Painter Of The Night: Yoon Seungho’s pangs of conscience

This is where you can read the manhwa. 

But be aware that this manhwa is a mature Yaoi, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes.

In different occasions, the readers catch the protagonist feeling remorse and regretting his actions. Striking is that the first time, we could only detect it through the narration of a witness. And this happened in the chapter 13.

Even the narrator is quite unsure how to interpret the master’s action because of the expression “it seems”. Why is he so uncertain? First, the master’s behavior is unusual. Like Jihwa said, he is someone who doesn’t go back on his word. However, the servant is well aware that he has no idea what motivated the master. He might have good reasons because he is someone very cunning and has a secretive nature. Besides, no servant really understands the lord, he is just a mystery to them. He is harsh, has mood swings and leads such a decadent life without paying attention to his bad reputation and gossips. He stands out so much from the other nobles. He is just an oddity hence the spy hired by Jihwa can’t explain Seungho’s change of heart because he is so different from the other aristocrats.

Striking is that Byeonduck chose to reveal the outcome of the incident through a flashback from a spy. Besides we only see the lord from far away and what caught my attention is that we don’t get to see the lord’s gaze. As you know, his eyes are the mirror of his soul. Hence even the readers are left in the dark and it is left to the beholders to find an interpretation. But since we know the whole story for the first season, I believe that the lord’s change of heart represents his first visible guilty conscience.

We have two different clues for this. The master personally went there to stop the punishment. It is not just because he wanted to ensure that his order would be followed. He could have sent his loyal valet Kim. No, he regretted his action for slapping and for the punishment. His appearance there signalized that he felt responsible. And now this is my own interpretation. He had calmed down and realized that he had been too harsh and violent. He got aware that he had just jumped to the conclusion that he had ruined the painting but he must have remembered the painter’s surprised face and he only took liability because someone was accusing Jung In-Hun indirectly. I have the impression that he must have remembered the incident with the poem, where Baek Na-Kyum was so bold to criticize the master and even tried to take back the poem. He knows the painter’s daring attitude, when it comes to Jung In-Hun. The other clue is that he asked his servant Kim to attend the artist personally and take care of the wound on his lip. Striking is that he knew where the innocent man had been injured: the cut on the lip. So he must have paid attention to the artist’s face. From my point of view, the lord is someone self-reflecting a lot. How do I come to this conclusion?

Notice that there is a certain pattern in his attitude. He did the same thing after the rape but this time, the beholder had many occasions to witness his remorse. In the bathroom, he is recalling what led to the rape and the fact that he is remembering shows that he is not denying what happened. He wants to know how this could happen since he had never planned the rape. A person without remorse or regret wouldn’t even give a thought and would never attempt to remember like that because bad memories are quite painful. In the bathroom, he cools down and is no longer angry, rather remorseful. Therefore he makes the decision to bring the injured painter his own clothes. The deadly gaze he gives to Kim on his way back is a defense mechanism in my opinion. He doesn’t want to be confronted by a critical and reproachful gaze. We all know that he is truly sensitive, when it comes to gaze. And notice that he even attends the poor low-born himself. He stands by the bathtub and looks at him and even wipes the tears from his eyes.

However, the noble doesn’t truly realize the real impact of his action. He thought that even if he coerced him to sex, the painter would no longer resist him and accept him as his partner. He is a lord after all. That’s why he shows a certain lack of understanding first.

The lord believes that if he brings himself new clothes and wipes himself the tears from his face, it will be enough to smooth the pain. He makes the assumption that this will be enough to compensate for his wrongdoing. In his eyes, he has already lowered himself and taken over the job of an assistant. He never expected that the painter would reject his gentle gesture and push his hand away.

The rejection and the reproachful gaze ignite a fire in Seungho. He becomes furious.

