Lee Min-ho says learning more about Korean history for ‘Pachinko’ “devastated” him

“Back then, there were no choices and no room to dream of a better future”

Lee Min-ho has opened up about how learning more about Korean history for the upcoming Apple TV+ series Pachinko affected him.

Based on the novel of the same name by Min Jin Lee, Pachinko follows the lives of a Korean immigrant family in Japan over four generations. Lee stars in the upcoming series as Lee Han-su, a Korean fish broker who crosses paths with a young Sun-ja (Kim Min-ha), the series’ central character, setting in motion her eventual move to Japan.

In a recent interview with The Korea Times, the 34-year-old actor reflected on what he had learned about Korean-Japanese history while working on the series and how it affected him. “Every work tries to capture reality but this series was different in terms of its depth. I tried to focus on understanding the emotion and sentiment of the people from that era,” he said.

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“Back then, there were no choices and no room to dream of a better future,” said Lee, who added that he felt “grateful” to be living in modern times. “I tried to look at the images from that time and what devastated me was that there were no pictures of Koreans smiling. It hurt to see that there were no hopes and dreams but only those who are pushing along with their lives.”

Elsewhere in the interview, actresses Youn Yuh-jung and Kim Min-ha, who play the elderly and teenaged versions of Sun-ja respectively, also opened up about their experience researching for their roles.

Kim shared that she had interviewed Zainichi Koreans in preparation for her role, revealing that she was “shocked” to find out that many of the stories from Pachinko were true. Meanwhile, Youn added that she “do[esn’t] know how many times I’ve cried hearing about the stories from that time”.

Pachinko will feature a star-studded supporting cast of South Korean, Japanese and American actors, including Jung Eun-chae, Jung Woong-in, Soji Arai and Kaho Minami. The series is set to arrive on Apple TV+ on March 25 with its first three episodes, followed by weekly instalments every Friday thereafter.

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