Painter Of The Night: The significance of clothes (part 1)

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.

I had to do some research about the meaning of colors to improve my basic knowledge, especially when there are different green and pink. I chose this website because it contained many info.

Since I analyzed the meaning of the headband and the bed, my follower sabashaikhyaa asked me about the meaning of clothes in the manhwa. That’s why I will examine the clothes used by the characters: Yoon Seung-Won, Min, Yoon Seungho (chapter 1-30) and Baek Na-Kyum. Yoon Seungho (chapter 33-44), Jihwa and Jung In-Hun will be analysed in another one because it is definitely too long for one essay. Besides as you know me, I am very detail-oriented. Imagine that I have not only to compare their clothes, but also analyse the choice of colors, the way they wear these and examine if they have their hair loose or a hat. Besides, the focus on Yoon Seungho’s clothes will take the biggest part as he is the only one wearing so many different clothes which outlines his wealth and also indicates his different states of mind and as such his transformation occurring during the season.

Before analyzing the main characters’ clothes with their colors, I believe that I should start with the different kind of clothes worn among the nobles. There is a detail that caught my attention revealing the singularity of Seungho’s personality compared to the other aristocrats. (sorry for not respecting the chronology here). What have these robes in common? The exterior robes have all long sleeves and they are quite simple and tight fitting compared to the other nobles. His sleeves never appear puffy like the ones from his brother: Let’s take a look at the other nobles. Have you noticed the difference? Jihwa, Jung In-Hun and Seung-Won prefer having an exterior robe with short sleeves unlike the main character. The only exceptions for our beloved seme are, when he visits the teacher Jung In-Hun, he is hunting and when he visits the tailor shop in the chapter 39-40:

I have to say that I didn’t pay attention to the different clothes worn by Jung In-Hun or Jihwa, I only chose one for them because these were quite representative for what they usually wear. So what does it mean that Yoon Seungho’s robes have long sleeves with a single layer? It reflects his personality: he is a confident and straightforward man. He doesn’t need to demonstrate his nobility. He doesn’t lie since he always warns people if they have the intention of harming him. It also reveals a certain simplicity. He doesn’t want to attract attention or impress people and by choosing rather dark colors and a rather dark belt it reinforces this impression.

From my point of view, the clothes with short sleeves are mirroring Jihwa, Seung-Won and Jung In-Hun’s personality. They are hiding their true thoughts and intentions. They are not really honest. Furthermore, they are trying to act as if they were quite rich and influential. They definitely want to make an impression on people and if we pay attention more closely on the younger brother, the beholder observes a huge contrast. We have the impression that the brother is wearing so many interior robes as if he wanted to appear much bigger and stronger, especially here. Even if it is cold, neither Seungho nor Jung In-Hun nor Baek Na-Kyum have so many layers. Therefore we can say that Seung-Won’s clothing outlines his deceptive nature but also his inferiority complex in my opinion. Furthermore, the red belt is quite catchy just like his choice of color for his robe and stands so much in opposition to the brother’s colors. The choice of dark colors for Seungho exhibits the seme’s rather pessimistic attitude due to his traumatic past which Seung-Won never experienced. With the bright colors, the younger brother wants to attract attention, he seems to be vain too. Unlike the main lead, he pays attention to his appearance. He is not humbly dressed. Now, let’s focus on the color chosen by him: it is either light yellow and lime green. This is what I found about the negative aspects to yellow:

“being critical and judgmental, being overly analytical, being impatient and impulsive, being egotistical, pessimistic, an inferiority complex, spiteful, cowardly, deceitful, non-emotional and lacking compassion”.

Then if we add the negative features of lime green, then we find this:

“Lime green inspires youthfulness, naivety and playfulness; it is liked the most by younger people. It creates a feeling of anticipation, and helps to clear the mind of negativity.”

And this is what I wrote about Seung-Won in my other analysis: selfish, insensitive, arrogant, deceitful but also naive. So the choice of colors reflects his personality (egoistic, naive but full of anticipation) and reinforces my judgement about him. He couldn’t wait for the brother’s answer, he needed his help hence he barged at his mansion at a late hour. He was indeed impatient.

