“I read it overnight and I couldn’t put it down,” admits Minha Kim, who had just won the role of a lifetime in a new series based on “Pachinko,” the iconic novel by Min Jin Lee. For our recent webchat, she reveals that she devoured the 490-page novel in one marathon sitting. “When I was reading it, I was thinking, ‘this is crazy,’ and I was thinking, ‘I have to do this!’ You know, these very strong unexplainable feelings, a connection with this character.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
“Pachinko” was created by Soo Hugh, based on Lee’s 2017 bestselling novel and directed by Kogonada and Justin Chon. Kim stars as Sunja, a wide-eyed young woman living a modest life in Japanese-occupied Korea in the early twentieth century, who falls pregnant after a brief love affair with married businessman Hansu (Lee Min-ho). After Hansu rejects her, she meets local pastor Isak (Steve Sanghyun Noh), who agrees to marry her and care for Sunja and her unborn baby, after which they flee to Japan to start a new life. The AppleTV+ period drama jumps back and forth in time over the course of a century, as it weaves the threads of multiple generations of a Korean family, who have succeeded against the odds. Oscar winner Youn Yuh-jung (“Minari”) co-stars as the elderly version of Sunja, grandmother to promising Yale-educated Solomon (Jin Ha), who is determined to forge his own path as a businessman in America.
Kim says that she learnt a lot about herself during her time on set on the first major international production of her career. For her, it was the camaraderie on set that she most valued, which she now looks forward to as production on the series’ second is about to ramp up. “It feels like I’m going back to my home,” she admits. “First of all, I get to meet all my family and I’m so excited for that. And then, second of all, I can start the journey of Sunja [again],” she says. Looking back on the show’s first season, Kim says one of of her highlights was building a connection with leading man Lee. “We talked a lot, not only about the scenes, but personally, we talked a lot. We talked about our life and we talked about our love. We talked about everything. That’s why we had this something,” she reveals, adding, “it was magical.”
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