After the global phenomenon “Squid Game” success, which became Netflix’s most-watched series of all time, South Korea is ready for another breakthrough. “Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area” is a realisation of the 2017 Spanish “La Casa de Papel” or “Money Heist”, directed by Kim Hong-sun (“The Guest”, “Voice”) and written by Ryu Yong-jae (“Liar Game”, “Time Between Dog and Wolf”).
In this South Korean remake of the 2017 Spanish version of “Money Heist”, or “La Casa De Papel”, the Korean peninsula is on the verge of unification. A gang of robbers in “Hahoe” masks roams in at its Unified Korea Mint (UKM), the site of the first step toward peaceful unification. The PROFESSOR, who planned the unprecedented hostage, and his crew of thieves – BERLIN, TOKYO, MOSCOW, DENVER, NAIROBI, RIO, HELSINKI, and OSLO – plan to steal four trillion won, the biggest heist in history.
1. The original creator of “Money Heist” is involved in the Korean remake
Àlex Pina is credited as a writer for the first episode, alongside Ryu Yong-jae, Kim Hwan-chae, and Choe Sung-jun. He also serves as the executive producer for the Korean remake of “Money Heist”.
2. The biggest heist ever in the Korean Peninsula
Four trillion won is the total amount of money the robbers plan to steal from the Unified Korea Mint, making it the biggest heist in the Korean Peninsula. Writer Ryu Yong-jae explained they decided to amount the cash to four trillion Korean won because they converted the total money from the original Spanish series, which was 2.4 billion Euros.
3. Fictional inter-Korean relations
The official title indicates and will address Korea’s socio-economic conflict between both sides of the border. ‘Joint Economic Area’ refers to a newly created and fictional region where the border between North and South is situated in the real world. Korea’s newly unified government will use this area as a base to form a new economy and money currency.
4. ‘Hahoe’ masks don by the robbers
The robbers in the Spanish version of Money Heist wear Dali masks as their signature look, inspired by the Spanish artist Salvador Dali. The Korean remake however, has its robbers wear “Hahoe” masks, a traditional Korean masks worn by performers of ‘dance drama for the Gods’ (하회별신굿탈놀이). In the series, it serves as a symbol of criticism, a sense of overwhelming power, and how it portrays a different angle from the Korean perspective.
5. Yoo Ji-tae can relate to his character, the Professor
When asked how he resonates with his character, the Professor, Yoo Ji-tae (“Ditto”, “Oldboy”) said it is the Professor’s conviction. He believes there should be no losses or victims even when committing a crime. He kept it in his mind during filming while he was positioned in the headquarters, directing the group of thieves in the robbery.
6. The character Berlin may look familiar
You may have seen Park Hae-soo somewhere before. He acted as Cho Sang-woo (Player 218), the childhood friend of Lee Jung-jae’s character (Seong Gi-hun) in “Squid Game”. He also starred as the wrongly convicted baseball athlete Lee Je-hyuk in “Prison Playbook”, and guest starred in “Memories of the Alhambra” (2018) and “Persona” (2019).
7. Moscow and Denver are still related
The relationship between the characters Moscow and Denver, who play father and son in the original series, is one similarity that can be expected from the Korean remake of Money Heist. Kim Ji-hoon (“Flower of Evil”), who plays Denver in the Korean remake, even complimented Lee Won-jong (“Wild Romance”, “Delayed Justice”) on how excellent their chemistry was on set and how comfortable he felt while filming.
8. Lee Hyun-woo felt right walking around in the costume
During the press conference for the upcoming series, Lee Hyun-woo (“To The Beautiful You”, “Secretly Greatly”), who plays Rio, told the press that he felt confident in the red jumpsuit and the “Hahoe” mask. He acted boldly in the ensemble because people could not see his expression. The uniformity also gave him a sense of camaraderie, and he felt energetic in character.
9. The casts trained with dialect coaches
Park Hae-soo’s character, Berlin, is originally from North Korea. He trained with a dialect coach to pull off the convincing Pyongyang and Hamgyong dialects. It was the same for actors Kim Ji-hoon (Denver) and Lee Won-jong (Moscow), who play father and son from Gyeongsang Province of South Korea. They trained with dialect coaches to enunciate and deliver the Gyeongsang dialect properly.
10. The casts are close in real life
Despite the apparent tension between the characters in the trailer, they are close with each other in real life. For instance, Jang Yoon-joo (“Veteran”, “Three Sisters”) – who plays Nairobi – would call and invite the casts to her house to hang out. They would also rehearse, monitor, and comment on each other’s performances.
“Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area” is set to premiere on 24th June. Watch the trailer:
Anis Sharina contributed to this article.