Then I would like to point out another observation about the younger brother. Notice that he never put down his hat while sitting in front of the protagonist. We can’t say that he was in a hurry because a table full of dishes had been brought in the meantime. Seungho showed a certain respect from his side. And this exposes the nature of their relationship. Seung-Won doesn’t treat Seungho as a real brother, only as a tool hence he feels uncomfortable. Besides, it reinforces the impression that he is not honest with him. The clothes as a disguise and shield are mirroring his intention. He is not opening up to Seungho, in reality he is trying to deceive him. A foolish attempt which unveils his naivety. As you can observe with the analysis of Seung-Won’s clothes, we could determine that they reflect their personality, their state of mind and the intention of the characters. So the question asked by my follower was correct, the clothes have a deeper meaning.

Maybe you might have realized that there is one noble I left out, when I compared the clothes of the nobles. Min was not included. Unlike the others, he has a similar dress like Seungho. His robe has no short sleeves, unless he hunts, just like the seme. Then you might wonder why he is an exception? Besides, we know that he is deceitful and manipulative hence this would contradict my own interpretation above. The exterior robe with short sleeves indicates a double-faced and vain personality. However, there is a simple explication for this. Min is copying Seungho’s style. By dressing in a similar way, it reveals his envy, jealousy and longing to replace him. Now, let’s take a closer to the green.

“This color green relates to stability and endurance, giving us persistence and the strength to cope with adversity”

hence this is no surprise if green is associated to fight too. It helps to hide from the enemy because the person blends in with nature. Furthermore dark green has another connotation. It is linked to jealousy and envy therefore there is this expression “green with envy”. This dark color is also associated with other negative attributes: ambition, possessiveness and greed. We can conclude that dark green signifies greed and selfish desires. Now, you understand why Byeonduck chose this color for Min. He is greedy, ambitious and jealous. This is another clue that Min is determined to dethrone Seungho and take his place as the new alpha in the sodomite community. That’s why he is imitating his style.

Now, it is time to analyse Yoon Seungho’s clothes more closely. Let’s start with the first episode. What caught my attention here is the color.

“Pale green indicates, as the color of new growth on plants, immaturity, youthfulness and inexperience. It allows us to see things from a new perspective, to make a fresh start that’s why green is also the color of growth, the color of spring, of renewal and rebirth.”

Hence I have the impression that Byeonduck’s choice of the color is intentional. It announces the master’s future metamorphosis. He has no experience in a real relationship. He has never learnt how to deal with rejection, reprimand, how to be considerate towards others and feel deep emotions and externalized his thoughts. The light green implies that the noble is here in a rather good mood because he is about to meet his idol. The other thing is that here the noble is only wearing the exterior robe as if he was allowing people to see a certain side of himself. However, if you scrutinize, the domestic is not looking at his master, he is bowing. This indicates that the lord is not paying attention to his appearance because for him, the presence of a servant is not perceived as an intrusion. For him, it was as if there was nobody, the assistant is just a nobody. Hence he can let his robe open as if he wanted to breathe. Moreover, he reveals a certain side of his personality: his determination and his ruthlessness. He is willing to do anything in order to obtain that painter, even if he has to kill someone. Strictly speaking, it looks like he is more talking to himself than to the domestic. From my point of view, this image illustrates that the main lead accords no importance to his image and dignity. He feels more comfortable with a rather loose robe.

But there are other notions linked to the color green. A person wearing green

“is generous and loves to share, yet simultaneously he also looks for recognition. It is friendly and can keep confidences.”

This explains why Yoon Seungho is wearing the same robe on the day he meets his idol, the admired painter Baek Na-Kyum. He wants the artist to feel his genuine admiration and to be recognized as his biggest fan. That’s why he gets touchy from the beginning. In front of him, there is this talented painter who can create emotions in him that’s why he gets aroused.

Now, I’ll focus more on the low-born because unlike the noble, the color of his clothes never really changes, only at the end. It remains light pink for a long time because as a commoner, he has no other clothes. I am quite sure that the readers have an idea what pink symbolize: love.

