+ -

Chapter 61 Part 1 - 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

Bonus chapter for 25 ratings on NovelUpdates! Next bonus at 50 ratings or 5 reviews, achieving these targets will also help people find the novel.

Beethoven Frieze (1)

Ikseon-dong, Jongno.

It's been a long time since I've been here.

Back when I used to earn my living by painting portraits every day, the pretty streets that seemed like unreachable stars now catch my eye anew.

The ceiling painting of the theater is in its final stages.

After completing the painting, the finishing work involves filling in very small gaps with paint. The thick outer lines are already done, so there's nothing more for me to oversee.

Heeding Youngju's advice to go out and get some fresh air, I stepped out of the hotel and instinctively headed towards Jongno. As much as I love walking, trekking from Hannam-dong to Jongno is too much. I'm not a scholar from the Joseon era on my way to take an exam, and there's no way I, a modern person, would walk for hours.

I was about to take a taxi, but my old habit of saving made me choose the bus instead. I got off near Nakwon Arcade.

I glanced in the direction of the art museum, but decided to first take a tour around Ikseon-dong before heading there. I made my way to a cafe I could never afford to visit back in my portrait-painting days. It's a place where, on weekends, a long line wraps around the entire cafe.

I've never been inside, but from watching it for a long time, I know that on weekdays, you can enter without much wait.

The pretty entrance of the cafe.

I've passed by it hundreds of times, but entering now feels awkward. My pockets are full, but my mind still seems stuck in the past, feeling like I don't belong here.

I entered the cafe hesitantly, almost stumbling.

It's a busy place, so the staff doesn't greet the customers. I prefer it that way. I wish nobody would pay any attention to me. Approaching the counter, the employee, who seemed to have sold their ability to greet, asked me directly.

“How many are you?”

“Just me.”

“Yes, please take a seat at a 2-person table, not the 4-person ones.”

I looked around the cafe.

Why make such a fuss when there are no other customers? All the good spots are 4-person tables.

“I'll move if other customers come.”

“I'm sorry, but we don't allow seat changes here.”

“Ahh, I see.”

“Please take a seat over there.”

The place the staff pointed to.

A small table near the corridor leading to the restroom. It's a spot where both front and back views are completely blocked. With no other choice, I ordered a coffee and headed to the spot I was directed to.

These days, few cafes bring the beverage to your table like before. In this corner seat, I have to fetch my own coffee, which costs 9,000 won. It’s ironic that a single cup of coffee is more expensive than a 8,000 won pork cutlet at a kimbap restaurant.

After waiting for a while, the bell rang, and I, carrying my coffee, sat in this cramped spot and let out a sardonic laugh.

“Is this what you really wanted, Jeong-hoon? To come all this way for this? It's pathetic.”

And it wasn't just an empty sentiment.

This cafe, frequented by students younger than me.

I had always resisted the urge to come here every time I passed by because the price of a single coffee was more than two meals for me.

I had promised myself that one day, when I made enough money, I would definitely come here.

To think the illusions I envied were this empty.

That’s when a couple approached the seat next to mine. The man, holding his coffee, grumbled.

“Ah, this isn’t a good spot. Should we just leave?”

The woman shook her head.

“We’ve already ordered. Let’s just sit.”

The man reluctantly took the seat behind me, while the woman didn’t sit down. Instead, she took out a hand mirror, checked her face, then walked around the cafe taking photos with her phone.

In reality, sitting in a corner like this, you can't enjoy the view or the interior, but in her photos, it would probably look like she's in the best spot, enjoying the most expensive menu, luxuriating in leisure while others are working.

Watching them, I felt a sense of self-disgust among those whose life goals revolved around boasting to others, showing they are superior. Staring blankly at the coffee in front of me, I threw away the straw and gulped down the coffee in one go, then stood up to leave.

Staying here made me feel like I was becoming one of them.

Of course, this isn’t to condemn everyone who comes to a beautiful cafe with good people to have a pleasant time. What I detested was the act of dressing up a squalid reality for a photo, to boast about it.

‘Needing a break from a squalid reality? For some animals, that squalor might be their entire world.’

That's what I thought.

Others might have called the basement room I lived in a dump, but for me, it was my only sweet home where I could stretch out and rest comfortably.

I'm not ashamed of it.

Not in the past, not now.

What does it matter if I live in a dump, as long as I'm happy?

Rather than repeating hopeless escapism, it's better to live in a hopeful squalor.

I wandered around Ikseon-dong, tasting things I had longed for when my pockets were empty.

A cream bread for 6,000 won.

Sure, it was filled with black sesame cream and was really delicious. But 6,000 won for it?

A simple Korean-style doughnut sold in a traditional Korean house.

I had always wanted to try their dried persimmon doughnut.

It was as good as I had hoped. Really good.

But a baby fist-sized doughnut for 4,000 won.

It's gone in just one bite.

I went into a place to try brunch for the first time: fried eggs, bacon, pastrami sandwich, all for 16,500 won. I just stood up and left.

I can't tell if I'm too cautious or these things are abnormally expensive, but I just can't bring myself to buy them. Seriously, a sandwich more expensive than pork belly? Are they sane?

Maybe someday, if I'm in love and want to treat my beloved, but not alone. Not worth the money. Instead of swearing off such places, I'll save it for later.

Read ahead by supporting me on Ko-fi. Access 5 advance chapters with the Doddle Dabbler Tier ($8) or 10 advance chapters with Artist Apprentice Tier ($15) or 20 advance chapters with Master Artisan Tier ($25) For every $15 collected on Ko-fi, I will release an extra chapter. Choose your tier by clicking the 'Support me' button! Rate and review this novel on NU to help people find this novel. Bonus chapters on reaching milestones. Happy reading!

Post a Comment