Painter Of The Night; “Room with a view” in Joseon (part 2)

Yesterday, I examined the scenes from the chapters 5, 12 and 17, where Yoon Seungho was always sitting in a room and mostly looking out of the window. We noticed that the protagonist showed some privileges towards the painter, although there is a huge gap between their social status. And as time passed on, Yoon Seungho became more proactive as he even left his position in order to seek for Baek Na-Kyum (12/17). Now, we need to analyze the three other episodes, where such a scene occurred, in order to outline the evolution of their “scandalous” relationship.

Let’s focus on the room with a view from the chapter 30. As you can see, unlike in the past, Seungho is no longer sitting, but standing and also moving. He has been beating his servants. This contrasts so much to the earlier scenes as he was always first portrayed as pensive and immobile. The reason for this huge change of behavior is understandable. The noble just discovered that Baek Na-Kyum was no longer at the mansion. He even went from Baek Na-Kyum’s room to In-Hun’s bedchamber to confirm that he didn’t misunderstand the situation. If both are not present, then they ran away. He became so furious and desperate that he couldn’t control his emotions therefore he started beating his servants, even the loyal assistant Kim. That’s the reason why I compare him to a volcano. All his repressed emotions erupt. Then he hears that the two persons have come back. In my opinion, he must have felt relieved for one moment, until he turns his head around and he witnesses that In-Hun and Baek Na-Kyum are together.

The author chose to focus on Seungho’s gaze in order to let the readers vizualize Seungho’s inner emotions. He is shocked, simultaneously feels betrayed and jealous. That’s why he is not just active in the house, once he sees from the window the return of the painter with In-Hun, he literally flies towards Baek Na-Kyum like an eagle so that his prey can’t escape again. This chapter stands so much in opposition to the first 3 scenes, where the noble was portrayed as passive, calm and emotionless. Even if we could see a progression in Seungho’s behavior as he started leaving his room in order to go to Baek Na-Kyum’s side, he was always in control of his emotions, even if he teased the painter in chapter 12. Besides, when he came to the artist’s rescue, he might have humiliated the sex partner Jihwa, yet his actions were precise and reasonable. He punished the spy and not Jihwa explaining the reason why he didn’t do anything to him. For the sake of their past relationship, Yoon Seungho was willing to overlook the betrayal. However, here the noble is literally boiling due to his emotions. He feels frustrated, hurt, jealous but also abandoned as he had ordered the painter to remain by his side the night before. We shouldn’t forget that Yoon Seungho is in love with Baek Na-Kyum that’s why his heart can’t take the escape.

On the other hand, we know the cause for the artist’s elopement. He had been raped and he also witnessed how the resentful lord was about to kill the teacher, if he hadn’t stopped him. The menace made in the chapter 12, In-Hun as a hostage could get hurt, had become real. From Yoon Seungho’s perspective, the artist was still rejecting him and as such defying him which he had never experienced before. We have to imagine that Yoon Seungho as seme has quite a reputation that’s why he has many sex partners. But here, a low-born chose the hypocrite In-Hun over him. He might have not run away but he remained by the teacher’s side. Imagine how the noble must have felt, he was so used to be sought out as sex partner and here nothing is working with Baek Na-Kyum. Neither wealth nor force could have an influence on the painter, he is still bold and fearless despite the threads and the violence experienced.

First the innocent man forget their first night that left such a deep impression in the noble therefore the latter was already frustrated that the young man still had no recollection. So when he forced himself on the painter, he was somehow marking the artist as his… he imagined that by using his power, Baek Na-Kyum would become submissive and obedient just like it happened in the chapter 12. Remember that due to the straw mat beating incident, Baek Na-Kyum bowed to him and showed respect. I have the impression that Seungho thought that the painter would react like in the past. But no… Baek Na-Kyum became even more insolent. He declared to hate him, although the lord wanted to make up for the forced sex and went himself to the bathroom in order to bring him new clothes. Here, he is once again rejected so that Seungho sees no other alternative than to turn his thread into a reality. Imagine the humiliation and the anger for the noble. Furthermore he had always treated the painter with such lenience so far. In other words, Seungho keeps being rejected, all his actions were pointless and the return of the ill-fated couple marks the third rejection. Baek Na-Kyum is still by Jung In-Hun’s side that’s why the master flew like an eagle and caught the painter so brutally. This time, the noble is able to achieve something: Baek Na-Kyum finally concedes in the lord’s request (“he will do anything he wants”) but only because the former doesn’t want their sexual relationship unveiled in front of the homophobic teacher. In order to be still accepted by In-Hun, the artist is willing to do anything for the lord. Here, there was a struggle of forces between Yoon Seungho and Jung In-Hun too and it somehow worked for the powerful lord. Homosexuality was the trigger for Baek Na-Kyum to become submissive and obedient.

