Money Heist: Korea-Joint Economic Area | Significance of BTS & Hahoe Mask

How is Money Heist representing the existing situation using BTS? What is the role of the Hahoe mask?

· 4 min read
a group of robbers wearing orange uniform and white masks

The most awaited Korean drama is finally released. Money Heist, the remake of the popular Spanish Netflix Show La Casa de Papel is released worldwide. The Korean adaptation Money Heist: Korea-Joint Economic Area had made a lot of changes to fit the cultural context of Korea.

The representation of BTS was a nicely done story and how the show introduced the concept of the ARMY and the North Korean situation. In the Spanish version, the cast wore a Dali mask, but the Korean cast wore Hohae masks. How is Hahaoe mask different from Dali masks?

Korean Money Heist

After Money Heist: Korea-Joint Economic Area was released, people are flocking to criticise how the adaptation is nowhere close or near to the original Spanish version.  

Quite honestly, as a fan of the original version, the Korean version is quite decent as it maintained the original essence of the plot. The main character designs of Money Heist are maintained.

The cast is phenomenal with big industry names in the Korean adaptation. Actor Yoo Ji Tae is charming in the role of Professor.

Kim Yun Jin plays Sun Woo Jin, the role paralleling Raquel Morillo. Park Hae Soo as Berlin, from pink jumpsuit to red jumpsuit that’s a very convincing upgrade.

Jung Jong Soo plays Tokyo, a girl from North Korea, a fan of BTS.  Despite fans trolling or complaining, Money Heist Korea delivers when characters like Rio,  Nairobi, Moscow, Helsinki, Oslo and Denver show the depth of original characters.

Lee Hyun Woo as Rio was convincing, similarly, the dynamic between Moscow and Denver as the father-son duo by Lee Won Jung and  Kim Ji Hoon was worth praising.

Jang Yoon Ju as Nairobi is hard to miss. Lee Kyu Ho and Kim Ji Hoon play Oslo and Helsinki from the original series. The stark differences in the adaptation were quite nicely done.

Introduction of BTS in Money Heist: Korea-Joint Economic Area

a girl listening to music using headphones

Money Heist did it better. Money Heist Korea JEA introduced the show with a North Korean girl enjoying BTS and she hid the fact from friends and family. It was a good surprise to see the representation of BTS as something inspiring and how the music gave the character the freedom and desire to enjoy life.

As the girl felt liberated to be part of the secret fandom, ARMY, she was serving the actual military army for her country. It’s ironic how BTS and other South Korean entertainment are actually banned.

Last year, the North Korean leader banned BTS and everything related to KPop. He called Kpop "vicious cancer" and wanted to ban it.  it’s actually confusing because previously some South Korean bands have performed in North Korea.

It’s undeniably a fact that BTS is not just Korean pride and represents South Korean on the international platform, BTS speaks volumes about music and how breaking different stereotypes in different cultures, and language barriers and achieving fame with dedication, struggle and hard work.

a group of military personnel during a mission

The use of  BTS as a representation of the North Korean character was significant to show how music could provide motivation and the desire to wish for things. The declaration of the Joint Economic Area in the Kdrama gave hope to others as the cross-border exchange was possible.

In reality, the show is based in 2025, with unification as the background story. The unification would propose indifference and only the rich get richer, and the poor section of society gets nothing. The marginal inequality was represented by Money Heist: Korea-Joint Economic Area.

Importance of Hahoe Mask in the Korean version

a robber carrying a gun

In the original Spanish version, the group wore Dali masks. The Dali masks represent the idea of freedom and supporting the authoritarian regime which created an uproar in  Spain.

The Dali mask used in Money Heist represented resistance and the ideas of Salvador Dali as described by Professor. This was not suitable in the Korean context. In January 2022, Actor Park Hae Soo plays the role of Berlin received the Dali mask from Pedro Alonso (Berlin).

He announced that in the Korean version of Money Heist, a special mask will be used. The Korean version used Hahoe masks instead of Dali Masks. The Hahoe masks represent the criticism of power, and wealth, and how ceremonial dancers used the masks to mock the upper and elite class.

There is a total of 12 Hahoe masks out of which only 9 are left.  The Hahoe masks used by the cast are Yangban masks which represent the aristocrats, the people in power subject to mockery in plays.

This isn’t the first time Kdrama has used the Hahoe mask, Previously Bridal Mask Kdrama was centred around the Gaksi (Bridal) mask, one of the 12 Hahoe masks used by performers.

Enjoy Money Heist: Korea-Joint Economic Area now streaming on Netflix!

Thanks for reading!!!