“Pachinko” Episode 1 built the world and the characters in it. It established the hardships of Sunja’s life during Japanese colonization while consequently following her grandson, Solomon, in the current timeline. Solomon, a Korean struggling with an identity crisis in Japan, wanted to have the upper hand in a business, which he believed would make him feel superior to his Japanese counterparts.
Episode 1 ended as these two characters’ journey began as they entered a new chapter in their lives with their dreams in their hands. As Sunja caught the eye of wealthy fish broker Koh Hansu, which would bring romance and its repercussions to her life, Solomon arrived at his new office in Tokyo to strike a deal that would shape both his professional and personal life. . Therefore, let’s follow in the footsteps of “Pachinko” episodes 2 and 3 without further ado.
Learn more: ‘Pachinko’ Episode 1: Recap and Ending – Establishes Sunja and Solomon’s Fate
Episode 2: Recap
Koh Hansu was a reserved man with a mysterious identity, and his punchy appearance and virtuous management made him a topic of daily discussion among local fishermen. Every day on a ferry ride, Sunja would hear different stories about Hansu and create an image in her mind of him as a rich and arrogant man. Hansu was attracted to Sunja but never mustered enough courage to talk to her, and the two stared at each other from afar. However, fate closed the gaps between the two when Sunja was attacked by some Japanese boys and Hansu, as usual, saved her life, and the two began to meet every day near a pond. in the woods of Yeongdo.
Thanks to their secret encounters, the two lovers got to know each other better. While Sunja was poor and ignorant, Hansu was rich and ambitious. Hansu was born to a poor father, but education helped lift him out of poverty and make a name for himself. He lived in Osaka but only returned to his hometown to fill the void in his heart. Hansu was looking for fulfillment and a sense of belonging, but he couldn’t quite understand it until he met Sunja. “Pachinko” Episode 2 ended with Sunja trusting Hansu, and finally, they had sex in the woods.
In the current timeline, Solomon began his duties at the Tokyo office but soon realized that feelings of xenophobia were still intact among the Japanese, who defied the Koreans and questioned their loyalties. Through Tom, Solomon learned more about the Korean woman, Han Geumja, whose family moved to Tokyo after the war. In 1955, Geumja bought the land in Tokyo for 4,000 yen which Shiffley’s finance clients wanted to buy for the foundation of their “Colton Hotel”. Solomon convinced Tom to offer him a billion yen for his land, which would allow his children to live in luxury. However, when Solomon met Geumja, she thoughtlessly declined the offer. What Solomon didn’t understand was that Geumja didn’t want to leave a luxury to her children and wanted to live her own dreams and have her own identity in a foreign country, and that piece of land was her identity, that she held on tight.
The other parts of Episode 2 followed Solomon’s father, Mozasu Baek, who found his existence running a pachinko parlor in Osaka and planned to open another, for which he also applied for a loan from the Bank. However, Mozasu’s ambitions became a reason for his bad conscience as he used to rig pachinko machines to earn extra money, thereby gambling with people’s fates. In the midst of his professional corruption, Mozasu struggles with a personal problem, in which he tries to find Etsuko’s long-missing daughter, Hana. A hired detective informed Mozasu that Hana was last seen eight months ago in Tokyo while working in a soapland (falling into the obscurity of prostitution). As the parents tried to make peace with her new information, Hana suddenly called Solomon on her office phone and subtly brought their forbidden romance into the conversation. Hana forbids Solomon to inform his mother that she contacted him by cutting the call with the promise to call him back to continue the conversation.
Episode 3: Recap
“Pachinko” Episode 3 begins with a big revelation that changes Sunja’s life in both the current and past timeline. In Episode 2, Sunja’s sister-in-law and her landmark companion throughout her journey, Kyunghee, died of a terminal illness, and Sunja prepared for a funeral in the current timeline. In the past, Sunja discovered that she was pregnant with Hansu’s child, but he left for Osaka, and there were rumors that he would never return.
