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5 Anecdotes about ‘Pachinko’

The upcoming ‘Pachinko’ is a powerful depiction of endurance and resilience in the face of social tensions

Debashree Dutta Mar 22, 2022

Photo: Courtesy of Apple Tv+

A Dramatic Magnum Opus

Soo Hugh’s upcoming American drama television series, Pachinko, is an adaptation of Min Jin Lee’s highly acclaimed New York Times best-selling novel of the same name. The show follows an extraordinary international star cast and is directed by Kogonada and Justin Chon, with four episodes to each’s credit. The eight-episode series is an emotionally epic and magnum opus, creating an interesting subject about the wishes and desires of four generations of a Korean immigrant family, opening with a secret affair that progresses to a sweeping odyssey set in Korea, Japan, and America with a universal appeal. Soo Hugh, according to a report in The Hollywood Reporter, has maintained the lead characters’ authenticity while juggling two narratives, unlike Min Jin Lee, who developed the story over three books, commencing in 1910 and concluding in 1989.

A Family Saga of Love, Life, and Change

Pachinko is a beautiful saga of conflicting emotions set during the Japanese occupation of Korea in the 1900s, with a Korean family at its centerpiece; a time when Koreans were attempting to breathe through adversity in order to redeem and restore their case. Perhaps a brilliant narrative captured through a family’s living circumstances for generations traversing multiple timelines. The relevant conditions the family is in, the penury, the misery, and the unwavering fight to get through the mill for a better tomorrow, may strike a chord. The urge of a doting mother to raise her kids, the endeavors of a selfless father to rear the family alongside the perseverance of a son to reclaim his identity. 

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A Tale of Female Resilience and Strength

‘Sunja”s unforeseen pregnancy as a result of her clandestine affair with ‘Ko Hansu’ becomes a source of humiliation for her family in Pachinko. Sunja realizes that the guy is already married with a child at this point. She remains strong nevertheless despite her mental turmoil, marries a Christian priest, and relocates to Japan, where new challenges await. But Sunja is a hero, the rock-solid pillar who stands firm in the face of adversity while defending her family from the raging seas. An unwanted refugee in Japan where she gives birth to a kid raises a family and shapes a future. She has had many falls, yet she rises like a phoenix each time. Sunja is an ordinary woman who rises the ranks to become the matriarch of her family and her fortitude is admirable.

Lee Minho as ‘Ko Hansu’, The Antagonist

In the novel, Ko Hansu is involved in organized crime and seeks to make money. He is a domineering, manipulative control freak. Despite having a wife and a child, he persuades Sunja, a teen, into a physical relationship. As the novel unfolds, his magnetism reveals his villainy. He has the demeanor of someone who wields power and dominates; a trait he was born with. In an interview with Hyphen, author Min Jin Lee stated that strong people, such as Hansu, have a code of conduct and that they cannot live without subjects to control. I’m quite anxious to see Lee Minho play Hansu. Breaking stereotypes must have been a tough challenge for him, and it will be thrilling for us to see the archetypal lover boy demonstrate wicked tendencies on screen.

Photo: Courtesy of Apple TV+
Photo: Courtesy of Apple TV+

A Fantastic Cast Chronicle with Useful Facts and Insights

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‘Academy Award’ winner Youn Yuhjung (as senior Sunja), Hallyu sensation Lee Minho (as Ko Hansu) alongside Kim Minha (as the teenage Sunja), Jin Ha (as ‘Solomon Baek’), Anna Sawai (as ‘Naomi’), Soji Arai (as ‘Mozasu Baek’), Kaho Minami (as ‘Etsuko’), Noh Sanghyun (Steve) (as ‘Isak Baek’), and many others star in the Apple TV+ original.  We’re in for some jaw-dropping performances, to say the least. Above all, this narrative will be marked by amazing performances, valuable facts and insights.

Soji Arai in an exclusive interview with us shared his experiences of working with Oscar winner Youn Yuhjung in Pachinko, “She is so real, so deep. When she speaks Japanese, her Korean accented Japanese was like my first-generation grandmother. That was killer. I think many Zainichi viewers will cry when they hear her in Pachinko.” Soji, a real-life Zainichi actor added, “Being the third generation in real life, I always watched the second-generation Zainichi people’s way of life, including my father’s. They were fascinating people! They were my heroes when I was a kid. They were hard workers, very eloquent, rich, drinking a lot, their story about fighting against racism from the Japanese. But their life was not easy.”

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