The Millionaire


Size: 170cm X  
78cm X  
Medium: Korean inju on hanji paper
Frame: Wooden panel
Edition of 1


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Yoo Byeong-Eon was arguably the most detested person in Korea, as accusations of his greed were considered one of the main reasons for the ship’s instability.
Yoo was the owner of the Cheonhaejin shipping company, religious leader, inventor, and a photographer known as “Ahae”. He was known as “The Millionaire with no Face” due to his lack of public appearances. As reports uncovered his past activities, including his role in a mass suicide and bankruptcy of Semo, his insatiable greed came to light and arrest warrants were issued for his person.
Overlaid on to a 10,000W note, this piece connects many aspects of his life to the Sewol accident, using numerical, pictorial and symbolic references for this composite image. In place of the value of the note is the date of the accident 2014-04-16. Replacing the bill’s identification number is the GPS coordinates of the accident, and Yoo’s years of birth and death replace those of King Sejong. The pattern forming the background on the right side of the piece is the chemical compound for Squalene, the organic compound Yoo made his initial fortune from, while the circle in the central left area holds his photographer’s moniker ‘Ahae’. The circles on the left-hand side have been arranged in such a way that they form the Sewol ribbon. Pictorially, the most obvious modification is that of the face. Yoo’s face replaces Sejong, while in the center of the piece, instead of the hills and mountains present on the 10,000w note, the sinking Sewol ship can be seen amongst the waves, which can also be perceived as ancient burial mounds. The leaves are from the eld where Yoo’s body was found and point towards his death.
The piece is made up of various stamps with the Korean symbol ‘W’ on the green paper, both of which can be seen to entertain notions of greed.