Pachinko Season 1 Episode 5 Review: Interconnected Journeys


Emotions ran high as all of the lead characters made emotional journeys.

Pachinko Season 1 Episode 5 saw (young) Sunja move to Osaka, Grandma Sunja head back home and meet old friends, and Solomon dealt with the repercussions of losing the big deal.

These individual paths all paralleled each other, making the writing on this episode a major highlight.

The writing has consistently been a highlight of the series, as the source material is rich with story, and they’ve been adapting it quite beautifully.

This hour saw three stories of similar emotional caliber, which being separate journeys on their own.

Sunja left her homeland for Osaka and now lives with her brother-in-law Yoseb, sister-in-law (by marriage) Kyunghee, and husband, Isak.

Things are very different in Osaka, and she has to deal with racial discrimination and being pregnant at a young age.

Meanwhile, many years later, we see Grandma Sunja make the opposite trip: she returned to Busan.

These two adventures that this one woman ventured out on got paralleled beautifully.

Sunja was terrified when first moving to Osaka, while she proved to be incredibly happy to return to Busan.

While in Busan, Grandma Sunja spread the ashes of her sister-in-law in their homeland as an act of returning her sister to their homeland as well.

She also tried to find her father’s grave, which got moved during construction.

Her hunt for her father’s grave leads her to an old face: Bokhee.

Bokhee grew up with Sunja, and, while not directly related, they consider each other sisters.

Bokhee recounted a tale of their other surrogate sister Donghee, which left us in tears.

After Sunja left for Japan, Donghee committed suicide by drowning herself in the river, and Bokhee found her body.

Bokhee and Grandma Sunja shared their emotions, and their scenes together brought us to some heavy emotions.

While we got the parallel Sunja stories, we also got significant developments in Solomon’s life.

Solomon dealt with significant backlash from his choice in Pachinko Season 1 Episode 4.

He got blacklisted from all of the central banks in Japan while dealing with his coworkers judging him.

Luckily, his father is with Sunja in Busan, but we know that he will have to deal with some harsh words from his father as well.

Solomon’s consequences may also leave his life completely upended.

At the end of the episode, Tom revealed that the company had fired him: which prompted Solomon to tell Tom that he won’t be able to return to America.

The company sponsored his Visa, so he can’t go back to America without a job.

We will probably see how this will affect Solomon in the final three episodes of the season.

Solomon also spent much of the hour searching for Hana.

He ran into an old family friend living less than wealthy during his search.

He learned a lot from their impromptu reunion, and It helped him grow as a person.

Later, he received a cryptic call from Hana.

Hana claimed that she did not want to die alone and that he needed to come to her ASAP.

Without knowing where she is or what’s wrong, we wonder if Solomon will go to her (and if she told him where she’s located).

Hopefully, in the coming hours, we’ll find out more about Hana, as she has remained a significant mystery on who she is (other than a past flame of Solomon’s).

The writing in this episode, as mentioned, really shined.

They are following the book quite well with Sunja’s journey, and it’s fantastic to see Sunja’s life come to life.

The two actresses portraying Sunja — Minha Kim as Teen Sunja and Youn Yuh-Jung as Grandma Sunja — seriously impress every time they’re on screen.

They both have the character of Sunja down perfectly and mirror each other’s emotions with extreme detail, from the way they talk to the way they cry.

The sweeping story wouldn’t be complete without an appearance from Sunja’s baby daddy Koh Hansu.

Even though he only appeared at the end of the episode, his appearance proved extremely important.

He appeared at the very end, much to our surprise, with the shopkeeper that Sunja and Yunghee approached earlier in the day.

Sunja sold the watch Koh Hansu gave her to pay off her brother-in-law’s debt.

The shopkeeper immediately went to Koh Hansu to sell it back for 10 dollars more than he bought it from Sunja.

Koh Hansu claimed that he knew this would happen because Sunja married a weak man (Isak).

We like Isak, so hearing Koh Hansu insult him makes us hate Kohn Hansu even more.

Koh Hansu is a figure that most likely won’t disappear from the narrative, although we wouldn’t mind if he did.

He is a creep and someone that will corrupt Sunja’s life (further than he already did).

He berated Sunja for marrying Isak, but if he weren’t careless with his relationship with her, she wouldn’t have been put in her current situation.

Clearly, we know things go pretty well for Sunja; she seems to have a happy life in her old age.

However, how she gets to that life will be the exciting thing to see in the final three episodes.

There are only three segments left in the season, and we hope the show gets renewed for a second outing.

We love the drama, the romance, and the generational discovery in these episodes and want to see more.

They seem to be speeding through the storyline of the novel quite quickly, but that’s never stopped other series in the past.

Hopefully, the current producers, directors, and writers know how to wrap up the season just in case they don’t get a renewal.

We enjoy the creative freedoms that directors Kogonada and Justin Chon have taken, and Soo Hugh has done a brilliant job adapting Min Jin Lee’s masterful novel.

So Fanatics, what did you think of Chapter Five?

Are you as in love with Sunja, Solomon, and the entire show as we are?

Let us know in the comments below! Pachinko is presented in Japanese, Korean, and English and airs Fridays on Apple TV+.

Michael Stack is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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