Though it takes a short while to get back into the swing of things, the second half of Netflix’s Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area (종이의 집: 공동경제구역) is an even more thrilling set of episodes than the first. And it ultimately delivers a satisfying and very climactic finale.
After watching those initial six episodes earlier this year, I concluded that “Money Heist: Korea delivers a fun and exciting thrill ride that is supported and elevated by an exceptional ensemble cast bringing to life full and deep characters.”
And that was very much still the case, if not more so, this time around. As exciting and thrilling as the action involved in a heist caper can be, Money Heist: Korea is first and foremost a character piece. The diverse group of characters who come together in a unique, but still familiar found family scenario are what elevate what might otherwise simply be all flash and no bang.
(Though there are certainly plenty of literal flashes and bangs in the action-filled episodes.)
This second set of six episodes picks up right where the first half of the series (no word yet on whether or not there will be future seasons) left off. The clock is ticking as our ragtag group must stay the course while unexpected variables begin to chip away at their perfect plan.
The stakes are raised considerably as major revelations about the state of the country inform a lot of what happens in these six episodes as well as possibly the initial motivation of Professor (Yoo Ji Tae) to embark on this possibly deadly mission.
While the team does what they can to make sure they make it out of the Mint alive, relationships are put to the test while other relationships continue to develop. Well-deserved focus is given to the supporting members of the team to help add depth to their characters and their motivations for pushing forward against what seem to be increasingly insurmountable odds.
There is a risk in Korean dramas breaking up their series into different parts. And there have been some in recent memory that might have been hurt by doing so. Korean dramas are inherently closed-ended. Once you’ve reached the end of the 12, 16 or 20 episodes, you’ve got a complete story. And if ever there are other seasons to follow, each season is still perfectly encapsulated on its own.
Money Heist: Korea‘s 12 total episodes actually don’t seem to warrant the break in the middle. But thanks to its strong characters, any pitfalls in splitting the series up are erased.
Like I mentioned earlier, jumping back into the series after a couple of months feels awkward. At least initially. But after a bit of an adjustment period, you’ll be pulled right back into the middle of the action, no problem. It will be as if there was no time between these two halves. (Even better if you end up watching all 12 episodes in one chunk.)
As a whole, Money Heist: Korea is able to weave together many familiar themes. Including those that might be more common in foreign series, including the Spanish original from which this series is adapted from. But what this series does so well, and to its advantage, is maintain its story as being very Korean. That is, making sure to craft a story that is inherently Korean in concepts and themes while still being accessible to a wide audience; that is one of the series’ major successes.
It isn’t just Korean characters being transplanted into a foreign concept. This is a Korean story. And that goes beyond just the backdrop of a reunified Korea.
Whether it is through the relationships of the characters or their backgrounds, where they have come from and what their hopes are for the future; it is all very Korean. And that is something that other internationally-produced Korean dramas unfortunately don’t do well with.
But again, it goes all back to the characters. Such strong and well-written characters that are each so distinct from one another. It allows for so many different dynamics. Especially as the situation becomes more volatile for them (for those inside and outside the Mint), being able to see how they respond and react to every twist and turn is absolutely engrossing.
And the excellent ensemble cast bringing these characters to life more than do their part to ensure the series is a success. Both creatively and in execution.
There is very much a sense of satisfaction by the end of the 12th episode. Though getting to the end is definitely an emotional roller coaster that is made possible by the aforementioned well-written characters. The climactic conclusion to the series wouldn’t be as impactful if the characters weren’t ones you have come to connect with. And the series very much accomplishes that, and then some.
If you take it as a wild crime/heist adventure, you’ll be treated to some explosive action. If you want some good character moments, the series is filled with some excellent material. If you are looking for some deeper discussions, you will get a taste of that too. Ultimately, Money Heist: Korea is a fun, thrilling ride. One that you will not regret holding on to for 12 episodes.