This is where you can read the manhwa. https://www.lezhin.com/en/comic/painter But be aware that this manhwa is a mature Yaoi, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes. If you want to read more essays, here is the link to the table of contents: https://bebebisous33analyses.wordpress.com/2020/07/04/table-of-contents-painter-of-the-night/
Only after the second season, I have finally understood the true role played by rumors which are strongly intertwined with reputation. The latter is what others think or believe about people. As you can detect, notoriety is linked to appearances and image. Striking is that I had already sensed that reputation and responsibility were stark connected to each other in season 1, hence I had written this essay. Yet, I had misinterpreted certain aspects which I am correcting now.
As I had demonstrated before, the chapters 39 and 40 were focused on responsibility. Yoon Seungho was determined to become Baek Na-Kyum’s guardian, which he announced in three different occasions:
- He scolded his maids for not treating Baek Na-Kyum properly, although the latter had slept in the master’s bedroom and the servants knew that.
- The lord sent the low-born to his own tailor so that he could get expensive winter clothes
- When he questioned the scholar’s intentions, he wanted to outline that contrary to Jung In-Hun, he would become responsible for the painter. Unconsciously, he put a red dot on the painter’s forehead, a sign for a bride. Yet his true goal was to push the painter to ponder about his actual situation. He should realize that he did expect something from his learned sir. Since he had helped him to find a sponsor, the painter hoped, the scholar would become reliable for him, as he was just a low-born.
As you can see, the noble acted like a responsible man before announcing it to Baek Na-Kyum. In the kitchen, the negative comments from the maids made the master realize that the artist’s status was affected due to his connection with Yoon Seungho. He was the target of bad remarks, because the young artist was wearing the lord’s own shirt. For the first time, the aristocrat was confronted with the negative consequences of reputation and image. The main lead might be fine with his bad notoriety, but it is different for Baek Na-Kyum, as the latter is just a commoner. Yoon Seungho witnessed how the low-born claimed to be an artist, but he was not perceived as such. By giving him new clothes, the main lead wanted to demonstrate that the artist was not a servant, he had a special status. However, this incident was relevant for another reason. Due to the master’s reprimand, the gossips about Yoon Seungho’s household disappeared, hence Jihwa’s servant couldn’t get new information about his childhood friend. (chapter 41). Consequently, the author showed us in chapter 38 and 39 the origins of rumors and their function in the story.
Striking is that although the lord wanted to become responsible, he didn’t accompany the low-born right away, but sent him to the tailor with his own valet, before appearing himself. What caught my attention is that right from the start, the tailor doubted Kim’s words.
The tailor was very suspicious and kept asking questions to Kim. On the other hand, we have to wonder why Yoon Seungho didn’t follow the commoners right away. In my opinion, he changed his mind due to the tailor. First, the lord must have realized afterwards that the shop owner would doubt the valet’s words, as he had witnessed how his own maids would look down on the artist. Therefore, he must have anticipated that the tailor would have a similar reaction: he would suspect the veracity of the order. And he was right about this assumption, like the following tailor’s comment exposes it: Hence Yoon Seungho decided to join them. Moreover, the main lead is a very possessive and jealous man. While getting dressed, he must have recognized that the tailor would get close to his lover by measuring him too. Note that it was the first question the lord asked, when he penetrated the room. This definitely exposed that the noble was thinking a lot about this task. Moreover, his gaze was instantly directed at the tailor and his hand. This displays that the main lead had already envisioned the measuring and disliked the idea that someone else would see his partner so closely. Striking is that his late arrival truly outlined the artist’s importance in Yoon Seungho’s life, which couldn’t escape the tailor’s notice. Imagine, the lord was ensuring himself that everything was done properly. To sum up, the master had two reasons to join the butler and the artist. He desired to make sure that Baek Na-Kyum was treated properly, at the same time he needed to keep other men away. He had to protect the painter’s reputation: he was no servant, but an artist and his companion! Through his words said in front of the tailor, he deliberately unveiled the nature of their relationship. He knew that the tailor would catch this insinuation. In my eyes, it was not just an unconscious expression of love (the lord was not aware of his affection), but also a conscious choice. As a lord, he desired to defend Baek Na-Kyum’s position as a painter and as his lover. That’s why Yoon Seungho became responsible.
