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.
For the meaning of colors, I chose three different websites: https://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/ and https://www.colormatters.com/the-meanings-of-colors/ https://www.bourncreative.com/meaning-of-the-color-orange/
This essay doesn’t represent the final part of the analysis about the clothes as I had initially anticipated it. In the first and second part, I examined the clothes of the following characters: Yoon Seung-Won, Min, Yoon Seungho and Baek Na-Kyum. Now, we have only two figures left: Jihwa and Jung In-Hun. However, I can only focus on Jihwa in this analysis because there is so much to explain.
I have already noticed that the analyses concerning Jung In-Hun and Jihwa are not so often read compared to the ones about Yoon Seungho and Baek Na-Kyum. However, it is important to pay attention to the second characters because their actions and words have a huge impact on the main characters and as such on the evolution of the story. We can better understand the motivation behind their behavior and even anticipate their move.
Let’s start with Jihwa’s clothes. If you look at all the clothes Jihwa is wearing during the first season, (chapter 3) (chapter 5) (chapter 12) (chapter 12) (chapter 18) (chapter 21) (chapter 36) (chapter 41)
you’ll note 4 observations.
- He definitely prefers wearing an exterior robe with short sleeves, although he sometimes puts on the same type of robe than Yoon Seungho, robes with long sleeves (chapter 12 and 41). I had already mentioned that the people wearing such clothes were more superficial and vain (see essay about the significance of clothes, part 1).
- Striking is that this character is only seen one time with his interior clothes. It was as if his true nature was unveiled here. Without his clothes, he is just an immature and spoiled child, while he acts as if he was reasonable and quite open-minded in front of his childhood friend with his apparel on.
- The third remark is that he possesses a lot of different robes unlike the noble Min or his friend with the mole. And this leads me to the conclusion that Jihwa pays a lot of attention to his appearance which confirms the character’s vanity and superficiality.
- Finally, what catches the beholder’s eye is the recurrence of the colors. His favorite colors are yellow and orange and even a combination of both like in the chapter 12 (yellow mustard) or 43. Therefore I need to focus on these two colors.
Nevertheless before starting with the colors, it is important to explain why Jihwa chose to wear a robe with long sleeves as they represent an exception. In my opinion, in the first case (chapter 12), he didn’t feel the need to attract attention and admiration because he had already succeeded with his plot. He was so happy that he didn’t pay attention to his image. However, he is still wearing his topknot therefore he is demonstrating his power to others: he is a noble. This is totally different in the chapter 36. Here, he was so devastated that he felt the need to look good in order not to fall into depression. He is trying to keep a certain appearance and maintain his image. But as time passed on, his sorrow was so big that at the end, he no longer paid attention to his apparel. Notice that this time, he has loose hair. He is actually clothed and acting like a rich commoner. Hence we can conclude that his image helped him to bear the pain of the end of their friendship, yet at some point it didn’t work any longer.
But now let’s go back to the colors. This is what I found about the color yellow:
Positive keywords include: optimism, cheerfulness, enthusiasm, fun, good-humored, confidence, originality, creativity, challenging, academic and analytical, wisdom and logic. (I underlined all the characteristics visible in this fictive person which I elucidate below)
If we look at Jihwa’s behavior, like for example in the chapter 12
, the reader often sees the red-haired noble laughing and smiling so that we can definitely say that he is cheerful and good-humored. He likes wearing different clothes, drinking, having sex with Yoon Seungho and he even buys erotic books hence all this reminds me of an epicurean, someone appreciating life and its pleasures which is also linked to yellow. He can be sometimes analytical for he observed his childhood friend’s gaze and behavior in the chapter 14/15 and remembered his friend’s words.
Negative keywords for yellow include: 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.
