+ -

Chapter 118 Part 2 - The Mysterious Art Museum

With his chin propped up, Jeong-hoon looked at the painting in the square and smiled happily.

"I grew up poor, and I was poor when I first met you, Monica."

That was true. The Jeong-hoon Monica had first met was a humble street painter.

Jeong-hoon continued.

"My life has always been about chasing money. A life struggling to escape from the grip of poverty. That's how I've lived."


"It's embarrassing to say, but even when I painted your portrait, and when I painted the portrait of Madam Kang, Min-young's mother, I was pathetically looking forward to the compensation I would receive after the work."

"Was that so?"

"Yes, back then, art was just a tool for me to make money."


"Suddenly, I had this thought. Why do I paint? What is it that I really want?"


"Someone once said, when you're doing something that doesn't pay, you should completely forget about money."

"Who said that?"

".......... Someone did. I can't remember who."


Junghoon, momentarily flustered, smiles again as he looks at the murals in the square.

"And I couldn't find an answer to that thought. But as I painted the murals in the village, the answer came to me."

"You found the answer while painting murals?"


"What is the answer?"

Junghoon turns to Monica with a bright smile.

"When I was young, whenever my father returned from the ocean-going fishing vessel, I used to proudly show him the paintings I had made. I filled my sketchbook and the walls and floors of the neighborhood with drawings, showing them off to Dad all day long."

"Is that so?"

"Yes, then Dad would smile contentedly and pat my head."

"You must have been happy to receive praise from your father."

Junghoon smiles and shakes his head.



Junghoon looks up at the night sky with a warm smile.

"It seems I wanted to be a comfort to my father who returned from hard work. His happy smile made me the happiest."


Monica feels as if she is seeing a light radiating from Junghoon's face.

Junghoon continues, looking at the sky.

"I remembered that I first started painting because I wanted to keep seeing my parents, who were happy and joyful looking at my paintings. That's what I just realized."

Monica is speechless.

No, she couldn't say anything.

Junghoon, shining brightly, said,

"Someone once said, our job as artists is to materialize the hope and happiness in people's hearts and apply the utility of art to their lives."

Junghoon stands up and looks at the night sky.

"Another person said this. Art should never be far away. It is art when the places within my sight, within my visibility, are beautiful. I think I have been wishing for art to be integrated into people's lives."

Junghoon looks at the village filled with paintings and smiles.

"And yet another person said. A painter just paints what they see. There are keys to be found in places and situations that other painters didn't think worth painting."

Junghoon turns to Monica, meeting her eyes.

"The paintings in the village are each of the homes that make up the village. While I was painting the mural with Lea, the priest asked me if I wasn't bored of just painting houses, and if I should also paint mountains and lakes. I answered like this. 'I paint something new every day. And sometimes I discover things I haven't seen before.'"

Junghoon approaches Monica and leans on the table.

"Through all this, I became certain. I want my paintings to make people happy and smile. That is why I continue to paint. Monica, I found the answer to life in this rural village thanks to you, thank you."

Monica swallows hard and looks at Junghoon's shining face.

'The Star of the East.'

Maybe she is witnessing the birth of a master who will be recorded in the pages of history?

The birth of a giant destined to be remembered as the Star of the East, burning brightly.

Her hand, reaching for the money in her bag, gently falls back.


One week later.

Finally, Monica's factory construction is complete.

Since then, more than a hundred villagers have returned, and the village has become more vibrant. Those who go out to work leave in the morning, and those who remain in the village naturally gather in the square to talk with others. Their conversations are mostly about the paintings. Or maybe about the trivial stories of their lives.

They ask about the everyday lives recorded in the paintings of each house, laugh, and talk about their own lives. This simple sharing brings vitality to the village.

I'm still in the midst of working, covered in paint.

Finally, after adding the last touch, I throw my brush into the air.

The white and blue paint mixed to form a sky blue color spreads in circles as the brush flies through the air.

"It's over!"

Finally, the last piece of work is completed.

Lea, who always looked sleepy in the morning but regained her energy before noon, jumps around with a big smile. The dramatic changes in the village over the past three weeks with the strange man seem to have given the child a sense of accomplishment.

I lift Lea up high and place her face in the sunlight.

"Lea! We did it, right?"

Lea spreads her hands wide and waves them wildly.

"Ha ha! It's finally over! You've done a great job, my number one assistant!"

In the backlight of the sun, the face of a smiling angel glows brightly.

Looking at her beautiful expression, a mix of innocence, joy, and happiness, I laugh heartily and hug her tightly.

And then I whisper softly.

"And now it's time to say goodbye, Lea."

Now, I must leave for Milan.

To resolve the reason why I came here.

In my arms, the laughing angelic child, giggling as if tickled.

Does the child know that our farewell is drawing near?

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! Join our discord server for latest release updates and novel discussions. Rate and review this novel on NU to help people find this novel. Bonus chapters on reaching milestones. Happy reading!