Money Heist: Korea Part 1 Review – Anyone else have Deja vu?

Season 1

Episode Guide

Episode 1 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 4/5

 

When La Casa De Papel released on Netflix late in 2017, it took the world by storm. It remained the most-followed series on Netflix for six consecutive weeks, critics and audiences loved it, and the show inevitably lead to numerous sequels being green-lit.

It seems like only yesterday that the show finished its fifth season, and a quick browse on Netflix will tell you the final set of episodes dropped back on 7th December 2021.

So, here we are again, six months on and we’re back, with more Money Heist. This time though there’s a distinct Korean flavour to proceedings. Aside from that, this is very much the exact same show all over again.

As someone who absolutely loved the original, the announcement that Netflix were producing Money Heist: Korea seemed like a hit in the making. After all, the streaming giants have have been on a roll with their K content recently. And it seems those in charge of Money Heist: Korea went in with the thought of: “Well, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” For some, that’s going to be very annoying and a bit of a disappointment. For others, they’ll be quite happy to take that trip down memory lane. Even if that trip only finished six months ago.

To be fair, the story does have a few differences, namely that of the first 15 minutes or so of episode 1. An intriguing prologue whisks us forward to some time in 2025. North and South Korea have come to a political agreement and open up their borders to one another. The fighting is over and for now, Korea is one.

As part of this historic unification, those in Pyongyang and neighbouring North Korean villages are free to head down South to try and make a name for themselves. With high hopes and dreams for the future, it doesn’t take long for the crushing reality of capitalism to rear its ugly head.

Eking out a living in the midst of this happens to be Tokyo, who becomes disillusioned with her current life and ends up on the run. Wanted by police and with nowhere else to go, in a neon-lit alleyway one night she takes a gun and prepares to fire. Step forward The Professor.

For those unfamiliar with the story, the Professor recruits Tokyo alongside various other misfits, some hailing from North Korea and others from South Korea. Their target is the Unified Korea Mint, where they intend to break in, steal 4 trillion won and make it out in one piece. But with the police closing in, will they make it out before they’re caught?

From here on out, Money Heist: Korea is essentially a copy and paste job of the original series – including all the same bells and whistles as before. The characters all act the same, the red jumpsuits are here (albeit with a slightly different set of masks) and the story pans out in much the same way. The problem is, one can’t help but shake the feeling of deja vu while watching this.

That’s both the best and worst part of this show and is likely to be the major deciding factor over how much enjoyment you’ll get from this. With such a similar plotline, one will inevitably go into this and pick out all the differences to the superior Spanish thriller.

The most notable change here comes from the lack of focus on one character. While the original zoned in on Tokyo and had her as the central focus for much of the story, Money Heist: Korea is far more expansive, sporadically jumping between different characters throughout the heist. Only, there’s not much in the way of heisting.

I’ll try not to compare this to the original Spanish version too much but it’s kinda hard to do that when this one sticks so closely to the story. If you’ve seen the Spanish one, you’ll know every twist and turn to come and Money Heist: Korea will have absolutely no surprises in store for you.

Still, episodes 5 and 6 do mix things up with slight deviations from the main story, but on reflection these are more like cherrypicked moments added from seasons 3 and beyond of La Casa De Papel to try and throw you off the scent of what is otherwise a copy and paste job in terms of narrative beats.

The characters we follow across the season are pretty good, although they’re more of a mixed bag than the Spanish version. Helsinki and Oslo are barely mentionable, Nairobi is pretty forgettable while Rio’s chemistry with Tokyo is way off the mark.

On the other end of the scale though is Berlin, played by Park Hae-Soo. He’s excellent and personifies the character to perfection. His backstory is also pretty interesting too, although I’m not about to spoil that here in this review!

Beyond these flashes and a couple of surprises, almost everything in Money Heist: Korea is a retread of the Spanish version. Essentially this is the exact same dish served up again, with added Korean spice and garnishes. If that sounds like a tasty treat, you’re bound to devour this one without much complaint. If, however, you’re after something a bit different, it may be worth skipping this one.


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  • Verdict - 6.5/10
    6.5/10
6.5/10

6 thoughts on “Money Heist: Korea Part 1 Review – Anyone else have Deja vu?”

  1. Answering your question @Drow: I would definitely watch the OG Spanish one. The character development, humour, pacing, backstory is imho a lot better!
    I like Korean tv shows but unfortunately I think the remake is somewhat of a letdown. Once you’ve seen the Korean one you can’t just jump in and continue with the Spanish one because it has 5 seasons already. My advice would be to binge watch the Spanish one and then you can still watch the Korean remake afterwards.

  2. IT’S A REMAKE AND A REMAKE IT IS!

    Surprisingly, they got more creative and managed to improve the plot. It was all round almost better than the Spanish version.

    The idea of the South/North Korea mix, and their historic feud provided an excellent and novel ingredient to the show, which also happens to deepen the plot.

    For those who knew the history of the now two nations, to an extent will understand and appreciate its inclusion, as it proves a pivot and creative part of the shows’ giving.

    That being said, the Korean actors rose above the stereotype acting they’re known for.

    The cinematography is cool but not really Korea Drama standard. Fans of K-Drama would understand, since their (K-Drama) cinematography is one of their best selling points.

    In the case of this show, I’d guess it has to do with Netflix’s influence. It was just Hollywood standard at best.