On the other hand, the readers often sees his jealousy, his cowardice, his deception. Let us not forget that in the chapter 5, Jihwa is already showing some signs of annoyance and envy, when he meets the painter leaving the master’s room. He fears that the painter might become the protagonist’s new sex partner because his chamber is next to the master’s. He shows a certain creativity, when he plays a trick on Baek Na-Kyum by ruining the second painting. Simultaneously, this action revealed a negative side of Jihwa, he acted like a coward. I can even add that his cowardice is even confirmed, the moment he visits the artist’s room a second time without his friend’s knowledge. He never wanted Yoon Seungho to discover his presence. However, he can’t restrain himself when he sees the painting with the masturbation and slaps the poor painter. He is just too emotional that he admits his crime in front of the painter and his friend. His impulsivity and his jealousy were the reasons why he got caught in the end.
Now, let me explicate why this bright color has so many negative features. While in Asia, yellow is mostly associated to positive aspects, it is a little different in Europe. During the Middle-Age, this color was used in order to portray Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus-Christ, hence yellow is related to betrayal and cowardice. That’s the reason why Jews or treacherous knights had to wear a yellow sign during the Middle-Age.
Lurking in the background is the dark side of yellow: cowardice, betrayal, egoism, and madness. Furthermore, yellow is the color of caution and physical illness (jaundice, malaria, and pestilence).
This justifies why in French (yellow=jaune) and in English there exist many negative expressions with yellow: “rire jaune” (two-faced laugh) or “jaune cocu” (cuckold yellow) or “yellow belly” (coward). Therefore yellow represents deception, betrayal, adultery, arrogance, vanity and jealousy. In other words, this color is often connected to danger and bad behavior. Now, you are no longer surprised why Jihwa is often see with yellow clothes as this color does truly reflect his personality.
Jihwa betrays his childhood friend three times. Besides, he keeps deceiving Yoon Seungho with his smiles and laughs as he is not sincere with him. The irony is that the latter is aware of his friend’s acting which explains why he can never fall for Jihwa. From my perspective, Yoon Seungho explicates his friend’s dishonesty as the typical behavior among the nobility hence he can never perceive Jihwa’s love. The latter can’t confess his love for him, too afraid of getting rejected… and here again a coward.
Furthermore he still believes that since they have known each other for so long, the protagonist will fall in love with him at some point due to his beautiful face and body. It is just a matter of time. Besides, Yoon Seungho is his only sexual partner hence the red-haired aristocrat hopes that his friend will notice this singularity. What Jihwa fails to recognize is that the main lead loves simplicity and naturalness which is reflected in his clothing, whereas the red-haired friend prefers showing off, also visible in his apparel. He is too self-absorbed to recognize his friend’s true personality and longing. That’s why he is seen looking at his reflection twice and especially, this picture reminds me of the myth of Narcissus who looked at his own image until his death. Here, Jihwa believes in the strength of his beauty. He can’t envisage that his friend is immune to his handsome face. Striking is that we have yellow and orange dominating in this drawing as if it was signalizing a danger, a bad omen for our second character.
But if you read again the negative and positive associations of yellow, you’ll note two aspects that seem to contradict each other: “optimist” and “pessimist”. However, there is no contradiction in reality because the beholder can observe these two features in Jihwa. The closer he believes to achieve his goal (becoming Seungho’s official lover), the more enthusiastic and optimist he is.
Since he was successful with his trick, he laughs very loudly at the inn. However, the moment the main character decides to cut ties with Jihwa because of his deception, the more depressed he becomes. That’s why he is seen at the same tavern drinking his sorrow. He can’t stop crying. He is also very depressed and pessimist.
This explicates why Min could manipulate the noble so easily. The latter switches from one mood to the other very quickly. The higher his spirits are, the harder the fall. Therefore he is weeping so much in the chapter 43.
He thought that he could reconnect with Yoon Seungho hence he put a very expensive robe with cranes on it. He thought that this would increase his chance to seduce the alpha. Striking is that cranes have a special meaning.
