Chapter 63: Zwiebelmuster (1)
“Mr. Vice Chairman, why are you…”
Next to Sungjun, he could see Eunhae, Hyoyeon and a few attendants, who appeared to be the board
members of Hwajin. Apparently, they bought the tickets in advance.
“Why am I here? This is a chance to see Picasso’s painting! There are too many people here, but
there’s nothing I can do about it.”
As he said, Haejin could see some people glancing at Sungjun’s group. However, most people didn’t
care much and were busy enjoying the paintings and the celadons.
“Haha, really? Then, I hope you have a great time.”
Haejin tried to leave with that, but Sungjun didn’t let him go.
“Are you busy? Aren’t you going to offer me a cup of tea? It’s been a while after all.”
Haejin thought about saying no, but he decided to confront him. He didn’t have any excuse to turn
“Of course. Please, come to my office.”
A staff saw Sungjun and was greatly surprised. She brought them tea with shaky hands. She was still
young and, as the vice chairman, which she had only seen on TV, was right in front of her, her shock
“Do you know that apart from the stars and politicians, you are the person who gets the most attention
“If we exclude the stars and the politicians, I am not that great.”
“Really? You seem to not feel your fame.”
“My employees are feeling it instead, by answering calls from the reporters.”
“I see. Well, let me ask you what those reporters want to know the most. Where did you get that
Sungjun’s eyes sparkled with curiosity. Haejin, however, looked away.
“Oh, my father left it to me as the inheritance. I was so shocked at first…”
“Your father left it to you? Are you serious?”
Sungjun couldn’t believe it. Haejin wouldn’t have believed it, either. However, that didn’t matter.
If the painting had been bought decades ago, things would be different. However, if it had been
bought recently, the Spanish government would check its authenticity and ask how Haejin got it.
The museum opened today, so the articles about it would be on Spanish newspapers. So, if the
source of Haejin’s painting was not clear, the people of Spain would argue that they have to reclaim
To avoid that, Haejin had to say that his father had brought it decades ago.
“Of course. I’m telling the truth. I was so shocked… once I saw it, I just couldn’t keep it to myself. So, I
decided to open a museum. It is too good to be enjoyed by only one person.”
Sungjun crossed his arms as if he couldn’t believe it. However, there was nothing he could find out, so
he gave up and came up with a different topic.
“I came here today myself to see the Picasso painting, but for another reason as well. I guess you
already know it?”
It had to be about the buddha, of course. However, even Vice Chairman Lim Sungjun of Hwajin, who
was almost the most powerful man in Korea, was not almighty.
“I’m sorry, but I cannot give you the buddha. Not for money, not for any other artifact. Never…”
Sungjun’s face started to turn red as Haejin openly rejected him even before he could talk about it.
This had never happened to him before. Being ignored even before saying something…
“I didn’t say anything.”
“If it wasn’t about the buddha, I’m sorry. I thought it had to be about the buddha which Mr. Lee
Jongmyeong of Mirae wanted. Then please, go on.”
Sungjun coughed and shut his mouth. One of the board members, an old one, realized the vice
chairman was in bad mood and yelled at Haejin with glaring eyes.
“What are you doing! Huh? Mr. Vice Chairman hasn’t even said anything.”
“So, I told him I was sorry, didn’t I?”
“And, what kind of manner is it to interrupt our conversation? Is this how you work in Hwajin?
Interrupting others while the Vice Chairman speaks?”
The old board member had never heard anything like this. He just blinked. Haejin wasn’t wrong, so he
“I’m sorry. He talks carelessly when he gets mad.”
Sungjun didn’t like the situation and uncomfortably apologized instead. The old board member was
clearly older than Sungjun, so it was a little funny.
“Please, enough. You are too old to argue with such a young fellow.”
Sungjun realized that he was getting nowhere by getting mad, so he changed his strategy.
“Please understand. Hmm… so, you cannot give me the buddha. In fact, I am here for that. But, why
can’t you give it to me?”
Sungjun was now being honest. It made it easier for Haejin to talk.
“Do you want the other buddha inside it?”
At that moment, Sungjun froze. He didn’t think Haejin would know that.
It didn’t have anything to do with appraising skills. It was about finding a treasure hidden inside the
buddha, so Sungjun had thought although Haejin was a great appraiser, he would never be able to
find out what was inside.
“Khmm… you knew.”
Sungjun moaned. He really wanted that buddha.
“I was lucky.”
“Are you mocking me? Luck?”
“Lee Jongmyeong was so obsessed with the buddha that I thought it was strange. I couldn’t find out
why he would buy it, giving up a painting from Park Sugon and an additional billion.”
“What’s this about Park Sugon’s painting? Anyway, he tried to trade it for the buddha?”
Sungjun wiped his forehead.
“Yes. So, even a child would have realized that there was something else about that buddha.”
