|KIM JUN SUNG
Born in Taegu in 1920 when Korea was under the rule of
Japan, Kim Jun Sung has shared with his contemporaries such historical
incidents as the Korean War, the industrialization of the nation, and the
clash between traditional ethics and westernized values, which affect,
if not afflict, his literary world. Not surprisingly, delight in the wonder
of life and the dignity of human beings has characterized his writings
from his first short story "A Chicken" (1958) to his latest novel A Noble
Man with a Topknot (1994). Concerned with the deliverance of human beings
in modern society, he has criticized the material civilization and the
political ideology that distort human existence. Each of his literary works
indicates the desire for a decent world where human life is not oppressed
and destroyed by any social, economic, and political force.
Kim Jun Sung graduated from Kyung Book High School and
received his B.A. in Business from Seoul National University. He started
his writing career with "A Loss of a Human Being" published in Hyondae
Munhak in 1958. But shortly after, he stopped writing for more than two
decades and held the post of president in Taegu Bank, First Bank, Foreign
Exchange Bank, Industry Bank, Bank of Korea, and the portfolio of Vice-Prime
Minister of Korea. Following his retirement in 1983, he returned to writing
and published Alight Heard(1984), "Counterfeit" (1986), A Noble Man with
a Topknot. In 1996 a complete collection of Jun Sung Kim was published
by Munhak Sasang-sa.
In the postscript to a collection of his medium-length
stories, Civilization Printing Office (1996), Jun Sung Kim calls "Counterfeit"
a literary recreation of monetary theory in economics. The story deals
with the coinage system related to the historicity of money and his personal
experience of issuing currency as the president of Korea Bank. Chul-Whan
Lim, the main character of the story, is an artist who, after being abandoned
by his lover, starts to counterfeit first as revenge on the money-oriented
society and then as an attempt to make pure money like stone money or sea
shells in the ancient times. His money creates a stir in society, but his
effort to purify the tainted money is frustrated when people try to buy
his money because it is a good investment. Feeling that his art is insulted,
he delivers himself to the police. "Counterfeit" highlights love and trust
between individuals as the only way to escape the mammonism of late twentieth-century
Korea, a message equally applicable to Kim Jun Sung's other writings.
KIM JUN SUNG
The sunset in the west sky was changing into an evening
haze like a mist settling down between the day and the night.
The night in the city rushed from the outer block as
Lim Chul-whan took a bus to the outskirts of the city. He hung on to a
strap and looked out the window at the endless lights flowing like a river.
At every stop the bus's air brakes went "Phee-Phoo-Sha." People got off
the bus with their backs against the light and got on carrying the darkness
on their heads. Seeing a shadowy alley beyond a sidewalk lighted by a street
lamp, Chul-whan jumped out of the bus. The driver's curse followed him.
Chul-whan walked up and down in front of a small shop
at the entrance of the alley. Finally he entered the shop and an old woman,
sitting on the wooden floor, stared at him over her glasses. He picked
up a bottle of Soju and handed her a ten-thousand-won bill. She had a good
look at the bill in the light and counted the change. Although he was firmly
determined to do that, he was held back. It was like being forced to come
to a strange place. But when he saw the change, suddenly he grew scared
and ran out of the alley down the main street. The night wind felt cold
on his blushing face.
Still his heart beart beat quickly. Why was he seized
with fear when she prepared the change? Why didn't he feel excitement about
the fact that the counterfeit note had passed without trouble? If the old
woman who seemed in her seventies had not said, "Oh, it's a ten-thousand-won
bill" and examined it in an electric lamp, he might not have lost his head.
He walked and walked but the street went on into the
night. The longer he measured its depth, the deeper the night hid itself
in the darkness. The headlights of speeding cars, like snake tongues, rolled
in and out of his thoughts wandering on the sea of darkness.
He had not expected that Yo-jin Yun's wedding invitation
would bring so big a change in his life. While he lived with her, the burden
of making a living was on her shoulders. He did not show any enthusiasm
about the designing work he did as part-time job, but he did not paint
pictures either. He just felt good about his life if he had a bottle of
Soju and a bowl of ramyon noodles as a meal. She left him several times
to warn him of his idleness. But her threats and practice of leaving him
did not affect his lifestyle, and he even seemed to settle into more idleness.
When she left him, packing up all her belongings, he
used to wait for her, lying on his stomach without eating. And she used
to come back home in two or three days. During her absence, he had lived
with the empty bottles of Soju he bought on credit at the nearby shop.
But it was another story this time. She had not given any news for three
months and now, suddenly, she sent him a wedding invitation
While they were together, Yo-jin wanted to marry Chul-whan
officially, and he told her that he would propose to her after his paintings
amazed the world. For more than two years, however, he had not startled
the world; he had not even touched the canvas. He sometimes left home against
her pressure and did not return for a couple of days.
"It's not that I'm not painting. I just can't paint.
As he repeated these silly words, Yo-jin wondered what
could make Chul-whan, who did not do well in such an ill-paid job as a
part-time designer, feel the sense of responsibility for their lives deeply.
That was why she wanted an official marriage rather than living together.
Chul-whan had great talent in design but nobody could
fix him a settled position. He did not show any interest in the designing
job and never worked except when he needed money, but he did not paint
enthusiastically either. He spent two years without doing anything. From
time to time, he did designing work, but it was no more than a temporary
side job to earn drink money. Finally, Yo-jin screamed, "Chul-whan, it's
a lie that you can't paint. It's not that you can't paint. You just don't
want to. You, you're deep in the ocean of idleness."##
When he was in college, he won a special prize in a contest
and was looked upon as a rising artist. But he did not paint after graduation
and people wondered why he stopped painting. Soon he was no longer remembered
as a young artist. Even those who favored him concluded that his artistic
talent had passed away after one prize-winning picture.
It was not that he gave up painting. But whenever he
sat in front of a canvas, the object in his mind fluctuated uncontrollably,
and when he grasped a paint brush, he was confused with the changing colors
of the object. Maybe he had a mind that was too experimental. His effort
to fuse all the objects and to create his own color in them only made him
spend more time wondering than painting. He could not find a compromise
between a strong self-identity and the object. After long consideration,
he broke his paint brush. Until then, he had struggled to find his own
object and the essence of color, a laborious task which required emptying
his inside and, at the same time, filling it up. Now he felt a sense of
escape from an abyss of colors.
