Pachinko: Background information when reading Pachinko

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Pachinko

by Min Jin Lee

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee X
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2017, 496 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2017, 512 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Pachinko

"If you are a rich Korean, there's a pachinko parlor in your background somewhere," Min Jin Lee writes in her novel Pachinko. Several of her Korean characters end up working in pachinko parlors, despite their differing levels of education and their previous experience.

Pachinko is essentially an upright pinball machine. Gamblers pay to borrow a set of small steel balls that are loaded into the contraption. Pressing a spring-loaded handle launches them onto a metal track lined with brass pins and several cups. The aim is to bounce the balls off the pins and get them to land in the cups before they fall down the hole at the bottom. A ball landing in a cup triggers a payout, in the form of extra balls dropping into the tray at the front. Officially, there is no monetary payout because gambling for cash was until recently illegal in Japan; instead, balls are exchanged for tokens or small prizes like pens or chocolate bars, or more balls. Usually though, there is a storefront near ...

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