‘Money Heist: Korea- Joint Economic Area’ Season 1: Ending, Explained – What To Expect From Season 2?

“Money Heist: Korea- Joint Economic Area” is a close-to-perfect tribute to “La Casa De Papel,” the original Spanish series aired on Netflix in 2017. The show, also called “Money Heist,” was one of the all-time hits on the OTT. So, the Korean adaptation of the series already had the attention worldwide. “La Casa De Papel” didn’t take much time to become a global sensation. South Korean shows have been performing very well for some time now, with shows like “Squid Game” and “All of Us Are Dead” gaining a huge fan base. So, how is this new Korean adaptation of “Money Heist”? Let’s find out.

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‘Money Heist: Korea- Joint Economic Area’ Plot: What Is The Series About?

Unlike “La Casa De Papel,” “Money Heist: Korea” has a somewhat different setting. The story is set in 2025, and South Korea and North Korea are no longer at war. While both nations are on the verge of celebrating their unification, a group of robbers plans to loot the Unified Korean Mint at the Joint Economic Area. The Professor assembles a team for the heist, and their intentions are clear from the beginning. They would carry out the most significant theft ever in history. Apart from the plot, nothing different happens in this. Even the characters were code-named after the same cities. Only this time, Tokyo was asked directly why she picked the name. She was ready with the answer as she said, “Because we are going to do something terrible.” Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is of symbolic importance in the history of the Korean peninsula, which was attacked by the Japanese during the Second World War. Also, Tokyo being a metropolitan city, the criminal activities are considered to be higher than anywhere else. Through its satirical commentary on Korea’s geopolitical situation, the series tries to stand out, but it fails majorly. Let’s take a deeper look at the characters.


The Characters

Tokyo (played by Jeon Jong-su) is an ex-soldier and a BTS fan. She never actually rebelled against anyone in the team or rubbed them off in the wrong way, and thus they all loved her. But the Tokyo we fell in love with was psychotic, fearless, and, most importantly, a troublemaker. The backstory here didn’t add a proper set-up to the foundation of Tokyo’s character. On the other hand, Berlin (Park Hae-soo) had instinctive eyes and a rather unorthodox way of looking at things. So, the new Berlin failed in every way to even create an impact. Pedro Alonso’s “Berlin” is considered one of the most influential characters in the history of the most popular television series. But, if we compare Park Hae-soo with the rest of the actors in “Money Heist: Korea,” he did quite an outstanding job.

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Right after the two of the most influential characters in the squad now comes the turn of Oslo and Helsinki. Well, if you have seen Korean action films, the guys who represent these characters are nothing but some sort of thugs in a bikers’ club. They don’t even have many dialogues. Helsinki’s brilliance in “La Casa De Papel” left us astonished with his brilliance. The Helsinki in the Korean version moves around for no reason at all. Maybe the next season can bring more from these guys. If there is a Helsinki, there must be a Nairobi, or so we thought. Nairobi, played by Jang Yoon-Ju, is the most disappointing of all. When Alba Flores played Nairobi, she tempted the audience with her beauty, kindness, and a hidden air of mystery around her. She was a con woman, but she had a heart of purity. Of all the women in “La Casa de Papel,” Tokyo and Nairobi influenced the audience most. Here, in “Money Heist: Korea,” both of them had no impact whatsoever.

If we talk about Rio and Denver, well, this is a point where “Money Heist: Korea” shines. Kim Ji-Hoon played the character of Denver, and he was an almost perfect representation of Jaime Lorente’s Denver. He even brought the significant “Denver laugh” into his character. Kim Ji-Hoon was subtle with all his expressions, and his relationship with Moscow (played by Lee Won-Jong) is also very impressive. Moscow left an almost similar effect to Paco Tous, but Paco Tous was more promising as a father to Denver. Now, Rio! Miguel Herran’s Rio was more like a hot college student, whereas Lee Hyun-Woo’s Rio is a cute boy running around with a backpack. Although, the transition of Rio from a boy who makes mistakes to a man who loves Tokyo will be pretty interesting to watch in the upcoming season of “Money Heist: Korea.”

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Last but not least, it is Arturo. Here, the character is named Cho Yeong-Min and is played by Park Myung-hoon. Enrique Arte’s Arturo Roman is a once-in-a-lifetime character to play. It was very hard from the beginning to make an impact like Arturo did. However, replacing someone who the entire world despises is a difficult task in and of itself. Cho Yeong is as annoying as Arturo Roman, so the audience will love him for one reason or another. Here, Monica was named Yoon Mi-Seon and was played by Lee Joo-bin. She was natural in her approach and did an almost perfect representation of Esther Acebo’s Monica. She had these lovely legs. You have to give her some credit for that.