    Overall, I think the Korean version have the better and more logical storyline. One quick example is the professor knowing the female officer, and already having a relationship with her before the heist. This leaves very little to no room for suspicion unlike in the original version.

    I genuinely think, that if this Korean version came as the original, it would be one hell of a sell. So it’s hard to choose which is better, all factors considered.

    CHARACTERS BIBLE:

    Professor:
    This Korean Professor is sleek. I like him. The Spanish professor on the other hand though, a little sluggish for my liking, he did excellent. It’s hard to say who my favourite is. No way!

    Berlin:
    Berlin was my favourite character so this Korean never stood a chance. This one though good, doesn’t have the Berlin’s charisma.

    Pedro Alonso as Berlin was one of the best individual performances since motion picture history. Man was too good it would be suicidal to try and replicate him. Boom!

    Tokyo:
    If there was a character I wanted to change so much, it was Tokyo. She was bang average for the important role she was given. It didn’t also help that the makers were so desperate to sell her to us as the real deal, when in fact Nairobi was busy winning hearts without breaking a sweat.

    This Korean Tokyo ate the script and shitted out a better Tokyo. She was bomb. She wasn’t only better, she was hotter too.

    Arturo:
    Arturo was a disaster! Very few villains are worse. He was so good in being bad that everybody was begging for his death.

    Arturo was the man I hated passionately. I have never wanted a motion picture actor to die so badly.

    Arturo’s performance was perfect. This Korean stands no chance.

    Muriel:
    I didn’t like Muriel because she wasn’t beautiful. She was dry but one flawless actor.

    This Korean is hotter, more lively but acting-wise, it’s hard to choose. Both are super cool actors. I have no favourite among the duo.

    Denver:
    That 41 year old Korean tried so hard to be Denver but nobody can be Denver!

    Where in god’s name is the Denver’s signature garbage laughter?
    The Korean has the look and energy but that laughter was everything and he don’t have it. He’s like the lovechild of Sly Stallone and Dulph Lundgreen.

    I’ll take the old Denver.

    Rio:
    I didn’t like the Spanish Rio one bit. I watched all series without him impressing me at all.

    Coincidentally, they chose my favourite Korean to play Rio.

    This guy was that kid locked in a love triangle in High School Love On- a Korean series I enjoyed. I like him and enjoyed his acting.

    In fact he inspired me to write a high school drama script in 2016.
    With him playing Rio, I can now enjoy that character.

    Nairobi:
    Both Nairobis are cool.
    The Spanish Nairobi is super sexy. Her gait, her flair, everything, she was evey man’s dream.

    Didn’t you see her cleavages at one time? Nairobi is the girl to kill for and she was one hell of an actor.

    The old Nairobi wins. She has more life to her role.

    Stockholm:
    Watching Stockholm was exhausting. I mean very tiring. I nearly folded.

    The new girl they used for Stockholm is very exciting to watch. She is physically a missile.

    She is more beautiful, and I’ll take her. However the Spanish Stockholm was a better actor.

    Alison:
    As for the US ambassador’s kid (Alison Parker in the Spanish version), I am disappointed.

    She answered to Anne Kim in the Korean version.

    Her acting was an insult to Alison’s. Alison was breathtaking, while this Korean kid thought this was some Korean High school drama or something.

    Someone tell her, it’s not Boys Before Flowers; it’s Money Heist and you’re a goddamn hostage!

    What was the director thinking? She’s hot alright, but common, we’re watching an action thriller.

    They told pretty good story in Six episodes and most of the characters are already well developed. I am excited to see more of it, even though I didn’t look forward to it being that I’m not a fan of remake. You ask why? Look at what they did Mortal Combat!

  3. I love money heist (Lacasa de papel)most..it has everything which you want to see because of it’s uniqueness and concepts the story bind you till the end and you wish that this was not the end but sadly it will end that’s the magic of a best series.but this thing is totally opposite in case of Korean version..i hardly watch 2 episode of this korean version and seriously I’m getting so bored and I can’t stop myself to give this review.i hope this will helping you guys.its only my personal opinion about the Lacasa de papel vs korean version. i will give 2/5 only for korean version.

  4. I love money heist, and kdrama. Love the combo! But come on Korea needs to get up with the times and have a little diversity. The original Spanish money heist had Nairobi as a middle eastern chick.A little inclusion wouldn’t kill them

  5. Hey Drow, thanks for commenting. You are absolutely safe to watch this one without seeing the Spanish version and you may actually enjoy it more than those who have seen the Spanish edition. Essentially the original La Casa De Papel managed to juggle things like tension, pacing and thriller aspects through its tightly woven story. The pacing is much better in that one too, with episodes clocking in at around 45 minutes rather than the 75 minutes we have here.

    The Korean version is, so far at least, 12 episodes. The first 6 have released now and the final 6 will drop later on this year. If this does well I’d imagine Netflix will probably renew this for a second season.

    Hope that answers your questions, thanks for commenting!

    -Greg W

  6. Here’s the question you left unanswered. I’ve had the OG Money Heist on my List for a whike niw but haven’t jumped in yet.

    I only now realized its spanish. I am a huge fan of K-Dramas and upon seeing they made a Korean version I’m more excited to get into this now.

    My question is, am I safe to watch this one instead of the spanish one? Is it as good?

    Does the Korean version have 5 seasons too?

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