Keeping it real in antique worldEvery time my mother brought home an antique, she used to say, "This one is real. Look how beautiful it is."
To a 10-year-old girl's eyes, an old bookcase is just an old bookcase. Everything she showed me was supposed to be very precious. And my question was always the same: "How can you tell if it's real or not?"
Sometimes she would return some pieces because she figured they weren't real. I asked again, "How can you tell?" She would not tell me, but said, "You just keep on looking at the real thing and time will teach you."
Now I go to antique markets, and shopkeepers study my face and say, "You don't look old enough to know this is real." I can tell when the museum docent makes a mistake in an explanation about a Korean antique.
When I spoke with Choi Jong-taik who went to North Korea to inspect the Goguryeo relics, I could feel his excitement. "What was it like to see the real pieces?" I asked. He was speechless, but his eyes had a peculiar twinkle. I wished I had been there.