Pachinko tells the story of several different generations of a Korean family which emigrated to Japan at the beginning of the twentieth century. The final member of the family we meet is Solomon, who gets a good job at the Tokyo branch of a British bank, and is expected to progress rapidly through the company.

His first major task is to arrange the sale of a house. A Japanese company wishes to develop an area as a golf-course, but one property owner refuses to sell. Until she does, the whole development is stalled. Solomon and his boss discover that the owner, a 93 year old woman of Korean origin, is refusing the deal because she does not want to sell her property to Japanese people. Solomon contacts his father, who in turn contacts a slightly-shady Korean businessman, Goro, who manages to buy the property from the woman. He then re-sells it to the Japanese client, and it looks as though the problem is resolved. However, a few days later the old lady dies:

Matsuda-san, the old lady, is dead, and it doesn’t look good. When the client wanted the property, he didn’t expect that the holdout seller would die a few days afterwards.”

“How did she die?”

“Not sure. It could have been a heart attack or a stroke. They don’t know... But the facts remain that there is a dead woman who didn’t want to sell her property. Everyone knew she wouldn’t sell, and moments after she sold, she died.”

Because the clients don't want a "run in with the yaks" they put the project on hold, and Solomon is fired.

It certainly appears probable that Goro is connected to organised crime. But why is the death assumed to be suspicious? The lady was 93 years old, after all. I can certainly understand that she could have been threatened into selling, and if she was stubborn they may have killed her in the hope that her heirs would be more reasonable. But what would killing her after the sale was concluded achieve? It seems to just draw unnecessary attention to the deal.

  • (I haven't read the book) Could it indicate that an order was given to kill her earlier, and he neglected to cancel it after concluding the sale?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 30 at 19:51
  • @Randal'Thor It's not impossible, but it doesn't seem in character for Goro. He runs a small operation, and is normally very well-organised. Jan 31 at 0:06


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