The writer of Money Heist’s Korean version, Ryu Yong-jae says he was so intrigued after watching the original Spanish series, that he was sure he wanted to remake it. During an exclusive press conference of Netflix’s latest offering, Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area in Seoul, the cast and crew got candid about taking up the challenge of adapting the globally hit heist drama.
Director Kim Hong-sun revealed that apart from its plotline, its various characters made the show an exciting one. “What’s amazing is that all the characters have their own personalities, and it was fun to watch them all,” he said. According to Hong-sun, every character would bring its own charm whichever canvas they are placed in. “I thought if we translate the background and characters into Korean, we could give birth to something novel. And that’s how we started,” the director added.
Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area embraces Asian sentiments, basing its story around a Korea that’s about to get unified. The makers said considering Korea is the only divided nation left in the world, they believed it would act as an interesting background.
In the show, we see ahead of its unification, North and South Korea establish a Joint Security Area with the Unified Korea Mint, aiming to introduce a common currency for a stable joint economy. But against the expectations, “only the rich get richer,” resulting in inequality.
Actor Yoo Ji-tae, who plays the central role of Professor, reiterated the pressure the team felt due to the massive fandom the original show enjoys. He, however, expressed confidence in the Korean storytellers. “Korean content is loved across the world, and that is probably because Korean content creators have clever ideas and smart approach. That’s done on this show as well. Of course, it has the Korean sentiments and sense of humor,” Ji-tae said at the event.
The Korean remake has kept certain elements specific to the region. Apart from the theme of North and South Korea’s unification, it replaces La Casa De Papel‘s famous Dali masks with Hahoe mask. Actor Park Hae-soo, who is playing Berlin, shared why it was a crucial alteration.
While in Spain, the Dali mask symbolises freedom, Hahoe mask in Korea embodies criticism of the powerful. Hae-soo said, “I felt a sense of overwhelming power when each cast member wore the mask.”
Jeon Jong-seo, who will be seen as Tokyo, added, “When we saw the Hahoe mask in the show, I was surprised because it is not a plain-looking mask. It has a smile depicting a sense of humor, and at the same time a sense of mystery as well. So it has many layers to it.”
Park Hae-soo, who acquired global fan following after his portrayal of Player 218 in hit show Squid Game (2021), jokingly called himself a “regular employee” at Netflix Korea. Speaking about how he interpreted his version of Berlin, who was originally a terminally ill sociopath, Hae-soo said, “To me, he is an embodiment of pain and sorrow that the two Koreas are experiencing.” In the Korean version, he might not be Professor’s elder brother, rather an ex-worker “serving in a forced labor camp in North Korea” who escaped and has now joined the heist gang to control the hostages situation from inside the mint. “He is a cold-hearted person,” Hae-soo added.
Hae-soo agreed that he usually gets to play characters who are in a confined space. But he opined, “When the characters are in a confined space, the tensions rise naturally. And I’m now particularly drawn to the one-uniform type of characters.” So from sporting a green jumpsuit in Squid Game, Hae-soo is turning to a red jumpsuit in Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area.
The makers designed a special currency for the show, depicting the unification. Apart from that, a fictional location of the Unified Korea Mint was also created. The main plotline, however, remains the same from the original show, of a group of outlaws and criminals who join forces to rob the country’s mint, forging its currency and fleeing the building disguising the police and investigating agencies, under the leadership of their main man, The Professor.