The light sneaked through the eaves and shone on the
forehead of Chul-whan who was in a drunken sleep. In a dream, he saw Yeo-Jin
dead wearing a bridal veil. She lay in a coffin filled with brass coins,
each with a hole in the middle, and fake paper money. They looked just
like the paper money he had seen in his grandfather's coffin. When he had
been young in the provincial area, he heard that this money was for traveling
to heaven. He cried out in his dream, deploring the fact that Yo-jin had
died because of money. He woke up surprised at his own voice. When young,
he did not understand how paper money could be used for traveling expenses
in the next world. But, as he grew up, he came to know that it was a simple
tradition in the province.
He remembered playing the pasteboard game which was so
popular among kids when he was in elementary school. Since paper was rare
in those days, pasteboards were like money to kids. According to the size,
thickness, and current condition of the pasteboards, they were traded for
money like twenty pasteboards for ten won, thirty for fifteen. It felt
so good to win the pasteboards in the game, to trade them for money, and
then to buy old magazines to make more pasteboards. Even teachers did not
prohibit the game. Amazingly, the memory of paper money in the coffin and
the pasteboard game did not fade as time went by; it was vivid in his mind.
The coins and paper money in Yo-jin's coffin in his dream
gave him an urge to draw money. The Yo-jin dead in his dream and the Yo-jin
who left him because of poverty in reality lay superimposed in his mind.
He never imagined that Yo-jin could leave him after they had lived together.
The dream told him that she left because of money.
He grasped a paint brush and began to draw a ten thousand-won
bill on the back of the wedding invitation card. He wanted to send his
own money to her to congratulate her on her wedding and to wish her opulence.
He also wanted to send her his mixed feeling¦¡that of blessing and sadness,
or of a complicated sense of cynicism toward the world.
He spent the whole night drawing money. It was not an
easy job. He reduced the size of the portrait of a historical figure and
moved it to the center, and because he did not like the tone of the original
color of mugwort, he mixed various colors with the original one. With the
harmony between the faded color and bright one, he intended to represent
the historicity of money. In the space on the left he drew a delicate emblem
of a shell.
He did not notice what kind of relationship existed between
the money mass-produced by modern technology and that drawn by him in one
night. Yet it was a unique experience to find artistic interest in this
trifling drawing. He was overwhelmed by the attempt to reverse the established
order and by the modern sensitivity required in design and the way he demolished
or restructured the present order commonly found in art. Even though he
experienced it by drawing money, the charm of his money was not comparable
to the real thing. If his money could be displayed in an exhibition, they
would call him "an artist of money" who had developed a new genre of art.
He thought that if he could produce money which had the history of mankind
and the beauty of the world of nature as a background revealing "one hundred
million" as its face value, it might satisfy people's thirst for money
and solve the problem of starvation in Africa.
He had the same thought next day. His only concern was
that his money might humiliate her. But he was proud of the picture of
money. It gave him a pure sense of happiness as an artist he had not experienced
for a long time. He even felt a sense of superiority as if he alone was
awarded with the authority to draw money. It was a secret enjoyment, but
he had never been attracted to money so strongly before. He had been oppressed
by the tyranny of money, but not any more. He now challenged the power
of money, and it felt very good.
He put the picture of money drawn on the back of the
wedding invitation card in a white envelope and sent it as a wedding gift.
The day after the wedding, Yo-jin's husband, who ran a radio shop, showed
the money picture to her
"Who the hell did?"
"Don't take it seriously. Probably a blessing to make
He felt much better about being rich.
"Yes, that's right. Somebody had a brilliant idea."
Yo-jin felt bad about the money picture. Although she
was sure that Chul-whan made it, she wondered why he did that. She knew
that he acknowledged her situation since he sent it to her husband. Was
there any change in his life? No, she thought. He was not a person who
would produce phony money. She was anxious to run to him and ask about
it. Maybe he was giving a signal that he still loved her by the money picture?
Or was it a sign that he was destroyed by wrath? She shuddered at the thought.
Since Chul-whan was not interested in the real world,
he was not aware that he could be punished for drawing money. Frightened,
she desperately hoped that it was a joke by one of her husband's friends.
She impatiently grasped the phone and called an advertising agency where
Chul-whan worked as a part-time designer. He was not there. But if he had
been there, when she had heard his voice, she would have hung up. She just
wanted him to work in that company. Without her husband's knowledge, she
hid the money picture deep inside her closet.
Cases of money pictures were widely reported in the newspapers
in less than a month. The newspaper reports showed various interpretations
of the case. But after another money picture was found in a offering box
of a church belonging to a newly-risen religion, they agreed that the man
who made the money picture did not intend to use it as means of trade.
The report of the first counterfeit note found in a small shop showed an
interview with the old lady who stated that the counterfeiter suddenly
gave up the idea of using it suddenly. Many columns in the newspapers were
asking what he was trying to do. It seemed that he intended to create an
art work since he left the backside of the picture blank. Maybe he had
the intention of reversing the established idea about money in society
by his drawing. The person in the portrait on the money picture gave the
impression that he was laughing at the people who were perplexed by it.
Almost all of the detectives who saw it exclaimed, "Wow! This looks more
authentic than a real one!"
Conscious of public interest in the forged note, the
police consulted with an art critic. He said that it was full of vitality
and gave an artistic excitement that exceeded the established idea about
money. It could not be a joke by a lunatic. The composition of the picture,
especially the change of the place of the portrait, was extraordinary and
the artistic skill in controlling and balancing colors, despite their abundance,
was highly articulate. The picture caused a viewer to have a secret desire
to use it. The art critic added that the man who drew the money picture
had created a new genre of money art no one had ever achieved before. Those
who saw the picture even felt a sense of awe because it showed a historical
observation on the relationship between man and money. It also revealed
the secret of the existence of human beings with a criticism of modern
"You remember that strange picture we received after
the wedding? Well, we have to report it to the police."
One day Yo-jin's husband mentioned the money picture,
but she pretended to have no idea about it.
"I showed it to you the other day. The money picture
on the backside of our wedding invitation card." He raised his voice impatiently,
and she answered indifferently.
"Now I remember. Why? It was a wedding gift."
"It's not just a wedding gift. It's a counterfeit note."
"Are you really going to report it to the police? Your
friends will be investigated. Don't make such trouble for your friends.
Besides, what makes you so sure that our money picture was made by the
counterfeiter in the newspapers? There is a lot of fake money in the world."
Her husband murmured to himself. "It's weird. I don't
think I have a friend who could draw that picture..."
When Chul-whan had drawn that money on the back of the
wedding invitation card, he did not have a clear idea about what he was
doing. He did it out of anger at Yo-jin's betrayal and also because of
his remaining love to her. It was a curse on the money which made her leave
him. But he became attracted to drawing money, and he began to change the
portrait, color, and background of it. He now went beyond the crime of
copying money to get at the essence of money. A new money, pure and not
corrupted by material civilization, was being born. He wanted to create
a different kind of money which did not cause any conflict and frustration
but gave man only joy and happiness. Just as ancient men accepted sea shells
or oyster-shells as sacred, he was struck with awe and reverence when he
drew pure money himself.
