‘Money Heist: Korea’: Explaining the Joint Economic Area Setting in the K-Drama

The original Netflix series, Money Heist, takes place in Madrid, Spain. A group of thieves infiltrates the Royal Mint with a grand plan to take what they are owed. But in the K-drama Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area, the setting is drastically changed to create a complex story of politics between North and South Korea. Here is a breakdown of the Joint Economic Area and how it influences the characters.

[WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area]

The Professor uses economic infrastructure as a base in Netflix’s ‘Money Heist’

When fans first meet the group of thieves brought together to rob the Royal Mint of Spain, there is one common mindset. The world, society, and the country see them as vermin and outliers. The economic system has the rich get richer off the backs of the working people.

In Money Heist, Spain has no real significance or impacts the characters in a hard-hitting way, except for the Professor. As the seasons go on, fans learn the Professor (Álvaro Morte) has a small vendetta. As a boy, he was gravely ill and needed treatment. His father did everything he could to provide but saw no other way out.

The Professor’s story begins with witnessing his father’s death at the hands of the police after he tries to rob a bank. The demise of his father was all for the economic wealth of printed sheets of paper. But in Money Heist: Korea, the Joint Economic Area setting has a dramatic impact that shapes the K-drama, its characters, and politics.

North and South Korea unify to create a Joint Economic Area in ‘Money Heist: Korea’

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The setting for the K-drama remake is a pinnacle aspect of the storyline. Both countries have drastically different governments and ways of life. Fans learn from Tokyo’s (Jeon Jong-seo) backstory, a historical shift involving the two countries.

After a summit between North and South Korea and the U.S., the governments announced plans for a unified country. A news report reveals the North and South will create a Joint Economic Area (JEA). They will make an economic community and a unified currency.

In Money Heist: Korea, there is a time-lapse to 2025, and the countries have successfully created the Joint Economic Area. It is a city between both countries where citizens of both nations can work, live, and exist in harmony. But the unification brought economic flourish and demise for some.

South Korean businessmen invested in the North, making them filthy rich. While the unification created a new surge in the economy, it also created capitalism. The rich got richer, and the poorer got poorer. An influx of North immigrants has citizens in an uproar. The Joint Economic Area also fabricated new currency and is the focal point of Money Heist: Korea.

How the Joint Economic Area was created to influence the characters

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Fans know how about Tokyo’s life in the North. Also her move to the Joint Economic Area in Money Heist: Korea. The tension between countries is palpable. At the Mint, there are both North and South Korean workers. Berlin (Park Hae-soo) forces the hostages to divide themselves during the heist.

It creates a stifling level of animosity between the hostages, as not everyone is keen on each other. The unification and power struggle also appears in the negotiation team. Seon Woo-jin (Kim Yun-jin) is partners with Cha Moo-hyuk (Kim Sung-oh). He is an expert negotiator from the North. While their governments are now unified, Moo-hyuk makes certain decisions following his superiors, without the authorization of the South Korean government.

“The fact that we could add a new layer because the country has been divided between two different political systems was what I found the most interesting,” explains production designer Seo Sung-kyung. Writer Ryu Yong-jae explains using the tensions between both countries has the characters worry about who to trust and betray.

Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area is available on Netflix.

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