[What Mary Thinks] Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area Episodes 1-3

It seems like all I do nowadays is watch Korean dramas because I’ve picked up another drama to watch. This time, it’s ‘Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area’ which was just recently released on Friday, June 24. A remake of the 2017 Spanish TV series, the drama features 9 characters who all work together as a team to execute a money heist. Of course, mixed in between all of this includes hostages, potential betrayals, unexpected situations, strategic negotiations, and much more. The drama stars some familiar and popular faces including Park Hae-soo (who you might recognize from ‘Squid Games’), Yoo Ji-tae, Lee Hyun-woo, and Jeon Jong-seo.

To start off, I’ve never seen or watched the Spanish TV series so I’m not sure how similar or different the Spanish version is from the Korean drama. I’m sort of going into this drama as if it was an original show with original content. Episode one started off quite exciting and I liked the way that it set up everything up. Instead of introducing each of the characters to us and then showing us the game plan, the episode jumped right into the mission and made us watch the initial attack. It didn’t waste any time in getting to the action and you saw how the team managed to take over the building. There was this sort of thrill in watching the team execute their mission.

I found it refreshing that episode one didn’t start off with your typical character introductions and back stories and gave us a different approach. We sort of learn a bit about each character in the beginning of the drama, but we’re soon thrown into the action of things and how each character contributes in their own way. Why are these characters all in on this money heist? What are their motivations and reasons for participating in such a thing? Who are they and what more do they have to offer? We don’t learn a whole lot about our characters in the first episode and we only get glimpses of their meetings discussing the game plan. I don’t know if I would have been as intrigued and interested if I had to watch a whole episode learning about each of the characters as well as watching their meetings. There was less talking and more doing. However, while refreshing in the first episode, I found this strategy a bit regretful in the upcoming episodes.

I found myself sooner or later wishing that I knew a bit more about each of the characters as the action inside of the building progressed. While episode one was more about breaking into the building where all the money was produced and kept safe, the second episode was more about the team’s interactions and usage of the hostages. I did find myself scratching my head a bit at why certain characters acted the way they did or a bit irritated at how slow or distracted some characters seemed. I assumed these heist members were some of the smartest and brightest individuals, hence, why they decided to participate in such a large project, but some of their decisions made me step back and realize that maybe that wasn’t so correct after all. And maybe that’s where the background information about the characters would have come in handy. It could have gave me insight into why some characters potentially acted the way they did. By the end of episode two, I couldn’t wrap my head around why some of the characters seemed to get so caught up with the hostages. It was as if they sort of forgot what their original goal and reasoning for the heist was in the first place and that was a bit frustrating to watch.

Of course, every member on the “team” has their own reason for participating in the heist so that entails someone being the traitor or villain. In this case, it’s Berlin (Park Hae-soo) who seeks to gain control and power over the team as well as the plan. He goes against the team leader, Professor (Yoo Ji-tae) and Professor’s plan, and sort of just does his own thing. I’m not necessarily surprised at the betrayal; the drama is merely just following the typical formula of there being a villain or traitor in these types of dramas. I do have to admit though that it does make for a less interesting watch. It’s as if the drama just needed there to be this divide between the team even though I didn’t really find that necessary. The team is already up against the hostages as well as the negotiation/rescue team — the divide within the team just seems a little too predictable and less thrilling.

I do like that the beginning of each episode so far focuses on a certain character or characters with the first episode having focused on Tokyo (played by Jeon Jong-seo) who is also the narrator in the drama. Episode two honed in on Berlin (Park Hae-soo) while episode three centered around father-son duo Moscow (Lee Won-jong) and Denver (Kim Ji-hoon) and their complicated relationship with crimes and money. Another thing about the drama that I enjoy is the cinematography and some of the shots within each episode.

While episode one was fun to watch, episodes two and three didn’t quite deliver the thrill and excitement that I got from the first episode. The investment sort of teetered off the more we saw of the characters and it felt as if they were sort of purposely lead to act certain ways just for the sake of progressing the plot which felt a bit puzzling at times. As we have witnessed so far, maybe the communication within the team isn’t that great after all and maybe they don’t trust one another as much as they thought they did. I do plan on finishing the rest of the drama just to see what else happens and how everything else unfolds. Who will make it out alive and who won’t? How many more lives will be saved and how many lives will be lost?

Extra screenshots from the episodes~

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