Chapter 7 of “Pachinko” was essentially a detailed look at the day Hansu (Lee Min-ho) became well, the Hansu that we know and love/hate. To understand what happens in Episode 8, you have to go back to Episode 6, which featured the return of Hana (Mari Yamamoto). Justin Chon and writers Lauren Yee and Soo Hugh dedicated a huge chunk of its runtime to showing Hana reconciling with Sunja (Youn Yuh-jung) and Etsuko (Kaho Minami). In 1931, Isak (Steve Sanghyun Noh) had an awakening about the future of Koreans under Japanese oppression, while Sunja (Minha Kim) gave birth to her first child, Noa. The seeds of starting his own pachinko business was planted in Solomon’s (Jin Ha) head by Yoshii (Louis Ozawa). And as Hansu received news of Noa’s birth, he told his wife to leave because he had no use for her. Written by Mfoniso Udofia and Soo Hugh, and directed by Justin Chon, “Pachinko” Episode 8 has a lot of intersecting plotlines and covers a lot of ground. So, strap in.
Warning: Major Spoilers Ahead
In 1938, Noa (Jaejun Park) is introduced as this strong, courageous kid who motivates his classmates to not be afraid of bullies. He probably isn’t aware of his lineage, and he has a strong bond with Isak as they talk about the newly born Mozasu’s birthday ceremony. Noa is curious why they’re holding a party for Mozasu, and Isak explains that not too long ago, many babies died before their first birthdays. So, they are celebrating the fact that Mozasu has made it this far. You can see some childish jealousy in Noa as he questions why everything is about Mozasu. Isak says that since Noa is the older brother now, he has to be responsible enough so that his brother can count on him for many things. Noa questions if Isak and Sunja did a ceremony for him on his first birthday. Isak says that they did because Sunja insisted on doing so despite their meager resources. Noa regrets picking the red yarn (an indicator of long life) and not the bow and arrow, and he wishes that Mozasu picks the coins so that he could make their family rich in the future.
Hana’s Final Moments
I can imagine that it must be a little weird to be cast in one of the best shows of all time with a role as impactful as Hana’s and perform only from the confines of a bed. That said, Mari Yamamoto delivers an absolutely fantastic and heart-wrenching performance as she essays Hana’s failing health. It’s nothing but accentuated by all the acting around her from Kaho Minami, Soji Arai, and Youn Yuh-jung. The doctor tells Etsuko that if they want, they can prolong this state that Hana is in. But that’s only going to prolong her pain instead of freeing her from it. Etsuko disagrees with him, thereby cementing the fact that Hana is going to die.
Solomon meets up with Hana and requests that he look after Etsuko after Hana’s gone. When Solomon asks if Hana is scared of death, she admits that she is. However, Hana can’t believe that she is going to go out like this after leading such a carefree life. Hana says that she imagined she would die in a place like Hawaii, on its beaches. Then she laments about squandering everything she had and how she doesn’t want the same to happen to Solomon. Solomon responds by apologizing to Hana for not coming to look for her sooner, for playing by everyone else’s rules and obeying everyone else’s orders, and for what? Hana musters up the last dregs of her strength to tell Solomon to stop his self-pitying and go and get what he wants for himself.
Noa returns from school on his own to inform Sunja that Isak didn’t come to receive him. Sunja and Noa go to the church where Isak preaches and learn that he has been arrested for partaking in “anti-national” activities against the Japanese. Sunja sends Isak to get Yoseb from the factory (which has recently employed him). Yoseb informs his boss and tells Noa that they’ve got about an hour to look into Isak’s situation. The three of them go to the police station, and as Yoseb pleads with the police for Isak’s release, Noa translates their conversation to Sunja, and they realize that Isak isn’t coming out very soon. Yoseb promises that he’s going to use his boss’s influence to get Isak out. But as soon as Yoseb’s boss hears that Isak is an “anti-national,” he not only withdraws his support, but also fires Yoseb as he fears all this will somehow harm his business.
While exiting the police station, Sunja confronts a lady who was meeting an inmate to understand the gravity of the situation, because Sunja can’t believe all this is happening. The lady reveals that Isak was, in fact, educating the Koreans to rise up against Japanese oppression, giving them hope in these dire times, and how he won everyone’s trust and love with his passion. She then tells Sunja that she must meet Hasegawa [In Woo Kim] to get a better perspective. Hasegawa sits Sunja and Noa down and explains his and Isak’s plans to unite the workers of both Korea and Japan and rebel against the Emperor. Sunja rubbishes this movement by saying that while Hasegawa and Isak were conjuring big dreams, did they ever think of Sunja, Noa, and Mozasu? The argument ends with Noa’s outburst as he hears Hasegawa say that Isak is never going to come back, as the police raids the place for obvious reasons.