“The color pink represents compassion, nurturing and love. It relates to unconditional love and understanding, and the giving and receiving of nurturing.”

No wonder why Byeonduck chose pink for the artist. He embodies pure and innocent love, especially at the beginning. He has deep feelings for Jung In-Hun. But pink is also associated to negative aspects which I’ll enumerate:

“being physically weak, over-emotional and over-cautious, having emotional neediness or unrealistic expectations, being naive, immature and girlish, lack of will power and lack of self worth.”

So the color represents the true personality of our protagonist. He is definitely physically weak, he is very emotional, hence he often has tears and he is too idealistic, so immature and naive that he can’t detect the teacher’s lies and manipulations. It fits his personality so well.

However, as time passes on, the pink becomes darker and darker.

(chapter 35)

(chapter 41)

chapter 44

At the end, the color of his clothes is a mixture of pink with brown. The degrading of the pink is an indication of the character’s growth. He is no longer naive and innocent, his love has been destroyed by Jung In-Hun… yet the pink has not completely disappeared from my perspective. So at some point, the artist could choose pink again, the moment he realizes his feelings for Yoon Seungho. This color marks a crucial moment in Baek Na-Kyum’s life: the loss of innocence and his disillusion at the end of the season. He has somehow perceived the truth: the teacher never cared for him and he meant nothing for him. He was just a tool, a prostitute for the low noble’s interest therefore he has been abandoned.

Striking is that the moment Yoon Seungho wanted to take responsibility for him, he let him wear his own clothes, like in the chapter 26. He brought his green robe or in the chapter 36, the dark green.Because he was wearing the master’s clothes, it illustrates that the lord wanted to make a statement. From now on, Baek Na-Kyum is his partner and as such, he should be treated like a master. However, only after his long illness, he is willing to wear the master’s clothes.

What caught my attention is the powerful noble wore the same green robe from the chapter 12 to the chapter 16. In the meantime, he chose a blue robe from the chapter 5 to 11.

He is so eager to meet the painter that he is already walking without closing his exterior robe. This displays his good mood, his anticipation and his lack of pretense. He is truly not vain.

The episode 11 is quite special because it is the only time, we see Yoon Seungho’s long hair.

Kim is brushing his hair indicating how much he trusts his loyal valet.

And this is no coincidence. Even till the last episode of the first season, Yoon Seungho never untied his hair in front of the painter. This displays that he has not really opened up to the low-born. He might love him but there is still this invisible wall between them. The lord was in a good mood that morning hence he left in a hurry.

The question is why? He had heard the masturbation that Baek Na-Kyum did behind the closed door so he knew that the last sex session had aroused the uke and the painter had been lowering his guards. That’s why he wanted to eat lunch with the commoner. The more he treated him with respect, the more he believed that he would achieve his goal, getting new paintings… maybe he had already fantasized to taste the virgin. Now, it is time to pay attention to the color:

Positive keywords for blue include: loyalty, trust and integrity, tactful, reliability and responsibility, conservatism and perseverance, caring and concern, idealistic and orderly, authority, devotion and contemplation, peaceful and calm.

Negative keywords for blue include: being rigid, deceitful and spiteful, depressed and sad, too passive, self-righteous, superstitious and emotionally unstable, too conservative and old-fashioned, predictable and weak, unforgiving, aloof and frigid. It can also indicate manipulation, unfaithfulness and being untrustworthy.

Blue is also associated to coldness and distance. Striking is that many features are mirroring the actual state of mind of our lord. He is caring and wants to take his responsibility for the painter that’s why the commoner has a very good bed, he has the occasion to eat lunch with the master. Besides, Yoon Seungho already thinks that the painter has already conceded to his request. Despite his good mood, he is emotionally unstable because his mood changes so abruptly. One moment he is showing a certain favoritism, the next he treats him like a servant.

However, he shows a certain predictability in his reaction. He acted exactly like Jihwa had anticipated. He would unleash his fury against the low-born. He would show no mercy (unforgiving) hence he would submit him to the straw mat beating. He acted like a noble in that moment.

