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  • Inuk the Inventor
  • Kim Jung-Hyuk (bio)
    Translated by Jenny Wang Medina (bio)

The Interview

The most amazing inventors in the world? And there are six of them? Of course I'd do the shoot; that decision was simple. I only remembered the five other photo shoots I had scheduled after I confirmed. Shoots that were already overdue. I have no idea why I agreed to do it. It's just that when the reporter from SciFi Magazine said the word "inventor," I was suddenly transported back to my childhood. They say that nine out of ten little boys want to be inventors when they grow up, and true to form, I was one of them. My math and science scores didn't reflect the aptitude of a kid who wants to become an inventor, though, so I soon gave up on my dream. The years passed, but even now, ten years later, just hearing the word "inventor" always makes my heart race. In-ven-tor. It just sounds like someone who does great things. It even sounds good when you're only talking about the person who invented the portable electric fan.

The feature was titled "The Six Most Amazing Inventors of Our Time." It would be a while before the actual shoot, so I did a lot of advance preparation. I looked at foreign magazines, drew diagrams of possible shot compositions that would suit the inventors, and even watched several movies about inventions. All the machines in [End Page 137] the movies were beautiful. The cold metallic images that looked like they could cut flesh, the exquisite structure of the joints connecting machine to machine, I thought it all so beautiful. I thought that if I could somehow create an arrangement of what I imagined were the piercing gazes of these people with the intensity of focus to create images like the ones I saw in the movies, I would have an absolutely stunning photograph. But my dreams became nightmares as soon as the shoot started. I was definitely operating under some huge misconceptions about the whole situation.

The bickering started the moment we decided where the inventors would stand in order to shoot the cover photo. "A scoundrel like you is no kind of inventor, get in the back . . . don't make me laugh, the only original idea you ever came up with was to copy someone else . . . what the hell, who do you think you're calling a copycat . . . shit, why don't you prove it . . . yeah, stealing is better than making something stupid . . . ooh you bastard, I'm gonna . . ." Listening to them from a distance you'd think they'd already come to blows, but there wasn't much physical action besides shoving each other with their shoulders. All of them were holding their own inventions for the portrait, so apart from their shoulders, they had no other way to restrain their opponents. They could only make a loud fuss, and not one of them was willing to set his invention on the ground. I don't know whether it was that the confrontation wasn't worth setting the inventions down to really fight, or that they didn't have the nerve to get into it, but it was a good thing as far as I was concerned. In the end, I had no choice but to give up my innocent plan to have three inventors stand in the back row and three in the front.

If I said, "Excuse me sir, yes, the one with the radio; can you give me a little smile?" I'd get a scowl and, "It's not a radio, it's a combination radio and microwave oven." If I asked the inventor holding five inventions if he really had to hold up that stick, I got, "It's not a stick, it's an eight-layered folding umbrella," as he suddenly popped it open, startling the person next to him into [End Page 138] dropping one of his own inventions and getting angry, and then the commotion would get louder again . . . in any case, it was that sort of affair. The shoot was becoming chaotic. Suyŏn, the...