Pachinko Season 1 Episode 7 Review: Koh Hansu Revealed

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Pachinko’s usual time-jumping structure took the backseat for an intimate dive into Koh Hansu’s days as a young adult.

Pachinko Season 1 Episode 7 saw Hansu living in Yokohama in 1923 and took over the whole episode.

The Apple TV+ series’ lively (and incredible) opening sequence also didn’t appear during this emotional episode.

Tutor Hansu - Pachinko Season 1 Episode 7

Kogonada hadn’t directed an episode since Pachinko Season 1 Episode 3, and while Justin Chon’s direction has been excellent, we didn’t realize how much we missed Kogonada’s directing style.

This hour of television can only be described in one word: perfection.

Kogonada and series creator Soo Hugh managed to weave a gorgeous tale of Koh Hansu’s past.

We’ve been on the fence about whether or not we liked Koh Hansu and considered him a sleazy guy.

While not remedying his actions, this episode did help explain the kind of person he is in the present-day series.

Hansu with His Father - Pachinko Season 1 Episode 7

Kogonada impressed us with the premiere episodes, and we were happy to recognize his directing during this flashback episode.

Despite not advancing the main plot threads of the story, this segment proved to be a beautiful piece of storytelling.

Koh Hansu’s past is deeply troubled, but it also looked like it could have been highly successful.

Hansu’s father: You’re going. That’s final.
Hansu: I won’t.
Hansu’s father: You ingrate! After all I sacrificed for you, you dare disobey me?
Hansu: Father.
Hansu’s father: In your eyes, I see the reflection of a ridiculous man.
Hansu: That’s not how I see you.

He worked as a math tutor for a wealthy American family, and this family was going to take Hansu to America with them when they returned.

However, everything changed in two different ways.

Hansu's Dad - Pachinko Season 1 Episode 7

His father worked for a man much like Koh Hansu’s job when we initially met him.

His father decided to “borrow” some money without the permission of the mob boss and got into trouble.

Koh Hansu wanted to help his father by staying in Yokohama and working for the boss.

His father did not want that for his son, but it ultimately ended up being decided by an act of God.

The Tokyo-Yokohama Earthquake of 1923.

The time that events were happening made a prominent appearance as chapter headings instead of the usual locations/years.

These specific times worked out quite well when the earthquake happened in history, with the earthquake hitting “a few minutes before noon” (11:58 JST).

The Tokyo Yokohama earthquake caused immense devastation, killing over 100,000 people and destroying many more homes.

This disaster may be the first of the tragedies we see in Pachinko, as the multi-generational show overlaps with many different natural and man-made disasters in history.

This one changed Koh Hansu for life.

Hansu Post Earthquake - Pachinko Season 1 Episode 7

We were initially shocked to see the episode stay in one time period the entire time, but including the 1923 earthquake made a lot of sense.

On September 1st, 1923, an earthquake of 7.9 magnitude erupted in the Kanto Region. More than 100,000 lives were lost…

Pachinko

Kogonada portrayed the disaster brilliantly while also bringing to light the other major issue from the earthquake: the innocent Koreans killed by the Japanese.

…more than 100,000 lives were lost, including innocent Koreans scapegoated for the devastations afterward by Japanese vigilantes. The exact number of Koreans murdered is disputed, but many historians place the casualties in the thousands.

Pachinko

Hansu, while traveling with the boss man after the earthquake, quickly was forced to hide as a group of Japanese men were hunting Koreans.

They tried to save a group of Korean men’s lives, but ultimately those men lost their lives to the senseless murders.

Koh Hansu stayed safe thanks to the mob boss.

Pachinko Poster

Also, on their journey, Hansu ran into the family that he tutored; but it wasn’t a happy reunion.

As he approached the shores of Japan, he noticed that the family had lain down on a boat and died.

He approached the bodies, reached into the woman’s pocket (the wife of his employer), and removed one item: the pocket watch.

The very same pocket watch that he gave Sunja, that she later sold to pay off her brother-in-law’s debts.

Seeing this connection made us gasp; we didn’t expect the watch to hold any sentimental value to Koh Hansu.

Old Hansu - Pachinko

Receiving the background of this character makes the show more whole.

We get so many storylines and time periods that it sometimes may be hard to keep track of, and the backstories help us know the characters.

Koh Hansu had remained a big mystery until now, and while much of his current life is still in the dark, we at least know more about his past.

Hansu’s father: You’re going. That’s final.
Hansu: I won’t.
Hansu’s father: You ingrate! After all I sacrificed for you, you dare disobey me?
Hansu: Father.
Hansu’s father: In your eyes, I see the reflection of a ridiculous man.
Hansu: That’s not how I see you.

For much of Pachinko’s first season, we’ve given five stars (which we stand by), but this episode goes down as one of the best things we’ve seen on television in recent memory.

We have a few things on our minds going into the season finale.

First and foremost, we absolutely NEED a season two.

This sweeping drama has kept us engaged with its brilliant storylines and beautifully realized characters, and there is so much story left to tell.

Second: we wonder what its awards chances are.

Granted, garnering awards doesn’t mean the show isn’t incredible, and award shows are becoming less of an interest.

But with a show this powerful, we want it to receive the praise it deserves: and we think some Emmys would be well-deserved.

Old Koh Hansu Staring

The adaptation has taken a different route than the novel, but both complement each other quite well.

They both feel like perfect tellings of this elegant story, and we don’t want it to end.

We could watch this show for ten more weeks, and hopefully, we get to do so in the future.

For now, we look forward to seeing how the talented creative team wrapped up the first season.

Older Koh Hansu - Pachinko

So Fanatics, what did you think of this stellar episode of Pachinko?

Did you enjoy seeing Koh Hansu’s past as much as we did? Let us know in the comments below!

Pachinko airs Fridays on Apple TV+ and is presented in Korean, Japanese, and English.

Michael Stack is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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