[FOUNTAIN]Genuine impostors

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[FOUNTAIN]Genuine impostors

The fake are the natural enemy of the genuine. The worst kind of fake is the impostor. They stealthily appear, then attempt to steal everything from the real ones.
The pioneer of the impostors is French peasant Martin Guerre. In a 16th century French farming village, he staged a fraud. After missing for eight years, a man claiming to be Martin Guerre returned to his family, convincing almost everyone, at first, including Guerre’s wife.
Later, during a trial about whether the man was Guerre, the real Martin Guerre returned. And in the happy ending of the story, the impostor was executed.
Onggojip is the Korean version of Martin Guerre. Onggojip was an obnoxious, stingy and impious son. One day, an impostor, who looked the same down to the three spots on the sole of his feet, turned up and took his place.
While the real Onggojip complained to the authorities about the impostor, the fake Onggojip could even recount conversations the real Onggojip and his wife had on the night of their wedding. So the real Onggojip was kicked out of the house.
Just when Onggojip was about to kill himself out of desperation, a priest who created the fake appeared and handed over a talisman. In the end, the fake turned into a scarecrow.
Fake artwork was rampant during the Renaissance in the 15th century. At the time, imitation was the father of creation. Artists competed to copy the ancient Greek masterpieces. Even the Renaissance master Michelangelo was an imitator, at best. According to Giorgio Vasari’s “The Vite,” Michelangelo reproduced many paintings, sometimes exposing a painting to smoke to make it look old. Sometimes, he would keep the original work and return his copied work. When the copies and fakes become industrialized, there was no happy ending any more.
The World Customs Organization estimates the industry of fake goods to be about 500 trillion won ($526 billion) annually. Every year, 5,000 African children die from counterfeit vaccines. In Europe, 200,000 workers lose their jobs because of counterfeit goods annually.
On June 20, the United States and the European Union agreed to promote a joint campaign to fight fake goods. While Korea has handed over the shameful title of a counterfeit haven to China, Koreans are well known for their shameless tolerance of fake goods. “You can find fakes here and there, all around you.” A phrase from a popular song from a decade ago is still valid today. We should realize the vice of the fake goods and turn away from them.


by Yi Jung-jae

The writer is a deputy business news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.

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