Min Jin Lee’s novels are history-rich and characteristically packed with several aspects of human angle which make for a good film adaptation. Lee’s books, ‘Free Food For Millionaires’ and – especially ‘Pachinko’, carry within them all the right ingredients for film, such as love, loss, family, and survival.
‘Pachinko’ Goes to Hollywood
One of the most remarkable Korean-American showrunners, Soo Hugh, known for her works in the 2008’s thriller ‘Passengers’, and 2015’s ‘Whisper’, read ‘Pachinko’ upon the recommendation from cofounder and CEO of Blue Marbles Pictures, Kang-Lowe, and was blown away by the depth of the untold stories characterizing the historical era to which Min Jin Lee’s ‘Pachinko’ is based.
Hugh thought the stories, lying untapped between Korea and Japan, were far too important not to be represented. But, despite this conviction, she felt scared and a bit unfit to spearhead a project of such importance and historical magnitude. She then reached out to Kang-Lowe to take up the responsibility of leading the role of transitioning ‘Pachinko’ from book to television.
‘Pachinko’ Faces Tough Setbacks
Despite Hugh and Kang-Lowe agreeing to bring the book to a live television show, ‘Pachinko’ began seeing some serious setbacks – and on multiple fronts.
First, there was the issue of concept shopping and reaching a deal with a streaming platform to air the show. Second, popular streaming services had their doubts about Min jin Lee’s ‘Pachinko’, and consequently disagreed on being part of the creation of the show which they are unconvinced about its success.
Those aside, the courted services also had doubts about catering for its overly expensive budget which was asking for the budget size for ‘The Crown’. Based on this, many courted streaming services were unwilling to match the budget stipulate for putting the show to bed as they felt it was too much money to spend on some idea they were unsure about its post-production market performance.
Hugh and Kang-Lowe tried to justify the need for such a budget – stating that the show needed to be told in three different languages of English, Korea, and Japanese to effectively serve its central audiences. They also said it must use an all-Asian cast to fully portray the deep scope of Min Jin Lee’s work.
After several turndowns, Apple and Netflix, two of the top streaming services, later showed interest and willingness to meet the conditions for producing and airing the show. A big factor as to why these companies showed interest was because of the vast Asia audience, as they were sure the show would appeal to them, but they were more concerned about winning the market.
Apple Edges Netflix to Wrap ‘Pachinko‘ Deal
With the two mega streaming companies vying for the right to produce Min Jin Lee’s masterpiece, it came down to Kang-Lowe and her team picking one of the two, and in the end, they picked Apple – a decision largely influenced by Michelle Lee, who is the executive and director of domestic programming.
Apple Gets ‘Pachinko’ in the Works, Min Jin Lee Exits the Project
The journey of turning nearly a five-hundred-page Korean historical epic was no small job even for a tech giant such as Apple. On Hugh’s directives, the show saw several significant moments during weeks and restructuring.
For example; the timeline was touched on, and some major characters’ roles were modified – such as Koh Hansu getting a detailed backstory, and Solomon, Sunja’s grandson, getting a more elaborate story about a young banker determined to succeed at his high paying American firm.
Min Jin Lee, the original owner of the idea, dropped from the project at a point during the adaptation with a farewell email. The author would later state that her decision to dissociate herself from the screening process was personal and unrelated to what people might think:
Although I did not write or create the series, I wish the well.
Min Jin Lee’s ‘ Pachinko’ became available on the official streaming platform of Apple, Apple TV+, from march 25, 2022, and is set to be wrapped up on April 29, 2022. In the cast, viewers should expect to see the popular Lee Min-ho star as Koh Hansu, with Kim Min-ha featuring as young Sunja.
Is Min Jin Lee’s ‘Pachinko’ a seasonal movie?
Min Jin Lee’s ‘Pachinko’ is currently being streamed by Apple TV+ and comes in series, so yes, ‘Pachinko’ is seasonal.
Can you stream ‘Pachinko’ on Netflix?
Technically, only Apple has the right to stream ‘Pachinko’ because it acquired the sole right to do so, Netflix on the other hand had the deal turned down on them in favor of Apple.
Will ‘Pachinko’ have season 2?
With the way the momentum is already gathered with the release of the first few series by Apple TV+, fans have already started clamoring for the thriller to be extended by organizers.