Pachinko Stars Jin Ha And Anna Sawai On Solomon's Big Moment, Naomi's Perspective, And More [Interview]

This post contains spoilers for episode 4 of "Pachinko."

"Pachinko" tells a sprawling story of one family's fight for survival over the course of 70 years. Had the new Apple TV+ series gone the route of the best-selling novel it's based on, audiences would've started at the very beginning and slowly made their way through the story of Sunja, the young survivor turned family matriarch. Instead, showrunner Soo Hugh decided to jump through time, putting Sunja's story alongside that of her future grandson, Solomon (Jin Ha). A young 20-something man, Solomon finds himself torn between a desire to rise high in a capitalist society and the shadow of his family's complex history. Seeing the two in tandem not only highlights the ways his story contrasts with his grandmother's, it provides us with greater context for the generational divide that separates the pair.

For actor Jin Ha, this was a central theme throughout the story — one that gets special attention in the fourth episode of the season, as Solomon grapples with the stubborn Korean landowner refusing to sell her land to the real estate tycoons offering her millions. When the time comes to push her over the edge and pressure her into signing, Solomon backs out, marking a major turning point for his story. It may also signal a change for his coworker, Naomi (Anna Sawai), the female colleague who bristles at his easy success and has so far alternated between being his rival and ally. In a recent interview with Sawai and Ha, the two stars unpack the way their characters affect one another and dig into the deeper meaning behind Solomon's unexpected choice.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

'I hope there's also the element of, 'We can change. We can break free from the circumstances of the former generation''

As soon as Solomon arrives in Japan, we see him clash with his grandmother –– her values vs. his own idea of success. When he meets Naomi, it feels like he gets another perspective thrown at him. For both of you, how did you feel their perspectives affected each other?

Sawai: Well, I think that, because they're both marginalized, it's really hard for ... they're both going through similar things in different ways, and she's really unhappy with him because even though he is also considered an outsider, she's put secondary to him. And she's been at the company for much longer. So they have a very complicated relationship and she's having to deal with seeing him do better than she expected him to.

Ha: I don't know if I can really add much more to that. I think that's entirely the dynamic at play.

There's also that question of the bigger generational divide that Solomon gets into with his grandmother and with the landowner, where they address this idea of the burden of suffering in immigrant stories.

Ha: You're referring to the landlord scene? It's when he says, "Isn't that the point? To burden us with that history?"

Yeah. Where do you think "Pachinko" intervenes in those ideas?

Ha: Oh, interesting. I think ["Pachinko"] proves that point and also disproves that point at the same time. Obviously, the history that my character's grandmother and my father's generation experienced proves that there is a burden that every generation has thrust upon them as they enter the new circumstances or new opportunities. And at the same time, hopefully — maybe this is more of my own personal hope that I'm injecting into the show itself, but I hope there's also the element of, "We can change. We can break free from the circumstances of the former generation. There are new opportunities." The question I think that Solomon wrestles with throughout is, "When do I stick to it, and when do I break from it?" And I imagine that's something that a lot of us also experience in our own journeys as well. And I hope that relates to audiences.

When Naomi sees Solomon dancing in the rain, what do you think is changing for the two of them in that moment? If anything.

Sawai: For Naomi, this is after the big meeting and she sees him differently with the decision that [he] make[s]. And so I think she's even more intrigued by him and just happy to see him stand up for what he believes in. And also the fact that he has stood up for someone else is very empowering to her.

Ha: I think that's an example of him breaking from his own momentum of being an uber-capitalist, and only being driven by the desire to close this deal and make the most money for this company. Suddenly his history and suddenly his grandmother and suddenly his heritage comes back to him at that moment in the conference room. I think it's telling that, unbeknownst to even him, he doesn't know why, but for some reason, he felt the impulse to break that deal. He felt the impulse to go against his own personal gain, his motivations, and tap into something that the landowner speaks to, which is his history.

The first four episodes of Pachinko are available to stream on Apple TV+, with new episodes arriving weekly on Fridays.