Stream or skip? +2023

The first six episodes of Money Heist: Korea – Common Economic Space debuted on Netflix last June, marking the first appearance of this sequel to the Spanish Netflix hit money robbery in its franchise form. The year is 2025 and North and South Korea are in unification. But the professor and his hand-picked gang of thieves were drawn into an already tense situation, taking hostages and making moves with the millions of won up for grabs at the JEA’s mint. Let’s rejoin the heist that’s already underway…

opening shot: “During the days of the Korean War,” as our faithful narrator Tokyo (Jeon Jong-seo) tells us in a flashback, “Cha Moo-hyuk (Kim Song-oh) was considered the grim reaper by the double agents.” The guy in a backpack who walking around like he’s afraid of being jumped on surely finds out about Cha’s reputation the hard way.

The essentials: In the present, Cha has tracked down who he now believes is the mastermind money robbery to Bella Ciao, the coffee shop run by “Park Sun-ho” who we know as Professor (Yoo Ji-tae). Cha gains access to the building, also sniffs and manages to lift an X-acto knife for fingerprinting. The inspector may have been left out in the cold after the reunion stripped him of his old post. But he also operates alone and on thin ice with the hostage negotiation task force.

Inside the Mint, outside the police force tent, there are still arguments about the command structure as well as what’s going on inside the building. And inside, the hostages also have a lot of questions among themselves, be it the tunnel teams or the restaurant staff or the young women who whisper great insults to Anne (Lee Si-woo). About escape. About motive. Even across factions within their improvised and red-coat groups. And if a mysterious someone in one money robbery Maske manages to lure the ambassador’s daughter into the mint’s basement, where a bomb subsequently detonates in the vault, the robbers and the professor communicating with them from his wire layer above the cafe have their own questions. You can’t even track the intruder who has cleverly exploited security camera blind spots. And that means it’s even more likely, as Woo-jin told the professor about her secure line, “there’s a traitor among your robbers.”

The robbers from Japan to Rio (Lee Hyun-woo) and Moscow (Lee Won-jong) eye each other suspiciously. Berlin (Park Hae-soo) eyes the hypodermic needle kit hidden in a hollowed-out book. And the hostages have generated a new sense of solidarity. “We should work together and not argue about which Korea we are from. Now is not the time. The police are more interested in ending the situation than in our safety.” During her time in the basement, Anne also learned some answers to the hostage contingent’s questions.

Photo: Netflix

What shows will it remind you of? That money robbery The mother ship is alive and well, of course. Because the original Spanish version’s formula translates so easily into Korea, it’s interesting to think about what location or context might influence the next spin-off. And in Park Hae-soo, set here in Berlin, there’s also a direct connection into the thriving Netflix ecosystem of Squid Gamewhere he plays Cho Sang-woo.

Our opinion: There are many separate groups Money Heist: Korea – Common Economic Space, groups that are extremely interested and/or concerned about what the others are doing so that the whole issue escalates through all the different scenes of people learning information through phone calls, crowding around computer screens, or in the case of the burglars, the challenge each other in the thin hierarchy of power the professor has established. All of this separation makes it easy to pick your favorites – Inspector Woo-jin doesn’t take a shit from the other investigators in the trial tent, Rio takes on the more aggressive Berlin – but it can also disrupt narrative continuity. It’s like we’re piggybacking the chess pieces being moved around the big board by the professor – in his case that includes his paradoxical and increasingly troubled romantic relationship with Woo-jin – or even sinister guys like Sangman who sees all of this through the prism of greedy political outcomes.

All this makes it structurally easier for the Money heist: Korea Authors who keep us guessing. We are only shown parts of what is developing and the relevance of what we are shown might later be questioned. Remember the polar bear Lost, wandering aimlessly in the forest looking for a place to fit into the plot? That’s how it is with me money robbery sometimes when we think along with the characters who will be important in the long run.

gender and skin: Nothing in the first episode anyway.

farewell shot: Suspicion between the robbers becomes like poison. The boys locked in the basement aren’t entirely out of the game. And the professor tries to navigate the sliver of reality between his personal and his criminal world. In the coin, it’s only then that Woo-jin deploys her latest tactic.

sleeping star: “Isn’t it about time you told me what you’re really up to?” Whether it’s arguing with the professor for useful information or confronting her ex-husband Sangman about his interference and threats to her personal life, Seon Woo-Jin is the character that handles many of the most intriguing angles Money heist: Koreaand Kim Yun-jin plays her with a rewarding mix of intuition and determination.

Most pilot line: “It’s not just about a few bucks,” Woo-jin tells Sangman during a bitter meeting between the inspector, a politician, and ex-spouses about the robbers’ forgery scheme. “Four trillion won with unknown serial numbers are earmarked for reunification funds, not distribution. Those bastards can still print money all they want. But you knew that. That’s why you kept interfering.”

Our appeal: Stream it. For the established money robbery and Money Heist – Korea Heads, it’s been a six month wait for part 2 of common economic space. And now that it’s here, the classic heist movie components all twirl around on the big board.

Johnny Loftus is an independent writer and editor living at large in Chicagoland. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, All Music Guide, Pitchfork Media and Nicki Swift. Follow him on Twitter: @Glenganges

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