‘Pachinko’ Review: K-Drama, American-Style

Pachinko is, in all honesty, a highly ambitious production. Korean actors Lee Minho (The Heirs) and Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari), as well as Korean American actor Jin Ha (Devs) and Korean Japanese actor Soji Arai, are among the movie’s foreign cast members (Angels in America).


Review of “Pachinko”

One of the two Asian languages is used in just over two-thirds of the dialogue (with yellow and blue subtitles, respectively). Pachinko features stunning cinematography and excellent performance.

‘Pachinko’ Review: K-Drama, American-Style

Among other exclamatory terms, newspapers have used “wonderful” and “so good it makes the competition look horrible.” According to a CNN critic, Pachinko is “a beautiful family story that rewards your emotions.”

And on Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 9.2/10 rating from 52 reviewers. This is the kind of programme that virtually screams for an Emmy nomination.

Why do I feel uneasy since everyone appears to love this extravaganza? It almost feels horrible to admit that I’m not fully in love with this Apple TV+ show because it only has till April 29 to run. Asian Americans, particularly Korean Americans, have historically been underrepresented in the creative sectors.

Lee’s Book

Additionally, this series is directed by Korean American Soo Hugh and is based on the best-selling book of the same name written by another Korean American, Min Jin Lee. Isn’t this the perfect time to recognise Korean Americans’ contributions to the arts?

The more you are familiar with Lee’s book, the less you will enjoy this series since it isn’t an exact replication of her writing (televised adaptations rarely are), and because you are aware of how much better it could have been had the writers chosen a more straightforward plot. This is an excerpt from the late Roger Ebert’s Memoirs of a Geisha review.

The 485-page historical epic Pachinko by Lee, which was shortlisted for the National Book Award and was a personal favourite of former President Barack Obama, was named one of The New York Times’ 10 Best Books of 2017 and spans four generations and three nations (Korea, Japan, and the United States) throughout the majority of the 20th century.

It sheds light on Zainichi’s situation (Koreans who immigrated to Japan during colonial rule and their descendants). Lee is a captivating storyteller whose art is both intricate and fascinating.

Final Words

After Apple TV+ announced it had acquired the rights to produce a series based on the novel, Lee joined the project as an executive producer. Lee and the production crew took a pause, but neither the streaming service nor the author gave an explanation.

It’s logical to infer that Lee departed the project owing to artistic difficulties after seeing the entire series screened (twice!). This is due to the adaptation’s omission of significant plot points, despite fixing some of the novel’s problems. Thanks for reading our article ‘Pachinko’ Review: K-Drama, American-Style.