Pachinko Book Summary - Pachinko Book explained in key points

Pachinko summary

Min Jin Lee

Brief summary

Pachinko tells the powerful story of a Korean family living in Japan, spanning multiple generations and capturing the highs and lows of their lives. It explores themes of identity, resilience, and the pursuit of belonging.

Give Feedback
Table of Contents

    Summary of key ideas

    Struggles of a Korean Family in Japan

    In Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, we are introduced to Sunja, a young Korean girl who falls pregnant after a brief affair with a wealthy married man. When a kind, sickly minister, Isak, offers to marry her and take her to Japan, she accepts, leaving her homeland and family behind. In Japan, Sunja and Isak face discrimination and poverty as Koreans, but they work hard to build a life for themselves and their children.

    Tragedy strikes when Isak dies, leaving Sunja to raise their two sons alone. She finds solace in the care and support of Isak's brother, Yoseb, and his wife, Kyunghee. The family struggles to make ends meet, and Sunja takes in boarders to help with the finances. Despite their hardships, they remain close-knit and supportive of each other.

    Challenges of the Second Generation

    The story then shifts to focus on Sunja's sons, Noa and Mozasu. Noa, the elder son, faces discrimination and bullying due to his mixed heritage. He is a bright student but feels the weight of being an outsider. Mozasu, on the other hand, takes up pachinko, a popular Japanese gambling game, to support the family. He becomes skilled at it and eventually opens his own pachinko parlor.

    Meanwhile, Noa, feeling the burden of his identity, seeks to escape his Korean heritage by changing his name and moving to Nagasaki. He becomes involved with a group of radical students, but his life takes a tragic turn when he discovers his true parentage. Unable to cope with the revelation, he commits suicide, leaving his family devastated.

    Survival and Resilience

    As the story progresses, we see Mozasu's pachinko business flourish, providing financial stability for the family. Sunja, now a grandmother, continues to be the pillar of strength for her family, offering love and support in the face of adversity. Her younger son, Mozasu, marries a Korean woman, and they have a daughter, Solomon, who becomes the focus of the next generation.

    Despite the discrimination and hardships they face as Koreans in Japan, the family members display resilience and determination. They work hard, support each other, and strive to create a better future for themselves and their children. The pachinko parlor, a symbol of their struggle and survival, becomes a source of pride and stability for the family.

    Legacy and Identity

    In the final part of Pachinko, we see Solomon, the granddaughter of Sunja, grappling with her identity as a Korean-Japanese. She faces prejudice and discrimination, both in Japan and Korea, as she tries to navigate her dual heritage. Despite the challenges, she remains connected to her roots, visiting Korea and learning about her family's history.

    The novel ends with Solomon reflecting on her family's journey, acknowledging their sacrifices and resilience. Through their struggles, the family has preserved their identity and forged a sense of belonging, leaving a lasting legacy for future generations. Pachinko is a powerful exploration of identity, belonging, and the enduring strength of family ties.

    Give Feedback
    How do we create content on this page?
    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Pachinko about?

    'Pachinko' is a book written by Min Jin Lee. It tells the story of a Korean family living in Japan, spanning four generations and addressing themes such as identity, love, and resilience. Through vivid storytelling, the novel offers a poignant exploration of the experiences of Koreans in Japan during the 20th century.

    Pachinko Review

    Pachinko (2017) by Min Jin Lee is a compelling saga that explores the lives of several generations of a Korean family in Japan. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With its rich characters and complex relationships, the book offers a deep and insightful portrayal of family bonds and the immigrant experience.
    • Tackling themes of identity, love, and sacrifice, the story takes readers on an emotional journey, making it a truly gripping and thought-provoking read.
    • The historical backdrop of post-WWII Japan provides a fascinating context for the characters' struggles and adds depth and authenticity to the narrative.

    Who should read Pachinko?

    • Readers who enjoy multi-generational family sagas
    • Those interested in exploring the historical and cultural complexities of Korea and Japan
    • People who appreciate richly developed characters and their personal journeys

    About the Author

    Min Jin Lee is a Korean-American author known for her novel Pachinko. Her book explores the lives of a Korean family living in Japan over several generations. Lee's writing delves into themes of identity, immigration, and the pursuit of the American dream. Pachinko received critical acclaim and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Lee's other notable works include Free Food for Millionaires, which also garnered praise for its compelling storytelling.

    Categories with Pachinko

    Book summaries like Pachinko

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    31 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    Pachinko FAQs 

    What is the main message of Pachinko?

    The main message of Pachinko is a powerful exploration of identity, family, and the pursuit of a better life.

    How long does it take to read Pachinko?

    The reading time for Pachinko varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Pachinko a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Pachinko is worth reading for its captivating storytelling and deep themes of love, sacrifice, and resilience.

    Who is the author of Pachinko?

    The author of Pachinko is Min Jin Lee.

    What to read after Pachinko?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Pachinko, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • How Children Succeed by Paul Tough
    • Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids by Bryan Caplan
    • Becoming Attached by Robert Karen
    • All Joy and No Fun by Jennifer Senior
    • The Opposite of Spoiled by Ron Lieber
    • Minimalist Parenting by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest
    • Moms Mean Business by Erin Baebler and Lara Galloway
    • Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
    • Screamfree Parenting by Hal Edward Runkel
    • Getting to 50/50 by Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober