why you should be watching pachinko.

saigon garçon
4 min readMay 9, 2022

when was the last time you experienced art that transcended enjoyment and overwhelmed you with its power?

photo by author.

Rice.

The way steam rises from it like afternoon rain on a baked sidewalk, when it comes out in a metal tin bowl, hat and all, hot to the touch. Most Korean restaurants will serve rice like this because everything is about keeping the warmth in. Clay pots, gold tin ramen bowls, yangeun naembi, long down-jackets, sported black among those in winter. Korea is a country that knows all about loss. They keep what they will, can, should, would, and will. Episode three, a Korean grandmother trapped in the plexus of Korea and Japan, history there and not, surviving, tastes rice from her home country. Her eyes fill with a sadness, an overwhelming sense of hurt and joy that hangs her mouth open in awe, mine too.

photos by author.

People say that Korean rice has a nuttier flavor to it. I tried to taste this in the cantinas the week after, but all I could taste was change.

Korea changes. Constantly. The cafe you perhaps liked a year ago is now gone, replaced with another cafe or a different establishment altogether. It feeds off this change, never tiring itself, chasing after culture, keeping up with the rest of the world.

photos by author.

And it’s in these weekends pursuing gallery openings and pop-ups that I realize how tired I am. How I want to age like those yangeun naembi pots and pans to wear off my wants and settle into my needs. To blend in with the dust of my apartment instead of hopping from restaurants to museums, looking for different places of dwelling. Why dwell elsewhere when I have a roof over my head? Why seek other worlds when there is a world of my own?

photos by author.

The self is hungry. Selfish. And selfish in its hunger. Is this drive? Is this gluttony? Is this sane? Or is this tiring?

photos by author.

I remember afternoon hangovers I’d let settle in the open Parisian parks, basking in long bites of baguettes slathered in olive oil, mozzarella and tomato smears. Paperbacks to block out the sun. Conversations that go quiet so that our brains had time to collect thoughts and dreams to prepare us for the week.

photos by author.

It’s perhaps these escapades that breed breathing new air from the stale one in my bedroom. Maybe that’s why the weekends beg me to breathe the air outside of the stale one in my bedroom.

photos by author.

The rice returns in episode 4. In the form of a gift. A parting gift. A welcoming gift. One that creates home out of adjacent people. It’s in this basic staple that creates a foundation of comfort to the characters in Pachinko, that make you think twice about what you have and allows focus on your needs.

photos by author.

Everything you have, to some extent, is all that you need. Everything else is an extension of a fleeting emptiness that comes in and out of trends and boredom, out of an unmanaged loneliness and a dissatisfaction that needs to be pinpointed.

photo by author.

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