Magician of Insa-Dong – Chapter 1: Relic Appraiser 1

“D, Don’t be nervous, there’s no need to. Okay?”

“I think you are more nervous than I am.”

Han JinHo’s words made Jung SangPil give a dejected expression. Jung SangPil had no idea how this young fellow could stay so calm.

Sometimes he seemed more mature than himself.

The two of them were standing in front of the entrance of a massive mansion. It took them 10 minutes by car from the main gate to the entrance. It was big house.

“Please come this way.”

A man wearing a black suit politely invited them in. He was also the man who led Jung SangPil and Han JinHo here.

Inside the mansion was a long corridor.

Following the corridor, they arrived at a wide space. It seemed to be a place used as a drawing room.
And there sat the man whom they had to meet today.

“Sir Chairman, the guests are here.”

The man in the suit politely reported to the man sitting on the sofa – Chairman Choi NamHee.
Jung SangPil hurriedly bowed.

“I, I’m Jung SangPil, sir Chairman. It’s an honour to meet you.”

After greeting, Jung SangPil poked Han JinHo in the side, so Han JinHo slightly lowered his head and greeted.

“I’m called Han JinHo.”

Choi NamHee’s eyes sparkled after seeing Han JinHo’s attitude.

“I’ve heard a lot of stories about Mr. Jung. It seems you are the nation’s finest Appraiser.”

“You’re over-complimenting me.”

Jung SangPil said it in a serious tone. After all, the reason he was called ‘the nation’s finest Appraiser’ was all due to Han JinHo.

Thus, the nation’s finest Appraiser was Han JinHo, not Jung SangPil.

“We both don’t have much time so let’s get to the main subject.”

Straight after Chairman Choi NamHee said so, people walked out from the inner parts of the drawing room, carrying a large table.

On the table was an opened scroll. It was a scroll full of Chinese characters.

“As we can see from the writing style, it is assumed to be one of Chusa’s* works. However, it isn’t a famous piece, so I needed confirmations which is why I had to call Mr. Jung here.”

[TLN: Chusa, or Kim JungHee is a famous calligrapher of Chosun 1786 – 1856.]

In fact, many professionals had called it a real deal. But Chairman Choi NamHee had some doubts so he wanted a confirmation.

That was why he looked for Jung SangPil.

Jung SangPil was called the country’s best Appraiser, but that title was only an unofficial one.
Jung SangPil wasn’t an Appraiser working in the lights. He was someone who appraised relics in the shadows.

The table with the scroll was placed in front of Jung SangPil.
Jung SangPil stared down at the scroll for a while. At a glance it seemed real, but these things required a proper inspection.

Taking out a magnifying glass, he carefully inspected the scroll. The more he looked, the more admiration he felt. This was a real one no matter how he saw it.
Jung SangPil glanced sideways at Han JinHo standing nearby, but Han JinHo’s expression seemed a bit unusual.

‘Why’s he like that?’

Han JinHo approached Jung SangPil with an awkward expression and whispered to him.

“It’s fake.”

Jung SangPil almost screamed ‘What?’. He faced Han JinHo with surprise in his eyes.
He himself thought it was real, but Han JinHo labelled it fake without even a proper inspection.
Jung SangPil stared at Han JinHo, requesting more explanation.
Han JinHo whispered once again.

“I made that thing.”

“What?”

This time, even Jung SangPil couldn’t hold it back. To think that Han JinHo created a counterfeit that even professionals couldn’t tell apart.

“Is something wrong?”

Chairman Choi NamHee sharply glared between Jung SangPil and Han JinHo and asked.
The mood in the room dropped.
Jung SangPil suddenly felt his head go blank. His tongue was caught and couldn’t think of a way to explain it.
So Han JinHo had to come in.

“I didn’t think things would turn out this way but… that’s a counterfeit I made a few months ago as a hobby.”

Two middle-aged men standing behind Chairman Choi NamHee reacted violently to Han JinHo’s words.

“There’s no way!”

“Rubbish!”

They were professionals working under Chairman Choi NamHee and considered themselves to be the best, so they didn’t acknowledge Jung SangPil.
Therefore, they were displeased about the meeting today.
And yet, saying that the relic they appraised as real was not only fake but also hand-made – how could they believe such a thing?

Besides, they would be troubled if this was a counterfeit, as this was bought only because they assured it was real.
If this truly was a counterfeit, then they needed to take the appropriate responsibility.
That was why their reactions were violent.
Han JinHo threw in a comment after seeing their attitudes.

“I have a proof, you know?”

“What?”

Everyone’s eyes enlarged hearing the word ‘proof’. If there really was a proof, that would mean that the professionals here were idiots. Since that meant that they couldn’t tell it apart even with an evident proof that labelled it fake.
Han JinHo had no interest in prolonging their conversation so he quickly continued.

“The proof is in the stamp.”

“There’s no way!”

The professionals were sure. They were sure that the stamp had no proof whatsoever that the work was fake.
They had already carefully examined it with higher graded magnifier. The parts they had spent the most effort on to check was the stamp and the paper.
In fact, the stamp was the foremost proof that the work was a real deal – at least that was what they believed.

Chairman Choi NamHee silently watched over the scene until he slightly raised his hand.
When he did so, the professionals that were complaining closed their mouths. They glared at Han JinHo with resentful eyes, and stared at Jung SangPil with eyes filled with disdain.

After calming them down, Chairman Choi NamHee looked at Han JinHo and asked.

“Did you say the stamp had the proof?”