We have to imagine that he never had to face admonition, until he met the commoner. The lord might have felt remorse but he doesn’t want to take the whole blame and tries to make the uke feel guilty. He never expected such a reply from Baek Na-Kyum. The climax of the reprimand is when the commoner puts the blame on him for the whole situation. If he hadn’t acted as Jung In-Hun, then none of this would have ever happened. Striking is that painter is more angry at him because of their first night than the forced sex at the pavilion. That’s why the beholder sees a shock on the master’s face. No one has ever reprimanded him like that, confronting with such harsh words and putting all the responsibility on him. He can’t accept criticism so well as he has never been used to it. We shouldn’t forget that he has never been in a relationship and all his “acquaintances” are just sex partners. He has been a loner for a long time.

His inability to accept criticism has been revealed all along. It started with the condemnation with the words “a man consumed by lust”. It annoyed him so much that he wanted to be left alone. He literally ran away. Just after the rape, he does the same. He had already felt remorse, when the uke whispered Jung In-Hun hence he left the pavilion.This terrible and somehow empty gaze serves as a shield, he is so lost in his thoughts and he doesn’t even want to see or hear anything that could resemble a disapproval or reprimand. In other words, the regret or remorse are always connected to a certain cowardice. He doesn’t want to face any admonishment and wants to seclude himself. However, as time passes on, I believe that he reflects on his behavior and has some pangs of conscience. Hence he went himself to release the painter from the straw mat beating and he personally fetched the horse and brought back his own clothes to the commoner. He has a certain self-awareness. And let’s not forget that he personally confirmed that the wound on his lip was healing. This gesture illustrates that the lord is definitely taking the blame for the injury.

If we compare the two situations (the straw mat beating and the scene in the bathroom), we can notice a progression in the involvement. First, he let the valet Kim attend the wound, this time he is willing to do it himself. He has started to devalue himself. Hence I come to the conclusion that after the straw mat beating, he did feel some regret but not to the point to feel so guilty. However by each wrongdoing, the pangs of conscience are getting bigger. Nevertheless his position as master represents a hindrance in my opinion. That’s why he wasn’t willing to take the whole blame for the rape in the bathroom.

And now, we come to the situation where the lord will feel remorse again. This happens right after the sex marathon. Striking is that this time, Byeonduck let the beholder witness how little by little the lord takes his responsibility for his action and bad decisions. He never imagined that his sex stamina would exhaust the artist so much. First, he drinks water and notice that the uke is immobile.

Here we can observe the worries in his eyes hence he puts the bowl next to the commoner believing that this would be enough.

The three dots in the speech bubble are interesting because this shows that the lack of reaction from the painter leaves the master speechless. We don’t see his face but yet we hear his shock, the sudden realization dawns on him that there is something really wrong with the artist. That’s why this time, the noble gives himself the water with his own mouth. Here, he can’t blame anyone like in the past (see the straw mat beating, the rape and the fellatio due to the way Baek Na-Kyum is dressed: half-naked and touching his body). He can’t run away either because if he did, the artist could die. He has to face his wrongdoing. Yet we can detect a progression in his change of behavior: he has lowered himself even more than before. When he recognizes that his simple gesture didn’t work, he gets even more concerned.

The pangs of conscience are in this chapter not only visible but palpable. He sends for a doctor and Kim is by the uke’s side. What caught my attention here are the following pictures.

The doctor is actually criticizing the valet and the lord indirectly. This time, a third person is expressing a reprimand which incites the valet Kim to warn the physician.

He knows his master’s personality pretty well. He can’t accept any criticism, he actually expects a violent outburst. Only then we discover Yoon Seungho’s presence and he has a deadly gaze again. However, he shows no other reaction, although he did hear the diagnosis and the admonishment from the doctor. Like I had mentioned it above, the cold and mortal gaze is a defense mechanism. But his lack of violent outburst indicates that he does accept the reprimand. Little by little, Seungho is changing, is willing to face any criticism. He has no other choice. Then he remains at the door until the doctor has given his full diagnosis and prescription. Even plagued by remorse, he assumes the responsibility for his wrongdoings by his presence while remaining silence. Striking is that as soon as the physician has finished his speech, the lord leaves the room.