In many cultures cranes symbolize happiness, honor, longevity, and good fortune. In some areas they are even said to be mystical, magical, or holy creatures. Strictly speaking, the crane is a sign of good luck. And this is exactly how Jihwa perceives himself. He thought that if he could approach Seungho again, then he would bring him good fortune. Besides, he imagined that with such a robe, Seungho in his despair would recognize Jihwa as his only true friend, as the one who brings him comfort and as such good fortune. By choosing such a pattern on his clothes, he reveals his arrogance and vanity. In fact, Jihwa is not a crane but a pheasant that is about to get killed (chapter 41). So the choice of the robe for that fateful evening is no coincidence. He is over-estimating his beauty and he truly doesn’t understand his childhood friend due to his egoism and superficiality.
Another negative aspect of yellow is lack of empathy. His lack of compassion is visible on different occasions. He treats Baek Na-Kyum like a servant, hence he opens his clothes without asking. Then he insults him and he even shows no remorse for the unjust punishment (straw mat beating). He even laughs about it, not caring about the damage. For him, the painter is just a commoner hence he can do anything he wants. He has such a misconception about commoners, he is very prejudiced and judgmental. For him, all the low-born are uneducated, greedy and selfish. They would do anything in order to change their life and social status. Yet he he is totally wrong as he is generalizing. In reality, he just projects his own thoughts into Baek Na-Kyum. His entitlement leads him to believe that he can even mistreat any commoner, any servant. He is as ruthless and brutal as Yoon Seungho. Jihwa justifies every action. It is always for his friends’ best interest (revenge/Saving Seungho’s reputation), whereas in fact, it is for his own benefit. He is selfish but still shows a certain lack of confidence because he tries to get rid of a rival through tricks. As you can detect, he is a mixture of arrogance and lack of confidence. He uses others in order to hurt his rival (Seungho in the first case and the hired assassin in the second case). This is just another act of cowardice. Fact is that he feels threatened by the painter, he senses that his friend is attracted by the low-born.
As a first conclusion, we could already perceive that many attributes to yellow are indeed reflected in Jihwa’s personality like arrogance, deception, betrayal, cheerfulness, creativity, confidence, cowardice, lack of empathy, jealousy and judgmental.
Since Jihwa possesses orange clothes too, we need to pay attention to the connotations associated to this color.
Positive keywords include: sociable, optimistic, enthusiastic, cheerful, self-confident, independent, flamboyant, extroverted and uninhibited, adventurous, the risk-taker, creative flair, warm-hearted, agreeable and informal.
Negative keywords include: superficial and insincere, dependent, over-bearing, self-indulgent, the exhibitionist, pessimistic, inexpensive, unsociable, and overly proud.
Since some features are quite similar to yellow, I won’t focus on these.
Unlike Yoon Seungho, the red-haired aristocrat is often seen in company and talking to his friends, so he is indeed sociable. The red-haired noble is self-indulgent as he does whatever he wants, like he opens the shirt of Baek Na-Kyum without asking or barges at Yoon Seungho’s mansion uninvited. His flamboyance is visible, when he calls on the main lead after the straw mat beating. Another example for his boasting is when he dresses up to pay a visit to Yoon Seungho. He already imagined that the former would be hurting on his own because of Seung-Won’s call. That’s why he chose the robe with the crane. He definitely wanted to make a statement: “Without me, you’ll never be happy”. But the opposite happened. Once hurt, he can’t hide his pain and has to exteriorize it, hence he goes to his acquaintance, the man with the mole. He can’t hide his tears in front of the others…
He is definitely a risk-taker (challenging in yellow) because he entered his friend’s house without any appointment or without the seme’s knowledge in order to plot something against Baek Na-Kyum or to spy on his friend.