Sungjun didn’t say anything, but he was cursing Jongmyeong quietly, like ‘that idiot took care of it like
“It was so strange that I kept examining that buddha. Then, I recalled the article about Buddhist
scripture being found inside a buddha statue. So, I immediately did a 3D-CT test. There was a very
small metal inside it.”
Sungjun couldn’t say anything. He stared at the empty wall of the office for a long time. Then,
Hyoyeon, who had just been watching, started speaking.
“Why don’t you give it up? You think you can run a museum after becoming an enemy of Hwajin? No
one would buy a painting from here after today.”
Even Sungjun was surprised and looked at her. However, she was confident. Additionally, no board
member stopped her.
“What are you talking about? Apologize immediately!”
Sungjun made her apologize, which she reluctantly did.
It was funny. They were playing the good cop and bad cop thing. Sungjun told his daughter to
apologize, but he didn’t tell her to take back what she said.
It meant her threat was exactly what he wanted to say.
“Then do it. I don’t have to sell paintings, anyway.”
This made the temperature of the room drop, even more than Hyoyeon’s threat. Sungjun frowned for
the first time.
“Please forget about what she said. She is still a child.”
Haejin wondered if he really thought so.
“I think she has learned enough and has matured enough. This is also a private museum. You came
here to tell me that you won’t let me sell paintings… what are you doing? Plus, I asked for the
buddha’s registration to the Cultural Heritage Administration yesterday. They will send someone
After that, Sungjun couldn’t keep asking for the buddha. He couldn’t mess with an artifact that had
been officially registered to the government.
“Khmm… you should have told me this earlier… anyway, my daughter already apologized. Why don’t
we move on now?”
Haejin wanted to continue scolding them, but he would gain nothing by doing so. Therefore, he
decided to stop.
“Okay. I will just think that nothing happened with the buddha.”
“I will think so, too.”
Sungjun seemed to have decided to end it there. He would gain nothing if they talked more.
Next, Sungjun and his people left. Eunhae was the only one remaining.
“Shouldn’t you go with them?”
“He wouldn’t care, anyway. He won’t be able to hear anything because of that buddha. However, are
you really going to be okay? My uncle said it as if he would let you get away with it, but his men won’t.
They will surely try to stop the people from buying your paintings.”
“I don’t care. I can run this place without selling paintings.”
“The rent fee for this place is ten million per month. Additionally, with the salaries of the employees
and the rent fee, you will have to spend a lot every month. You sure you will be okay without selling
This is why they say the owner of the building is mightier than the creator. However, Haejin didn’t
have to worry. Thanks to the celadons from the treasure ship in Taean and the oil paintings, including
Picasso, he was earning millions every day just by selling tickets.
Of course, the number of Korean visitors would decrease over time, but foreigners would keep
This place was about to be one of the mandatory tourist spots in Korea.
However, despite Eunhae’s worries, celebrities kept offering him to buy paintings.
Monet’s painting didn’t even have a price tag, but someone demanded Haejin to sell it to him, saying
he could give him a billion right away.
Hwajin probably thought that pressing Haejin like that would be of no help to it.
So, the museum opened with great success like that, and the visitors kept flooding in even after a
week. Because of the previous visitors’ word of mouth, it was hard to get tickets.
Great VIPs also arrived. Businessmen, politicians and even stars.
The most surprising visitor of all didn’t belong to one of those categories.
“It’s been a long time.”
The white man with curly hairs was wearing comfortable clothes just like a tourist. He still had that
“I thought it was possible, but I didn’t know you would really come.”
It was Eric Holton who had given Kim Hongdo’s painting to Haejin as a gift. Haejin had sent an
invitation to him when he opened the museum, but he didn’t expect him to come.
“However, why haven’t you exhibited the painting I gave you?”
“Showing all at once is no fun.”
Eric nodded and looked around. He seemed to look for someone.
“Are you looking for someone?”
“The lady who was with you. Where is she?”
“Haha, she is in Saeyeon Gallery, it is nearby.”
“Then, you didn’t open this place with her?”
“Yes. Why? Do you want to meet her?”
“It would be good but, since she’s not here, there’s nothing I can do. Today’s beautiful lady is not alive,
anyway. It is awesome. How did you get a Picasso? I read the articles on my way here, but I couldn’t
Haejin had told the same excuse he had used on Sungjun for the reporters.
“I’ll tell you later. Let’s go in first.”
Haejin was going to have some tea or something with Eric, but he waved his hand.
“Why would I leave a place like this? Anyway, are you busy these days?”
“Yes, you, of course.”
“Haha, it’s just you suddenly asked my schedule. No, I’m not busy at all.”
“Really? Then, can you leave your museum for a while?”
“Well… my employees do all the work, and I am not needed for now. I can leave this place for a few
“Then, let’s go somewhere.”
Haejin had just come back with both good and bad memories from his last trip to Hong Kong, so
going back felt slightly strange.
“Yes. You know how to appraise porcelains, right?”
“Not Asian porcelains, European porcelains. I need you to take a look at one of them.”