He opened the door of his room to cool his face and saw,
for the first time after several days, the sky about to dawn in the mist.
He closed the door and, lying on his bed, thought about the money.
He had a strong desire to use the money he made. He wanted
to buy a bottle of Soju with it. How great it would be if the money pictures
could be used as real money! He felt captured by the power of money.
His first attempt to use the money picture sent him into
a panic. He kept himself in his cave-like room day and night and could
not eat or drink, fearful that he had seen a secret of god. Why did the
excitement he felt when he handed the money picture to the old woman disappear
so suddenly? Why did he get scared when he saw the change? He vomited leaning
against a street lamp as if he tried to throw up the seed of horror in
The sense of achievement he had felt when he finished
drawing money was gone, and he was seized with the sense of horror for
having taken the forbidden fruit. He drank and slept, and when he woke
up, he drank again. After several days, his mind cleared and he no longer
felt horror. Instead he began to feel a sense of duty, an obligation to
purify the essence of money soiled by the greed of modern civilization.
He hoped that his money would play the role of true money she the paper
money in the coffin and the pasteboard money the children's game. It would
be his job to purify tainted money.
As he began to paint, his paint brush moved as if possessed
by a spirit. The colors on the canvas seemed to have the power to melt
all the desires and pains in the world. Painting made his spirits rise.
Today he became a chieftain of a tribe and the next day an emperor of ancient
Chul-whan felt the dawn mist rising even in the room.
He opened the door and filled his empty stomach with clean air. His money
could not buy a bottle of Soju, but it was going to build a great nation
of money. As the number of money pictures increased, he felt the necessity
of obtaining some legal knowledge.
Criminal Code. 207, Life sentence or more than two years
imprisonment for those who counterfeit money with the intention of use
He had never been to a library before and was sorry for
coming to this place. He was confused with the line "life sentence or more
than two years imprisonment" in A Compendium of Laws and did not exactly
understand the legal terms like "use" and "circulation." But he vaguely
sensed that his act could threaten the order of currency and damage people's
trust in money. Furthermore the act of changing the portrait into another
must have been a blasphemy against money. So he tried hard to find a proper
object which could avoid general circulation but still awaken the pure
meaning of money.
The more pictures of money he drew, the harder his life
became. He only ate Ramyon and could not afford painting supplies. He neglected
his designing job, and people did not give him work. They knew that he
would not finish the work on time. Worse than that was Yo-jin's curse in
"Whatever you say, you are nothing but a criminal. Shame
"No, I'm not. I just find my own world of art."
"It's nonsense. An excuse of lazy person. A coiner can
never be an artist. You'll be ruined."
She was crying in his dream.
"It's me. You committed a crime because of a me. You
did it for revenge on me."
He woke up as if he rose up from the abyss of the sea.
He still felt imprisoned inside walls, but as he came to consciousness,
the walls were gone.
He had first met Yo-jin at a bar, a cheap place where
artists and college students drank. One of his friends introduced her to
him, and the moment he saw her, he saw a blue glow in her eyes.
"Ah, this is my woman."
He had the intuition of an artist. That night she took
him to her room, and they slept together, not entirely due to the influence
of drink. He found out that it was Yo-jin's first time and felt uncomfortable.
She sensed Chul-whan's mixed emotion and said, "You think I'm an easy girl."
He smiled without a reply but his smile did not look
natural. "You're different!"
"From other women these days. Didn't you have crush on
my friend at the bar?"
"No, I didn't."
Now Yo-jin felt embarrassed.
"Do you feel guilty?"
"If I had known you're a virgin, I never..."
"That's fine. I wanted it myself."
Yo-jin moved to his room carrying a suitcase about one
week after that night. She said it was just for saving the rent money
There were two distinct views about Chul-whan's painting
at the time of his graduation. One predicted that his strong experimental
mind would hinder any development into a great artist. The other said that
his talent with colors would make him a pioneer of a new art.
Ater his graduation Chul-whan was not attracted to any
objects and could not paint at all. He used to say that he could not find
colors to represent his ideas. But, to other people, his paintings always
showed an excess of colors. Two years had passed without painting and he
did designing work irregularly to make a living. Once he taught at a night
class and even did manual labor. But, even during those years, he lived
the painful life of an artist who could not paint.
Yo-jin could not endure to see his artistic talent wasted
and thought about having a baby. She believed that normal married life
might bring his genius back.
"You live in a cave by yourself." She used to say that
whenever she left him. But this time it was her final farewell to him.
She was gone for good.
Soon after she left him, he went back to his old lifestyle.
He became a night owl once again. He had to do some design work to earn
money, but he never kept a time schedule. He lost his job as a designer
and never came out of his room except at night to drink at a cheap bar
When he lived with Yo-jin, he thought that her pressure
to paint, ironically, made him quit painting. But, less than one month
after she left him, he knew he was wrong. He could not do anything without
her, not even his design work.
Usually, Yo-jin came back home in three days with a creaking
sound of the door. Lying down on the floor, he saw her suitcase come in
the room and used to say without raising his voice or moving his body,
"Hey, an old suitcase again!"
But this time a wedding invitation came to him instead
of the suitcase. He could not sleep for two nights because of his confusion
and frustration. He dreamed he saw Yo-jin dead surrounded by money, and
he could not overcome the feeling of despair after he woke up. Right at
that moment, an idea occurred to him that he would send her a money picture
as a wedding present. It might be either a protest against a money-obsessed
society or a curse to a woman who abandoned him because of money.
He spent that night drawing a ten-thousand-won bill on
the backside of the invitation. It seemed like a wonderful wedding present
It had been such a long time since he stopped painting
and he experienced a sense of wonder. To do an illegal work in secret increased
his excitement. Indefinite knowledge existed in a small picture of money
and new meaning was being added to it. He fell asleep exhausted after his
struggle against the authority of money
The next morning he ran out to the bar, and not caring
about the female bartender's bad attitude at all, he began to drink cheerfully.
He got drunk before noon.
After he experienced the excitement of drawing money,
his ambition was to make a better world by distributing his money pictures
to anyone who wanted them and letting him or her spend them as much as
he or she wanted to. When a boy, he won all pasteboards from his friend
in the pasteboard game and gave some of them back. His friend was brightened
and showed respect to him. But the following day, he lost them all and
consequently his friends lost their respect for him.
