Artifact Reading Inspector

Chapter 13


Chapter 13: The Meaning of Lion Tamer (1)

“Oh, it is an honor to meet you. I am Choi Byeongguk. I am an art dealer.”

Haejin knew that Byeongguk couldn’t say that he was a grave robber, but art dealer… he had to

restrain his laughter.

“An art dealer? Well, what kind of artifacts have you sold?”

Byeongguk was over 50, but Sungjun talked to him as if he was his superior.

“I mainly sell porcelains of Ming and Qing dynasties. I have also sold a few Korean white porcelains

and celadons. I mostly trade with Eastern artifacts more than Western artifacts.”

“Hmm… I have heard of all the good art dealers in this country, but you are new to me.”

He was the leader of Hwajin, the richest corporation group in Korea, so he was very charismatic. The

statement may sound rude but, coming from him, it sounded like Byeongguk needed to explain

himself.

Haejin was worried that Byeongguk might be discouraged but, contrary to his expectations,

Byeongguk smiled and kept speaking.

“Congressman Kim Manbok, who has been elected five times in a row, used to proudly talk about a

white porcelain someone presented him last year. Actually, that porcelain used to be in my hands.

Unfortunately, I cannot tell you who I sold it to, but I guess you can find out, Mr. Lim.”

If you think about it, Byeongguk used to deal with the most powerful people in China and gangs like

the Triad, so he would not be scared by someone like Sungjun.

“I remember. It was a Moon Porcelain as white as snow.”

“Yes, Mr. Lim. It was worth over five billion.”

“Yes, right. The development of the Yongin area, which had been very slow, suddenly proceeded in a

flash. About 17,000 square meters of the greenbelt area was changed into a residential area. Which

company did that construction?”

Lee Minsung quickly answered.

“It was Pyeonghwa Construction.”

“Hmm… so, Oh Jaeman of Pyeonghwa Construction bought that porcelain from you.”

When the rumor came out that rich people moved hundreds of billions to bribe government officials,

the news, instead, just said they gave only about tens or hundreds of millions. Would the officials take

the risks to get that amount of money?

When businessmen bribed, they used antiques more than money. Antiques could not be tracked and

were accepted more easily.

“Haha, I cannot say his name out loud, but I sold that porcelain.”

“Well, then let’s see your artifact.”

Byeongguk carefully put down the box he had and carefully opened it.

“Hmm… do you know how this kettle was used?”

Byeongguk looked at Haejin. He didn’t know since he had spent his life in excavating artifacts instead

of studying.

Haejin had no choice but to speak up instead of Byeongguk.

“In the 13 th century, Goryeo people liked to drink tea using the Jeomda method. To make tea with the

Jeomda method, one must put soft, well-grounded tea powder into a teacup instead of a teapot, make

it gooey like an ointment, pour some hot water and stir it well to make it foam. This kettle was for that

hot water.”

At this, Sungjun looked at Haejin for the first time. He had glanced at Haejin when they first entered,

but now, he was looking at him properly.

“Really? You seem to know this well. Who are you?”

“He is my nephew.”

Byeongguk answered instead, but Sungjun frowned.

“Someone’s nephew isn’t a proper answer. I also don’t like it when someone interrupts me.

Understood?”

His gaze was sharp. Byeongguk could only drop his head.

“I am Park Haejin. I appraise antiques.”

“You look too young to be an appraiser. How old are you?”

“I am 31 years old.”

“31… that’s too young.”

“Is it? I am not interested in becoming your son-in-law.”

Sungjun didn’t see that coming. He tilted his head backward and laughed.

“Hahaha! You are bold. Okay, yes. It’s not like you are going to marry my daughter. As long as you are

good at your job, it’s fine. I made a mistake.”

“Sir…”

Minsung tried to interrupt them at seeing Sungjun apologize to someone so young, but Sungjun

raised his hand to stop him.

“It’s okay. It can happen.”

Even Byeongguk was surprised at Haejin’s bold answer and looked back. He knew that Haejin was

proud and stiff, but he didn’t imagine it to be this serious.

Haejin himself also knew that if it wasn’t for the thing his father had given him, he wouldn’t have been

so confident in front of the most powerful man in Korea.

“Uhhh! You are funny. Good. Then, how much you think this is?”

“My uncle will negotiate the price. I only appraise.”

“No, no. I want to hear the real appraisal, including the price.”

“If this were yours, I would tell you the price but, as I am here to help the seller, I’m afraid I can’t.”

Haejin didn’t step back even a little so Sungjun’s face started to harden.

“Really? Then, I don’t have a choice. Tell me the price.”

Sungjun was cold, not like when they just met. Byeongguk got tense and said the price he had in

mind.

