Lee Min Ho and the impressive image of a cold, ruthless man in ‘Pachinko’

Lee Min Ho’s role of a cold rich man who falls in love with a village girl in “Pachinko” is receiving many positive responses from viewers and critics all over the world.

Naver reported that the first 3 episodes of ‘Pachinko‘ starring Lee Min Ho, Youn Yuh Jung, and Kim Min Ha had been aired. The Hollywood Reporter is impressed with its content and artistry. The New York Times also rated ‘Pachinko‘ as an A+. This series also received critical acclaim with a score of 97% Rotten Tomatoes (average 9.1/10), 88 Metacritics.

The love of a married man and a village girl

Lee Min Ho portrays Koh Han Su, a Korean who works as a henchman for Japan during the Japanese invasion of Korea in the series. Koh Han Su is considered a character with a complex personality. Although at the moment he is a rich man, to get to where he is today, Koh Han Su had to come up from hardship and had to step on others to survive. In Lee Min Ho‘s career, this is his first villain role.

Lee Min Ho didn’t have much screen time in the first three episodes. ‘Pachinko‘ depicts two parallel lives of Koh Han Su (Lee Min Ho) and the main character, Kim Sun Ja (Kim Min Ha), a village girl. She fell in love with Koh Han Su while she was young and later became pregnant with his child. She had two sons when she was older, one of whom went to the United States and struggled to make a living while facing prejudice.


Lee Min Ho‘s character met the female lead Sun Ja at a young age, so he only appeared in her flashbacks. Despite not having much screen time, Lee Min Ho still clearly portrays the complex personality and the selfish, controlling nature of the character Koh Han Su.

Koh Han Su fell in love with Sun Ja at first sight, when she dared to stand up against him to protect an employee. The second time, Koh Han Su saved Sun Ja from two men who want to rape her. And finally, Kim Sun Ja has gradually opened her heart to the handsome rich man.

Koh Han Su quickly won Sun Ja’s trust with sweet talks and promises. However, when Sun Ja agreed to sleep with him and then became pregnant with his child, Koh Han Su’s evil nature began to emerge. Instead of leaving Sun Ja, letting her keep the last bit of illusion, he frankly said that he had a wife and three daughters in Japan.

Koh Han Su has stated that he would not divorce and created a scenario in which he will force Sun Ja to become his mistress. In return, he promised to provide for her and her family. He even mocked her family background. The cruel words of her lover crushed Sun Ja’s heart and she decided to leave her hometown to follow another kind man.

Lee Min Ho as Koh Han Su.

The Hollywood Reporter assessed that Lee Min Ho appeared with an elegant, handsome appearance, but every of his word and his eyes were full of menace. The actor has clearly shown the image of a dangerous businessman who does not give up any tricks to achieve his goal.

“His eyes lit up when he saw Sun Ja indicating a lurking danger in his eyes,” The Pubuminerdi describes Lee Min Ho’s eye acting.

Decider wrote, “Lee Min Ho subtly portrays the character’s complex inner self, in the conflict between love and ambition. This is a different acting style that has never appeared in the actor’s career”.

A delicate and realistic drama

The performance of Pachinko’s cast is highly appreciated. In it, Lee Min Ho transforms into a villain and Kim Min Ha plays the role of an innocent, sensitive but stubborn village girl who does not succumb to the power of evil.

Meanwhile, veteran actress Youn Yuh Jung shows the ups and downs and settling down of a person’s life, especially those who have suffered too much, living in exile from Korea to Japan, then America. Faced with difficulties, she sacrificed her self-esteem to save her family.


Every detail in the drama describes the era and fate of people at the time it is set in. It can be seen from the fact that Koh Han Su loves Sun Ja but still despises her background, ready to use cruel words to force her to obey him. She has no name and honor. This detail shows how women in that era were treated and how easily a reputation could be destroyed.

The character Solomon Baek, played by actor Jin Ha, shows viewers the difficulty in the life of US immigrants when being discriminated against, and exploited for their dedication by management companies.

Besides, even Koh Han Su himself had to struggle to survive. Not resigned to his fate, he is loyal to his own desires, willing to use marriage to exchange for benefits. His hands are stained with blood and he even works for the Japanese to achieve power.

The delicate acting and a realistic story are what make the drama stand out.

“The character of Koh Han Su is not entirely a bad guy, he also has his own misery. In Koh Han Su’s era, he didn’t dare to speak up to defend his lover. While filming, I felt the character’s unspokable pain and tried to portray it. The charm of character Koh Han Su lies in the way he managed to survive in the midst of hardship. That’s why I wanted to get this role,” Lee Min Ho said.

Therefore, the actor accepted the audition for the opportunity to play Koh Han Su. In fact, after becoming famous with the drama “Boys Over Flowers”, Lee Min Ho rose up among  A-list stars in Korea. For the past 13 years, he had the right to choose his favorite project without going to audition.

To complete the role well, Lee Min Ho read many historical, cultural and social documents dated back from 100 years ago. The actor also learnt about events and images related to the character’s time of life to immerse himself in that era.


“I always think, if I were at that time, what would I do? Would I make the same choice as Hansu? That made me empathize and sympathize with Koh Han Su”, Lee Min Ho answered in the interview.

In addition, the actor said that he had a good impression of Kim Min Ha from the first time they met, “I think there is a connection between us right from the first time we saw each other. I think that love at first sight happens not only in love, but also in colleagues’ relationships.”

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