Episode 4 of “Pachinko” concluded on quite a triumphant note as it featured both Solomon (Jin Ha) and Sunja (Youn Yuh-jung) reclaiming their Korean heritage in their own ways. Sunja’s connection to Korea was largely tragic because she had to leave everything that made her who she used to be because of Hansu’s (Lee Min-Ho) betrayal. And it hurt her to even think about the time she spent in Korea. So, it was a big deal for her to find the courage to go back there with her son, Mozasu (Soji Arai). As for Solomon, he wasn’t prioritizing his Korean heritage because he spent most of his teenage and adult years in America and was doing business with the Japanese (who, despite their politeness, hate Koreans). Hence, it was a big deal for him to stop catering to either party and help a fellow Korean, i.e., Geumja (Park Hye-Jin), retain what was hers instead of giving another win to the Americans and the Japanese.
Major Spoilers Ahead
Sunja In Japan And Sunja In Korea
Directed by Justin Chon and written by Franklin Jin Rho and Soo Hugh, Episode 5 of “Pachinko” opens in 1931. After a tumultuous journey on an overcrowded ship, Sunja (Minha Kim) and Isak (Steve Sanghyun Noh) reach Japan and are greeted by a jovial Yoseb (Han Joon-woo). On their way to Yoseb’s home, the audience, along with Sunja and Isak, are shown how Koreans are pushed to the dirtiest corners of the city by the Japanese. And as if that’s not enough, the Koreans are forced to live in fear of being jailed for speaking ill of the Japanese. All that fear momentarily dissipates as soon as a warm and empathetic Kyunghee (Jung Eun-chae) welcomes the trio and inadvertently makes Sunja cry by serving her Korean rice.
Yoseb expresses his trepidations about Isak and Sunja. But Isak and Sunja bond over the fact that they saved each other from their respective difficult situations. The next day, Sunja has yet another mental breakdown after she realizes that Kyunghee has washed all her clothes because they were beginning to smell. However, the truth is that Sunja was keeping them in that way to retain the smell and to ease her homesickness. Thankfully, due to Kyunghee’s kindness (which is so beautifully essayed by Jung Eun-chae), the heartbreaking incident allows Sunja (acted to perfection by Lee Min-Ho) to trust in Kyunghee, as Sunja realizes that Kyunghee is carrying the same pain that Sunja thinks is exclusive to her.
In 1989, Sunja and Mozasu make their way through a fish market, just like Sunja used to do back in her teenage years, and Sunja indulges in a variety of delicacies even though she has just eaten at the hotel. Then they proceed to scatter Kyunghee’s ashes in the water, which is cut together with Sunja and Kyunghee’s bonding over their homesickness, so that moment simply hits you like a bag of bricks. But that’s not the only thing that Sunja is in Korea for. She also intends to visit her father’s grave and pay her respects. The only problem is that the place that Sunja thinks is the location of the graveyard is actually a parking lot now. Mozasu inquires if Sunja is sure it’s the right place, and she is adamant that it is. Mozasu assures us that the people who relocated the graves must’ve taken care of Sunja’s father’s grave as well.
Solomon Searches For Hana
Solomon learns that Shiffley’s is planning to let him go after his little drama during the deal for Geumja’s home, which means he won’t be able to leave Tokyo for some time because they’re the ones sponsoring his Visa. While having a conversation with his childhood friend, he also learns that the best place to look for Hana (Mari Yamamoto) is the Yoshiwara area. But before he embarks on that journey, he has a small (accidental) interaction with Naomi (Anna Sawai). It largely centers around Solomon’s dance routine, his relationship with Hana (she is Solomon’s father’s girlfriend’s daughter), Hana’s character, and how she ran away from home. However, one off-handed remark from Naomi about whether Geumja always planned to humiliate Solomon angers him to the point that he leaves the conversation with a misogynistic statement about Naomi.
The next day, Solomon begins searching for Hana in the Yoshiwara area with the help of a picture from their school days. He hits all kinds of dead ends. Finally, he ends up at a shop where he meets up with Haruki (Hiromitsu Takeda). Now, if you were as surprised by Solomon’s familiarity with Haruki as I was, because he hasn’t appeared previously in the show, and you haven’t read the book by Min Jin Lee, well, fret not. Here’s a primer: Haruki was Mozasu’s classmate. But he was ostracized because of his disabled brother and an abandoned single mother, and the rumor that he was a burakumin (a lower caste person in Japan). Mozasu didn’t discriminate, and they became best friends. Before his apparent ostracization or escape from the confines of society in general, he forged a bond with Solomon.
‘Pachinko’ Episode 5: Ending Explained – Are Solomon And Sunja’s Victories Short-Lived?
Trouble hits for Sunja (in the 1930s) when a couple of goons arrive at Yoseb’s house to tell Kyunghee that Yoseb owes their boss money and he hasn’t paid up yet. Kyunghee is scared, and Sunja steps in to not only promise that the goons’ boss is going to get his money, but also scare the goons enough to leave them alone. Once they’re gone, Sunja reveals Hansu’s watch and tells Kyunghee that they can sell it and pay off Yoseb’s debt. Kyunghee exhibits reluctance because she thinks Yoseb will handle it. But Sunja, burdened by the feeling that she owes something to Yoseb and Kyunghee for their generosity, urges Kyunghee to assist her in this endeavor. Eventually, they go ahead with it, thereby surprising Kyunghee about how quickly Sunja has adjusted to Japan. Their happiness is short-lived as the duo come home to a pissed-off Yoseb. Elsewhere, the jilted Hansu gets word of the fact that Sunja is in Japan as the man who bought his watch from Sunja returns it to Hansu.
In 1989, Sunja goes to the corporation office to find out where her father’s grave was shifted. She is bombarded with all kinds of questions about her citizenship and how she moved from Korea to Japan. This angers Mozasu, and he fires back. Offended by this situation, Sunja leaves in a huff. But they’re both stopped by the official, and she asks Sunja and Mozasu if they know about Shin Bokhee (Yeji Yeon), i.e., one of the girls who used to live in Sunja’s mother’s boarding house. Sunja has a teary-eyed reunion with the now aged Bokhee (Young Ok Kim), who lives with her little dogs in an apartment complex. Bokhee narrates everything that happened after Sunja left, from the war to the depression, Sunja’s mother’s disappearance, and Donghee’s (Bomin Kim) death. FYI, this scene features some of the best acting I’ve ever seen. Later on, Sunja does find her father’s grave, and after paying her respects, she decides to leave for Japan. Mozasu reminds Sunja that they still have a few days on their hands. Sunja says that she has overcome her mental block of coming to Korea, and now she knows she can return. That’s all that matters.
As for Solomon, he has a good time with Haruki. But since he’s Solomon, instead of respecting the life Haruki has chosen for himself; he tries to “help” Haruki by offering him the money he has in his pocket. Of course, that’s insulting as hell, and Haruki responds to Solomon by saying that he always felt bad for Solomon. However, since Solomon is so privileged, feeling bad for him seems wrong. Shattered by this reality check, Solomon leaves. Things get worse when he receives confirmation from Tom (Jimmi Simpson) that he has been fired from Shiffley’s, which means Solomon is now stranded in Japan. And before he can fully digest this information, he gets a distressing call from Hana asking him to come save her or else she is going to die this time.