Showrunner reveals how Apple cast the star of one of its biggest new shows

Pachinko Photo
Pachinko Photo (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Apple TV+ series Pachinko is fast turning into another hit for the company.
  • Pachinko is a drama series about a Korean family who immigrate to Japan in search of a better life.
  • A new interview reveals how star Minha Kim got her role and what it means to her.

Apple TV+ series Pachinko is fast becoming another hit for the platform. A new piece reveals how star Minha Kim got her role in the show and what it means to her.

Speaking to showrunner Soo Hugh, THR reveals that the show needed "someone special and timeless" to play Sunja, who appears in the show played by three separate actors. The report says that the producers considered picking a more popular and accomplished star to play teenage Sunja, but actually ended up choosing a relative newcomer:

Seoul-born actress Minha Kim auditioned over a period of nearly four months with a number of scenes that span Sunja's evolution from an innocent teen in a 1930s Korean fishing village to, by the end of season one, a mother of two learning to provide for her family as a migrant in pre-World War II Japan.

Director Kogonada says Kim got the role "because she was undeniable", rather than because of any connections she had in the industry. Kim says she prepared for the show by reading Min Jin Lee's novel that the show is based on, and by researching the story of ethnic Koreans living in Japan (Zainichi), including her grandmother:

She found her greatest resource to be her 94-year-old grandmother, who grew up in Korea under Japanese imperial rule. "Minha, I'm so proud of you that you can play this role, but also I'm so sad that you have to play this role," her grandmother told her after the pair's many conversations about the discrimination Koreans faced during that era.

Co-star Lee Minho said he loved working with Kim, and that being a newcomer to acting gave her more authenticity. Surprisingly, the cast members who played Sunja at the different stages of her life didn't meet until after the shoot had wrapped.

Pachinko has an impressive Rotten Tomatoes rating of 98% and an audience score of 94%. The show is available on Apple TV+ on all of the company's best iPhones, iPads, Macs, and the Best TVs for Apple TV 2022.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9