And all this happens in the courtyard which reveals how much Seungho is willing to do in order to get what he wants. He doesn’t care about his reputation and gossips. He is not even properly dressed which contrasts again to the former scenes I analysed before. This mirrors his own state of mind: messed up. And now, you understand why Seungho is so violent in his reaction… his heart had never been touched before. All this time, he only used his brain… looking out of the window pensive. His heart was not beating, until he met the painter. The latter brought him back to life but at the same time, he had to experience many new things: insolence, innocence, love and constant rejection! This explains why the lord has sex with the painter for the whole day and night (chapter 30-32). He believes that once Baek Na-Kyum witnesses his own reaction in the mirror, he will come to admit that he feels pleasure with the noble and to accept him as his partner and even as his lover. Notice that the lord and the commoner had sex in his chamber which stands in opposition to their other sexual encounters in the past (Baek NaKyum’s chamber and the pavilion). By bringing back to his chamber, it is clear that Seungho has elevated the painter’s status. He is no longer a servant. However, the lord made the mistake to disregard the artist’s physical disposition so that their sex session ended up with illness.

Before analyzing the next scene with the room with a view, it is quite important to contextualize this chapter. Since Seungho had no idea how the painter would react after this sex marathon, he returns to his chamber with a very indifferent face. He is very prudent but his gaze is focused on the painter’s facial expressions. I mean, the artist could still reject him because the lord risked his life. However, nothing happens. Baek Na-Kyum somehow blushes and he doesn’t seem to reject the noble entirely. He just wants to leave the chamber so that the lord can rest. While he is submissive this time, his behavior reveals that there is still a distance between him and Seungho. That’s why the noble acts in a seductive way. He almost kisses the low-born but allows him to return to his chamber while telling him that he is only sparing him because of his poor health. This is quite important as it outlines that Seungho is still claiming Baek Na-Kyum as his partner. On the other hand, he is left alone in his chamber which bothers him. He definitely wants to share his bed with him therefore he is unable to sleep during that night. I am quite sure that Seungho must have been thinking about strategies how to improve their relationship.

Since he suffered from insomnia, his chamber is a little chaotic the next morning. Kim arrives and opens the windows. Then he helps the lord to get dressed with a green robe. So we see Seungho walking to the window in order to have a view in his courtyard. Then he witnesses how Baek Na-Kyum is talking to the low noble.

chapter 35

While they are chatting together, the lord can’t help himself but smile. However, this is a bitter smile.

chapter 35

Here, Yoon Seungho is rather calm but in fact it is because he is exhausted mentally and physically. Hence he doesn’t seem enraged. On the other hand, this doesn’t signify that the lord no longer feels angry or jealous. He is resigned… he is on the verge of admitting defeat. Therefore he walks over slowly unlike in the chapter 30, which we don’t see as the author focused during this time on Baek Na-Kyum with his teacher. While he walks towards the artist, he is still unsure what he should do. He must have been observing the gestures between these two and even witnessing how Jung In-Hun left the low-born behind in front of a closed door despite the tender gesture before his departure.

However, the low-born remains immobile behind the door, while feeling excluded and somehow abandoned by the teacher. He doesn’t notice that he has been observed by the noble all this time. Deeply in his thought, he suddenly hears Seungho’s voice. For the second time in this chapter, Byeonduck uses a black drawing:

Interesting is that this picture should be perceived as Baek Na-KYum’s thoughts, just like in the other black image. The low-born is lost due to In-Hun’s lack of concern and the feeling of being abandoned, until he is called by the lord. Only then we see that Seungho is indeed holding a sword. Notice the way he is holding it. It was as if he had no force to sway the weapon as it almost lies on the ground. The master has no energy left.

This illustrates Seungho’s exhaustion, frustration, despair and resignation. He would have killed the painter if the latter had followed the teacher. So this walk in the courtyard was a final attempt to get the painter to his side as he wouldn’t have been able to accept another turndown. He would have preferred the artist being dead than anything else. This underlines his possessiveness. No one is allowed to have him, if he can not have him. Then the following picture is seen from Baek Na-Kyum’s perspective:

He sees an exhausted man with dark rings which he didn’t expect. The low-born gets aware that the lord is not feeling well which surprises the young man.

