Richmond, BC plays a surprise starring role in Apple TV’s highly anticipated drama series Pachinko.
Based on The New York Times bestselling novel by Korean-American author Min Jin Lee, the show follows an epic family saga that journeys between Korea, Japan, and America.
Executive producer Michael Ellenberg told Daily Hive that BC was the perfect canvas to recreate 1915 Japanese-occupied Korea and urban, pre-war Japan.
“Urban, pre-war Japan doesn’t really exist anymore, so we were always intending to build that in Vancouver,” explained Ellenberg. “And then the topography and landscape for British Columbia also match Korea to a degree.”
Pachinko was shot in BC last year during the height of the pandemic. The filming caused a stir among Canadian fans of famous Korean drama actor Lee Minho, who stars as Hansu in the show. Minho was spotted filming scenes at Steveston, a neighbourhood in Richmond that’s by the water.
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The location is almost unrecognizable in the show, transformed into a fish market in the rural, Korean town of Yeongdo in the early 1900s.
“That set, in particular, took so much care and love because it’s where so many of our most important events happen,” said Ellenberg.
Without giving away any spoilers, it’s where Hansu (Minho) exerts his power and where the main character Sunja (played by Minha Kim) makes a connection that changes her entire life.
Ellenberg says they wanted that setting to feel completely realistic, down to the detail of the different kinds of fish available in the region back then.
“We wanted the audience to be there with Sunja, that was the goal for the entire production,” he said.
The province’s sweeping landscape of lush mountain ranges and peaceful waters is hard to miss in the trailer for Pachinko.
It opens up on a misty mountainous backdrop that screams BC.
The show was also filmed at Surrey Studio City, which housed their production office staff and allowed for indoor and outdoor shoots.
The massive building, which is formerly the printing plant for The Vancouver Sun and The Province, is 197,000 square feet and sits on 13.81 acres of land.
The studio is located on 88th Avenue near Scott Road and was also notably home to Netflix’s Altered Carbon.
Pachinko, which premieres on Apple TV+ on Friday, March 25, not only serves beautiful cinematography but more importantly, a story about a family that endures.
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“It’s ultimately about the courage of immigrants,” said the show’s executive producer Theresa Kang. “It’s about the courage of families during hardship and about individual choices that each one of us has to make, and that there’s no bad or good, it’s just that humans are very complicated.”
The series also stars legendary actress Yuh-Jung Youn, who won an Oscar for her role in Minari, as the older Sunja, and Jin Ha as Solomon, Sunja’s grandson.
Justin Chon, who has directed and starred in Gook and Blue Bayou, executive produced alongside Kogonada, director of Columbus. They each directed four episodes, with Kogonada directing the pilot.