After dedicating himself to drawing money, Chul-whan's
thoughts wandered through ancient and modern times. Reading about the origin
of money in an encyclopedia in a library, he concluded that there would
be nothing wrong if pictures of sea shells and oyster-shells circulated
as money. Inspired by the historicity of money, he tried to show the cultural
change of money from ancient through medieval to modern times through a
money picture which had a pattern of sea shells and oyster-shells with
illustrations of the lives of ancient men in the background.
He had to turn on the light day and night to work in
his cave-like room. He also covered the door with a dark curtain to avoid
the landlord's nagging about the electric bill. There were magnifying glasses
and painting material on the drawing table and an old lamp threw a light
on the canvas. He used the magnifying glasses to see the small pictures
in an encyclopedia he checked out from a library.
He got confused with the time of day and even day and
night became indistinct. Once his paint brush touched the canvas, the identity
of time disintegrated. Only when sunshine sneaked into the room through
the curtain and shed a light on the wall did the sense of time come back
to him. Only for that moment, he was living in the present liberated from
the prison of ancient times. While he drew money, he felt uncontrollable
joy and sadness at the same time. He pushed himself to draw a picture of
money which showed its cultural history from the beginning of human history
to the contemporary age. He also hoped that his picture would embrace the
cultural, historical, and natural characteristics in different regions
of the world.
As the number of money pictures increased, Chul-Whan
was tempted by the power of money. He wanted to create true money like
sea shells and oyster-shells which could satisfy man's thirst for more
money. Sea shells were available to anybody and they had functioned as
money. After he failed to use his money picture at a small shop, he was
sick for several days. But now he strongly felt like using his money once
He chose a church belonging to a newly-risen religion
which had gained popularity among people and collected huge amounts of
offerings every Sunday. He knelt down on the church floor wide enough to
hold hundreds of people at one time. Looking around the place, he wondered
what made so many people come to this church. Since he did not know anything
about the ceremony or prayer, he followed the others' motion. When they
stood up, he did too, and when they put their heads on the floor, he did
too. But the enthusiasm of the congregation made him scared. Some were
shouting with their arms lifted in the air, some in a state of trance,
and some pounded on the floor with their fists. He thought that if they
could have known the reason why he came to the church, they would kill
him. They believed prayer could cure any physical and mental illness. After
the minister's sermon, several offering boxes came around the congregation
and Chul-whan put his money picture into one of them.
When he came out of the church gate crowded with people,
the bright sunshine dazzled his eyes. Between the gate, two totally different
worlds existed. He heard his name called behind his back.
"Chul-whan. Hey, Chul-whan."
He looked back surprised.
"I never expected to see you here. When did you become
a member? I'm so happy for you."
It was Chul-whan's friend in high school and he pulled
Chul-whan by the arm to introduce him to the minister.
"No. No. Not now. I've got things to do in the neighborhood.
I'll do it another time. I promise."
He sweated in fear while he waited for a bus in the street.
It seemed that his friend was following him with the money picture.
He took the first bus not knowing the direction. It was
packed with people, and whenever it stopped, people got on and off. A man
hurriedly got off the bus pushing Chul-whan hard. He felt strange about
him and checked his pocket. His purse was gone. The thought of the confused
pickpocket with the fake money made Chul-whan laugh.
"You took the wrong guy."
Then the face of the minister whose God was near overlapped
that of the pickpocket.
After he saw his friend in the church, Chul-whan became
more wary about choosing a place. The next one was a residential area for
rich people. Since people did not hang around that area, there was little
chance of bumping into acquaintances. He picked the mansion of a company
president notorious for bad treatment of employees. Chul-Whan put an envelope
into a mail box of the house.
Next morning the president found a white envelope without
any address on it among the piles of mail his secretary brought in. He
had received intimidating letters in this type of envelope. He felt there
was something evil about it and wanted to tear it to pieces. Conscious
of his secretary's presence, he tried to calm down. But the money picture
from the envelope turned his face pale. He never experienced anything like
it before. It had a portrait on the front and was blank on the back. He
carefully looked at it and concluded that it was done by an expert. The
portrait seemed to resemble his face.
"This portrait looks like me, doesn't it?"
"No, it doesn't. It's only your imagination."
In spite of his secretary's denial, he still strongly
felt that it looked like his face.
"Take a look at it once again. It surely looks like me."
The secretary did not open his mouth.
"Who the hell did this to me? If these things get circulated
around the company, people will regard me as a slave of money. What an
insult. No. No. This is blackmail."
He shook a cigarette out of the pack and popped it between
his lips. He had given up smoking almost one year be fore.
"Have you got any idea about this?"
The secretary grew impatient, rubbing his hands as if
it was his fault.
"We've got to catch him. Call the police right now."
The secretary hesitantly opened his mouth.
"Sir. We had better keep it secret. The reporters will
rush to us if we call the police. I'll make confidential inquiries of the
people in the company."
"You're right. Let's keep this secret for a while."
The president relaxed now. Once again, he examined it
and exclaimed with wonder.
"This looks more authentic than a real one."
"There are so many weird people these days. Maybe it's
a silly joke by one of them."
The secretary tried to console him.
"Tell the director to fulfill the labor agreement and
pay the arrears to the subcontract factory as soon as possible. I'll stay
The director was the eldest son of the president. The
president put the money picture into the safe as if it was an important
The money picture was a sensation in the church. It was
a shock for them to find false money in the sacred offering box. The appearance
of the money picture unexpectedly caused a fight. At that time people were
divided over power in the church, and they used the incident to blame one
another. If they had found who had done it, the fight might have been more
intense. Ignoring the existence of God, they tried to evaluate the essence
of faith according to the amount of offerings. But none of them remembered
that ancient men dedicated sea shells to God. They finally reported it
to the police.
The police were more concerned about why somebody put
the money picture in the offering box of a church than about the money
picture itself. The police did not conclude that it was a false note. Because
it had a picture only on one side and it was so aesthetic, it was hard
to judge it a forged bill with criminal intent. Some viewed it as an artistic
work based on its change of facial expression of the portrait and the structure.
The case of the money picture was widely reported in the newspapers and
many columns asked what the person who made it was trying to do. Considering
the place it was used, the intent seemed to be to ridicule a religion.
The police that had viewed it as a joke of an insane person, under the
pressure of the public opinion, came to the couclusion that it was an anti-social
crime that threatened the established order of society by damaging the
circulation of money.
Detective Min who took charge of the case had a feeling
that the money picture found in the offering box was just the beginning
of the crime. The criminal might have already used them at various places
but they had not been reported yet. He decided to start an investigation
by searching for those who had received the money pictures.
The police announced officially that anyone who obtained
the money pictures and did not report them to the police would be punished
under forgery laws.
Several days later a young man, son of the old woman
of the small shop, visited the police. Because he did not lose anything
by the money picture, he thought it a harmless joke and did not report
"I don't know why he left it at my shop."