For the first time, Baek Na-Kyum is looking at the lord as a person and not a master. He can’t hide his astonishment. He saw Yoon Seungho the night before and he looked fine and now he is more or less a wreck. Baek Na-Kyum has always seen the lord as someone strong, full of confidence and energy, hence he feared him despite his innocent boldness. Here, he gets to see another side of the lord: weak, sensitive and resigned. Here we can see the young master at his lowest point. He approaches the young painter after seeing his reaction. Due to his facial expression, Yoon Seungho felt that the low-born was no longer pushing him away. Yet he is lost, just like Baek Na-Kyum. In other words, they are both in the same situation: confused and lost. Yoon Seungho, who spent his night thinking how to improve his relationship with him, has no idea how to get closer to Baek Na-Kyum and to win him over, since even his seductive move and his display of concern from last night had no effect on the painter. The latter still went to the teacher’s side.

That’s why he asks for the first time what the painter likes so much, because he senses that only by knowing the painter he will understand him better so that he can get closer to him. This shows that he wants to know the young man for real. Since he is so weak and asks so gently, Baek Na-Kyum’s heart starts beating louder and you can see that the master’s action and question have triggered something in him.

He is sweating because he doesn’t want to reveal his inner emotions which he doesn’t understand too. However this doesn’t go unnoticed by the lord that’s why he wants to say something.

Notice the direction of his gaze. He is definitely starring at the painter and we all know that Seungho has sharp eyes. He was always able to notice his micro-expressions during his sex session with other partners which he confessed during their sex marathon. So the low-born’s reaction does intrigue him but he is unsure. He is well aware that if he asks something too directly, the artist might get scared again. We shouldn’t forget that the protagonist had already noticed the denial of his sexual desires. So he knows that sex as such is a taboo. I can not tell for sure what he was thinking but since he questioned the artist about his likes, I am wondering if he wanted to ask if Baek Na-Kyum had come to like him due to his reaction. But since he is aware that he is walking on thin ice, he stops himself. Moreover, he could have misinterpreted it. Remember that here the lord is at his lowest. Every possible method with the uke failed so far. The talented man is a complicated puzzle in his eyes. The lord’s question took the man by surprise, once again he is lost in his thoughts and feelings again. His presence and his unusual behavior did affect him and he can not comprehend his body reaction. That’s why we have another black picture again with only the lord’s voice represented: “And the painting?”. This brings the uke back to reality. That’s how they are able to reconnect: the painting brings them closer as this is their real common denominator.

Baek Na-Kyum actually misunderstands here the remark. He thinks that the lord was asking for a new painting of their last sex session. However, the lord had something else in mind. He actually wanted to know if he liked the painting where they were together (the one with the masturbation). Due to the misunderstanding, Seungho becomes happy as he finally sees that the painter will create a new painting and is no longer pushing him away like before that’s why he smiles. The prospect of a new painting of their sex encounter enlightens his mood. Now he knows that the painter has memories of their night together, which makes him happy. Finally, he gets aware that their sex marathon did leave an impression on the painter.

Furthermore, despite his own predicament, Seungho still shows concern for Baek Na-Kyum as he touches his head in order to ensure that he has really recovered from his fever. Sure, the motivation behind the gesture was initially different: he couldn’t restrain himself from touching his face after hearing that the young boy had not forgotten their sex together. Nevertheless, this contrasts so much to the previous teacher’s behavior who was feeling well but didn’t take seriously the poor condition of Baek Na-Kyum. He just left him behind. That’s why I believe that the more Yoon Seungho reveals his vulnerability to the painter, the more the low-born will be moved and fall in love with him. This observation is also confirmed in the next episode. Here, he witnesses the lord having a nightmare which somehow troubles the painter. The latter prefers lying to the teacher than letting him know about the content of the conversation.

In other words, the chapter 30 represented the climax of Seungho’s activity. He rushed to the painter in order to ensure that the one doesn’t leave his side, whereas the chapter 35 marks a pivotal moment in Yoon Seungho’s life: he is on the verge of admitting defeat. We could say that this chapter symbolizes his fall, he has no energy left. He is truly exhausted, resigned and lost, until he wtinesses that Baek Na-Kyum is able to perceive him and still wants to keep his promise: painting erotic images of their sex session. As such, he was about to become passive again but their conversation makes him realize that he was wrong again. Baek Na-Kyum has indeed changed a little hence he starts with a first step. The painter should work again on a new picture in his chamber. However, everything moves much quicker than expected because during the same day (evening) the noble sees that the artist has an erection in his presence, then the latter spends the night with him which he had always wished. Because of that, Seungho becomes more optimistic and decides to claim him as his “bride”.