Solomon Finalizes His Deal With Yoshii
Solomon finally tells Mozasu that he has been fired from Shiffley’s. When Mozasu asks why, Solomon tells him the truth, i.e., he told Geumja (Park Hye-Jin) to not sign because it felt like the right thing to do at that moment. Mozasu orders Solomon to go back to America, and that’s when Solomon reveals that he can’t do that as well, as Shiffley’s was sponsoring his visa, and now it has been canceled. And before Mozasu can recover from this information dump, Solomon reveals his plans to work with Yoshii because, technically speaking, he’s the only one he can work with since no one is going to hire him. Mozasu expresses anger and tells Solomon to not collaborate with Yoshii because Yoshii’s grandfather had offered Mozasu a similar deal. It was only for Solomon’s mother and grandmother that Mozasu managed to get out of it. Solomon says that he’s going to go ahead with it despite Mozasu’s earnest trepidations.
Now, although it seems that Solomon is there to meet Yoshii to invest in pachinko, Solomon actually says that he wants to go in a different direction and into Colton Hotels. Yoshii is skeptical, but still, he asks Solomon to explain his plan. Solomon says that Katsu Abe (Yoshio Maki) and Colton Hotels have invested 10 billion yen. But it won’t be easy for them to liquidate their properties so quickly now that Geumja has refused to sell. Solomon sees that as a lucrative opportunity, as he thinks that whoever gets Geumja’s land will get anything. Yoshii asks Solomon why he thinks that Geumja will sell this time. Here comes the disturbing part. Solomon knows she won’t sell, and that’s why he asks Yoshii to use his “ways,” i.e., to terrorize her into leaving her property. Then Solomon will seal the deal. Yoshii explains that they need to be quick about it because the relationship between banks and landowners is very shaky at the moment. Frighteningly enough, they shake on it.
‘Pachinko’ Season 1: Ending Explained – Is Hana Dead? Is There Going To Be A Season 2?
Via some of the best intercutting the small screen has ever seen, “Pachinko” shows Hana slipping away, Sunja being questioned by the Japanese, and Mozasu having an argument with Sunja about Solomon’s future. When Mozasu brings up Noa, Sunja says that Solomon is not Noa and that she won’t let history repeat itself. In Hana’s last moments, she calls out for Solomon, while we see Noa witness Isak being taken away by the police. Sunja and Noa run after the van that’s taking away Isak, and Solomon rushes into the hospital to push Hana’s hospital bed through the corridors and to the roof. Sunja falls back while Noa keeps chasing the car. Despite everyone’s caution, Solomon continues to wheel Hana at top speed, thereby giving Hana a few minutes of relief. Noa fails to keep up, and the car takes away Isak for good. After bringing Hana to the roof, Solomon puts the traditional greeting garland on Hana and partially fulfills her dying wish. And Hana breathes her last.
In 1935, we see Sunja promising Noa that she’s going to take care of everything now, while Sunja, in 1989, gives the watch (Hansu’s watch) to Solomon and says that she used to think that the watch was a curse, but it actually saved them many times. And she hopes that it will have the same effect on Solomon. Elsewhere, Geumja sees a goon with dogs stationed in front of her house to intimidate her. Back in 1935, Sunja decides to sell kimchi in order to make a living. As usual, Yoseb protests. But Sunja convinces him that even though earning is a man’s job, it won’t hurt if they become a double-income household. Yoseb gives in. Kyunghee helps Sunja make the kimchi, and for the first time in her life, Sunja sets out into the open competitive market to sell her kimchi. Although many shopkeepers don’t allow her to park her kimchi cart due to the smell, one butcher makes space for her, and she begins selling her kimchi one container at a time.
Hansu meets up with Noa on his way to his school and asks him why he is so glum when he’s going to school. Hansu says that he couldn’t afford to go to school when he was a child. So, Noa should be glad that he is privileged enough to get an education. Noa asks who Hansu is, but he doesn’t respond. Instead, he asks why Noa is taking the long path to the school, thereby hinting at the fact that Hansu keeps track of Noa’s (and the rest of his family’s) whereabouts. Noa, being the smart kid he is, notices that and asks Hansu how he knows about the path to Noa’s school. To which, Hansu says that knowledge is his way of protecting himself. Noa admits that he takes the long route because his father used to do the same, as that would allow him to come across a pianist he liked. Over the shared loss of their respective father figures, Hansu advises Noa to not just survive but be better than anyone else. And he tells Noa to take the shortcut to school from the next day instead of being sentimental and to always look forward, never backward.
Going by the last few minutes, which is like a mini-documentary about the real-life Korean immigrants who stayed in Japan, it seems that there isn’t going to be a Season 2. There’s a sense of finality to it, even though a lot of plot threads are left open-ended. If you have read Min Jin Lee’s book (on which “Pachinko” is based), you will know that there’s a lot to these characters and these stories. And creator Soo Hugh has said that she wants to make three more seasons. But, at the time of writing this article, Apple TV+ hasn’t officially announced a Season 2 because that depends on how many people are interested in more “Pachinko.” Therefore, in the off chance that the show doesn’t get a Season 2, even though the characters’ arcs will appear abrupt, that mini-documentary will look like an emotionally satisfying concluding note. That said, let’s all hope that we get the three seasons that Soo Hugh wants to make.