The police received no more reports after that, and with
only two reports, they could not find any motivation of the crime, let
alone any clues. If the criminal had intended to startle society, he should
have used more at different places and there should have been more reports
Detective Min looked at the money picture whenever he
had time. At first the change of the position of the portrait looked strange
to him but, as he saw it many times, the new position seemed better than
the original one. When the structure of the real money began to look strange,
he sprang from the chair with a thought that this was a challenge to the
established system of currency. It was the weirdest case in his twenty
year career as a detective. A coiner was usually caught using false notes
to purchase things, but this guy never tried that. His colleagues gathered
to see the money picture and said, "Wow! This looks nicer than the real
money." It sounded like a sneer to him. So he yelled at them. "Hey, are
you giving me shit now?"
He decided not to give up this case and contemplated
it from the beginning. A question occurred to him¦¡Why had he used it in
a church? He thought that he could have a clue from the question and concluded
that the criminal must be one of the church members. A person good at drawing
or design did that as a warning to the church. If not, it had to be the
joke of an insane person which did not sound convincing at all. Anyway,
he needed the cooperation of the church to investigate its members. The
minister of the church did not want his investigation to damage the harmony
among the church members.
Many days passed before he began his investigation into
the church. One day a police reporter gave him some information about the
"Any progress in your investigation on the money picture?"
"Not at all. I'm still in the dark."
"Did you hear the rumor that the money pictures were
being traded at a high rate among collectors?"
Detective Min opened his notebook immediately.
"I heard it from another reporter working in the culture
desk who interviewed picture dealers. They said that they received many
requests to buy the money picture on the phone, but they could not find
"You're not kidding, are you?"
"No. But I said it was a rumor. If I had hard evidence,
why would I come to you? It would be a scoop for my newspaper. I thought
you might know something about it."
The reporter analyzed the phenomenon in his own way.
"However artistic it was, a false note is a false note.
If the coiner ignored the established rule of society, those who wanted
to buy his pictures definitely support his crime. There is more than an
artistic evaluation behind the phenomenon related to the money picture."
The reporter could not answer that question. Detective
Min took out the money picture from a drawer and examined it again.
"How could this be more valuable than the real one?"
He said bitterly, and the reporter also commented upon it.
"Maybe the coiner wanted to criticize society dominated
"Well, I can't agree with you about that. Fortunately,
his money hasn't done harm to anyone so far. That's for sure... I'm also
curious about his next step, which will be the key to solve this case.
But, right now, we don't have enough evidence to call him a coiner."
"Detective, are you taking the side of a counterfeiter?"
"No. I said that because I felt discouraged."
"The case might be rooted in a deeper level, and the
money pictures reported are just the visible peak on an iceberg. Those
who have much money want more and there are few who don't desperately seek
for money these days. We'd do better using big stones as money, so big
that one person can't carry one, like the stone money in ancient times.
Probably it's the symbolic aspects of money that make the money picture
so valuable. Money is the religion of modern man, you know."
The reporter was showing off his intellectual side to
Detective Min, but his information about the money picture gave a new direction
to the investigation.
Detective Min visited dealers of ancient coins in An
Kuk-Dong, art galleries in In Sa-Dong, and even antique shops and ancient
bookstores, but all the information he obtained from them was that there
were many people who wanted to buy the money picture but no one who wanted
to sell it. All of them spoke with a single wice.
"The money pictures, if any, were only traded in secret
And some of them asked Detective Min.
"Is the money picture found in the church so wonderful?"
Detective Min visited the reporter at the culture desk
and showed him the money picture found at the church to have his opinion
"This doesn't look like a copy of money. See the facial
expression of the person in the picture. Couldn't his face symbolically
represent the greed of modern man?"Detective Min thought about the face
of the minister in the church. The reporter caught something in Detective
"Anything on your mind?"
"If the face in this money picture looked like someone,
it is simply because it was a self-portrait of modern man. If the money
pictures sold at high prices as the rumor says, it would make a scoop in
the newspapers. An art work of postmodernism which indicates the fall of
modern material civilization..."
Seeing no response from Detective Min, the reporter stopped
talking and resumed his work. Each and every businessman who received the
money picture had the illusion that the portrait on it was his own face,
and they did not want to see the pictures scattered around the world. They
wanted to recall the money pictures and their secretaries could find them
Detective Min did not have any clues about the case and
his investigation did not show any progress. He thought about the case
from the beginning once again. Why had the criminal used the money pictures
only at a small shop and a church? Was the rumor about the trade of the
picture at a high rate true? The case was shrouded in mystery, but Detective
Min was more concerned about the secret of the picture than the arrest
of the coiner.
An art critic gave his view on the picture.
"The painter has a rare ability. The picture shows a
superiority in structure and color and, more than that, contains historicity
of money and criticism of the contemporary world. Definitely a work by
a first-rate painter and designer. Why don't you investigate people in
the field of design. I just don't understand why he made this kind of picture
with all his ability?"
"That's what makes it hard to find the motivation of
the crime and to bring the investigation into focus."
There were thousands of designers in Seoul, and Detective
Min tried to cover as many as possible. He visited advertising agencies
and asked about designers who seemed abnormal. Lim Chul-whan was one of
them. An art director talked to Detective Min about Chul-Whan.
"He worked here for several months. He was really good
at design but didn't want a full-time job. I heard that he was a painter
but quit painting for no reason."
He looked at the other designers and then at Detective
Min to see if he said anything wrong.
"Where can I find him?"
"There's a bar where he used to drink at night," a designer
said. "He's not the kind of person who would make false notes. He even
gave up painting."
Chul-whan heard from a designer in that advertising agency
that a detective was looking for him. When he came back home, he turned
the light on each of the money pictures. The oil paintings were blazing
with flames of five colors. He threw them into the air, which looked like
a solemn ritual to God.
Chul-whan was shadowed by Detective Min everywhere he
went. It bothered him at first but came to be a routine, and when he did
not find the detective, he felt uncomfortable. After about one month, they
exchanged nods when they saw each other from a distance.
Chul-whan prepared himself for Detective Min's interrogation.
The only people who had seen his face were the old woman at that small
shop and his friend at church. How well could she remember the face she
had seen over the glasses under a dim light? Besides, at that time, she
was concentrated on counting change. If he faced her in a police station,
he could deny her testimony. The fact that he saw his friend at the church
made him nervous, but he had not left any evidence there. If the detective
asked him why he went to that church, he would answer. "I went there to
gain power to go through the dark wall which blocked my creative energy."
If Yo-jin had found out that the money picture on the
invitation card had been done by him, she would not have reported it to
the police and risked the danger of disclosing her past to her husband.
