South Korea has established itself in recent years as one of the main creators of cultural products that succeed around the world. We have already experienced this with the success of BTS or the number of awards won by Squid Game or Parasites in their time. But in Korea things do not stop and the amount of series that are created there is immeasurable. However, this time Apple TV+ has chosen to add one to its catalog.
It is Pachinko, a period drama with a tendency towards melodrama. It is an intergenerational epic based on the novel of the same name by Min Jin Lee that is becoming a hit not only for the history lesson it offers but also for each of its artistic, technical and narrative aspects. Created by screenwriter Soo Hugh (The Killing) and directed by Korean-American filmmakers Kogonada and Justin Chon. Most of the actors are also Korean-American.
The drama tells the story of a Korean family that must emigrate to Japan due to the invasion of the Japanese army at the beginning of the 20th century. We are talking about a fiction that follows the misfortunes of a family of Korean origin through several generations, from the beginning of the 20th century to the end of the 1980s. The starting point is Sunja (Minha Kim as a teenager), a young girl from a humble, rural home in Japanese-occupied Korea in 1915. Her intelligence and rebelliousness make her stand out at a time when women could not.
War, occupation and oppression forced many families to flee their land to seek a better life or endure living in a regime where everything they stood for was forbidden and punished. Pachinko‘ is effective because it focuses on something as simple as the experiences of a family in those hard years. A family that could be any family.
The beginning of the first episode already warns us: the original voices of the series combine Japanese and Korean. There are characters that even mix the two languages in the same sentence, something that we can see marked by colors in the subtitles. Blue is Japanese, yellow is Korean.
Represented on an impeccable production design, evocative and tremendously careful this series manages to transport you to each of the geographical and temporal frames in which the story is set.