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Foreign minister, U.S. ambassador meet ‘Pachinko’ author Min Jin Lee

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U.S. Ambassador to Korea Philip Goldberg, right, with “Pachinko” (2017) author Min Jin Lee [SCREEN CAPTURE]
U.S. Ambassador to Korea Philip Goldberg, right, with “Pachinko” (2017) author Min Jin Lee [SCREEN CAPTURE]

Foreign Minister Park Jin and U.S. Ambassador to Korea Philip Goldberg met with “Pachinko” (2017) author Min Jin Lee to show their support for the author.

Minister Park uploaded a photo he took with Lee on Aug. 11 on his Facebook account.

“Lee is not only demonstrating her extraordinary literary talent but also contributing immensely to promoting the global community’s understanding of Korean culture and history,” Park wrote.

“Pachinko is one of the books that I recently read with great interest,” he said. “It was impressive how she told the turbulent story of four generations of ethnic Koreans, who migrated to Japan in the 1910s, in a straightforward way that people all around the world can empathize with. I send my support for her next work to be successful!”

Ambassador Goldberg also posted a photo with Lee on his Twitter account on Saturday.

“An incredible author & amazing person,” he wrote. “Congrats [Min Jin Lee] on the Manhae Grand Prize for Literature — well deserved & a great example of the impact Korean Americans have in the United States, Korea, & around the world. The strength of our growing partnership is found in our people!”  

Korea's Foreign Minister Park Jin, right, with Min Jin Lee [SCREEN CAPTURE]
Korea’s Foreign Minister Park Jin, right, with Min Jin Lee [SCREEN CAPTURE]

“Pachinko” follows four generations of ethnic Koreans in Japan, known as Zainichi Koreans. Ethnic Koreans have historically faced severe discrimination in Japanese society and were often only able to operate pachinko — vertical pinball machines mostly used in gambling — parlors as one of their few options of livelihood. The novel was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2017 by the New York Times.
 
It was made into an Apple TV+ series which launched in March featuring Oscar-winning actor Youn Yuh-jung and K-drama star Lee Min-ho, among other big names.
 
The author visited Korea to accept her Manhae Grand Prize on Aug. 12 at a ceremony held in Inje, Gangwon. Prior to the award ceremony, she held a book talk on Aug. 10 at Sejong University in Gwangjin District, eastern Seoul, to discuss her work with local readers.

"Pachinko" author Min Jin Lee held a book talk on Aug. 10 at Sejong University in Gwangjin District, eastern Seoul, to discuss her work with local readers. [INFLUENTIAL]
“Pachinko” author Min Jin Lee held a book talk on Aug. 10 at Sejong University in Gwangjin District, eastern Seoul, to discuss her work with local readers. [INFLUENTIAL]

“If you have to leave your country or your home because of the environment, war, lack of economic opportunity or imperials, I wonder what happens to you and your family structure?” she said during a discussion on the themes of “Pachinko” and her diasporic identity. Lee herself is a one-and-a-half-generation Korean immigrant who moved to the United States as a child.

“And that sounds really sounds sad, and it is really sad,” she continued. “However, how do you change the world where you end up? And to me, that’s really interesting because not only have I changed because I left Korea, but did I change America where I ended up? Is that even a possibility? When I was seven, when I left in 1976, I didn’t think that. But the more I people I realize where we are, where came from and how we affect each other. It’s really quite powerful.”

BY HALEY YANG, MICHAEL LEE [yang.hyunjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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