Apple TV+ period drama series, “Pachinko”

Pachinko is the second novel by Harlem-based author and journalist Min Jin Lee. Published in 2017, Pachinko is an epic historical fiction novel following a Korean family that immigrates to Japan. The character-driven story features an ensemble of characters who encounter discrimination, stereotyping, and other aspects of the 20th-century Korean experience of Japan.

What's the story?

Pachinko pivots around the life of Sunja, and takes us from her childhood in a fishing village in Japanese-occupied Korea circa 1915 through a star-crossed romance with wealthy bad-boy Hansu, to marriage and a relocation to Japan — where the young family struggle to build a new life in the face of endemic anti-Korean racism, and watch their fortunes rise and fall against a backdrop of wartime and then post-war economic boom.

In the face of every challenge, Sunja makes bold, unconventional choices, determined that whatever comes, her family will endure.

Bridging the first generation and the third generation

Running parallel to Sunja's story in the TV series is that of her grandson, Solomon: a Western-educated banker whose pursuit of the 'American dream' leads him back to Japan in 1989 — and back into the orbit of his grandmother and his pachinko-baron father Mozasu — as he tries to close a land-sale deal.

Racism is still a potent force in all their lives, and while Solomon does not have to worry about his next meal, he questions his direction and identity.

Team Isak or Team Hansu?

One of the key romantic threads in the series is Sunja's struggle to choose between two very different lovers: Hansu, a wealthy fish broker with ties to yakuza networks; and Baek Isak (Sanghyun Noh Steve), a sickly yet fiercely idealistic pastor.