Going North: 5 K-Shows That Cast A Spotlight on North Korea

Be it espionage, romance, or comedy, K-dramas sure have an eclectic mix of North-South Korea storylines that are often action-packed and entertaining. With the North still an enigma to most of the world, it’s intriguing to see different interpretations of characters and settings through fantastic K-dramas that offer viewers a lens into a land unknown. 

Below you will find five K-shows on Netflix that cast a spotlight on North Korea:

1. Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area

Money Heist Korea: JEA (L to R) Lee Won-jong as Moscow, Jun Jong-seo as Tokyo, Lee Hyun-woo as Rio, Yoo Ji-tae as Professor, Kim Ji-hun as Denver, Jang Yoon-ju as Nairobi, Lee Kyu-ho as Oslo and Kim Ji-hoon as Helsinki in episode # 1 of Money Heist Korea: JEA. Cr. Jung Jaegu/Netflix © 2021

Director Kim Hong-sun and writer Ryu Yong-jae reimagine the popular Spanish series La Casa De Papel in a setting where there is a Joint Security Area – located where today’s North and South Korea are divided – which contains a mint that becomes the focus of the action. With the reunification of the two Koreas comes the printing of a new unified currency. This presents the perfect opportunity for a crew of thieves to band together to accomplish a revolutionary heist.

Meet la banda’s Korean counterparts and see what a unified Korea will look like when Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area Volume 1  drops this 24 June, only on Netflix.

2. Crash Landing On You

The series that made all of us want to paraglide into North Korea so that we can meet our own Captain Ri. Crash Landing On You is a romantic comedy K-drama that follows a South Korean heiress who lands in North Korea after a paragliding mishap. She is thrown quite literally into the life of an army officer, Captain Ri, who decides he will help her hide. The series gained international acclaim and gave viewers an eye-opening look of village life in North Korea with impeccable details including a makeshift steam bath and an underground kimchi cellar that was traditionally used to keep food fresh. Find out more about the differences between the two Koreas according to CLOY in the clip HERE.

Crash Landing On You is now streaming on Netflix.

3. The Spy Gone North

Starring Hwang Jung-min, Lee Sung-min, Cho Jin-woong, and Ju Ji-hoon, the film is loosely based on the real life story of Park Chae-seo, a former South Korean agent who infiltrated North Korea’s nuclear facilities. The Spy Gone North is a film set in 1993 where a South Korean army major goes undercover as a businessman to infiltrate a North Korean nuclear facility, only to find that his own turf is manipulating the country’s political elections with the help of the North.

The Spy Gone North is now streaming on Netflix.

4. Operation Chromite

In 1950, just a few months after North Korean forces invaded most of South Korea, US forces led by General of the Army Douglas MacArthur devised a plan to aid the struggling South Koreans. Based on the real-life events of the Battle of Inchon, the war film Operation Chromite stars Squid Game’s Lee Jung-jae and Liam Neeson, and follows a team of South Korean spies who go behind enemy lines to steal a map of North Korean coastal defences to pave the way for a major amphibious invasion.

Operation Chromite is now streaming on Netflix.

 5. Steel Rain

Steel Rain is an action-thriller film based on the 2011 webtoon of the same name. Starring

Jung Woo-sung and Kwak Do-won, the film follows a North Korean agent dubbed as “Number One” who escapes south with the country’s injured leader in an attempt to keep him alive and prevent a Korean war amid a coup. While operatives from North go on a hunt for both of them, the agent has to work with South Koreans in a bid to stop the nuclear war.

Steel Rain is now streaming on Netflix.

For more K-shows that spotlight life in North Korea, find them only on Netflix.

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