But before his outburst of rage he was quite idealistic and even devoted to the artist as he wanted to eat his lunch with him. And this explains why he chose a even darker blue robe after he had heard the reproach from Baek Na-Kyum (“he was a man consumed by lust”) and after the rape. He was even more cold, emotionally unstable, unforgiving and conservative. That’s why he can’t get aroused by Jihwa in the chapter 5 or he has an outburst after taking his bath in the chapter 25. It did mirror his state of mind. A simple gesture and he would literally explode. That’s why his robe is not closed. In my opinion, he must have some difficulties to breathe due to pangs of conscience. Besides, it reinforces my impression that he is someone who prefers comfort over looks. Even happy, he paid no attention to the way he was dressed, he couldn’t even wait to meet the painter in the chapter 11. He is not vain, quite a natural personal. But the open robe is also a sign of his torment too in my opinion, when he is having some trouble. Finally, we shouldn’t forget that blue is connected to royalty and I have the impression that he chose this color in order to impress the painter and to demonstrate his power. He was a majestic master. The darker the blue, the more he wants to appear majestic.

After the straw mat beating, he switches his robe again and returns to light green. From my point of view, it displays his desire to appear younger and it shows his uncertainty how to treat the low-born. From the chapter 12 to 16, he only wears the light green one.

Besides, there is one moment where he stands completely naked in front of the artist. Sure, this was not the first time that our low-born had seen the lord naked, yet this time it diverges because he is exposing his phallus directly to the painter. He is using his sex-appeal to invite the painter to join him. So the lack of robe here has a purpose. Then after the sex session with Jihwa, he doesn’t wear his light green robe properly. The man is revealing his naked chest. On the one hand, I believe that this has to do with seduction, on the other side this displays his comfort in front of the painter. Here, the latter is not perceived as a nobody, rather as someone where the lord can be himself. He is natural, playful and quite relaxed. This is the first time that he is so close to the commoner, there are no distance and no painting between them. He is approaching him so carefully as he has sensed this man’s shyness. Therefore he is wearing the light green robe, when he masturbates the young man for the first time. Everything is new, I doubt that he did something similar to Jihwa, in particular with this special position. He is embracing the man showing his need to feel close to the low-born. For him, the social gap is non-existent. Only his desires matter. Striking is that after this event, Seungho starts wearing again the lighter blue robe. Interesting is that each time, he chose it, he was in a good mood.

chapter 19 At the gisaeng house

He couldn’t forget the painter’s reaction after the masturbation. He was blushing with some tears.

A flashback, the image Seungho remembers

Even later he even witnesses the argument between the low noble and Baek Na-Kyum so he definitely saw an opportunity to approach the commoner again. What caught my attention is that this time, the noble is wearing a red belt indicating that he wants to impress someone. Sure one might argue that dressing up has something to do with the visit to the brothel. However, I detect that this red belt serves as an announcement: The master has already planned to seduce none other than Baek Na-Kyum. And this did happen but he never realized that deep down, he was looking for acceptance, love and warmth, not sex. Unlike the painter, his unconscious reveals itself, when the man is not dreaming, it is rather the opposite. This is understandable because the lord barely sleeps. Due to his insomnia, his repressed natural desires can only appear, when he is awake which leads me to the following conclusion. That’s why the choice of his robes and the way he wears them is never random and reflect his emotional state of mind. All his moves were triggered by his unconscious, while he thought that it was his own free will. He was fated to fall in love with the painter because the latter embodies the opposite of his own world: artificiality, treachery, vanity, coldness, hypocrisy.

That’s it for now. I didn’t mention the lord’s clothes in the chapter 6 because it makes more sense to examine it with Jung In-Hun. By the way, I am not saying that people wearing now green clothes are jealous or something like that. This serves for literary purposes.

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.

I have been thinking to write about “At the end of the road” from Haribo which was the first BL manhwa I ever bought. It would be great to know if you would read an analysis about it, either by leaving a comment here or through Twitter. Thanks for any reply.

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