Sunja lived days of loneliness as she struggled with a secret that weighed on her heart, but suddenly the love of her life appeared. But Hansu did not come alone; he brought a storm with him that would destroy Sunja’s life forever. As soon as Sunja told Hansu about the child, he quickly wished it was a boy. The reason for Hansu’s strange desire was revealed when Sunja asked him to marry her. Hansu told her about his marriage of convenience, thanks to which he already had 3 daughters. He thought Sunja knew about his marriage so he asked her to be his mistress. Hansu tried to win Sunja over with the promise of a big house in Yeongdo and the prospects of a luxurious life. Sunja might not be educated, but she wasn’t stupid. Being the daughter of an outcast, Sunja always weighed respect and identity over financial gain, and so she refused Hansu’s offer and revealed her pregnancy to her mother without disclosing the father’s name.
The conversation between Sunja and her mother, Yangjin, was overheard by a bad tenant named Baek Isak, a Christian minister who traveled all over the country to spread the word of the lord. Baek was a cultured man from Pyongyang who settled in Osaka with his brother Yoseb and Yoseb’s wife, Kyunghee. Baek was terminally ill with tuberculosis that could cost him his life any day, and in his act of service to humanity, he offered Sunja to give the child his identity. to be born so that Sunja does not have to face the hypocrisy of society. . “Pachinko” Episode 3 ended when Sunja nodded at Baek’s proposal and decided to move to Osaka with him to start a new life in new lands.
After Kyunghee’s death in the current timeline, Solomon asked his grandmother, Sunja, to come to Tokyo with him to convince Geumja to sell his land to Colton’s clients. The whole scene with Geumja, Sunja, and Solomon mirrors the recurring theme of the series, portraying the hardships of immigrants living in foreign lands who are slowly losing their cultural roots. For Solomon, Geumja’s house was just a roof and a few walls, but Sunja, who moved to a foreign land for her family’s survival, was able to look deeper and understand Geumja’s plight better.
In Geumja’s house, the first thing Sunja noticed was a textbook. Curiously, she inquired about a grandchild in the house, to which Geumja replied that she was the one studying and trying to finish sixth grade because, in her struggle to raise a family, she had never had time to learn. Sunja could relate to the fact that in the past she wanted to read and learn, but a series of tragedies changed her focus. The second touching detail of the scene was the food which connected the two strangers quite familiarly. Sunja served Sunja and Solomon the white rice grown in Korea, and while Solomon didn’t notice the difference, it was Sunja who huddled together for a moment and asked about it. Sunja again resonated with Geumja because, just like her, she came to Osaka with Baek Isak, leaving behind her own country, food and roots. The rice evoked memories in which she recalled the days when she made kimchi in her garden with her mother.
At that time, Sunja and Solomon are two strangers in a foreign land, being discriminated against. But it was Sunja’s roots and struggles that made her more human towards people as she humbly tried to understand their reasons, while Solomon, who hadn’t been to Korea (probably), had a vague anger in him. His classmates hurled ethnic slurs at him, which became a reason for his burning rage to prove to the Japanese that he was better than them. But in all likelihood Solomon’s fate was personal and not an inch about Korea or the Korean people, as Geumja commented on his non-curiosity about his own country and its cultural values. Narratively, the scene reminded Sunja of a fact about Kyunghee, who wanted to return to Korea one last time before leaving the world, and so Sunja decided to make his late friend’s wishes come true and probably his own as well.
Sunja asked Solomon to leave Geumja alone and not to worry about his own personal agenda anymore, and so with a heavy heart, Solomon went back to his office when suddenly Tom informed him that Geumja’s lawyer had him. called to inform him of his decision to sell his land. Solomon felt guilty for using his grandmother to influence Geumja’s decision, but before he could think about it, his thoughts were shaken by Hana’s call. Hana was coughing a lot throughout the conversation which suggested she may be suffering from a terminal illness that could cost her life, and so in her last days of survival she called Solomon to remember the good old days. of their secret romance. As Solomon worried about Hana’s deteriorating health and her whereabouts, Sunja arrived at Mozasu’s pachinko parlor to tell him of her decision to bury Kyunghee’s ashes in her homeland.
Through these interconnected stories, Sunja and Solomon would revisit their past lives, presumably to make peace with them and bring closure to the end of the affair. At one point, Sunja told Solomon that she didn’t understand why people cling to the past, because it wouldn’t bring back death. Perhaps, through her journey back to basics, she will find her answers that sometimes the past worries the living because they fail to give it proper closure because sometimes they are too afraid to face it. . But lucky are those lucky enough to make peace with her. The next episode of “Pachinko” will follow the tracks further.