What caught my attention is that the shop owner uses the expression “I’ve never heard of…”, it insinuates that he also talks a lot with other merchants and customers. Besides, the gossiping attitude of the tailor is also confirmed in the chapter 41:
Notice that when Min described the tailor as loose-lipped, he was criticizing the main lead and reminding him to pay more attention to his image and appearances. However, Yoon Seungho remained indifferent, as he has never paid attention to rumors, because he is well aware that they never reflect truth. For he never cared about gossips, he had no problem to have a foreplay at the tailor’s shop. All these gestures and information led me to the following conclusion. The chapter 39 and 40 announced a turning point in Yoon Seungho’s life. By becoming responsible for the painter, he would create new rumors. Remember how he had been portrayed so far: (chapter 1)
(chapter 10) (chapter 13) (chapter 18)
(chapter 22) (chapter 33)
What do these gossips have in common? They all portray the wealthy main lead as a bad man. He is a man with no integrity and honor. Besides, he has a bad personality as well. And this observation made me realize the true function of these rumors in the story. The lord’s negative reputation through grapevines is created for only one purpose. It is to isolate him from everyone. He has such a bad notoriety not only among nobles, but also among commoners. That’s why Baek Na-Kyum didn’t want to be connected to him in the first episode and lied to Yoon Seungho. This also explicates why Heena noona rejects him. Therefore we have to question ourselves about the origins about these rumors. Who started them? As you can imagine, I believe that there are two people responsible for these grapevines, for gossips circulate among the local aristocracy and others among the commoners, yet their nature diverges.
- As you can anticipate, in my opinion, Min is the one spreading these rumors among the nobles. First, in chapter 36 Black Heart is using rumors to manipulate his pawn: Besides, the childhood friend is often mentioning rumors as well, and since Jihwa is Black Heart’s pupil, this could be judged as another proof for my interpretation. Under this new perspective, this explicates why Jihwa, who is close to The Joker, could mention this gossip to Yoon Seungho in chapter 18: Moreover, I believe, Black Heart told this to the second lead as well. He desired to portray the main character in a negative light so that the red-haired aristocrat would turn his attention to him. Let’s not forget that in chapter 18, the childhood friend claimed that he had been using Yoon Seungho, indicating that besides their sexual relationship, Jihwa managed to make some deal. And now, you understand why The Joker is using gossips against the main lead, which became obvious in chapter 33. He imagined that he could isolate Yoon Seungho and make him feel miserable. This is no coincidence, when the main character heard this grapevine, , he replied this: He desired his childhood friend to tell the others that he didn’t fear this type of gossips. We have to envision that these words must have reached the Joker’s ears. That’s why in chapter 33, he retaliated by using the painter as an excuse. Note that the nobles mentioned Baek Na-Kyum as gossip and while leaving they kept talking about another rumor: So when Min decided to meet the main lead in the woods, he envisioned that the protagonist would get upset because of the gossips concerning the incident at the tailor shop. Maybe if he confronted him directly, he would get another reaction: fear and pain. I would like to remind my readers that in my eyes, Min is suffering from an Antisocial Personality Disorder, this explicates his passion for manipulations, fear and misery. He tried to instill fear in the noble (“look, now you are even associated to a low-born!”) but he didn’t succeed. That’s why The Joker decided to have the painter killed right after. If the latter were to die, then Yoon Seungho would truly become lonely, especially after discovering that his childhood friend was the culprit. Let’s not forget that Min was present, when Jihwa showed a certain empathy for his lost friend despite their quarrel. The Joker recognized that their friendship was not ruined for good. And note that in chapter 76, he is using the same method again. He witnessed how Yoon Seungho showed leniency towards Jihwa despite his wrongdoings, as the lord didn’t punish him. Min is manipulating the second lead, making him believe that he has to listen to him, as the protagonist could target him. The Joker is using the second lead’s existential fear to separate both friends. Despite all his schemes, Min was not able to attach the red-haired aristocrat to himself. Furthermore, he even has to discover how Jihwa had sex with a low-born like Nameless and he would even listen to his words. No wonder why Min got infuriated in the end. Despite all his schemes, he was not able to control Jihwa and Yoon Seungho. Both escaped his manipulations. And now the readers should question themselves Black Heart’s true goal in all this. Why is he so determined to hurt the protagonist and to make him feel miserable? If he was able to hurt and control Yoon Seungho, he would become the ultimate puppet master. However, that’s what