a waste of time. For those who have already seen the original series, it adds nothing new to the story. And for those who have not seen the original, it would be really sad if this is the version they choose to watch when the original is so superior. The show ends with season 2 on the horizon, but unless something dramatic happens, this feels like a show no one should watch.

SCORE: 3/10

  • Nelson loves all things related to storytelling. He has spent most of his life studying narrative, applied across all mediums; film, TV, books, and video games. Mulholland Drive is his favorite film.