Showing posts with label Money Heist: Korea - Joint Economic Area (Kdrama). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Money Heist: Korea - Joint Economic Area (Kdrama). Show all posts

06 September 2022

K Drama Review: Money Heist: Korea - Joint Economic Area (2022)

We finished watching this drama about two months ago. But I put off doing the review because I thought they were releasing the remaining episodes shortly after the first six episodes were shown. But it's been more than two months and no new episodes have been released yet. So I might as well write this review lest I forget what I watched. The remaining episodes of the first season will allegedly be released this year. I'll probably do a more comprehensive review when that happens. 

Caveat: I'm not that familiar with the Money Heist franchise so I won't be comparing this edition to the previous ones. 


Money Heist Joint Economic Area follows a group of thieves led by the Professor (Yoo Ji Tae) who plans a heist on the Mint of the unified Koreas. The group is composed of people with different skills and abilities to help them pull off the heist. Berlin (Park Hae Soo of Persona, Squid Game, and Prison Playbook), a former prisoner from the North, was initially appointed as the group's leader. He was eventually replaced by Tokyo (Jeon Jong Seo), a woman from the North who's wanted for various crimes against loan sharks. Rio (Lee Hyun Woo of Secretly, Greatly), a rich kid and a medical school dropout, is the group's hacker. Then we have the father and son tandem of ex-convict Moscow (Lee Won Jong of Ms. Hammurabi) who raised his son, underground fighter Denver (Kim Ji Hoon), all by himself. Nairobi (Jang Yoon Ju) is the group's con artist. And then we have siblings Oslo (Lee Kyu Ho of Hot Stove League) and Helsinki (Kim Ji Hun) who used to be gangsters from the North. Things become more interesting because the Professor who initially pretended to fall for the government's chief negotiator for the crisis, Seon Woo Jin (Kim Yun Jin), to get inside info, actually falls for her in the midst of the heist. The drama takes us through how the group takes over the Mint and how they try their best to retain control of things despite their internal conflicts. 


I can't say anything bad about the actors. They were all great. But Park Hae Soo is just really, really great that everyone probably paled in comparison to him. So while everyone was good, Berlin was just way up there in terms of skills. His best moments were the terrifying ones - like when he was in jail in the North and when he's acting all cool and chill while threatening the hostages and the other thieves. I guess there's nothing Park Hae Soo can't do. 

I loved the girls too! Jeon Jong Seo was perfect as Tokyo. I loved how she never backed down against Berlin. And that little crush thing Rio had on her was cute. 

Jang Yoon Ju was also great as Nairobi. While her screen time was not as much as Tokyo's, she still did so well in her scenes. It also helped that she always picked the right side. 

I also loved Kim Ji Hoon as Denver. Yes, it was easy to be annoyed with him because he was quite dumb. But he won me over with how humanely he treated Mi Seon (Lee Joo Bin of Mr. Sunshine), one of the hostages. And their scenes together were definitely hot. 

Yoo Ji Tae was okay as the Professor although I admit that I found his group members more interesting. It didn't help that he seemed quite weak, especially when he started falling for Woo Jin. And there's also his seeming inability to control Berlin. 

The great thing about this show is that it presents a very interesting premise - unified Koreas then a heist that needs to be solved by a joint task force with leaders from both factions. It's easy to get hooked right away and you'll become more invested in the show as it keeps you guessing about the group's actual plans and what will happen next. 

I liked the show's effort in localizing the drama to fit Korean culture such as the use of loan sharks, the mention of the grim reaper, etc. 

The tense moments in the show were really good. Like whenever they gathered the hostages or when they were trying to find who had the smartwatch that was transmitting info to the task force or the tension within the group. 

The back stories of the group members were presented well too. I admit that I sometimes found them even more interesting than the scenes inside the Mint. My favorite would probably be Rio's and how he almost quit and how Tokyo brought him back. Second one would be Moscow and Denver's. It was nice to watch the group's happy moments too.  

But there were parts I was not so happy with either. Like how the thieves seemed to have a number of chill moments with the hostages like Denver with Mi Seon and Rio with the US ambassador's daughter (Lee Si Woo). They would have been more credible if they were as serious and badass as Berlin. They didn't have to be cruel and ruthless but being chummy with the hostages felt like they were not really into what they were doing. 

I also found the quiet moments in between quite boring. And some stories didn't feel that important or necessary like Mi Seon and the Mint's director (Park Myung Hoon of Crash Landing on You and Parasite) or Woo Jin's family. I felt that they took time away from the actual heist and the story could have been tighter and more compact. 

Some things didn't make sense too. Like how the task force assumed that the Mint's director was a suspect so they shot him when some thieves and hostages went out to save Denver and Moscow. And how the task force assumed that the Professor was not inside the Mint when he told them what he had for breakfast simply because that food was not in the Mint's inventory. They should have known that he could have easily bluffed. Or how Woo Jin had to go to the car warehouse herself to check on the vehicle allegedly used by the thieves. She could have sent someone else so she could stay near the Mint where the heist was happening. I also found it "amateur" on the part of the task force members to leave their phones with the thieves when they went in the Mint to send a doctor to perform surgery on the Mint's director and not suspect that the thieves could have tampered with their phones. And it was quite disappointing for the supposedly professional criminals to have wasted too much time watching monitors, drinking, and pursuing their love interests. And for hardcore criminals, the thieves had the tendency to be overly dramatic too like when Berlin confronted the North Korean head of the task force (Kim Sung Oh of Fight for My Way, She Was Pretty, and Warm and Cozy) in front of the hostages. 

I'm holding my judgment on how the show ended even if I admit that I'm not a fan of hanging endings. I'm quite confident that since this is a Netflix production, they won't pull a Vagabond on us. But just the same, I will reserve my judgment until after I finish watching the remaining episodes.