The Joker thinks. Remember what I wrote about Black Heart’s real weakness. The latter fears social norms and as such rumors. Strictly speaking, he pays attention to appearances despite his nihilistic tendencies. That’s why he smiles and laughs a lot. However, he has always envied Yoon Seungho for that reason. The latter has always remained impassible to social norms and rumors. He showed real courage and strength, because he never complied through peer group pressure. And the worst is that even Jihwa was willing to be associated to such a man, although the latter has a terrible reputation. I would even say that the bond between the two characters hasn’t been destroyed yet after all, although both figures kept hurting each other. Even after the abduction, the main lead didn’t retaliate against his friend. That’s why Min has to make Jihwa and Yoon Seungho miserable. He envies the protagonist, because he was capable to have such a friend. They have seen the worst from each other, yet they were able to remain friend, even Jihwa wanted to become Yoon Seungho’s lover. Moreover, now he is not hiding his relationship with Baek Na-Kyum. As you can imagine, the episode 76 made me realize Min’s defeat. The latter couldn’t stop Yoon Seungho from revealing his special relationship to the painter in front of commoners. He treated his lover like his wife and the town folks could witness it. Therefore this is no coincidence that episode 76 is connecting responsibility to rumors. The water and the music box are the evidences that Yoon Seungho is a responsible man. They reveal his integrity which stands in opposition to reputation. Integrity describes how you act, it is a characteristic of you regardless of who is watching. Finally, Yoon Seungho’s true personality is revealed to the world in chapter 76. He shows moral righteousness, courage, gentleness and responsibility. He allows a commoner to hug him, is willing to lower himself and listen to the low-born’s request: he needs his help. And during the second season Min’s only success was in chapter 54. Here, he could only wound the main lead, because the painter feared social norms as well. But now, it is no longer working on Baek Na-Kyum either. I believe, the trigger for this huge war is Baek Na-Kyum. I am still convinced that Black Heart is obsessed with the artist, because he wished that the artist would look at him the same way. Imagine this: The low-born showed pure desires, and neither the main lead’s terrible reputation nor his wrongdoings could disgust the artist so that the latter would leave Yoon Seungho’s side. As a psychopath/sociopath, Min can only resent the main lead.
- As for the rumors among the commoner, Kim was responsible. He allowed the staff to talk badly about their master. In chapter 32, he never intervened in order to defend his master’s honor. Moreover, he influenced them with his words. After calling Baek Na-Kyum a no-good painter (chapter 11), the maid associated Baek Na-Kyum to a charlatan (chapter 17). Besides, I would like to outline that through his words, Kim encouraged the staff to show a disrespect towards the low-born. That’s why they started eating his food. Since, the valet never reprimanded them for their misconduct, it truly shows that Kim had no interest to protect his master’s interests and rights. He is the one who described Yoon Seungho as violent and with mood swings, because he used the incident with Jihwa’s topknot. He had a reason for spreading these rumors. Exactly like Min, he desired to isolate Yoon Seungho so that the latter would always rely on him. He would show care and concern in front of his master, as he knew his true personality: he was gentle and considerate. And now, it is time to focus once again on chapter 40. Note that when the protagonists left the tailor shop, the butler didn’t follow them: Why? It’s because he needed to speak with the tailor alone. He asked him to never reveal the foreplay to others. That’s why Kim never witnessed this scene: There is no ambiguity that the butler must have claimed that he was doing it in order to protect his master’s reputation. Imagine, he had a sexual relationship with a commoner… what a scandal, especially in that historical period. However, his true intention was different. If the town folks were to discover that their lord would make no distinction between nobles and commoners, and he wouldn’t look down on the low-born, the commoners would judge their lord in a better light. They would realize that he showed tolerance, open-mindedness, honesty but more importantly reliability. I see another evidence that Kim employed gossips to reveal the visit to the tailor to Jung In-Hun. This is the reason why the scholar speaks of flourishing. Let’s not forget that he was the only one who knew about the order of winter clothes. And here, they had just been ordered. From my point of view, Kim hoped to create a quarrel between the learned sir and the painter. Another evidence for this evidence is perceptible in chapter 50: The valet’s words clearly imply that the conversation had become the topic of gossips. That’s why in chapter 45, Byeonduck introduced Kim in front of commoners spreading gossips. This is no coincidence. And this led me to realize two important elements. Right from the start, the author wanted to indicate the