'Pachinko' Stars on Bringing the Powerful Story to Life (Exclusive)

Youn Yuh-jung, Lee Minho, Minha Kim and more talk to ET about Apple TV+'s anticipated new drama.

With the launch of Pachinko just one week away, the stars of the generation-spanning Apple TV+ drama had their moment in the spotlight on Wednesday at the Los Angeles premiere. 

An adaptation of the 2017 best-selling novel by Min Jin Lee, the eight-episode, multilingual series chronicles the hopes and dreams of a Korean immigrant family across four generations as they leave their homeland in a quest to survive and thrive. Led by Oscar winner Youn Yuh-jung, Pachinko is told in Korean, English and Japanese and follows two timelines -- beginning in South Korea in the early 1900s, where the tale begins with matriarch Sunja, and the 1980s, which centers around her grandson, Solomon. 

"A mother's love and a mother's sacrifice is never going to be -- it's timeless, right?" executive producer/creator Soo Hugh told ET's Denny Directo on the red carpet. "And I think what this show celebrates is the idea that families can endure no matter what hardships they’re put through. It’s been a hard few years for us and hopefully this show, along with many other films and shows out nowadays, will tell the world we're here. We're not going anywhere."

"Love is what’s going to get us through all the hardships and as cheesy as that sounds, what we’ve been through these last few years with all the violence against Asian Americans and Asian Pacific Islanders but also the pandemic, having come through it, it would've been a lot harder if there wasn't love in this world," Hugh added later. 

The Pachinko cast, which includes Korean star Lee Minho, Minha Kim and Jimmi Simpson, spoke about the series' sweeping themes, acknowledging that the series -- while it may center on a Korean immigrant family's journey -- is universal.

"Pachinko has emotions that transcend borders, languages and generations, so I’m pretty sure everyone can feel those emotions and relate to them," said Lee, who plays Hansu, through a translator. "We now live in a global community without any silos so we can easily share our story amongst each other and that’s why I think a lot of the once-neglected people are under light."

"I’ll hope they can relate [to the] emotions and feelings about the characters in those times... trying to survive," added Youn, who plays older Sunja.

"I really want them to take while they’re watching it they can be reminded of their family and they can feel a lot of love," said Kim, who portrays teenage Sunja. "And while they’re watching it also I want them to feel that they’re not alone when they’re going into survival mode."

Co-star Soji Arai, who plays Baek Mozasu, noted that "what's great in the series" is that the themes explored in Pachinko "are universal." "So why not people understand Asian culture?" he said. "People enjoy Asian culture, Asian people enjoy Western cultures and more will come I’m sure."

As for Youn's career following her Best Supporting Actress Oscar win for her performance in Minari, the 74-year-old actress promises life has been pretty much the same.

"Nothing changed," Youn said. "Nothing changed because I'm [an] old lady, so I try to just relax at home."

But she shared where she's been keeping her Academy Award: her living room, "because everybody like to see [it]." "They like to touch it because that will give them good luck."

Pachinko premieres Friday, March 25 with the first three episodes. Subsequent episodes will drop weekly.

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