His arrogance and his self-centerness are the reasons why he doesn’t truly understand his friend. He knows his traumatic past, yet he can’t perceive how it affected the protagonist. He just views this as something tragic caused by a selfish father. He is too stupid to get aware that this is much more complicated, related to politics and the nobility. That’s why Jihwa should be judged as an immature and spoiled “child” who has never been confronted by the reality of life. He thinks that his title as noble is a given and he takes it as granted. However, it can definitely change if the king decides to purge the aristocracy in order to reinforce his position, if it is necessary.
Finally, I would like to examine the last clothes Jihwa is wearing in the chapter 43 and 44. What caught my attention is that he is wearing an exterior robe with short sleeves, has a red belt and a huge hat covered with a veil. On the one hand, with his apparel he is attracting the attention of people, especially at a place where there are many commoners. At the same time, he is attempting to hide his identity. This contradiction reflects the character’s true personality: he is arrogant and stupid enough to believe that he can walk just like that without his identity being discovered. I am quite sure that people will remember his appearance. Besides, he chose his favorite color… So the pheasant who perceives himself as a crane is about to experience the harshness of life. He has no idea that this impulsive decision marks his downfall. He is too foolish and blinded to realize that he has been played by Min.
As you can conclude, the clothing and the choice of colors for Jihwa are definitely no random and confirm one more time that Byeonduck must have thought very carefully about such details. No wonder if the author needs a lot of time in order to develop her story, each drawing has its importance and a special meaning, just like each cloth reveals the inner thoughts and emotions of the character wearing it.
Feel free to comment. If you have any suggestion for topics or manhwas, feel free to ask. If you enjoy reading it, retweet it or push the button like (tumblr/twitter account: @bebebisous33). Thanks for reading and the support.
5 thoughts on “Painter Of The Night: The significance of clothes (part 3)”
I think I’m one of your readers who is always anticipating a topic/analysis on Jihwa, then :’D I am in a love-hate relationship with this character after all, hahahaha. I find Jihwa very beautiful in the outside. I mean really, he has those androgynous features that make him masculine yet so feminine at the same time! But deep down, he’s a narcissistic and self-centered child. Just like what Min said, I can always count on Jihwa to ‘make a scene’/ make an unexpected move. Because of him, there’s this certain spice in the story that I love to see (and ofc, drama comes with it xD)
I love how you pointed out his clothing because I always wondered why he kept on wearing bright colored clothing unlike the others. I thought it was random, but it turned out to be linked to his inner personality. I really pity his character because if only he had the unprejudiced mindset and egoistical outlook, he’d be a total package and he could even win Seungho’s heart! Again, thank you for this. I love Jihwa’s character and I wanna see more of him in season 2. (liking his role doesn’t mean I agree with his acts. quite the contrary, really xD)
aaaaaaaaa I said it once I’ll say it again:
Seungho and Jihwa would’ve looked good together in my opinion, but that ain’t happening because of his personality, sadly. He needs to grow up and realize that he can’t have everything.
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Thanks for writing such long comments each time, you are of the few readers to share your thoughts on this. Yes, I am thinking exactly like you about Jihwa. He is interesting and annoying at the same time. I don’t wish him to die but to lose his nobility at the end so that he realizes that there is no guarantee for a title and for nobility. You can lose it at any time….
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I write myself :’D fanfiction, short novels and stories at times. Been doing it since I was 10 :’D I’m in my 20’s rn hahhahaah but I never met someone who’d write analyses for BL stories bc ppl think we’re ‘thinking too much about it’ which I’m all in for :’D
I just wanted to ask though, who can cast off one’s status as a noble? In their time, can nobles accuse other nobles of murder and get punished with it?
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I am not so familiar with Joseon History but the King Yeongjo of Joseon nominated his loyal supporter Park Moon Su as a royal secret government inspector and the latter went after corruption cases. The problem is that I don’t know when the story takes place and there is a huge chance that the king is a tyrant too.
And I forgot one thing: I actually started analyzing k-dramas. My blog only got truly popular as I started writing about BL stories. Not every BL story can be analysed like that. But I am also reading other types of manhwas.
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