“I am thinking of three billion.”

Byeongguk had heard from Haejin that the celadon was worth two billion at the hotel, but he said

three billion. It meant he wasn’t thinking of lowering the price to two billion.

It’s not like he was selling a pair of pants. Lowering the price from three billion to two billion would

mean he was mocking Sungjun. He was not going to go below 2.5 billion.

Haejin knew that Byonegguk was bold, but not this much. He suddenly looked like someone new.

Sungjun didn’t say anything, his eyes met Haejin’s. After staring at Haejin’s calm eyes, he then turned

away.

“No. I don’t need it. Take it away.”

Haejin was surprised to see that Sungjun was not going to negotiate, but Byeongguk’s reaction was

also shocking.

“Okay. It has been a great time.”

Byeongguk started to re-wrap the celadon without having any further talks. He wasn’t hesitating at all,

as if he had been waiting for Sungjun to not buy it.

Sungjun also hadn’t expected Byeongguk to act so coolly.

He couldn’t help but ask, “Don’t you think three billion for this is too much?”

“Haha. Well, I guess it will meet its true owner some other day.”

That was strange. It sounded more like he would find another idiot to buy it someday but, from a

different perspective, it could also mean ‘you don’t know the value of this celadon’.

Haejin quietly watched Byeongguk from behind. He was impressed.

He was seeing Byeongguk’s courage and skills with which he had been dealing with people at the

center of power without having a discerning eye about antiques.

“So, I am not the true owner of that?”

“Strangely, each antique has its true owner. So, I understand why you don’t like this celadon. You

don’t have to worry about this.”

They both knew Sungjun wasn’t asking because he cared about Byeongguk’s feelings. Sungjun knew

that Byeongguk was saying that to try for the last time. However, provoking someone doesn’t really

work well if they don’t see it coming. It’s called provocation because they are stirred if they see it

coming.

“Huh! You think I am an idiot? You dare to try to get three billion from me for this?”

Byeongguk shook his head while looking sorry.

“If you think so, sir, it should be right. It’s just that we have a different view about value. I understand.”

If Byeongguk tried to argue that Sungjun was wrong, he would have kicked Haejin and Byeongguk out

of his home, but Byeongguk sounded more like he really was sorry while packing and getting up.

Sungjun couldn’t help but think, ‘What if?’.

“Then goodbye, Mr. Lim.”

Byeongguk got up with the box and bowed deeply to Sungjun, who asked him another question.

“Goodbye. But… whom are you going to sell it to?”

“Haha, you are so thoughtful. Please, don’t worry. I have someone I am meeting nearby. It’s been an

honor to be here.”

As Sungjun was implying it, Byeongguk could have resumed the negotiation. However, Byeongguk

was behaving strangely, he kept sharply cutting Sungjun off. Now, Sungjun couldn’t talk more

because of the price.

Finally, he got angry.

“Well, good luck with selling that. I don’t know if there would be someone who would pay three billion

for that. I didn’t know this country was so full of idiots.”

Haejin was going to leave after Byeongguk, but Sungjun’s last words offended him. He wanted to

make him pay for that. So, he dipped his finger into some water and used his magic.

He got dizzy and nauseous again, but it wasn’t as painful as the first time. He could now control

himself.

He stopped on his way to the front door. He was looking at a painting of a lion sitting on a chair while

a man was studying it.

Byeongguk found it strange seeing him stare at the painting and dragged him by hand. Then, the

silence was broken.

“Nice painting. May I ask where you bought it?”

Haejin casually asked while staring at the painting. Everyone looked at him.

Next, they heard a new voice.

“At Haevici Gallery. But who are you?”

Haejin looked at the direction of the voice. There was a young girl, about twenty years old, coming

down the stairs.

She was a classical beautiful lady with white, flawless skin and an arrogant gaze. She was wearing

makeup even though she was at home. Haejin didn’t know much about fashion, but the dress she

was wearing looked quite expensive, even to him. She was clearly someone important.

“I am an antique appraiser.”

“Oh… one of those people who came to sell?”

A side of her lips curled up into a sneer. She considered Haejin and Byoengguk like some sort of

hawkers.

“Yes, we came here to sell.”

“It seems like you are done here. Why are you still lingering around? Are you too sorry to just leave?”

Sungjun just watched Haejin, he was curious about his reply.

“This painting isn’t mine, so it’s none of my business… but I feel a little bad.”

“What? Are you saying you feel bad about us?”

She studied Haejin from the bottom to the top. Her expression just said, ‘Who do you think you are?’.

She was nothing like Eunhae, who at least respected others.

“I just couldn’t leave knowing that you were awed by this painting and bought it.”

At that moment, Sungjun stood up.

“Say that again.”

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