Painter Of The Night: “Persuasion” and “Pride and Prejudice” in the manhwa (second version)

Now, you are wondering how this manhwa can be connected to these English novels written by Jane Austen in the 19th Century. The reason is simple: the titles contain aspects that play a huge part in the manhwa and therefore persuasion, pride and prejudice will be in the center of this analysis. I am using the titles just like Jane Austen did.

Actually, my focus will be on Jung In-Hun and his special relationship with Baek Na-Kyum, where persuasion, pride and prejudice affect their relationship. However, if the title had been too obvious, I am not sure if people would have been inclined to read another analysis about this rather quiet character. Yet, when in the past I used to compare him to animals, my judgement was still too nice. Here, you’ll discover his true personality. Instead of explaining right away about the new discovery and knowledge, I will show you how I came to these terrible conclusions.

After writing my analysis about the mirror and its functions, one reader commented that in the chapter 31 you could sense that the mirror combined with the eyes was somehow used as a tool for hypnosis. [That’s why it is very important that people leave comments, through exchange I can even get new insights too.]

chapter 31

Hypnosis is a trance-like mental state in which people experience increased attention, concentration and suggestibility. This method can be used to treat people suffering from traumas so that the unconscious can reveal itself and free the repressed natural feelings and thoughts so that through suggestions, the patient can be influenced to overcome his fears and trauma.

Now, let me contextualize the sequence of the drawings again. Seungho is forcing the painter to look into the mirror and see his own reactions while having sex with the lord. He wants him to acknowledge his own sexual orientation and his attraction for the master hence he holds Baek Na-Kyum’s face in front of the mirror. And then the author focused on the eyes. The first image above shows the reflection of Baek Na-Kyum’s eyes in the mirror, since the thumb is on the right just like in the 4th picture. So here the beholder observes through the mirror the painter’s gaze and here we feel something has been triggered in his mind therefore the image from his daydream resurfaces (second image, it appeared in the episode 2). In this case, the unconscious is starting to emerge from this repression. The third drawing is focused on the lord’s gaze but here we have to imagine that this is viewed from the painter’s perspective. The lord’s gaze has caught his attention and as such, the artist seems to be put into a second state, into hypnosis. Thanks to the reader’s observation with the hypnosis, something really important caught my eyes: the gaze. Yoon Seungho’s gaze is so captivating for the uke that his eyes can’t leave his gaze…. that’s how the hypnosis started so that after that sex marathon, Baek Na-Kyum was so affected and started feeling butterflies in his belly. Then I was suddenly reminded that in the chapter 2, Baek Na-Kyum is remembering his vow and now pay attention to this image:

chapter 2

Striking is that the eyes are missing. There is no gaze, only the mouth moving has been engraved in the painter’s mind which means that the teacher’s voice and words must have played a huge importance. Yet, why couldn’t the artist remember Jung In-Hun’s face? I came to realize that it must have been related to the physical abuse as we see him getting beaten with his head down. So from his position, he could never catch the teacher’s eyes but he could only hear his voice. So this single scene contains so much info in reality. While it looks like a normal punishment, the spectator is actually witnessing the brainwashing called by psychologists “coercive persuasion”. And now, you understand why I chose “persuasion” as part of the title. Since I am no expert in psychology, I had to do some research about this topic. There are 4 different methods to use coercive persuasion: Environmental, emotional and cognitive techniques. The last one (4th) induces dissociative states but it is not relevant for our case as it is far too modern.

Here, I am listing the different ways for an environmental coercive persuasion: isolation, control of information, creation of a state of existential dependence, psycho-physical weakening.

From this list, we can see a lot of common points with Baek Na-Kyum’s situation. Although he was raised in a gisaeng house and seems to have been treated quite well, he is introduced as a drunk and lonely person.

episode 1

In the second season, we discover why he cut ties with his family (the head gisaeng). The latter abandoned him and entrusted him to the scholar. She thought, she was doing him a favor and imagined that with the teacher’s support, his career could progress. Because of her abandonment, the painter relied even more on the teacher. Exposed to isolation, the teacher could start influencing him about his views: sex and sodomy are filthy and vulgar. As time passed on, he relied more and more on the teacher so that the moment the vow was made, Jung In-Hun somehow abandoned him. Therefore the painter started drinking alcohol in order to survive his existential dependence on the teacher. Then we witness in the chapter 22 how Baek Na-Kyum has some issues to follow the hunters. He is out of breath and he also falls easily. His weak constitution is no coincidence as we have to remember that he is actually a young man.

