Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

“Every day you are closer to your death. You are half-dead already. Where does your identity come from?”

Pachinko spans century of Korean family saga starting from the early 1900s to present day. It is written during the Japanese colonization, politics, impact of war on Korean families throughout the centuries, and discrimination between Korean and Japanese. It started with Sunja, a teenage girl who married an older man, to Noa who hates how he was brought up, to Solomon who tries to escape Korean stereotypes.

The pacing is great until the end but at some point I find it slow and some stories are not that important considering this is a 496 page book. It is too long! This book has so much potential if the author didn’t make it too lengthy. It could’ve been a 300-400 page book. The writing style was difficult for me to grasp at first. I’m not used to reading third person point of view and it has a lot of characters. The shifting of story is too fast that I don’t really get to know more about the character and event.

Though, I love the historical aspect of this book. For someone who only learns about Korean history through KDramas, I truly appreciate this different side of their history. In Kdramas, I only get to know about Koreans food, clothes, war but not this type of story. I got to learn more about the Japanese-Korean war and how the Koreans were discriminated by the Japanese because of their blood. It is unique and true story considering how the Koreans felt during the war.

Min Jin Lee unravels what Pachinko means and how it became a significant part of the story. It is raw, inspiring, poignant, and definitely A MUST READ. It evokes feeling of empathy for Korean families during the war and how it spans from generation to generation.

‘Living every day in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage.’


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