“Pachinko game is a metaphor about life. Most people view it unfair, but they have to play the game,” said writer Lee Min-jin of the novel Pachinko (published in 2018) in a written interview with Dong-A Ilbo on Sunday. The book rose to 70th place as best seller on Amazon after the drama version was released on Apple TV on March 25. The Korean translation of the book, which was released in Part 1 and 2, ranked number 1 and 2, respectively, on Kyobo Book’s bestseller list.
“I thought about writing Pachinko when I was 19, but the book came out 30 years later than I planned. I didn’t even imagine that the book would be popular when it was first published. I just focused on telling a story that was socially and historically accurate and worth reading,” said Lee.
Lee, who was born in Seoul in 1968, immigrated to New York at the age of seven. Her experience impacted the novel, which takes place in Busan, Osaka and New York. “The novel Pachinko is a story of Korean Japanese, who play an important role in 20th century Korean history. They have unique experiences that are unlike Koreans living in Korea or Korean Americans,” she said, explaining that they had suffered extreme discrimination in Japan after Korea’s liberation.
“I do not write for the market, only for readers. I try to write novels on various themes, such as politics, history, religion and family,” she responded when asked about how she felt about the popularity of the novel after it was televised. “My third novel, which I am working on, is titled American Hagwon and it is about the educational aspirations of Korean Americans,” she replied when asked about future writing plans.