REVIEW / SERIES REVIEW – With “Money Heist: Korea” Netflix offers an almost identical remake of “La casa de papel” which therefore has the qualities but serves as a repetition for fans of the Spanish series.
Transposition in Korea for The casa de papel
It won’t take long for that The casa de papel be featured on Netflix. The Spanish series had been a great success thanks to its concept (robbers locked themselves in the National Factory of currency and stamps to print 2.4 billion euros). But in 2021, after four years of broadcasting (two seasons divided into five parts), the program ended. So it’s barely a few months after the end we find the same story with Money Heist: Korea, the korean remake of The casa de papel.
The same story, but with some variations. Especially on location. Because rather than just using the Bank of Korea as a heist location, creator Ryu Yong-jae imagined a very near future where South Korea and North Korea would have decided to reunite – and therefore to create a new common currency. Since then, Money Heist: Korea uses relevant political context, logically absent from the original version. We know that relations between the two countries have always been complicated, even if rapprochements have taken place over the years.
A notable social and political role
In the cinema, we remember the excellent JSA (2000) by Park Chan-wook who pointed to the problem of relations between North and South Koreans, by questioning the rulers before the military. We find this in Money Heist: Korea, whether among the robbers, hostages or even the police. Moreover, behind the fiction, the series questions ever-widening gaps between classes. Reunification and immigration between north and south causing more social inequalities. Tokyo, who still leads the story, will be the first victim. She thus follows a path different from the version of Úrsula Corberó, before the arrival of the Professor.
The latter will also be entitled to some slight adjustments in his characterization (and his relationship with the negotiator in charge of the case), just like the so important Berlin, less terrifying than in its Spanish version. It will also be noted the different format of the series, with six one-hour episodes (or more) to compose a first part which had needed a good ten episodes between forty and fifty-six minutes. A tighter and more direct format, leaving aside lots of flashbacks on the preparation of the heist.
A too identical reproduction
However, despite these small variations, Money Heist: Korea rest too close to its original object. Even though this is a remake, others before the series have been able to go beyond copy/paste. the scarface (1983) by Brian de Palma transposed with a Cuban refugee and a drastically different style, the most subtle Infiltrators (2006), not to mention the recent West Side Story (2021) by Steven Spielberg. But the best example would probably be The Seven Samurai (1955) became a few years later the western The Magnificent Seven (1961).
Here, Money Heist: Korea does not have the ambition to offer anything new. If it is not the change of mask (forget the face of Dali), whether it is the decorations, the costumes, the facial expressions of certain characters (the Professor and his glasses) or the general staging, we find the same specifications on all the visual aspect.
The same goes for storytelling. Rather than just repeating the basic concept, the korean series reproduces every situation more or less significant The casa de papel. We would have liked to see a little audacity at this level, a little surprise. It would even have been very clever to replay a sequence but to change its purpose to truly astonish the spectators.
This is unfortunately not the case with this first season which is content to slightly modify the relationship between the protagonists (like the relationship between Tokyo and Rio). Since then, Money Heist: Korea acts as a repetition for an audience that has already followed The casa de papel just a few years ago (maybe the remake is coming too soon). Not sure that they find it of great interest. For the others (which must not be many), it is once again the effectiveness of the concept that will make the difference. And if the more sustained rhythm, and the addition of a socio-political part (minimal, but all the same) are notable, the biggest regret would perhaps be that Money Heist: Korea was not the original work of The casa de papel.
Money Heist: Korea by Ryu Yong-jae, on netflix from the June 24, 2022. Above the trailer. Find all our trailers here.