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Have You Noticed? "Money Heist: Korea" Is Actually a Lot Different from the Original Version

The cast explains the meaning behind their masks.
Have You Noticed? "Money Heist: Korea" Is Actually a Lot Different from the Original Version
IMAGE Money Heist: Korea - Joint Economic Area/Netflix
The cast explains the meaning behind their masks.

After two years of anticipation, the Korean remake of hit Spanish crime thriller Money Heist is officially here. The first part of the series, titled Money Heist: Korea - Joint Economic Area, just dropped on Netflix last June 24, and it's already climbed its way to the #1 spot in the streamer's Top 10 TV shows list. Oh, and yes, like the original series, there will be a second part. 

During the show's press conference, director Kim Hong Sun stated that he wanted to see how the heist would unfold in a distinctly Korean setting. While the boiler suit-clad characters will be taking on the same aliases as those in the original version, director Kim promises that the story will still be something novel for viewers to enjoy. 

To find out how the show stands out from the Spanish version, scroll away for six tidbits that we gathered from the press conference.

How Money Heist: Korea differs from the original version:

money heist korea fun facts trivia
PHOTO BY Money Heist: Korea - Joint Economic Area/Netflix
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1. It's set in a fictional location between the two Koreas

In the original series, the Professor (Alvaro Morte) recruits eight people to rob the The Royal Mint of Spain, and later on, the Bank of Spain. These establishments depicted in the show are actual places that can be found in the European country.

The Korean version, on the other hand, is set in the near future, where North and South Korea have seemingly been unified. The Professor, this time portrayed by Yoo Ji Tae, brings the squad to the Joint Economic Area (JEA), a fictional city found in the unified Korean peninsula. 

money heist korea fun facts trivia
PHOTO BY Money Heist: Korea - Joint Economic Area/Netflix
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When it came to coming up with the JEA, director Kim aimed to not only create an interesting setting but to also inspire hope for reunification. He stated: "I was thinking that these stories of the two Koreas can be told to the global audience once again, because that would spark curiosity of the global fans. If we are on the cusp of reunification in the future, and if this is happening in reality–I wanted to infuse that kind of sense of hope into the show as well."

2. The masks the crew uses are distinctly Korean

One of the most notable elements from the original series were the Salvador Dali masks worn by the team. Park Hae Soo, who transformed the role of Berlin into a merciless North Korean defector, says that wearing the masks wasn't just a way for them to conceal their identities.

"I mean, that is a mask that is sending a lot of messages in the show. In Spain, the Dali mask was used to send the message of freedom, and in Korea, we used the Hahoe mask from Andong area, and [it] has some significance to it. It is embodying the criticism of the powerful, and it has the sense of humor in it as well."

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money heist korea fun facts trivia
PHOTO BY Money Heist: Korea - Joint Economic Area/Netflix

Jeon Jong Seo, who portrays Tokyo, echoed this by saying, "even before the shooting started, we were quite curious about what kind of mask we will be wearing, and when we heard that the Hahoe mask was chosen, and when I saw the mask in [real life], I was really surprised because it is not a plain-looking mask. It [has] a big smile on it and [it] and sends a sense of mystery as well."

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3. Tokyo is a more innocent Gen Z girl in the Korean version

Speaking of Tokyo, the original character played by Ursula Corbero made her mark for being a runaway robber with a devil-may-care attitude. Jong Seo describes her version of the character as "an ordinary girl who was [from] North Korea. She [met] with the Professor, [and] is just following the Professor unconditionally because she is convinced by his convictions. So she is, in fact, gambling with her own life."

money heist korea fun facts trivia
PHOTO BY Netflix
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Initially, Jong Seo was interested in playing another role, but Tokyo just somehow made the most sense with her. Unlike Ursula's version, Jong Seo's Tokyo is more innocent and pure. "She is a Gen Z, she’s in her 20s, and the realistic elements of those in her 20s are reflected on the show. She doesn’t get distracted, she’s very stable, and she is just focusing on one goal. She is not a troublemaker."

4. It's contextualized to the Korean divide

Hand in hand with the premise of a supposedly unified Korea is the reality that this is something that has yet to be achieved in real life. "North and South Koreans sometimes have [a] dynamic chemistry among themselves because of the long history of the divided nation," screenwriter Ryu Yong Jae shared. 

money heist korea fun facts trivia
PHOTO BY Money Heist: Korea - Joint Economic Area/Netflix
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He goes on to say that adapting the series meant showing what it could be like if the two countries finally joined forces. "We have never seen the inter-Korean relations come together with a heist. [The notion of] North and South Korean robbers coming together, and North Korean and South Korean police coming together–that is totally new. So I think Korean people could really enjoy the show, thinking this could be something that could happen in the future for us," expounded the writer.

5. More than one language is used throughout the show

Unlike the original version which was fully in Spanish, Money Heist: Korea made use of different dialects depending on where the characters originated from. Hae Soo's Berlin, for example, was born in North Korea, and uses Pyongan or Hamgyon dialects. This called for the actor to pick up a whole new language to perfect his role. "It was indeed very very challenging. We came together to practice and rehearse, and we had a North Korean dialect tutor. The tutors would help us out with perfecting our accents," he shared.

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money heist korea fun facts trivia
PHOTO BY Money Heist: Korea - Joint Economic Area/Netflix

Similarly, Lee Won Jong and Kim Ji Hoon, who play the father-son duo of Moscow and Denver respectively, had to learn the Gyeongsang dialect, which is used in the southern regions of South Korea. "We also had an actor from that area, and for one month we would practice really hard to learn that dialect and accent. We always got together with the cast to do some full rehearsals," said Won Jong.

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6. The crew was after a smaller amount of money (for practical reasons)

A crucial aspect of any heist is the bounty to be collected. This was something the screenwriters had to carefully consider when adapting the show, given the exchange rates. Screenwriter Yong Jae mentioned that it would be physically impossible for the crew to carry out 984 million euros if it were converted to Korean Won. 

money heist korea fun facts trivia
PHOTO BY Money Heist: Korea - Joint Economic Area/Netflix
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"The maximum amount that can be handled by the robbers’ team was 4 trillon won. And we actually first thought of this aspect because the peninsula is surrounded by three seas, and we have North Korea on the top, [so] how are [they] going to escape? That is the idea that we had first, and that is how we created the city called JEA. Escaping with the money stolen would need to be very Korean," he explained.

Money Heist Korea - Joint Economic Area is now streaming on Netflix.

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