Detective Min refused to give up his investigation of
the case. He visited the small shop three times but could not gain any
useful information about the criminal's face from the old lady. She could
not remember whether he wore glasses or a jacket and could not tell his
age. Her son was willing to help Detective Min, but because he had not
been there at the time of crime, he could not be any help at all. Detective
Min thought about what happened in the shop. Clearly, the criminal intended
to use the money picture to buy a bottle of Soju. But while the old woman
counted the change, he had left, leaving the bottle on the table. Since
there was no one but her, he could have used it without difficulty. But
mysteriously he gave up.
To press a charge of forgery required proof that false
notes were used in an actual trade with criminal intent. When Detective
Min was about to close the case, he obtained information about serious
trouble among the church members. He felt that it could be an important
clue. The money picture might have been put in a offering box to draw people's
attention to the problems related to the use of money in the church.
A commissioner general in the church told Detective Min
about the situation on the day the money picture was found.
"This is only my guess. That day, a strange thing happened."
Detective Min thought that now he needed to know about
the mystery of the money and how it related to the internal discord of
the church. But the commissioner paid no attention to the flash in the
detective's eyes. Detective Min said to the commissioner in a low voice.
"You have to tell me all you know about it. Even a minor
thing can be an important key to solve the case."
"I saw my old friend after the service that day. I didn't
know he ever attended my church. I was so glad that I wanted to introduce
him to the pastor, but he left saying no. I didn't pay much attention to
that incident at that time, but I came to remember that he majored in painting
in college. I heard that he used to work as a designer.
Detective Min opened his notebook.
"Let me have his name and age."
"Lim Chul-whan, thirty one years old. I don't know his
That was the same man he had come to know through the
investigation in the advertising agency. Detective Min followed Chul-whan
for one month, but he did not find anything wrong with him and almost gave
him up. Still he had been at the church on the day of the crime, and he
was not even a member of the church. This was a strange event.
"It's not easy to give a tip about my old friend. It's
like committing sin."
"No, it's not. You only gave information. You don't have
to feel guilty about it.
He seemed to be encouraged by Detective Min's words.
"If he did it, why did he? He's not a member of my church.
I thought that the money picture was put in the offering box by someone
who wanted to damage the church's reputation. At first I didn't want to
tell you about him, but I had to for the sake of social justice. I can't
ignore such disrespect to the church."
He stopped and took a deep breath. Detective Min, from
the commissioner's facial expression, caught his cunning intention to convert
any attention from the internal discord of the church to another thing.
"Still I'm not quite sure he did that. But he sometimes
did weird things. Please don't tell anybody I told you. I don't want to
be known as an informer."
Despite the useful information, Detective Min felt disgusted
by the commissioner.
Detective Min began to follow Chul-whan again. But, after
ten days of stalking, he only found out that Chul-whan had one bottle of
Soju and a ramyon at dinner on credit which he paid at the end of the month.
The waitress brought him his regular menu without asking him. She said
to Detective Min,
"A woman who lived with him left him. She was nice but
probably sick and tired of eating Ramyon."
People in advertising agencies where Chul-whan worked
part-time had a similar opinion about him
"He only worked when he needed money for bread. A bit
of a weird guy."
Because he did not made much progress following Chul-whan
and interviewing people who knew him, Detective Min wanted to search Chul-whan's
room and to ask for Chul-whan's voluntary appearance for interrogation.
But Detective Min was not sure it was necessary. Chul-whan was a person
who did not want a permanent job even though he had talent for design,
and who did not complain about society when drunk. He did not seem to have
a close friend. He was always alone at the bar, and when he saw his acquaintances,
he only gave them a dim smile. He did not show emotion on his face which
turned red only when he was drunk. Once Detective Min was stranded when
Chul-whan passed a bus stop where he used to take a bus to go home. But
he just walked to his home, and Detective Min walked six miles following
him that night.
Detective Min came to be interested in Chul-whan not
as a suspect but as a human being. Detective Min could see a look of distress
behind Chul-whan's expressionless face. At that moment Detective Min realized
Chul-whan's agony and decided to stop following him and to confront him.
Chul-whan, sitting on a stool in his favorite bar, turned
his face toward Detective Min when he called his name. Chul-whan's eyes
flashed for a second but became dull again.
'He already knows who I am.'
Detective Min took out his ID card to show it to Chul-whan,
but Chul-whan waved him to sit down.
"You don't have to show it to me."
Detective Min ordered two bottles of Soju and bean-curd
stew. Chul-whan had a large capacity for Soju; his eyes became crystal
clear while he drank.
"I heard that you're good at design... Why don't you
have a job? I happened to know that you only eat Ramyon. Why?"
Chul-whan curled his lips.
"Is it a crime not to have a job?"
Detective Min was sorry for his stupid question.
"I didn't know that you've investigated my eating habits...
Detective Kyung-whan Min (Chul-whan knew the detective's full name), I
don't want more than I need. There is no one happier than a lazy man."
They drank as if they were competing. When Detective Min tried to get up,
he fell down. Chul-whan said, "What I'm saying to you... money is nothing
to me."He was telling Detective Min that it was a mistake to consider him
as a suspect, but Detective Min could not give him up. After that, Detective
Min visited Chul-whan in the bar, and they drank together.
When Chul-whan got drunk, he said strange things.
"I say this only to you... Sometimes I feel like drawing
money. Detective Min, do you like a picture of a nude? A money picture
is just like a nude. As a woman's body is created by God, money is given
to human beings by God. Let the man who wants to draw money draw it!"
One day Detective Min showed a money picture to Chul-whan
and observed his response carefully. Chul-whan looked at the money picture
seriously and said, "What kind of idiot regards this as real money?"
"To me this looks just like the real one."
"Oh, yea? O.K. Let me pay for the drinks with this. You've
always bought me drinks. This time it's on me."
Detective Min saw a flash in Chul-whan's eyes and Chul-whan's
face revealed the mixed emotion of excitement and curiosity in using the
money picture. To Detective Min it looked like the inspection of the crime
scene. The waitress received the money without any question and brought
"Please bring me back the money I gave you."
She returned the money picture to Chul-whan, and he showed
her the blank side of the money.
"Oh, my god. What is that?"
Detective Min ordered one more bottle of Soju and thought
that he would never get any proof about Chul-whan's crime except Chul-whan's
"Damn it. To be a detective is not easy. I have to handle
this crazy case."
He gazed at Chul-whan who looked gloomy.
"Who did this horrible joke? He can't get any profit
from this. He can't buy a bottle of Soju. He's only startling a few people
and giving a hard time to others like me. It's ironical that the money
pictures are sold at high price among collectors."
