In 2017, Min Jin Lee’s generational novel Pachinko released to universal acclaim, with millions of readers diving into her heart-wrenching story a Korean family over 80 years and four generations. The novel follows a young woman named Sunja from her childhood in 1910s Japanese-colonised Korea to her migration to Osaka, Japan, where she and her family are subject to discrimination and bullying.
Now, creator Soo Hugh‘s eight-episode adaptation of the novel is set to premiere on Apple TV+ later this month. Here’s what we know about the series.
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Pachinko premieres on March 25, 2022.
The first three episodes of Pachinko will land on Apple TV+ on March 25. After the premiere, one episode will be released each week until the season wraps on April 29. All eight episodes are written by Hugh, and directed by Justin Chon (Blue Bayou) and Kogonada (After Yang). The novel’s author Lee also serves as co-producer.
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The trailer shows one woman’s story told over three generations.
The official trailer introduces Sunja, a Korean daughter of inn owners in the seaside town Busan. As a teenager, Sunja (Minha Kim) falls in love with Hansu (Lee Minho), a wealthy Japanese-adopted Korean, and becomes pregnant with his child. After learning that Hansu is married, Sunja meets a kind minister, Isak (Steve Sanghyun Noh). The pair marries and immigrate to Japan, where they live as permanent residents called Zainichi, who are subject to discrimination and bullying.
In a later 1980s timeline, Sunja’s grandson Solomon is a successful finance exec. A business opportunity brings him back to Japan, where he reunites with his father Mozasu (Soji Arai), who is now rich from running a pachinko gambling parlour, and his grandmother (Yuh-Jung Youn). While the original novel is told chronologically over three parts, the series jumps between Sunja and Solomon’s storylines, per early reviews.
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The cast includes Korea’s biggest stars and some talented newcomers.
Yuh-Jung Youn, who won an Academy Award for her role in the 2020 film Minari, leads the cast as an elder version of Sunja, a young Korean woman who moves to Japan to raise her family. Top actor Lee Minho, who’s best known for the hit k-dramas Boys Over Flowers and The Legend of the Blue Sea, plays Hansu, a wealthy fish broker and love interest for Sunja.
Newcomer Minha Kim gives an impressive debut performance as the teen version of Sunja, with 10-year-old Yu-na Jeon playing Sunja as a child. Rounding out the main cast is Jin Ha, who previously starred in the shows Devs and Love Life, as Sunja’s grandson Solomon.
Pachinko features dialogue in Korean, Japanese, and English.
Though the show comes from an American production company, all eight episodes feature trilingual performances, with dialogue in Korean, Japanese, and English. Hugh told Harper’s Bazaar that filming the show in the original languages was necessary for to show the impact of Japan’s colonisation of Korea and its effects, with some characters even switching from Japanese to Korean within a sentence.
“It was never a question that it would be in the languages; I don’t understand how else you could tell the story of colonisation because language is part of that,” Hugh says. “I just don’t think you can possibly do this story without doing the three languages.”
Hugh interviewed Zanichi women to include their stories in the series.
The main theme of the show is the effects of Japan’s colonization of Korea from 1910 to 1945 and the history of Koreans living in Japan as Zanichi, a history that often isn’t taught. As research for the book Pachinko, Lee interviewed dozens of Zainichi women to make sure she captured their experiences accurately. Hugh also recorded interviews with Zanichi women while filming the show.
“These women range in age from 90 to 104, and we got their oral testimony, and it’s actually a part of the show,” she told Bazaar. “I really wanted to make sure that I learned the history from the actual mouths of the people who lived it.”
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.