Apple TV+ is gearing up for an epic new series: a screen adaptation of Min Jin Lee’s best-selling novel Pachinko.
The project is no simple feat. The story spans four generations, following a poor Korean family exiled from their home and making a life in Japan, and is told across three languages: Korean, Japanese, and English. Plans to turn the saga into a big-budget drama series (think The Crown, hints The Hollywood Reporter) were announced back in 2018, a year after the award-winning book was published. Since then, the show has gathered an internationally renowned cast (including Minari’s Youn Yuh Jung) with filming locations across the globe.
Here’s what to know about the ambitious but highly anticipated series.
When will Pachinko premiere?
The first three episodes debut Friday, March 25 on Apple TV+. The remaining five episodes will arrive weekly through April 29.
What is it about?
According to Apple’s synopsis: “Epic in scope and intimate in tone, the story begins with a forbidden love and crescendos into a sweeping saga that journeys between Korea, Japan, and America to tell an unforgettable story of war and peace, love and loss, triumph and reckoning.”
While the streamer is keeping specifics under wraps, we can look to the book for more details. Lee’s Pachinko follows a single Korean family through four generations “[fighting] for their destiny” in 20th century Japan. It begins in the early 1900s, against the historical backdrop of Japan’s annexation of Korea, focusing on beloved daughter Sunja. She is abandoned by her partner and left with an unplanned pregnancy that could disgrace her family’s reputation. However, a young pastor helps her out of her situation when he offers to marry her and bring her to Japan. “So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history,” the book synopsis reads.
Who is in the cast?
South Korean film icon Youn Yuh Jung, who won an Oscar for her role in Minari, will star as protagonist Sunja in her older years. “I read the novel and I was really touched: ‘It’s me, and I can play this role really well,’” she told the Los Angeles Times.
Korean superstar Lee Minho is also in the cast. “I wanted to be true to the character,” he told Esquire Korea, per NME, of his role as Hansu. “So I tried to focus on how desperate they were to survive in that period [of time].”
Here’s the full roster:
- Soji Arai plays Mozasu
- Jin Ha plays Solomon
- Inji Jeong plays Yangjin
- Minha Kim plays teenage Sunja
- Lee Minho plays Hansu
- Kaho Minami plays Etsuko
- Steve Sanghyun Noh plays Isak
- Anna Sawai plays Naomi
- Junwoo Han plays Yoseb
- Eun Chae Jung plays Young Kyunghee
- Jimmi Simpson plays Tom Andrews
- Yu-na Jeon plays young Sunja
- Youn Yuh Jung plays older Sunja
Showrunner and executive producer Soo Hugh (The Terror, The Killing) wrote the script.
The first four episodes are directed by Kogonada (Columbus, After Yang), while the second four are directed by Justin Chon (Blue Bayou). Both are also executive producers.
Can I watch a trailer?
Not yet, but Apple has shared these first-look photos to hold us over in the meantime.
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