This also explains why he got sick after that sex marathon. The psycho-physical weakness of the low-born is the consequence of the coercive persuasion. But here is the next question: did the teacher just use environmental techniques to get his way?

Now, it is time to focus on the second method of coercive persuasion, the emotional techniques. Like before, I am listing its features: Emotional activation of pleasure, then emotional activation of fear, guilt and anxiety. It means that the person uses rewards and punishments so that emotional responses of fear are established. Due to guilt and anxiety, the person becomes dependent and submissive.

As you can observe, Jung In-Hun did use emotional techniques too. The poem and the smiles were his rewards, while the beating was his punishment. While abusing him, he kept explaining that these pictures were abnormal and filthy. In other words, Jung In-Hun has been manipulating Baek Na-Kyum’s emotions by making him feel guilty and dirty. And I believe that it is no coincidence that Baek Na-Kyum was always paralyzed, when he was hugged by Yoon Seungho from behindand why Jung In-Hun always touched the commoner in the front (chapter 24 or chapter 29). If you pay attention to the artist’s behavior, he never showed his back to the teacher, only walked behind or by his side because deep down, his body remembered that he was beaten on his calves, hence unconsciously he protected his back.

chapter 10

Finally, we come to the last techniques of brainwashing, the cognitive methods. Interesting is that this type of coercive persuasion techniques are mediated by previous techniques. A subject who is physically weakened and feeling guilty is perfect for cognitive persuasion: Critical thinking denigration, Lies and deception, identification with the group or with the authority (this means that the person loses his own personality and habit), control of attention and control over language.

Now, you can sense that in reality, Jung In-Hun’s brainwashing consisted of the last techniques: the cognitive techniques, since he first applied environmental and emotional techniques too. We have one scene, where it is clear that Baek Na-Kyum is not allowed to have his own opinion and must think like his “mentor” (critical thinking denigration).

chapter 10

That’s why he is not able to perceive the lies and deception in the teacher. He has been so manipulated by him that he falls for his lies every time and the teacher knows that. The chapter 10 reveals the coercive persuasion at his best. We have the critical thinking denigration, then the teacher makes him feel guilty by reminding what his paintings and sodomy are (vulgar and dirty)

Pay attention to Baek Na-Kyum’s reaction. He is put under pressure, totally stressed hence he is sweating. Finally, Baek Na-Kyum is coerced to abandon painting (identification to the group or authority). If he wants to be acknowledged and accepted by Jung In-Hun, he needs to stop working as a painter.

We can also observe the control of attention in this scene, when he touches the artist’s chin, he makes sure that his words are heard. Simultaneously, the spectator witnesses the control of language. The result is visible in another scene. The expression “consumed by lust” is something that Jung In-Hun uses as well. Here, the young man is just speaking like a parrot in reality.

And we still have people thinking that Yoon Seungho is far worse than the teacher. Since we have exposed his methods how he manipulated and brainwashed the young man, we need to go back to this picture: So Jung In-Hun’s gaze is not remembered. And this is not the only time, when we see the face of the man without eyes.

chapter 20-21

If you pay attention to the images from the chapter 20 and 21, you’ll notice the similarities. The eyes are not visible, only the chin and the mouth are clear. Nonetheless, in his drunkenness, Baek Na-Kyum acted as if he was seeing the man, but he was not. So why did he act like that? Alcohol can not be the only explication because he couldn’t remember the teacher’s eyes as well, when he was awake and normal (chapter 2). In my opinion, it is related to the coercive persuasion, it is a side effect. This shows how despicable this man is.

