‘Pachinko’ earns universal praise from critics on the way to the Emmys

Pachinko,” the new Apple TV+ drama series about a Korean immigrant family that spans generations, is earning widespread love from critics. The epic saga comes from the Min Jin Lee novel of the same name and centers on Sunja, who grows up in Japanese-occupied Korea, tracking her life through old age, as well as her family’s lives. Academy Award winner Yuh-Jung Youn stars as the older version of Sunja, in her first onscreen role since winning Best Supporting Actress for “Minari.” The raves for Youn’s performance and the series as a whole might just make “Pachinko” the next Apple project to score with awards voters.

Over 20 TV critics on Rotten Tomatoes have voiced their enthusiasm for “Pachinko,” adding up to a 100% fresh rating. The praise for the family drama is glowing even beyond the typical reviews for a new series, using such words as “miraculous,” “timeless” and “the most impressive series yet on any streamer.” One review even claims that “Pachinko” is “dangerously close to a masterpiece.” Critics praise the series’ ability to weave together the various narrative threads from Sunja’s early life to her twilight years, on top of its commentary on lineage and the changing political landscape.

Youn is also earning a slew of positive mentions for her nuanced performance as older Sunja, who carries the weight of her past experiences. She is expected to contend in Best Supporting Actress at this year’s Emmys, currently placing 12th in our latest Gold Derby odds for a nomination. The series itself has climbed its way up to 16th for Best Drama Series as of the week of its premiere. Other cast members, including Korean superstar Lee Min-Ho and past Emmy nominee Jimmi Simpson, are also among outside contenders, for their performances as Koh Hansu and Tom Andrews, respectively.

If “Pachinko” takes off with audiences following this critical success, it will be the latest in a growing collection of awards players for Apple. The still-relatively-new streamer broke through at the Emmys with “The Morning Show” and found even greater success with “Ted Lasso,” which has now won top prizes at the Emmys, Screen Actors Guild Awards and Critics Choice Awards. They also proved their success in the Oscar race this season with “CODA,” landing three Academy Award nominations including Best Picture. We’re still months away from Emmy nominations, but it’s possible that with “Pachinko,” they may have struck gold yet again.

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