The team is led by a man known only as the professor (Yoo Ji-tae). Most of the robbers are strangers to each other and each robber takes the name of a city to keep it that way. There are Belin (Park Hae-soo), Moscow (Lee Won-jong), Denver (Kim Ji-hun), Nairobi (Jang Yoon-ju), Rio (Lee Hyun-woo), Helsinki (Kim Ji-hoon), and Oslo (Lee Kyu-ho), each with specific skills and expertise. The core of the story is Tokyo (Yun Jong-seo), a young lady who left North Korea with the hope and promise of what a united country can bring. Unfortunately, she falls in hard times and is “rescued” by the Professor as a recruit for this hijacker. Having Tokyo as narrator and central character is a smart way to invite the audience into the scheme and create a little intrigue about who she really is and her motives.
The storytellers do a great job of giving us a detailed plan to steal the money. They know who will be at the coin, how to hack security, how to set up external communication and the layout of the coin. In addition to being crucial to the success of the project, details are a matter of life and death. So it seems that the authors would have paid the same degree of attention to the temperament and personalities of the crew. It is inconceivable that the Professor puts skills above compatibility or reason. Did he really think these people would be able to work together, or is this volatility part of the plan? Somehow that uncertainty is what creates tension and made me wait for the next challenge.
The tackiness of this series is found in its ratio. On the spot, there is a battle between Berlin and Tokyo over who should lead. Alliances ebb and flow as the crew learns more about each other as challenge after challenge presents itself. And the promise of not killing anyone is in jeopardy at all stages, depending on who is in charge. There is also drama among the hostages. One is the daughter of a US diplomat who makes her a big bargaining chip in the negotiations. Another important hostage is the coin director, who is having an affair with one of his subordinates. He agrees and is willing to sacrifice anyone if it means he can flee. Off-site, the professor has devised a way to connect with and influence the hostage dealer. Their relationship is daring and threatens to unravel the plan at its core. You may come for the hijacker, but stay for the characters. They are all interesting individually, but dynamic collectively.
“Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area” is ambitious for its plan, exciting for twists, inviting for its characters and is simply addictive. With only half of the first season shown to the press, I can not wait to see what happens to the crew and whether they are able to cope.
Six episodes shown for review.