Sure, during that fateful night, Baek Na-Kyum wished that the man would be Jung In-Hun that’s why he was calling for his name. Now, we have to question if his intoxication liberated his unconscious, his repressed sexual desires. From my point of view, it is a mixture of both. Yes, he is longing for the warmth of a man but due to the brainwashing, In-Hun became the loved one. The teacher was even able to establish a relationship, where he could maintain his clean image without any physical touch. That’s why his love remains so pure. In-Hun made sure that Baek Na-Kyum would never get close to him but at the same time would long for him. Since the latter had indoctrinated him that homosexuality is vulgar and dirty, the poor man’s unconscious fused his repressed sexual desires with the image of In-Hun, but only his voice and mouth were visible. In other words, what we see is the Stockholm Syndrome. The painter has adopted the point of view of his abuser.

“Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response. It occurs when hostages or abuse victims bond with their captors or abusers. […] Over the course of time, some victims do come to develop positive feelings toward their captors. They may even begin to feel as if they share common goals and causes.”

His so pure love for the scholar is a mechanism to cope with the huge trauma inflicted on him. That’s why his love declaration is so focused on the spiritual aspect: However, the coercive persuasion could never be effective on the artist’s unconscious. This explicates why the painter’s deeply repressed desires keep wishing to have sex with Yoon Seungho. Even awake, he imagines the lord getting closer to him, illustrating his desire that he would like the lord to feel attracted by him. (chapter 15)

This is the reason why Baek Na-Kyum worshiped the poem so much. He could remember the low noble’s voice which reinforced his dependency on the man. And now imagine the reaction of Baek Na-Kyum when he heard the critic from Yoon Seungho. Since he had been brainwashed, he could only react with such an insolence. I wouldn’t say that he was behaving like a freak but I am quite sure that the coercive persuasion explains his rather violent behavior. He yelled and tried to take the poem away from the lord.

At the same time, let us not forget that Yoon criticized the teacher for his poor skills in the chapter 22. You can understand now why Jung In-Hun was so infuriated. He had been able to trick the painter, to have such an admirer and felt that his methods were working well, until someone reminded him what he had actually done in reality: plagiarized a poem.

Now, we have to wonder why the teacher was so adamant to brainwash the young man, since he was just a commoner. My opinion is quite simple: he was terribly jealous of Baek Na-Kyum who, as a low-born, was able to publish many erotic books under a pseudonym. Jung In-Hun’s pride couldn’t take it that someone he considered far below from him was able to raise his financial situation and even get some recognition from the nobles who bought his books. His prejudice and pride were the cause for this coercive manipulation. But this is far from being finished. Why would he spend so much energy on such a single person?

From my perspective, Jung In-Hun is mentally sick. He is suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder. Here I have just listed all the characteristics for this mental illness:

  1. A grandiose sense of self-importance
  2. Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  3. Belief that one is special and can only be understood by or associate with special people or institutions
  4. A need for excessive admiration
  5. A sense of entitlement (to special treatment)
  6. Exploitation of others
  7. A lack of empathy
  8. Envy of others or the belief that one is the object of envy
  9. Arrogant, haughty behavior or attitudes
  10. Resent in case of a critic (this was taken from psychology today website and another French website)

Now, if you compare the list with Jung In-Hun’s behavior and words, you’ll notice that they have so much in common. He feels so superior to others that he failed to realize Yoon Seungho’s mockery in the chapter 6. He is definitely overestimating his own capabilities. In the chapter 18, we see him envying the powerful noble while strolling through the property (point 1, 2, 8). For the second point, he is already dreaming how he can betray Yoon Seungho, once he succeeds with the service civil examination. In the chapter 44, he wants Yoon Seungho to follow him to the capital as he wants to be seen with him which I relate to the point 3 above. He was so bothered and jealous that the master helped Baek Na-Kyum in the chapter 22.

He couldn’t bear the thought that Baek Na-Kyum was favored by Yoon Seungho (chapter 10, 22, 40). He wanted to use the painter as spy and had no problem to send him back, although he knew that the man had been raped (see point 5, 6, 7 above). He feels that his status and knowledge are the reasons why he should get a high position. He truly feels entitled, hence he said to Yoon that he was waiting for the right time. The problem with this type of person is their strong reactions, when it comes to jealousy and critics. Since they seek admiration, they hate it, when someone else is getting attention. Their jealousy can even lead them to destroy the person who got admiration. And this is what happened to Baek Na-Kyum. His true goal was to destroy him without dirtying his fingers but he failed, because Baek Na-Kyum caught the attention of the powerful noble. At the same side, he attempted to keep this admiration from the painter as he loves being in the center of attention, this explains why he isolated the painter in the first place. Such people react strongly to critics, they will do anything to get revenge on the person who dared to criticize them. And we have Yoon Seungho who humiliated him many times. The other problem with people suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder is to bring them to get aware of their own mental issues. Sure, back then this “diagnosis” didn’t exist, however this doesn’t change the consequences. People around them suffer very much because they can become abusive and that to anyone. Imagine that such a person gets a high position. First, it will reinforce his entitlement and secondly he will expect to be admired without doing anything. He will exploit the subordinates.

