Episode 3 of Pachinko starts with Sunja in 1924 cutting kimchi and preparing dinner with her mother. The scene is spliced beautifully with grandma Sunja in 1989 too, although in the past it’s clear our protagonist is feeling under the weather. She’s pregnant.
Sunja shrugs it off as a “bad clam”, but there’s trouble down in the Fish Market. Koh Hansu has been gone for a week and in that time everything has turned chaotic. Prices have gone up, Koh Hansu is nowhere to be seen and Sunja struggles to keep her food down at the smell and sight of seafood.
Eventually Koh Hansu does return, much to the delight of Sunja. She can hardly contain her happiness. She does though, for the sake of their hidden romance, and when they’re alone the pair end up kissing and romancing.
As the rain pours down, Koh Hansu hands over a beautiful pocket watch for her, promising to help her learn how to read the time. With a gift handed over to him, Sunja has a gift for him too – she’s pregnant. He hugs her, confident that they’ll have a boy.
When Sunja mentions marriage though, her whole world comes crumbling down around her. It turns out Koh Hansu has a wife back in Osaka and three daughters too. It’s an arranged marriage, and he’s not in love.
Koh Hansu promises to buy Sunja the biggest house is Yeongdo and do everything he can to make her life perfect- but that won’t include marriage.
Eventually Sunja runs all the way back home, rain lashing down. Before she can reveal the truth to her ma, a stranger arrives at their doorstep with a briefcase full of expensive clothes and books.
The guy’s name is Isak, and he’s one of the Christians coming down from the North. He collapses at the front door, prompting the family to take him inside. It would appear that he has tuberculosis and for now, rests up.
Sunja sobs in silence that night, feeling betrayed. Eventually she does admit the truth to her mother. She’s distraught, especially when she learns that there’s no chance of marriage. Interestingly, Isak happens to be listening from another room, given how thin the walls are.
For now, Sunja heads down to the docks again, preparing to get the ferryboat and have lunch at a noodle shop with a cheerful Isak, who encourages her to join him.
Koh Hansu happens to be there and after an extended, longing glance at one another, they part ways.
At lunch, Isak admits he knows she’s pregnant and suggests offering up her child to a childless family. Sunja bites back, unwilling to give up her baby and pointing out she’ll do anything she can to make sure his life is good – just like Hoonie did for her.
In 1989, Kyunghee passes away in the night. It’s a sad moment for the family, who have her cremated and placed up on the mantle back home. Pastor Rhee shows up at the house to say a few words before leaving.
Eventually though, Solomon and Sunja work together and change Kyunghee’s sheets and clear the room out.
While they work, the pair discuss the hotel deal and Solomon concedes defeat. Even with 1 billion won, the woman isn’t budging.
Something about Sunja’s words, and her understanding of how tough the past was, sees Solomon come up with a cunning plan. He decides to bring Sunja along for the ride, urging her to help convince the woman to give up her house.
So off to Tokyo they go, as Sunja and Solomon sit together with this old lady and talk about the past while eating.
They discuss how hard things were during Japan’s colonization, but as the memories come flooding back, Sunja starts crying.
Solomon eventually speaks up about how times have changed and that he’s offering this old lady a fortune. The thing is, the hatred and pain from Koreans toward the Japanese cannot be bought out and this whole scene is so beautifully written, especially when Solomon is reprimanded for looking down on Sunja’s tears. “She earned those tears,” The old lady says.
Sunja can understand the woman’s plight and she wants to die peacefully in her own house. In fact, Sunja takes her side over Solomon. As she prepares to board the train back to Tokyo, Sunja tells Solomon that he’s a good man and she raised him well.
However, there’s still that tinge of ruthlessness that’s clearly been brought on from Koh Hansu’s influence – if he is the father here of course.
When Solomon returns to the office, he learns from Mr Andrews that the woman is going to sell up after all.
Naomi is impressed by Solomon’s tenacity, although the closing of this important deal is tarnished by another call from Hana. She’s not happy for him, and as she starts coughing down the phone, it’s clear that she’s ill.
So why did the Lady sell up? Well, it turns out Sunja has promised her a trip back to their homeland, and she’s going to go too, along with Kyunghee’s ashes.
As the episode closes out, we cut back to 1924 one more time as Isak suggests that Sunja forget about Koh Hansu and instead, turn her attention to him instead. He wants to do right by the baby – and by Sunja. Eventually she nods.
The Episode Review
There are some things money can’t buy and if the story in 1989 is anything to go by, the pain and hurt that the Japanese have inflicted on the Korean people runs deep.
This story has been absolutely fascinating to watch play out, especially the titbits of information about where this story is going and the puzzle pieces we’re missing from the timelines between these two moments.
In 1924, the truth about Koh Hansu comes crashing out and with it, a whole world of pain for Sunja. It’s hard not to feel for the poor girl and now that she’s fatherless, it’s lucky that Isak has come along when he has to help her out.
It would appear that this is who Sunja marries and raises a family with, but again there’s a lot we’re not seeing here.
So far Pachinko has been a brilliant watch, and with next week’s episode clocking in at a little over an hour, it should make for an absolutely fascinating and enthralling watch. Roll on the next chapter!