The renewal news, coming on the same day that Season 1's finale was released, isn't surprising because creator Soo Hugh has intended her series based on Min Jin Lee’s bestselling novel of the same name to run for four eight-episode seasons. Hugh told The Hollywood Reporter's TV’s Top 5 podcast before Pachinko's debut in March that each cycle would include “a departure every season that examines one crucial historical point in that story each season” and that each batch of eight episodes will reflect a season of the year, with the sophomore run expected to take place in the spring.
Soo Hugh wants Pachinko viewers to call their parents after the season finale: What does the Pachinko showrunner want viewers to take away from the series?: "I feel like I want two things: I want them to feel something earned," she says. "I don't want to play on cheap emotions. If they laugh, I want that laugh to be earned because our characters truly reached into their bellies. If they cry, I want those tears to be earned because our characters truly moved them. So I really want them to feel something in this. Second — and I know this sounds so cheesy — but I said this in the (show) pitch: After you watch the show, I want you to call your parents and thank the hell out of what they did for you."
Why Pachinko's season finale features different music for the title sequence: "When I was in Korea 3 or 4 years ago, I kept hearing this song," says showrunner Soo Hugh. "The song is this blend of modern-day synth with old school pansori, traditional folk singing in Korea, and it’s that blend of those two sounds. This is our show, like someone took our show and made it into a pop song, which is a blending of the old and the new, both in technology, both in substance. What was so fun about doing this piece is we end this episode at the very end with first person interviews, with Zainichi women, and all of us thought it was so poetic that this feels like Korea’s episode. It’s a title sequence song all in Korean."
Hugh recalls the two "eureka" moments that led her to adapt Pachinko: Hugh resisted picking up Pachinko until her agent Theresa Kang-Lowe, who is now an executive producer on the show, insisted she give it a try. “It was like lightning struck. It was one of those eureka moments where your life changes,” Hugh recalls of reading Pachinko for the first time on a flight back from London. But she still wasn’t convinced she was the right person to adapt the story. “Right now, Hollywood is very much an IP-driven marketplace, and they want every book to be made, especially a bestseller,” says Hugh. “But if your reason for adapting is just, ‘This book is brilliant,’ then people should just read the book.” Luckily, Hugh had another “eureka moment” when she realized her own family’s origin story could contribute invaluable insight into telling that of Pachinko’s. “I am a child of immigrants,” she says. “That is what I know.”
Japan is still reckoning with the history behind Pachinko: The Apple TV+ series "is the rare story tackling the impact of Japanese colonial policies on Korean identity. In 1910, Japan colonized Korea as part of its imperial expansion into the East Asian continent," says Alicia Haddick. "Many Koreans were conscripted to support the Japanese economy through forced labor, taken as sexual slaves for the imperial army, or were forced or left little choice but to leave for lands abroad by the ever-decreasing opportunities available at home. By the end of Japanese colonial rule in 1945, this home would no longer exist, with the U.S. and the Soviet Union dividing Korea into two occupation zones. Yet, as the opening of Pachinko states, 'the People endured.'"
Pachinko is fluent in the “unspoken language” of cooking and culture: "Throughout the Apple TV+ adaptation of Min Jin Lee’s novel Pachinko, food represents the transmission and loss of identity within one Korean family—spanning three generations and three countries—and signals differences in class and culture," says Hannah Kirshner. “Every single dish has a meaning,” adds food stylist Ellie Hyewon Lee, who worked with food director Soo Jin Kim, prop master Ellen Freund, and showrunner Soo Hugh to create pivotal scenes in the kitchen and around the table.
Prop master Ellen Freund spent years of research to bring Pachinko's food scenes to life: "I learned so much, from every ingredient to the growing seasons, to what poor people versus rich people ate, the way they would prepare foods, the way they would eat, how cooking vessels would differ, how the serving dishes would differ — it’s endless," says Freund. "We took some of the actors out to learn to make a few different things: how to start a fire, how to cook the rice, how to cook vegetables, how to clean vegetables. We took them to the home of a woman who was a champion kimchi maker. We got to experience this incredible lesson from her and her husband, who taught us about starting the fire. And then we had a meal like no other I’ve ever had, something you couldn’t possibly get in a restaurant."
Hugh describes the research process behind Pachinko's hair and makeup looks: "In terms of historical fidelity, I worked extensively off of photographs (of 1910-1989) as a launching point," says Hugh. "In general, I try to stay away from other movies and other tv shows' depictions of the past for fear of being swayed by 'interpretation.' Each department created detailed lookbooks which consisted of reference materials for characters and time periods. From here, with the directors, we built the looks for each character in each of his/her scenes, making sure that hair and makeup added a layered dimension. Building the hair and makeup 'narrative' involved many, many conversations followed up by several rounds of tests. I don't believe in painting in too broad of strokes; all those tiny details matter. Rebecca and Sanna full-heartedly embraced this process with so much spirit."
Lee Minho calls his Hansu character "a villian generated by tragedy": "I don’t think there is a big difference from other characters I’ve played before," says the Korean superstar. "I always try to stay true to each character I play and be authentic for my audience. With that said, I consider Hansu as a villain generated by the tragedy of desperate times. Therefore, I tried to create a character who lives his life fully committed to his own logic and value."