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Chapter 86 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

The old lady walking ahead is picking up recyclables.

Fortunately, she is physically able to do such work. She might earn a small amount of money, but it's a blessing to have any income besides the basic livelihood subsidy. Those who are physically ill can't work at all.

During the COVID pandemic, I once gave an extra mask from my bag to an old man lying in front of Pagoda Park without a mask. It was meant to be a kind gesture.

I thought that if he caught the virus in his frail state, he might not survive. But the old man asked for food instead of the mask. I hadn't realized that a mask was useless to him, especially since welfare center activities had been suspended and he was starving.

I briefly considered helping the old woman, but past experiences held me back. Help should be given when needed and asked for.

Watching the ordinary old woman working alone reminds me of Johannes Vermeer, who painted a portrait of Mrs. Kang, the mother of President Yoo, and included a narrative in his work.

The people in his paintings are unknown to anyone.

Because he painted ordinary people who were unknown.

Even if their names were known, since they were neither nobility nor wealthy, we wouldn't know what they did.

And more than 90% of modern society's members are such people.

If, after I die, a photograph with my name is found 100 years later, would people be able to tell what I did just from my face and name? Probably not.

"Maybe everyone is in a position of being marginalized."

No one would want to admit it.

I'd want to say I have many friends and live a fulfilling life as a member of society.

But so what?

How do you think you will be known to people 100 years from now?

To people 100 years later, you and I.

We will be less significant than a ten-legged deformed mosquito found then.

At least those insects get a scientific name.

But we don't. We are beings who will be forgotten.

Maybe all of us are socially marginalized.

Or all this might be sophistry.

Thinking that I am marginalized because people 100 years later won't remember me is a serious leap.

An unanswerable fundamental concern.

Sitting on a bench in a closed shop, I look at the grandmother and am lost in thought.

"Can drawing the marginalized be my answer?"

As Henri said, humans have no right to marginalize anyone.

So should I, like him, draw the marginalized?

Is that really the answer? Did the art gallery make me dream just to give such a simple answer?

"Ah, I don't know."

I mess up my hair roughly and get up from my spot, shaking off my clothes.

"Let's go home."

It's too late.

I am too tired.

I think it's time for me to rest.

Others might think I stayed at the art gallery, but in reality, I concentrated all my nerves so as not to miss a word from the master.

On the way to Paju on the late-night bus.

The night is deep, but amidst the sparkling night view of Seoul.

Drunk people, unable to accept their marginalized lives, lean on each other's shoulders, comforting themselves.

Even as I head home to stop thinking, my thoughts deepen and become more complex.

There's no direct bus to my house, so I have to change buses and end up taking a bus that drops me off a bit far in Paju.

After getting off the bus in downtown Paju, I check the time.

"It's already 1:30 AM."

I have no choice but to walk home. It's too short a distance to waste money on a taxi. It'll take about 20 minutes to walk, but that's fine. I like spending time lost in thought while walking.

As I trudge along, thinking about the Parisian landscape I saw in my dream, the conversation with Henri, and the women in the brothel, the journey to my house doesn't feel tedious at all. Twenty minutes like two pass, and when I arrive home, I think of my mother and brother, who must be sleeping, and quietly open the front door.

Trying not to make noise, I take off my shoes and tiptoe through the dark living room to the second floor. Suddenly, a voice startles me.

"Jung-hoon, is that you?"


What a shock!

I quickly turn on the living room light.

The sofa in the dark living room, chosen by Mrs. Kang because it was expensive, luxurious, and comfortable, shows my brother Ji-hoon sitting. Hearing the noise, he seems to have located me and is looking in my direction.

"Brother? What are you doing in the dark...?"

He chuckles.

"It's all the same to me, whether the light is on or off."


Right, of course.

I try to make up for my mistake and head towards the fridge, asking, "It's still hot outside. I'm thirsty and going to drink some juice. Want anything, brother?"

"Oh, what juices do you have?"

"Just a moment."

Opening the fridge, I see several juice bottles and milk and smile broadly.

When mom and my brother lived alone, they could never dream of such a thing.

Mom was happy after receiving living expenses from me, buying lots of fruits, juices, and milk.

She liked buying unripe fruits and placing them in a basket in the kitchen, a practice common in wealthy homes of her generation.

"We have orange, grape, and pineapple juice. There's milk and soy milk too, brother."

"Then I'll have pineapple."

"Okay, got it."

I take out cups from the kitchen, pour the juices, and return to the living room, offering a cup to my brother.

"Did you go to school today?"

"Yeah, why are you so late?"

"Yeah, I got busy with work. I'm going to have an exhibition."

He suddenly exclaims loudly while drinking his juice.


"Shh! You'll wake mom."

"Really? You're really having an exhibition? With your name on it? That's great!"

He's as happy for me as if it's his own accomplishment.

That must be why they say your family is your only side.

"Yeah, but I'm not doing it alone. Several artists are involved. You have to come to the exhibition."

He looks a bit sad at this but perks up when I add, "Even if you can't see the paintings, you'll come to congratulate me, right?"

He quickly smiles and nods.

"Of course!"

A brother who has a painter sibling but has never seen a painting in his life. No, a brother who has never seen a single painting in his entire life.

Looking at him, my eyes become sad.

Even among those closest to me, the most marginalized person was right there. Why did I foolishly look for it outside?

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