Chul-Whan showed a quick response this time.
"Really? That's strange. If so, why don't you arrest
Detective Min did not open his mouth.
"If the money picture is traded in the market, then it
means that the money picture is not a false bill but an art work. Right?"
"Right. That's what we're concerned about. But there
are only people who want to buy the money picture. No one wants to sell
it... Will you do me a favor?"
"You want my help?"
"Yes, please. I can't understand why he drew this picture.
You're a painter. You can help me to figure it out."
"If the picture was sold at high price, he would make
big money. A ten-thousand-won bill can be traded for millions of won when
it is regarded as a masterpiece. But that's not a crime. You don't have
to arrest him."
"Mr. Lim. Do you have anybody in your mind who can draw
Chul-whan took a real ten-thousand-won bill out of his
purse and put it beside the money picture.
"Detective Min. Which one looks more real to you?"
The money picture looked more elegant even to Detective
"So how can you decide this is a false bill? If it was
not used as money, it can't be illegal."
They drank to each other.
"It's the real money that causes crime. Robbery, fraud,
embezzlement are caused by real money."
Detective Min got sober at Chul-whan's words.
'Now he's saying what's on his mind.'
Chul-whan even encouraged Detective Min.
"Detective Min, please solve this case soon. If the money
picture was declared not a false note but an art work, I would draw money
pictures myself. That would be more profitable. Then I'll give you one
as a present."
When Detective Min and Chul-whan talked to each other,
they did not look like a detective and a suspect but like ordinary companions.
"He might be a happy man if he could satisfy his artistic
desire by drawing money."
It sounded like a sneer to Detective Min.
"How can fake money fulfill artistic desire? It's just
giving a hard time to the police."
"You never know. Men want to make money as much as they
want to use it. History proves it."
Chul-whan changed the topic when Detective Min's interest
"O.K. Let's say it's a false note as you insist. Then
what can you say about the world where a false note is traded at a high
price. If the guy who drew it knew about the fact, how would he feel? Does
he like it? Or is he disappointed? He might laugh at it, saying it's a
Chul-whan looked serious when he said that.
"Putting the money in the offering box was not a blasphemy.
It might be an act driven by his basic instinct to find God." He looked
at the ceiling for a while and said, "These days many people collect good
looking stones scattered in the mountains or fields. Some of them are sold
at high prices. What's the difference between collecting stones today and
using stone money in ancient times? A modern man's attitude toward collecting
stones indicates his desire to return to nature."
He drank again as if he was thirsty. "He might dream
of the good old days. His illusion of pure money, unblemished money, his
own money, and his own world might give him such an idea. But his money
picture is also traded for money... If he knew about it, he would be disappointed
with human beings. His effort to make people realize the pure meaning of
money ends up in vain."
The tone of his voice became lower and Detective Min
felt that he was hearing a confession from Chul-whan. Chul-whan insisted
that he would pay the drink and woke up the waitress who had fallen asleep.
"Be careful. It might be a fake bill."
The waitress did not understand Chul-whan but Detective
Min thought, 'This guy's ridiculing me.'
But Detective Min could not arrest Chul-whan without
proper evidence. He decided not to see Chul-whan for a time.
After that night Chul-whan could not draw anything, but
he experienced a spiritual state of perfect selflessness. His mind was
like a white canvas, and he felt an ecstacy of colorlessness. He could
not see Detective Min in any place, even in the bar. But the thought that
Detective Min secretly watched him was annoying. He sometimes felt like
calling Detective Min and confessing his crime. But Chul-whan did not have
a sense of guilt about drawing money at all.
Detective Min never searched Chul-whan's room, which
puzzled Chul-whan. Did he think Chul-whan was not so careless as to leave
evidence at home? Or did Detective Min patiently wait for the time when
Chul-whan made a big mistake? Whatever the reason, the fact that he did
not see Detective Min around made Chul-whan nervous. He had already cleared
away all evidence of drawing money from his room in case Detective Min
would search. He only drew money in his dream. One night Yo-jin appeared
in his dream and cried hugging him. Chul-whan had a wet dream that night.
When the old woman at the small shop gave him change, he was so excited
that he had almost ejaculated. Detective Min's words about the popularity
of money pictures among the art people made Chul-whan disappointed. But
he also got curious about it and felt an impulse to visit the places where
he used his money. He wanted to see the places not from the common psychology
of a criminal but because he wanted to recollect the situation when he
used the money. The old lady looked the same to Chul-whan, and he regretted
using his money in that place and felt guilty about deceiving her. This
time he wanted to buy a bottle of Soju with a real ten-thousand won bill.
He handed the money to her with a trembling hand and she entered a room
to bring the change. She came out with her son and said there was not enough
change for the bill. The son looked carefully at both Chul-whan and the
money. He had reported the money picture to the police, and because his
mother had not remembered well, he had had a hard time during the investigation.
He went to other shops to exchange the bill for small money but returned
with the same bill. Chul-whan felt sorry for him and bought as much Ramyon
and Soju as the money allowed, but he said to Chul-whan that he could not
accept a ten-thousand-won bill at night. Chul-whan felt an impulse to tell
him the truth that the false note he reported to the police was now sold
at a high price. If he had said so, they would have become more defensive
and said that they did not have anything to do with it. They were still
living in the age of sea shells and oyster-shells. Chul-whan regretted
coming there again.
The next morning Chul-whan visited the church to see
"What brings you here?"
"About the money picture found in the offering box of
The face of Chul-whan's friend's grew pale.
'He is with the police? And I denounced him to the police
not knowing that...'
He thought that he was trapped by the police. His eyes
"I just said to the police that you worked as a designer..."
Now Chul-whan understood why Detective Min considered
him as a suspect.
"You're right. I made the money picture."
"You did that for the police? You already knew about
the conflict inside my church!"
"Not at all. I'm not interested in your problems. I only
tested your faith."
His friend's face was distorted.
"I'm not with the police either. I came to let you know
that the money picture you reported to the police is not a false bill but
an art work. Do you have any idea about the price of it? Two million, three
million... You can raise the price as high as you want. So why don't you
go to the police and regain it? Don't ignore my gift for your church."
He became confused and, at the same time, scared about
Chul-whan's words and his true identity.
Chul-whan met Detective Min at the bar the very next
day after he had dropped by the church.
"Detective Min, I knew you would come here today."
"You were expecting me?"
"Well, I guessed you would come."
Detective Min told Chul-whan that his friend had come
to see him and that the young man at the small shop had called him.
"Your friend wanted the money picture back. He argued
that it was not a false bill but a work of art."
"What did you say?
