April 25, 2022

CABLE | 'Pachinko' Spans Generations of Koreans in Japan

"She will thrive."
Jin Ha Soo Hugh Kogonada Justin Chon | Pachinko Apple TV+
Media Res
Based on Korean-American author Min Jin Lee's bestselling historical epic novel of the same name, Pachinko is a breathless adaptation celebrating the quiet multigenerational sacrifice of Korean women set against the backdrop of Japanese colonialism throughout the twentieth century.

Adapted by screenwriter Soo Hugh, the series is a moving drama about Asian identity in the face of occupation, colonization, and globalization that cements so many rich themes about Korean resilience and power. Filmed in Vancouver and South Korea as directed by Kogonada and Justin Chon, who alternate episodes, there's so much heartfelt empathy turning the sprawling immigrant saga into a triumphant recollection of trauma and memories of Korean-Japanese history.

Starring Youn Yuh-jung as the central character of Sunja with Kim Min-ha and Jeon Yu-na co-starring as her teenage and child counterparts, we see the full depth of this Korean woman's life affecting further generations of her family including her grandson, Soloman (Jin Ha), who becomes a successful American businessman with his own inherited baggage.

What's so deeply impressive about Pachinko's structure is its echoes of intergenerational trauma and how decisions made by one generation continue to shape the next wave of family history. How it uses language and regional dialects to express the repressed feelings of the characters’ dialogue adds so much depth to their layered emotions.

Pachinko is available to stream weekly on Apple TV+.


More | YVArcade / Atlantic / Indiewire / Polygon

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