How Pachinko Mirrors Migrant Life: Rethinking the Temporal, Spatial, and Linguistic Dimensions of Migration

Winnie Yanjing Wu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


This paper critically analyzes the Apple TV+ series Pachinko (2022) to comprehend its cross-historical and cross-regional metanarrative unfolding from the organization of temporality, spatiality, and language. As the TV adaptation of Min Jin Lee’s eponymous novel, Pachinko depicts a family’s migration journey from Korea to Japan after the 1910s and emphasizes their suffering from systemic discrimination against temporary Korean residents. Produced by talents from Korea, Japan, and the United States, Pachinko displays strong hybridization that combines American TV conventions with a distinct East Asian culture and history. The hybridized, multicultural, and multilingual background of the production necessitates a transnational and interdisciplinary framework to analyze its critical success and cultural implications. Expanding Harvey’s notion of time-space compression, the paper conceptualizes the temporal and spatial experience of watching a transnational production via global streaming as a mirrored experience of migrant life. It tackles television dramas as a strategy to understand contemporary migration and globalization by first outlining the evolutionary trajectory of television, and then identifying the movements, mobility, and the transnational cultural flows in Pachinko. Moreover, this paper analyzes the linguistic aspects of Pachinko, particularly in translation and multilingualism, to establish a connection between language and cultural identities. Inquiring into previous literature on translation, this paper also seeks to understand the complexity of communicating in multiple languages, both literally and metaphorically. Finally, this paper examines how migration and migrants are reimagined in Pachinko at a time when national borders and cultural and linguistic barriers are quickly eroded by global streaming TV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-144
Number of pages26
JournalGlobal Storytelling: Journal of Digital and Moving Images
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

User-Defined Keywords

  • Transnational Television
  • Asian American Studies
  • East Asian Popular Culture
  • Migration Studies
  • Pachinko


Dive into the research topics of 'How Pachinko Mirrors Migrant Life: Rethinking the Temporal, Spatial, and Linguistic Dimensions of Migration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this