Min Jin Lee’s novel Pachinko opens with this sentence: “History has failed us, but no matter.” While Lee’s emphasis in the novel is aimed squarely on the “us” in that sentence, I was captivated by the history she explores, largely because my knowledge of it was sorely lacking.
begins in Yeongdo, Korea, in 1910, the year the country was annexed by the
Empire of Japan after years of war and intimidation. During the occupation that
followed, Japan took over Korea’s labor and land and waged war on its culture.
Japanese families were given land in Korea, where they chopped down trees by
the millions and planted non-native species. Korean workers were forced to work
in Japan and its other colonies.