Here again, he is running away again in order to reflect on himself and the valet had even anticipated this behavior. He needs “seclusion” in order to think deeply and he can only get it outside the mansion. Hence he goes to sex parties, where his body might be present but his mind elsewhere. Besides I suspect that just like Baek Na-Kyum, he wants to ease the pain with sex so that he can’t think of anything else, yet from my point of view, Seungho couldn’t stop thinking while having sex… and I am sure that Min’s words triggered his possessiveness that’s why he returned to the mansion at the end.

He might take the blame financially but admitting himself to be responsible is another thing. Like I mentioned it in another analysis, Seungho wants to know the reason behind his actions. Why did he want to sleep with the painter so much? Was it because he had focused too much on the artist? Maybe if he had other sex partners, he would feel less aroused by the commoner? Why does it feel so different with the others? Moreover, he fears the painter’s reaction. That’s why he never comes back for many days. It is a mixture of a guilty conscience and introspection. Since he has always been rejected and criticized by the painter before, he has already imagined that the uke would behave like in the past. He only comes back, when he hears that the painter recovered from his fever. Deep down, he hopes that the uke won’t react so violently because so many days have passed and he is in a much better condition. He is definitely hoping that he won’t be confronted with harsh words and hatred. That’s why when he returns to his chamber, he has this indifferent faze and impenetrable gaze in order to protect himself. He observes a different reaction: there is no resent or hatred like in the bathroom, although what he did, was far worse in his eyes. Therefore he lets the painter leave his bedroom. The low-born could have died and the master is well aware of this fact but he is content enough that there is no hatred from the painter. The pangs of conscience are the reason why he broods the whole night. Besides, he has to find a way to get closer to Baek Na-Kyum.

From the chapter 36 on, Seungho is willing to become the servant in their relationship. This represents the climax of his transformation. However, the transformation is not complete. Why? First, he never apologized to the painter personally. Even when the painter was slapped by Jihwa and the identity of the culprit was revealed, Seungho only caressed the artist’s face saying that with him, his life was more colorful. That’s why there is this slap in the chapter 41. He still views himself as a master. We have to imagine that he has internalized his role as master so this shouldn’t wonder us that there are some remains. From my point of view, Seungho is now able to digest criticism but he needs to learn to communicate with the painter hence he wouldn’t need to seclude himself in order to reflect. An apology is needed too in my opinion. When the lord does that, their relationship will improve and the gap between them will really disappear.

The first season illustrates a gradual metamorphosis. He is able to face disapproval which explains why he is much calmer than before, he acts more and more like a servant, although he has not dropped entirely his role. He needs to learn to express himself more but after so many years in solitude and loneliness, this can’t happen so suddenly. He has to learn to be in a relationship and communication is the key. The eagle has almost been tamed.

Feel free to comment or to give any suggestion for an analysis (topic, manhwas). If you enjoyed reading it, either retweet it or push the button “like” so that this writing doesn’t become pointless. Thanks for the support.

4 thoughts on “Painter Of The Night: Yoon Seungho’s pangs of conscience

  1. I love how you’re so particular with SH’s gaze! He’s such a complicated character and that’s what makes his gazes so hard to analyze. Is he guilty? Mad? Pissed? Empathetic? At first, who knows. But now that he’s actually doing things a lord doesn’t usually do, it makes us think otherwise and it’s all for the painter. That scene where he was dumbfounded after seeing the painter completely immobile got to me. It was in the middle of the night after all and he had to call the doctor ASAP. The worry in his eyes after seeing NK just lie there was so clear ;-;

    Also, yes I agree with you when you said that his stern and impenetrable gaze is his defense mechanism, and it was even seen when he was with his brother. He had to hide all those emotions to extract fear from people and so that he won’t lose respect from them. But what he doesn’t realize is that respect through fear is not real respect at all :/ But I guess now that he’s changed bc of NK, things will probably be better for him. He’s just a lonely man, really. So lonely that he’s become so numb ;-;

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, that’s why he has no real respect from his servants and they are all talking behind his back. Besides, one could be easily bought and they even let Jihwa enter a second time. By the way, I have to write a second part about his gaze (the role played by the gaze) because so far the first part focused more on the beginning chapters.

      Liked by 1 person

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