‘Pachinko’ Star Lee Minho on His Spotlight Episode

[Warning: This story contains spoilers for the Pachinko episode “Chapter Seven.”]

Apple TV+ adaptation of Pachinko took away some significant differences from Min Jin Lee’s bestselling novel of the same name, nothing more and nothing less in the penultimate volume of the first season, which created a new storyline for Hansu, the character mysterious and powerful due to superstar Lee Minho.

While the rest of the series alternates between the life of protagonist Sunja (Minha Kim) as a young Korean woman living under Japanese imperial rule in the 1930s and the last days of her life. her story as a grandmother (Youn Yuh-jung) in boom-bust 1980s Japan, “Chapter Seven” takes place entirely in Yokohama in 1923. That timestamp may take some viewers to with the cataclysmic event occurring in the episode: the real-life 7.9 earthquake that killed more than 100,000 people, including Koreans living in the area.As described in the episode and described described in its epilogue, in addition to suffering casualties after the earthquake, many Koreans were also blamed for the devastation following the earthquake and killed by Japanese vigilantes afterward.

As viewers learn, live through, and witness these traumas transform Hansu from a humble tutor devoted to his single father into a cool, poised businessman who seduces Sunja one by one. decade later. Lee, 34 years old, spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the episode’s importance in shaping his character and how Hansu compares to the male leads that have made him one of Asia’s most beloved celebrities.

This episode, which explores Hansu’s past, is completely original to the show. Did you know there will be this addition to the character’s story when you audition? How does it feel to have an episode of your own?

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At first, I didn’t know about it going to audition. I believe I read the script up to volume four. As if putting the pieces together, it feels like the adult Hansu is finishing together. I can tell him about why he is practical and lives a life without looking back. These thoughts helped me add more dimension to the character. And I was pressured to continue with it, because the episode deviated from the main story.

Can you film the show in chronological order – in other words, do you get to play the young Hansu first? How did the shooting sequence affect your character preparation as an actor, if any?

We can’t shoot the scenes in sequence because we’re shooting in two different countries, Canada and Korea. So we shot the younger Hansu and the older Hansu respectively. It’s hard to portray Hansu at different ages, but he has wildly different personalities in each era, so that helps me build a solid foundation for his character.

What kind of research did you do for the role, especially about the 1923 Yokohama earthquake and the lives of the Koreans living there at the time?

I did my own research based on the script and the novel. I watched many clips that recreated the historical context of that time, documentaries related to earthquakes, and read many articles about Koreans living in that era.

In this episode, Hansu speaks in three languages, experiences emotional trauma and also handles some action sequences with realistic effects that look very dangerous. What was the most challenging part of filming this episode?

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The most challenging part was the role of an energetic boy. I wanted to paint a portrait of this boy with sparkling eyes filled with curiosity and aspiration, but it was not an easy task. Speaking different languages ​​is definitely quite difficult, but I think Hansu won’t be fluent either since he’s in the early stages of learning those languages, so it’s not too much pressure.

You’ve been a leader for a long time, which means that even if your characters have flaws, they’re still the people the audience looks up to. Hansu plays another role in the story. He’s not considered a hero, so do you approach him differently than your other characters?

I don’t think there’s a big difference compared to other characters I’ve played before. I always try to stay true to each character I play and be true to my audience. With that said, I see Hansu as a villain created by the tragedy of the desperate times. So I tried to create a character who lives a lifetime committed to his own logic and values.

With enduring success across Asia, why would you want to explore this particular Hollywood project?

This project really makes a difference. It tells Asian stories, but I think the story applies to anyone living in this era beyond race, ethnicity, and nationality. It’s a powerful story that anyone can relate to. Hansu’s character attracted me a lot. Luckily, I was offered to audition for a role, and I’m incredibly grateful to be able to make my first Hollywood series.

In addition to all your experience in Korean TV and cinema, you have also filmed China-Korea co-productions (The bounty hunter). How to shoot? Pachinko – an American product – compare with your past experiences?

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No matter where you are filming, what happens on set is as if you were anywhere else. But depending on the budget size, I am faced with new experiences and opportunities that thrill me. Also, I often think about how to better portray the scenes. And that’s why being with Soo Hugh, the host, means a lot to me in that sense. Normally screenwriters don’t go to the set in Korea, but for this particular show, I had to talk a lot with her, and I was able to channel the energy I got from her into a great synergy.

This interview was conducted with a Korean translator and edited for length and clarity.

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