And now, let’s go back to the start of this analysis. The hypnosis was the moment when Baek Na-Kyum was actually liberated from his brainwashing. That’s why his body started reacting after, when he was close to Yoon Seungho and why he started listening to him. However, I doubt that the noble had an idea about the coercive persuasion. This also explicates why the lord was rejected all the time. Baek Na-Kyum was still under the teacher’s influence. I hope that at the end of this analysis, you’ll come to the same conclusion: Jung In-Hun is the real villain in this story and he can become very dangerous.

At the end of the season, he still thinks that he has some connection with the young man, as despite the rejection and the abandonment in the past, Baek Na-Kyum still admired him that’s why he still believes that his harsh words spoken in the chapter 40 out of resent and jealousy didn’t affect his relationship with the low-born. He has the impression that he can still use him as a pawn. Nevertheless, I can imagine that the moment Baek Na-Kyum starts getting more admiration and recognition by society, Jung In-Hun will wish to have him killed.

Persuasion, pride and prejudice towards low-born and nobility are the aspects that define Jung In-Hun so well. His delusion was the cause of Baek Na-Kyum’s unhappiness and tears in reality. Strangely, although the sex session with the mirror seemed to reflect a rather abusive relationship, in reality it freed the painter. That’s why it is important to distinguish between seem and reality. The reality was the coercive persuasion that is so well hidden that you truly need to pay attention to details. I had always said that the man had been brainwashed, yet by discovering the employed techniques, the atrocity of Jung In-Hun’s actions becomes more palpable. Furthermor, it makes me realize that his love for the scholar was fake in reality, just the result of captivity: Stockholm Syndrome.

Feel free to comment. If you have any suggestion for topics or manhwas, feel free to ask. If you enjoyed reading it, retweet it or push the button like. My tumblr-twitter account is: @bebebisous33. Thanks for reading and the support.

4 thoughts on “Painter Of The Night: “Persuasion” and “Pride and Prejudice” in the manhwa (second version)

  1. Thank you so much for your hard work and clear presentation! I was so happy when I read your analyse-Night-portrait posts! I am from Russian fandom where readers think that Baek Na-Kyum and Yoon Seungho mustnt be together, because Yoon Seungho is cruel dangerous person with mad gaze. They accosiated him with maniac from “Killing Stalkig”. But I really want to believe that they (Baek Na-Kyum and Yoon Seungho) will be pair! I want they will find happiness in each other and will not torture! And I doubted in it very long time… but your posts makes me see the story wider: class stratification, characters past, many details… I can understand characters better than earlier.
    I am little bit sad that many people read Night Portrait because of rating scenes. Byeonduck is amazing artist, but I wish that people will see psychological side of the story.
    Sorry for my English, I studied it 1 year ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the compliment. I know that many people see Yoon Seungho in a rather negative light because of his violent behavior. But let us not forget that he is a lord living in a different historical period. People shouldn’t judge him based on our modern standards. Back then, low-born and servants had no rights hence what he did was nothing abnormal for the order society. His eyes do reveal his emotions but it shows more than violence. I do think that Byeonduck likes Yoon Seungho very much and he is not like the main character from Killing Stalking. Finally, Seungho is changing so much, we see so much growth in him which makes him a better character than Jung In-Hun.


  2. I like this essay a lot and I can see how you put so much effort into it. Now I can truly understand why Nakyum reacted the way he dod and how evil Jung In-hun really is. This is truly so well written and so in-depth!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot for the compliment. Actually, I wrote this a long time ago but I only updated it today because I saw some readers saying that BNK was a victim suffering from Stockholm syndrom perpetrated by Jung In-Hun.


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