Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area season 1, episode 1 recap – the premiere explained

June 24, 2022
Daniel Hart 0
K-Drama, Netflix, Streaming Service, TV Recaps
3.5

Summary

If you are familiar with the original series, this story will provide no shocks. Still, there’s no doubt that this Korean remake is intriguing, especially with the political theme of the North and South Korean divisions.

View all
3.5

Summary

If you are familiar with the original series, this story will provide no shocks. Still, there’s no doubt that this Korean remake is intriguing, especially with the political theme of the North and South Korean divisions.

This recap of the Netflix K-Drama series Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area season 1, episode 1 contains spoilers.

If you watched the Spanish version of Money Heist, labeled the original, then none of this story will feel unfamiliar. However, K-Drama has a knack for bettering a story with high-production value and an intense script, so I’m intrigued to see if they can top this series with a remake. Are you excited? I know I am.

Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area season 1, episode 1 recap

Episode 1 opens up with Tokyo (played by Jun Jong-seo) narrating about the unification of both Koreas by creating a Joint Economic Area (JEA). Tokyo was discharged from the North Korean army, so she pursued her dream in the JEA, believing it would give her a better life. There’s a sense of hope as Tokyo heads to the new area. She describes how wealthy some Koreans got from the unification and how her landlord (and crime boss) left her in a rough place and took advantage of her financially — she gets a distaste for capitalism and starts to despise the “dream.”

Tokyo ends up in a violent altercation with her crime boss, and after a scuffle, she points a gun at him. She shoots him while narrating how these men are thieves, so there’s no reason she cannot become one. This is a thrilling start to the Korean remake of Money Heist.

Episode 1 then moves to “1 year later.” Tokyo watches a news report on a robbery where one of the criminals was killed. The police are looking for her. The media blame the increased crime due to illegal immigrants brought on by the JEA, angling toward North Korean people. Tokyo holds her gun with her bloody hand as she stands in the rain, contemplating killing herself. But then, The Professor (played by Yoo Ji-tae) shows up with an umbrella and asks if she is okay. This is her first encounter with him. The Professor tells Tokyo about a large-scale heist he is planning and wants her to be part of it. He believes this heist will make them heroes. Tokyo’s head is turned when he references that they will be stealing 4 trillion won.

The Professor leads a meeting with his heist team; he wants them to speak casually and have nicknames. If you are aware of the original series, these nicknames are named after different cities. Each member of the heist team brings a unique set of skills. The Professor tells them they will pull off the biggest heist in history, but without hurting or killing anyone. He wants public support. The Professor then reveals the location — the Unified Korea Mint in the JEA.

The series then moves five months later at the Unified Korea Mint. It looks like a typical day for the bank. The vice director, Cho Youngmin (played by Park Myung-hoon), is having an affair with Youn Misun (played by Lee Joobeen). Youn tells the vice director they cannot continue their romance and implies that she’s pregnant. Cho calls her a gold digger, and they argue with each other.

Meanwhile, a group of students arrives to tour the bank as part of a study trip, while the heist team plans their first day at the establishment. They block off the security cars with bridge barricades, takedown the radios, and kidnap the security men. Two members of the heist team then get into the security uniforms. 

Slowly but surely, the heist team takes over the bank, sending bank colleagues and members of the public into a panic. The Unified Korea Mint’s doors are closed, and phase 1 of The Professor’s plans are in place.

Berlin (played by Park Hae-soo) explains to the hostages that he’s in charge as he breaks down the rules. Cho Youngmin tells him that HQ is calling and they will be wondering where they are, so Berlin asks Youn to answer the call and be as calm as possible. Cho has made himself an easy target by getting on the wrong side of Berlin.

The Professor (who is not inside the bank) orders the team to open the front door and open fire on the police but wants no one killed or hurt. He states it is crucial for their plan to work. However, Rio (played by Park Jung-woo) ends up shot, and he hits the floor. However, Rio is okay when they get him back inside. With the police aware of the situation at the bank, both Koreas form a task force team to take on the problem; they are worried about what this will look like on an international scale.

Episode 1 then flits to Seon Woojin (played by Kim Yunjin). She’s enjoying her day off with her daughter, but then she’s called about the Mint. She gets stuck in immediately with the task force team as the negotiator. She’s a feisty worker and is prepared to defend herself against her superior, who represents North Korea.

Inside the bank, Berlin tells the hostages that they are trapped but promises that they will all get out safely as he gives them the same jumpsuits the heist team is wearing. Seon makes her first phone call to The Professor and introduces herself as the negotiator. She asks if he can release a few hostages as it will not harm his operation. He tells her he will consider it. Seon is curious about The Professor and wonders what his game is.

But then, Seon sees an armed police team heading into the bank because they believe the heist is only a team of four people based on information from The Professor. Seon warns that it could be a trap, but her superior asks her to leave the tent. Seon heads to a bar for a drink, but in an early twist, The Professor works behind it, so he serves her; she also knows him — they are friends. He anticipated this. The Professor senses that the North Korean side of the task force currently has the upper hand.

The ending

As the police team heads inside, a youtube video is streaming where the hostages beg the task team to negotiate because they are all wearing the same clothes and fear for their safety. It then dawns on the task force team that one of the hostages in the video is the ambassador’s daughter, so the armed police team retreats. Seon is called back to the task force, just as The Professor predicted. He then calls Berlin and asks if he’d like to start the next part of the plan. Flashbacks show The Professor telling the heist team they plan to print the money. All the notes will be untraceable.

If you are familiar with the original series, this story will provide no shocks. Still, there’s no doubt that this Korean remake is intriguing, especially with the political theme of the North and South Korean divisions.

What did you think of the Netflix K-Drama series Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area season 1, episode 1? Comment below.

You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix. 

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