In 2018, a TV series took over the world by storm; this show was not even from Hollywood or in the universal English language.
La Casa de Papel or Money Heist was a Spanish series short of nothing - big heist, crime thriller, suspense, romance and drama. This show continued till 2021, being one of the most-watched non-English language series of all time.
With such shows’ rise to fame, this kind of popularity attracted the K-drama industry, which recently created the remake of the show - Money Heist: Korea- Joint Economic Area, made with formulas of a successful K-drama.
Though this Korean remake and the original one are set in the same universe, the Korean one has a utopian approach.
The Korean Money Heist story is set in a unified Korea, ending more than 70 years of war between North and South Korea, and transforming the heavily guarded Demilitarisation zone into a Joint Economic Zone for both.
However, things are not so sunshine and rainbows. The poor people from North Korea migrate to the Southern part, only to be exploited as cheap labour and trapped in the dark side of South Korean capitalism.
So in the show, some people want to make an exception with a bang. Like the Professor in the Spanish Money Heist, here is a professor too who leads a group of robbers riddled with a wide variety of problems like escaping from authority just because of acting in self-defence, or escaping the hellholes of North Korean Labour Camps, or finding a way out of huge debts.
They are hired for their particular set of abilities, crucial for the greatest heist in the history of Korea - stealing four trillion won from the United Korean Mint, the symbol of the unified Korean economy.
Money Heist: Korea- Joint Economic Area is mainly based on the original Spanish series with claims to make it in the Korean way. But even the characters’ names aren’t changed in this one.
They are the same Tokyo, Berlin, Rio and so on, only with different people from different backgrounds and different countries. Their main reasons for joining the heist look similar to another popular K-drama that took over the world during the COVID-19 pandemic: Squid Game.
As the Korean perspective is used in this show, the dark side of Korean capitalism is narrated by Tokyo, who was a North Korean soldier migrating to South Korea for a better future.
But after being exploited as a cheap migrant worker, she becomes disillusioned from the ‘Korean Dream’ and decides to fight for the sufferers, inevitably joining the heist while being on the run by law enforcers.
She shows the rapidly increasing income inequality, the rough edges of a capitalist economy, and her justifications to fight against them from her perspective; albeit her narratives are not always trustworthy, just like her counterpart from La Casa de Papel.
The show is also full of thriller, drama, suspense and romance, which is enough for heist drama fans to enjoy.
Moreover, the cliffhanger in the season finale sets up the path for another season with a possibility of answering many questions from the Heist genre and K-drama fans alike.