“Yes.”

“Can you give a detailed explanation on what kind of proof it is?”

Han JinHo nodded his head.

“It’s not difficult. Since I deliberately left it behind to show that it was a counterfeit.”

“Hoh, so you deliberately wanted to convey that it was a counterfeit, right?”

While saying that, Chairman Choi NamHee directed his sight to the back, where the two professionals stood with pale white faces. They were panicking, and couldn’t understand exactly why Han JinHo was saying those words.
Even though it’s so obvious.

“Say it. Tell me what you’ve left on the stamp.”

“I left my initials, JH, on the stamp. There’s no way Chusa’s stamp would have English in it so it’s the most obvious proof.”

“No way!”

The two professionals shouted at the same time. To them, it was indeed something that didn’t make sense. Saying that he left English initials on the stamp, yet they failed to recognise it – there was no way such a thing could’ve happened.
But Han JinHo took out a lantern from his clothes. It was a very special lantern, forged to emit special waves.

“The initials would’ve appeared naturally with time, but to check it before that, I made this.”

When he turned it on, a light was emitted from within with a colour between blue and purple.
Han JinHo pointed his other hand towards where the stamp was. Everyone’s eyes naturally looked back at the stamp.

“No way?!”

In the red section of the stamp was the two initials “JH”, clearly written in white.
When Han JinHo turned the lantern off, the letters disappeared, and when he turned it back on, the letters appeared again.

It was an elaborately made letters designed to react to special waves.
Han JinHo returned his lantern to his clothes.
The audience was left in shock and silence. The scroll had an astonishing price of 600 million won.
The two professionals who had assured that it was one of Chusa’s works and claimed that 600 million won was a cheap price and must buy it, had their expressions gradually clouded in black.

In fact, to Chairman Choi NamHee, 600 million isn’t worth a gum but the most important thing was that he had been scammed.
Chairman Choi NamHee’s eyes faced Han JinHo.

“So to say, you’re the starting point of this crime.”

“Crime? I told you it was a hobby though.”

“Something you made as a hobby took my 600 million, and yet you’re still trying to wash your hands of it?”

Han JinHo smiled.

“I don’t know why a blacksmith who makes a sword needs to worry about being a murderer.”

“So you’re saying you’re not involved?”

“Do you think I’ll be interested in a counterfeit I left a proof on?”

Han JinHo looked away as if there was nothing more to talk about and faced Jung SangPil.

“Ajussi, we’re done with work so let’s go.”
[TLN: Ajussi is a way of calling a middle-aged man that has no blood relation to oneself]

“Un? Oh… O, okay?”

Jung SangPil said so after pondering with a clumsy face. It seemed like there won’t be anything good happening even if they stayed here.

“You have to take the money. You’re not going to get it through card, right?”

“Ah?”

Jung SangPil stared between Chairman Choi NamHee and Han JinHo with a restless expression.
Chairman Choi NamHee made a gesture to a man standing in the back corner, so the man walked up and handed Jung SangPil a pre-prepared envelope.

“It is indeed essential to make deals properly.”

Jung SangPil received the thick envelope with a clumsy face. It was filled with straight fifty thousand won notes.

Chairman Choi NamHee waved his hand to Jung SangPil. It was a gesture telling them to go.
As if he was expecting it already, Han JinHo turned away and pulled Jung SangPil’s arm, going outside.
When they were about to go past the door, they heard Chairman Choi NamHee’s words.

“Take responsibility and bring me the dude who sold me this.”

Han JinHo left the room while hearing the sentence with one ear and letting it out with the other. It seemed like he needed to pay some attention to security.

***

“Ha, what a rude guy.”

Chairman Choi NamHee gave a bitter laugh while shaking his head. But unlike his words, his face had a smile on it.

“Did you take a liking to him?”

The secretary who approached unknowingly politely asked.

“Yeah. I like him a lot. I feel like he could properly complete any work I give him.”

Seeing Choi NamHee’s satisfied expression, the secretary handed him a few documents.

“This is what we found out about Han JinHo.”

Chairman Choi NamHee received the documents and read it through. There was nothing too important.

“He is… an orphan? And a university student. So this line of work is a part time job?”

Thinking of the skills that he showed today, Choi NamHee thought he had majored in Visual Art or Ancient Literature, or maybe something related to history, but in reality, Han JinHo had majored in Business Administration.
Besides, his marks at school were appalling as if he wasn’t interested in schooling. With these marks, even if he was asked a general knowledge question regarding Business Administration, he wouldn’t be able to answer it.

“There really is nothing. So all of this is self-taught? There’s no possibility that Jung SangPil taught him anything?”

“You should know from reading that his relationship with Jung SangPil is only a recent one. And that was because Han JinHo found him directly to look for a job.”

Chairman Choi NamHee gave a strong nod.

“Anyway, this should be good enough. Try to hire him.”

The secretary politely lowered his head.

“I’ll get to it immediately.”

When the secretary was about to leave, Chairman Choi NamHee asked another question.

“What are the other guys doing?”

The secretary who was about to leave answered.

“They’re undergoing training. They’re momentarily stopped due to hiring Han JinHo.”

Chairman Choi NamHee comfortably rested his back on the sofa and spoke.

“Just resume it. If it’s that guy, he should be able to catch up even if he’s a bit late.”

The secretary once again lowered his head and paced outside. Chairman Choi NamHee went into deep thought while embedding himself into the sofa.


Translator: Rain27
Proofreader : Uptime

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