Finally, we have the last chapter of the first season where the room with a view plays a role again. That’s why as illustration I chose this picture for this analysis. It represents the final change in Seungho’s life: he has become passive again, he is observing the courtyard while smoking. Does it mean that Seungho has returned to the man he was at the beginning? No, not really. He has obtained what he wanted: the painter is now his partner. Therefore he no longer needs to become proactive, to leave the room in order to get his attention. The painter already belongs to him. Strictly speaking, Seungho can become a neutral person again who refuses to meddle with people’s life and politics. He already has what he needs.

This time, Baek Na-Kyum is the one walking in his direction. For the first time, the readers observe the painter walking towards the noble’s house, in the past it was the opposite: Seungho was looking for the painter. Even, when Yoon didn’t come to his side, Baek Na-Kyum either left his room for a walk or he appeared out of the sudden in front of Yoon Seungho in the room. This actually announces the next evolution of their love story. It seems that Baek Na-Kyum will be the one who comes closer and closer to the lord. Furthermore, the painter stops and even looks at the master. This image illustrates that Baek Na-Kyum is no longer blind because of the teacher. He is able to notice the lord looking at him. Yet he doesn’t bow like in the chapter 12 nor fear him and tries to run away. He is quite calm. In this scene and the one before, we saw the artist paying attention to the lord. Sure, since the young man doesn’t go to the lord’s side, there is still some distance between them, however now Baek Na-Kyum is able to notice his gaze and his presence and even takes the time to look at him. This reinforces the impression that Yoon Seungho has been able to change the painter’s perspective. Interesting is that both are looking at each other, while it is snowing. There is this tradition in South Korea that if you watch the first snow falling with your partner, then this person will be your fated love. As you can see, the snow seems to indicate that both persons are fated.

But the return of Seungho’s passivity will be short-lived in my opinion. Seungho will be forced to meddle in people’s life and even politics because of Baek Na-Kyum. First, we have the planned assassination. Secondly there is In-Hun, who could use his new position in order to get revenge on the repeated humiliation he suffered in the past, if he succeeds the exam. Finally his father won’t remain inactive too and could use the younger son. However, the passivity and somehow neutrality doesn’t signify that Yoon Seungho has no clue what is happening around him. Since he has been hurt in the past, one of his ultimate goals was to never be defenseless again. Therefore I perceive that Yoon Seungho has never revealed his true power and skills. He has been using his bad reputation and the rumors about his declining family in order to deceive people. With a low profile he can ensure not to become a target of politicians or of the king.

Funny is that the assassin is standing on the roof which somehow confirms my belief that the room with a view had an important signification. Besides, just like in the English novel where Georges Emerson moved closer to Lucy Honeychurch in order to pursue her and Lucy feared the disapproval from society if she acknowledged her love for the freethinking man, Seungho had to fight for Baek Na-Kyum, just like the latter needs time to realize his feelings for the nonconformist noble. Here, I sense that the fight for their love will have more repercussion on society and politics. Seungho fears more the loss of Baek Na-Kyum than the rejection from people. And this leads me to the final conclusion: I am expecting that the attempted assassination will trigger another big eruption but also will open the painter’s eyes. It could be the moment where he sees the lord very vulnerable again.

Feel free to comment. If you liked it, please push the button like or retweet it. Thanks. If you have any question, feel free to ask. It has already happened.

5 thoughts on “Painter Of The Night; “Room with a view” in Joseon (part 2)

  1. Hello!
    I just wanted to tell you that I love your analysis, I could never have analyzed my favorite manhwa as deeply as you do.
    And I wanted to leave a question, will you ever analyze the individual images of Byeonduck from Painter of the Night? Such as the image of Na Kyum dressed as a noble feeding Seungho in the mouth, or the image of the interview that Byeonduck drew and others that are on the author’s twitter. Looking closely you can see several important and perhaps future details of the manhwa, in my opinion, they are strange details that do not fit where the story stayed in the first season.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot for the compliment. Actually, I prefer to focus on the manhwa itself. Sure, I saw a new picture on tweeter but it is too short. I need at least more chapters in order to be able to see parallels. I already compared the evolution of BNK’s paintings and I hope, we see new ones.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Not at me grinning the whole time reading a piece that perfectly describes how seungho has fallen for nakyum. Like damn. Only on this site can I express how I love potn more than all the webtoons i have read (sorry charlize,charlotte,athanasia,byul,and basialy everyone because potn is just on another favourite level). And only with this analyses can I feel that potn is indeed more than just its smut and popularity.
    I have read the manhwa countless times and these moments which actually contained emotional meanings made me just sit back and sigh .Little by little. I get to appreciate potn from its emotional perspective and not only its art style and plot.
    Thank you for loving potn with that really big brain and sharp eyes of yours😶😶.uwuu

    Liked by 1 person

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