Notable Cast: Yoo Ji-Tae, Kim Yun-Jin, Yoo Ji-Tae, Park Hae-Soo, Park Soo-Young, Jang Hyun-Sung
Taking the renowned Spanish series, Money Heist, but adding a South Korean twist, Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area follows the story of the “Professor” (played by Yoo Ji-Tae) and his plan to pull off a heist in the reunified Korean Peninsula. With the backdrop of North and South Korea uniting to become one country, the “greatest heist of all time” begins as a group of criminals with different personalties and talents overtake the mint of a unified Korea.
Despite clashing personalities, the criminals begin to bond with their training prior to entering the mint as they realize that each member plays a critical role in the success of the Professor’s plan. To preserve the criminals’ individuals identities, the criminals refer to themselves as city names and do not share any personal information with one another.
As the heist begins, the Professor stays outside of the mint and acts as the criminals’ “eyes and ears” as they evade the ongoing investigation led by the South and North Korean governments. The investigation is led by the South Korean Chief Inspector (played by Kim Yun-Jin) as she attempts to negotiate with the criminals to safely release the hostages. Although the Professor has thought of every detail and meticulously plotted the heist, things start to go awry as he falls in love with Chief Inspector, the criminals begin to butt heads inside the mint, and the hostages unexpectedly rebel.
Season 2 was recently released in December 2022 and continues to the criminals as they navigate the tense hostage situation inside the mint. As the drama unfolds within the mint, the Professor struggles with balancing his personal vendetta to successfully execute the heist and helping the criminals safely escape with his growing love towards the Chief Inspector. Despite growing closer to Chief Inspector, the Professor realizes that his feelings towards her puts the heist’s success at risk as her investigation begins to close in on him as the criminal mastermind behind the heist.
Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area does a great job at being suspenseful and matching the expectations from the original Spanish version. The editing and music is well executed, builds upon the drama and tension, and leaves the audience holding their breath as the criminals and the Professor continue to narrowly survive the investigation efforts. The cast also does a phenomenal job at executing their characters. From the distinct Denver laughter to Berlin’s pretentious demeanor to the dysfunctional yet loyal bond between the criminals, I could tell that the cast fully immersed themselves in their respective characters.
In general, I would say that Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area is a great drama and would definitely recommend that you watch it, especially if you have never watched the original Spanish Money Heist. However, with the bias of a fan of the original Money Heist, I was slightly disappointed by the “Korean twist” that was added. I thought that the series focused too much on following the plot of the original version and did a superficial dive on taking place in a unified Korea. Although Season 2 provided a little more insight on the backstory of the Professor and his relationship with Berlin, it would have been nice if they dedicated more time to that side-story since it was ultimately the impetus for the entire heist. Overall it would have been nice to learn more about the various criminals backstories, especially Tokyo, and why they are so dedicated to the heist and the Professor. I think Season 2 of the show had a lot of opportunities to really add a unique Korean flare to the series, however that part wasn’t as well developed as I would have liked.
If you view Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area as a standalone drama and not a spin-off, I would definitely recommend that you watch this show! It has the perfect amount of romance, suspense, and tension that every great Korean drama has.