valet’s true personality. Kim was not only responsible for the rumors concerning his master, but also for the ambiguous status for Baek Na-Kyum. Furthermore, the butler thought, his trick had been successful, yet during his walk through the town, he discovered a new gossip. The town folks had already perceived a change of their lord’s behavior and connected it to a love affair. And this showed that the lord’s image was not that bad in reality. They still hoped that their lord would calm down and settle. They were even willing to accept Jihwa as the lord’s mistress. This truly revealed that they didn’t truly reject his homosexuality, rather his debauchery. In chapter 45, Kim discovered that Deok-Jae had ruined his plan. Kim was determined to ensure that Yoon Seungho would keep a bad reputation. The moment he was seen as a responsible man, he would no longer be isolated and rely on him. Moreover, the moment he was judged as responsible and he wouldn’t reject commoners, it becomes possible that the commoners complain to him and ask for his help. However, slowly Kim lost his pawns among the staff, so that he has no one to spread rumors. The maid questioned his authority and even defended her lord in chapter 67. She didn’t question Yoon Seungho’s reasoning, it was his right. This means that now he is considered as the real master of the mansion. Kim still used the male servants for his scheme in chapter 69, but in my opinion, he even lost their support, because nothing bad happened after their love session. And note that the domestic’s words are referring to rumor: The butler was no longer able to manipulate through rumors, hence he ends up alone in the backyard. Imagine, Kim can’t even use the loose-lipped tailor for his schemes, as the shop owner resents the butler for turning him into a liar and fool. That’s why we see him whispering to a client, when the lord is standing in front of his shop. Now, the tailor can talk to his heart content. Neither Kim nor Kim can ask him to remain quiet. And note that in chapter 76 Yoon Seungho is walking alone with his lover, hence when he helped his panicked lover, the commoners could witness how kind, selfless and generous Yoon Seungho was. Exactly like in chapter 40, he came later so that his behavior would outline the artist’s importance in the noble’s life. First, he sat on the ground to comfort his partner. Then after bringing to the planks of woods, Yoon Seungho took care of Baek Na-Kyum’s headgears. He made sure that his wife was properly covered and he would get water. Finally, he was even willing to buy an expensive music box, although Baek Na-Kyum never said anything. He acted as a responsible man which many people, commoners and nobles, could witness.
But what does it mean? The rebirth of the phoenix has been noticed by the town folks. But more importantly, they witness how the artist had a panic attack and how he screamed for Yoon Seungho’s help. The shop owners will certainly gossip about this incident and remember the painter’s disappearance which cause a huge ruckus in town. The commoners complained about the behavior of the lord’s servants. Back then, the rumors were that a servant had run away, however the tailor revealed that the lord’s lover was the painter. Hence I am expecting that the town folks will realize that Yoon Seungho’s lover was abducted. And since Jihwa had confessed in public the night before the artist’s disappearance, the commoners will realize what the ex-lover did, when he got rejected. And maybe that’s the reason why Min is able to bind Jihwa to him. If his crime was revealed to the commoners, the latter could definitely complain. And this story clearly reveals that reputation is nothing… what really matters is integrity. However, Jihwa needs to learn this lesson, but only through pain he will recognize this. That’s why he is still not listening to his conscience. This explicates why Black Heart reveals his true personality in chapter 76. He is selfish, stupid, but more importantly irresponsible, for he lets Jihwa become responsible for his own misdeeds.
And now, you understand why I can’t review my bad perception about Kim and Min. Both are cowards who hide behind rumors in order to manipulate people. At the same time, this method helps them to wash off their hands from their own misdeeds. In their mind, they can never be held responsible. The others are to blame, as they repeated their words or decided to listen to their words. However, they are forgetting that words are as such actions. They can’t escape their responsibility for their crimes: blackmail, perjury, murder, complicity of abduction. That’s why chapter 76 is so beautiful in the end, as it shows that despite the use of rumors, neither Kim nor Min were able to change the lord’s true personality, they just delayed the truth. He would do anything for his bride: spend a huge amount of money for something that even the king had not seen. The lord’s statement in chapter 40 became true. He took his responsibility as a man and transformed Baek Na-Kyum into his bride. And now…. new rumors will surface, and definitely reach Heena noona’s ears. How will she react? I don’t want to answer to that question, however you are more than welcome to give your opinion to this question.
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