A Greater Threat

Since the build-up is almost the same as the original, the tension in the plot is relatively more significant than in “La Casa De Papel.” Here, in 2025, Korea is established as a unified nation. But, in the Mint, Berlin asked the hostages to form two sides based on Korea’s North and South regions. Now, he added, if a South Korean created some problem, a North Korean would be punished. This tension played well with the story as the very heist was happening in the Joint Economic Area. We were also offered substantial backstories to understand the geopolitical situations of the people from these regions. Even in the police camp, there is always tension between the North and the South. Although it isn’t enough to make a sentimental point for the series, for some reason, you will feel the growing tension in both camps. This palpable tension is one of the few things that will keep you hinged until the end of the series.

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The Utmost Lack Of Chemistry

Oslo and Helsinki are thugs who killed a whole gang for their personal reasons. Oslo and Helsinki, we knew, were brothers on the battlefield, and with the minimum screen time they shared, the bond was very prominent. Here, they were just two guys taking orders from everyone; there was nothing at all between them. Also, the way Rio used to look at Tokyo was one of the most beautiful things that the audience might have felt on screen. Well, here, the audience never found Tokyo much; how could Rio? The Tokyo represented here is quite a disgrace to the monumental idea that the character was built on in the first place. Why didn’t Tokyo care about the money? Why did Tokyo avoid falling in love with Rio, although she knew she had already felt for him? These profound questions, if brought up, could have set the tone for Tokyo, maybe.

Although the chemistry between the Professor and Seon Woo-jin is very subtle, some might argue that they loved the chemistry between the Professor and Raquel Murillo more. But, in “Money Heist: Korea,” they make a good pair nonetheless. Even the scenes where one apologizes to another are pretty convincing to the audience. We can hope for some improvements in the next season. The problem with other characters was maybe with the screenplay, as the dialogues weren’t sharp, and they never triggered any actual emotion. The most disappointing thing of all was the lack of chemistry between the characters. “La Casa De Papel” set the standard for creating these multiple chemistries within the characters, but “Money Heist: Korea” failed to do any of that.


Who Was Berlin To The Professor? 

Berlin sets things straight if the Professor makes a mistake, which he rarely makes. Whenever there was a challenging situation, their incredible chemistry helped them to survive any odds.  Berlin in “La Casa De Papel” was an artist rather than a criminal. He was a vigilante who loved to hear music, express his thoughts on sculpture, and fall in love with beauty worldwide, including women. Berlin was wrong in every possible way. He defied all the emotions and became irritating to other characters, yet he alone made more impact than the Professor and the rest of the squad combined. Maybe this is why we may soon witness a prequel series that will follow Berlin’s origin story. 

In the original series, Berlin was the Professor’s elder brother, but who is Berlin to the Professor in “Money Heist: Korea”? Until now, nothing has been revealed about his relationship with the Professor. Most of the time, he has been acting like a backbencher in a classroom who creates a stir and loves to dominate other students. He is a criminal who takes pride in his crimes and shows respect for no one. Although, at the very end of the season, it allows the viewers to see a different version of him. Let’s hope this Berlin brings some justice to Pedro Alonso’s Berlin.

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‘Money Heist: Korea- Joint Economic Area’ Ending Explained: What To Expect From Season 2?

The series ends on a cliffhanger, and we will have its second season soon. We hope the makers will focus more on following their setup of North and South Korean unification instead of blindly copying the plot we already know. It will be interesting to see those changes in the plot. The makers’ being too loyal to the original premise could be one of the reasons why this show failed to create any influence on the viewers. But the last two episodes gave us some hope, as the show ends on a cliffhanger. There is a budding doubt about the Professor’s hand in the unification of Korea, and he is about to be confronted by one of Seon Woo’s colleagues.

Rio and Tokyo are on the verge of falling in love. Denver and Mi-seon had already hit it off, so it would be interesting to see how their attitudes change in front of Cho Yeong-min, the Arturo of this “Money Heist.” Moscow has already secured the escape route for the team, and the 4 trillion are almost done printing. While they plan to escape in 3 days, Seon Woo is about to discover what this heist was about. On the other hand, Berlin has some sort of disease that he has been hiding from the rest of the squad, presumably cancer. The heist is on, and so is the chase. Now is the time to see if the plot is somehow twisted from the original.

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“Money Heist: Korea” tried hard to give a tribute to “La Casa De Papel,” but it somehow failed in every aspect. The smoothness of the screenplay, the thrill from the beginning, the subtle placement of the sequences from the past, and the backstories never once came close to the original series. Where “La Casa De Papel” was a revolution, “Money Heist: Korea” is just a mere reminder of the essence it left. It is pretty evident from the first season that if the makers can at least create a song like “Bella Ciao,” that would be a tribute good enough to the original than this rigorous torture. “Money Heist: Korea” is streaming on Netflix. Watch it or not, it will have no effect whatsoever.


Shovan Roy
Shovan Roy
Shovan Roy is a creative content writer. Formerly he used to write film reviews on an international film festival website named Beyond the Curve International Film Festival. He also interviewed global directors. He also interviewed one of the characters from the show 'Trailer Park Boys', Mr. Bernard Robichaud, platformed in Netflix. Shovan tends to write through the third person narrative and he loves to do psychoanalysis. He can't say that he has mastered it but that is some sort of hobby of his. Film is a platform where he loves to spend most of his time learning.

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