Pachinko showrunner Soo Hugh reveals the Rolling Stones song almost featured in 'joyful' opening credits
Pachinko (TV series)
In the opening title sequence of Pachinko, the illuminating stars of the Apple TV+ drama dance joyously between brightly lit aisles of the Pachinko parlor owned by Mozasu (Soji Arai), the youngest son of central matriarch Sunja, played by Yuna, Minha Kim, and Oscar winner Yuh-Jung Youn during three formative stages of her life.
To the upbeat track of "Let's Live For Today" by The Grass Roots, Soji, Yuna, Minha, Youn, and costars Jin Ha, Lee Minho, and Steve Sanghyun Noh show off their best disco moves, twirls, and air drums as the rock song — a cheerful earworm that calls for good ol' carpe diem — reaches a crescendo. The sequence stands in stark contrast to the series. That's because it's supposed to.
Based on Min Jin Lee's novel of the same name, Pachinko follows four generations of a Korean immigrant family led by the indomitable Sunja, beginning with a forbidden love that culminates into a moving saga jumping between time and place, spanning across Korea, Japan, and America. Set mostly against the backdrop of Japan's annexation of Korea, the series paints a searing portrait of family, love, and most importantly, survival.
Series creator and showrunner Soo Hugh tells EW that the concept of survival served as the basis of creating the joyful title sequence, which was written into the script early on. And while it's difficult to fathom any other song for the memorable opener, Hugh says she originally had a completely different tune in mind: "Out of Time" by The Rolling Stones.
"A song I love," Hugh says. "And for rights' reasons, we weren't able to get it." However, "When we filmed the title sequence, because we didn't know what song it was, I played different songs for different actors to just try to bring out [their dance moves]," she explains. "The word that we used for this title sequence that I said was going to be our mantra for this was… we said that it had to be 'joyful.' It had to be a celebration of life. Exuberance. We said, 'No matter what, remember that word: Exuberance.'"
"We are celebrating survival," Hugh continues. "It was probably some of my favorite days of shooting."
Season 1 of Pachinko is now streaming on Apple TV+.
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This multigenerational family saga begins with a forbidden love and crescendos into a moving saga that jumps between time and place, spanning across Korea, Japan, and America.