"I said it's the court that would judge about the money
picture and my job was to arrest the perpetrator. You know what he said
to me? He said it was you who made the money picture. So I asked him how
he knew it, and he said you admitted it to him." He stopped talking and
looked at Chul-whan for a moment. "Did you really tell him that you did
Chul-whan talked about another thing without answering
Detective Min's question. "Whether the money picture is regarded as an
art work or not, the man who drew it views it as purely religious money.
The fact that it's traded at a high price proves it. If stone money in
a museum was put to auction, it would be sold at a high price, too. We
can't overlook the symbolic and historic side of money."
Detective Min felt that Chul-whan was ridiculing him
again. "Why did you go to the church?"
"These days I'm interested in newly-risen religions.
Modern man's greed for money reminds me of the shamanism in ancient religion.
You can clearly see it in newly-risen religions these days. The tradition
of ancient religion still exists in modern civilization. I gave him the
information about the popularity of the money picture among people to stimulate
his instinct. It was you that gave me that information. By the way, did
you arrest the criminal?"
Detective Min made up his mind to obtain real information
about the case this time and asked Chul-whan as if he interrogated a suspect.
"You went to the small shop, didn't you?"
"I found out a strange thing about that place. A real
ten-thousand-won bill was not accepted there. It's too big for them. They
said they didn't have enough change. But actually, they didn't trust the
money, particularly at night."
"Mr. Lim, I'm asking you why you went there."
"I just wanted to let them know about their chance to
make big money out of the money picture."
Detective Min got angry with Chul-whan's answer.
"Mr. Lim, you're not kidding now, are you? I'm telling
you as a detective that your visit to the scene of the crime can never
do any good for you. I'll find who made the money picture. I swear."
"It sounds very threatening to me."
"No, it's friendly advice." They kept drinking without
talking to each other.
"According to criminology, a criminal visits the scene
of his crime again. Maybe because of feelings of uneasiness."
"Maybe he missed the place. Maybe. It was you that told
me about the small shop. I was surprised to see a place where real money
couldn't be used."
Detective Min did not want Chul-whan to feel he was being
interrogated by a detective when they met at the bar. So he listened to
Chul-whan even when he talked about silly things. Chul-whan repeated his
contention about the change in money from ancient times to modern age.
He repeated that the money picture could be justified just like sea shells
and oyster-shells in the old days and that the act of drawing money was
harmless and could purify the distorted modern view of money.
Detective Min could arrest Chul-whan on the testimony
of Chul-whan's friend at the church. If he stayed a day in prison, he probably
would confess his crime. But Detective Min did not want to arrest Chul-whan
without irrefutable evidence. He wanted Chul-whan to escape from the trap
of wrong reasoning and confess his crime. That night he waited for that
moment in vain.
A week later, Chul-whan found a letter from Detective
Min in the bar. Detective Min wanted to see Chul-whan at a Korean restaurant,
and he had drawn a map on the letter
It was easy to find the restaurant in Chung Jin-Dong.
Detective Min ordered traditional Korean food with a bottle of whiskey.
It had been a long time since Chul-whan had drank whiskey with decent food
in a nice restaurant. Detective Min filled Chul-whan's glass with whiskey
and did not say why he wanted to see Chul-whan at that place.
"Today is a special day for you?" Chul-whan asked but
Detective Min kept drinking for a while without answering Chul-whan's question.
"Please tell me what this is all about."
Detective Min took two bills out of his pocket and showed
them to Chul-whan. Chul-whan was surprised to see them. One was the money
picture he drew and the other was a crude copy of his money picture.
Detective Min said gravely.
"I confiscated this from an art dealer. But this is only
one of many in the market."
Chul-whan could not believe what he just heard.
"What do you mean by many?"
"Because it's hard to find the real money picture, somebody
made these crude ones and sold them to those who wanted the real money
picture. Few saw the real money picture, so most people couldn't tell the
difference. This picture also leaves the backside blank... You can call
it a counterfeit of a counterfeit."
Detective Min did not miss the change in Chul-whan's
face. Chul-whan's eyes were red with flames.
"How can it happen? No way. Why can't you arrest these
criminals?" Chul-whan lowered his voice when he found out that he was so
"Why did you show it to me?"
"It's funny that so many people eagerly buy the forged
money pictures. Because those are traded in secret, it will not be easy
to catch the criminal."
Chul-whan tried to compose himself but could not help
feeling that his art was insulted. His wrath made his face distorted.
"Mr. Lim, can you help me?"
Chul-whan never saw Detective Min's face so serious.
"Sure, I will. Sure, I will," Chul-whan muttered as if
he repeated a prayer.
"If people knew that this was different from the original
money picture, the cheap copies of the money picture would disappear."
Chul-whan knew what Detective Min was trying to say.
"So you want me to confess to being the man who made
the original money picture?"
Detective Min did not answer that question. They drank
in a heavy atmosphere for a while.
"How can I arrest you without evidence."
"What do you mean by evidence? You can have my confession
after you arrest me. The money picture found in the offering box will be
"That's not enough."
"Then why did you bring me here?"
"I want your opinion."
"How about this? I'll confess to being the creator of
the original money picture and the witness to the false picture."
Chul-whan took a money picture out of his pocket and
handed it to Detective Min. Detective Min could not believe what he saw.
"This will be the real evidence."
Chul-whan did not show any emotion on his face but he
looked dignified to Detective Min
"When people saw your face in newspapers, the copies
of your money picture would disappear. Thank you."
Detective Min shook hands with Chul-whan.
On the way to the police station, Chul-whan recalled
the places where he used his money pictures. He thought about the money
picture he sent to Yo-jin and decided to keep it secret. She was the origin
of his money picture and could not be related to the crime. She was like
the origin of money in history, a tragic beginning of human unhappiness.
No human being could judge that origin
Detective Min had made up the story about the copies
of the money picture as a trick to solve the case. He could predict what
Chul-whan's response would be but a sense of guilt in deceiving Chul-whan
stayed with Detective Min.
The news of Chul-whan's confession shocked society and
the place and people in Chul-whan's list were revealed. When the way that
Detective Min cheated Chul-whan become widely known, there was a debate
surrounding the ethics of criminal investigation.
Chul-whan was put into the hands of other detectives
because Detective Min did not want to interrogate him. Detective Min could
not be sure that Chul-whan had committed a criminal act and hoped he would
be acquitted of the charge of forgery. When Chul-whan was released, he
could go to the bar with him and drink all night. Then he would know the
real secret of drawing money.
Translated by Joeng-min Gye who received his Ph.D.
in English from the Florida State University and is currently teaching
at Sejong University. He collaborated with Thomas O'Dornel, Professor or
Loyola University at Chicago, U.S.A., for this translation.