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Chapter 16 Part 2 - The Mysterious Art Museum

A street artist's life changed when he ended up at a mysterious art museum. DBT,Korean,Novel,Translation,Art,Artist,Slice of life,Poor to Rich,Mystery

After a moment of dizziness, I opened my eyes that I had closed and looked around.

The dark bedroom of the night.

In one corner, there's a wooden easel with a canvas on it.

Instead of the dried paint I saw at first, there is a palette and a bucket full of recently squeezed paint, pencils, and charcoals neatly arranged in the corner, and next to an old but very luxurious wooden chair, there's a completed painting. The very painting I colored recently.

I reflexively checked the calendar.

'July 5, 1939.'

More than a week has passed in reality, but I've come to his bedroom again the day after my last visit.

Nine days before Alphonse Mucha's death.

I walked out from the dark spot to where the moonlight faintly shone.

"Cough, cough."

The sound of coughing I had heard once.

It sounds worse than a week ago, no, than yesterday.

He looked at me blankly in the dark, put on his glasses on the Bible, and smiled.

“You came back.”

“·········.. Nice to see you again.”

Mucha gestured to the picture materials and canvas I had cleaned up and said.

“I thought I had a dream because you left the picture I said I would give you as a gift.”


You were right to think you had a dream, because I'm meeting you in a dream too.

But isn't this rude? It's a picture I received as a gift. He might have felt bad after waking up and seeing the picture still there.

I rolled up the picture and smiled with it on my side.

“I'll take it today for sure.”

“Hehe, did you come back because of the picture?”

Um, that's not it.

I guess it won't work. This picture. Today, when Mucha falls asleep, I'll have to hide it somewhere in this house and go. If he doesn't see the picture, he'll think I took it.

I dragged an old wooden chair and sat next to the bed.

“How are you feeling?”

“Cough! Cough! Well, it's just like that. It's because I'm old.”

He could have blamed them. The Nazis who dragged him away and tortured him cruelly. He could have cursed them with resentment. But he doesn't blame anyone.

What if it was me?

I really hated modern history lessons during my school days. The era when we were weak and opened up late, thus suffering under Japan. I couldn't stand learning about our ancestors who were tortured and perished during that time. No, rather than saying I hated it, it would be more accurate to say I was angered.

Just hearing the stories of ancestors from a hundred years ago, whom I've never met, was enough to make me seethe. What would my reaction have been if I were them? Would I have cursed until my dying breath? Could I have waited for death calmly with such a benevolent face?

He and I are different to begin with.

Alphonse Mucha looks out the window with a raspy voice.

"Will peace ever come to this country?"


It will come.

1939 marks the time when Austria-Hungary ruled until 1919, after which Czechoslovakia gained independence. By 1993, it will become a completely independent nation after splitting from Slovakia. But he will not live to see it.

As I tidy the blanket, I say,

"Surely that day will come."

Mucha looks at me intently and asks,

"Do you know what's happening in this country?"


"Do you know what the people of this country are thinking?"

Biting my lip, I told him about the things that happened in our country.

The atrocities of Japan: assassinating the Queen Mother under the guise of fox hunting, usurping sovereignty, suppressing our culture with their policy of ethnic eradication, forbidding us from using our language and writing. The extinction of our native Jindo dog, used for clothing because it was cold in winter.

As Alphonse Mucha listened to my words, he asked in surprise,

"So, you can't see that dog now?"

"We're working on a restoration project, so there are about 400 of them now."

"That's fortunate."

"But the wild animals are extinct. There are almost no wild animals left in our country. We're trying to repopulate the endangered half-moon bears in Jirisan, but there are no predators like tigers."

"Isn't it good that there are no predators? But then, wouldn't the number of herbivores increase?"


"That's not the case. During the Japanese occupation, the starving people wiped out the wildlife to survive. There are still some deer and wild boars, but their numbers are very low."


Of course, this is a story from over a hundred years ago, but to Mucha, living under oppression in another country, it doesn't sound like someone else's problem.

He gently strokes my hand with his wrinkled hand and says softly,

"It must be hard for you."


Not at all, not now.

I live in an era where high school students go on trips to Japan.

Look at me. Sitting here receiving comfort from a man with only 9 days left to live, not over my hardships, but over ancestors from a hundred years ago. What am I doing?

At a time when my comfort would hardly matter, what am I doing?

I pull up the blanket and say,

"Don't overexert yourself, please lie down."

"Heh, I've been lying down all day and just got up a while ago. I'd like to sit for a bit."

"Let me know whenever you want to lie down."

"Thank you, you're a kind person."


Am I a good person?

I'm a bit selfish, a bit self-centered, and a bit individualistic.

I'm not like you, who invested 20 years for your nation and people, worrying even about the birds in winter paintings.

Seeing my gloomy face, Alphonse Mucha asked,

"There's worry on your face."


'I can't say it's because you only have 9 days left to live.' I made up some excuse.

"Oh, that's. I'm in charge of designing a refrigerator, but it's not going well."

"What's a refrigerator?"


You don't know what a refrigerator is? I think it was first made in the late 1800s. Oh, since it was developed in the USA, it might not have been popular in Czechoslovakia in 1939.

It wasn't until 1965 with the Goldstar refrigerator that it became popular in Korea.

I briefly explained the principle of a refrigerator and added that it's a very large, kitchen appliance.

Alphonse Mucha nods and says,

"A machine that keeps food cold. Then you can eat fresh food for a long time. It's like how fruit doesn't spoil easily in winter."

"Yes, exactly."

"If you're in charge of designing such a wonderful product, you must be very talented. Congratulations."


I glanced at the picture tucked in my side.

'I stole your painting and won a competition with it, sorry.'

Mucha asked me to bring a blank canvas, then handed me a pencil.

"Could you draw what a refrigerator looks like? I'm curious."

A refrigerator? Easy to draw. Just a rectangle and two, or four doors. I quickly sketched it, and Muhara asked with a face that said, 'What is this?'

"Is this a refrigerator? The structure is simpler than I thought."

"Yes, it is. That's why we put a lot of design into it."

"What kind of design do you usually put?"


I recalled Osung Electronics' refrigerator and colored the refrigerator door with colored pencils.

"We use a hi-glossy finish to add color and make it look luxurious."

Muhara looked at my drawing quietly and asked, "Where is the design in this?"


The design is in the drawing itself. Perhaps from his perspective, simply adding color might not be considered design. Well, there's a generational difference.

Then, as Muhara was examining the refrigerator sketch, I heard him muttering something.

"Product design is about seducing the emotions of others, but this..."

I perked up at his muttering.

Seducing the emotions of others?

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