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.
In the first part, I examined the realizations made by Baek Na-Kyum and Jihwa. I received many comments concerning Baek Na-Kyum as they weren’t convinced that the painter no longer perceived himself as a prostitute. I was happy for the feedback because it forces me to clarify my perception with much more details. Therefore before analyzing the last scene, I’ll elaborate my point of view more precisely as it is necessary to understand the true significance of the chapter 50.
For me, a prostitute receives money or favors in exchange for sex hence remuneration plays a huge role in the prostitute’s life. Furthermore, she or he has to follow the clients’ or pimp’s orders. She or he can never voice her/his own desires and wishes. But there exist some people called whore or prostitute because they have many sex partners and have a lot of one-night-stands. They don’t want to be involved in a serious relationship since they want to enjoy their sexuality freely, without any restriction. This kind of person is also judged negatively by moral standards, hence she or he is compared to a prostitute. However, they are in reality “libertines” and if you look carefully, Yoon Seungho is one of them. I doubt that the manhwaphiles would associate him to a prostitute. Moreover, let’s not forget that he was even described as such by his own friend Jihwa. So my thinking is that now Baek Na-Kyum has adopted Yoon Seungho’s way of life, the one of a libertine, unaware that his lover is no longer one, sexually speaking. That’s why people still think the painter is a prostitute as libertines are usually judged like ones. However all this is influenced by moral standards, yet their motivation for sex is different as it is connected to freedom and not money.
The irony is that the aristocrat has already become monogamous and considers the painter as his wife. He no longer organizes any sex session nor visits any sex orgy. He has already been reformed, like the folks in town noticed it. Since a libertine is linked to liberty (freedom), this explicates why I stated that the painter has liberated himself from the scholar. He is free to choose what he wants in his life. As a conclusion, the fact that Baek Na-Kyum has become a libertine outlines that the painter has definitely cut ties with the scholar but also explains why people still confuse him with a whore as the behavior of a libertine and a whore is quite similar on the surface, yet the incentive is different. Libertines don’t care about moral standards and traditions, they see all these as a restrictions of their freedom. Another aspect is that they don’t feel shame either therefore they never hide their way of life from others. They live the way they want and the painter’s words are reflecting this mentality.
Thereby it becomes imperative for the master to reveal his true personality in front of the painter so that the latter will perceive his lover in a different light. Right now, Baek Na-Kyum has a very negative opinion about Yoon Seungho, “a man consumed by lust”, hence he has a negative image of himself too. In other words, he is just mirroring the main lead’s past way of life. That’s why I said that he has become a person of his own, he has now a new identity, yet his “freedom” is limited as it is linked to Yoon Seungho’s reflection. To summarize, the painter still has not a good opinion about himself, since he has a rather negative judgement about his “husband”. His confidence is still very low, yet compared to before, it is much better as he is now thinking on his own and makes decisions for himself.
And in my opinion, this explication is quite important for two reasons. This demonstrates that Baek Na-Kyum has completely accepted the noble as his sex partner and the image the painter has about his lover determines their relationship. Since the latter is a libertine in the low-born’s opinion, then the commoner is also one. As a conclusion, both protagonists are standing in front of a crossroad: the noble has to show a different side of himself to the low-born but for him to do that, he needs to stop feeling insecure and jealous. He needs to sense the artist’s trust. And this is what is happening in the chapter 50. This episode marks a turning point in the master’s life as he makes two huge realizations. Now, you are wondering which ones. Consequently, it is time to examine the revelations Yoon Seungho has in the chapter 50.
Striking is that the lord went to the teacher’s chamber very early. His loyal valet Kim, used to dress him up, had no idea why the noble would rush to Jung In-Hun’s former chamber hence he arrived late. He doesn’t know the trigger for Yoon Seungho’s motivation. “Why would he go there, as the scholar has moved to the capital?” This is what the butler must have thought and he must have pondered about it. On the other hand, he must have seen the mess in the lord’s bedroom so that he must have come to the conclusion that something between his lord and the painter must have occurred.
Since the lord complains to his valet about his late arrival, it indicates that the former had already announced his intention to his butler. I explicates the reason for Kim’s delay as the following. The valet questioned his lord’s behavior. We shouldn’t forget that the loyal domestic has always made decisions on his own in order to help his master. Hence he often anticipated his moves, like for example, he knew that after the rape, Jung In-Hun could be in danger. Consequently he sent a servant from the library in order to let the scholar leave his room. Another example is when the butler asked for an aphrodisiac from the physician so that the painter would get an erection. He used Yoon Seungho’s trick in order to improve the relationship between Baek Na-Kyum and his master.
Therefore the loyal valet can’t understand the motivations behind the lord’s action, since the scholar has already left the mansion. He is well aware of his jealousy of the scholar as initially he heard the painter’s confession.
Besides, he was right, when he predicted the lord’s intention in the chapter 26, he would attempt to kill the former teacher with his sword. Then in the chapter 29, the master went to the low noble’s room again, once he discovered the painter’s escape.
The butler witnessed his master’s facial expression, when the latter heard that the servants had no idea where the low noble had gone. He wasn’t just infuriated, he was totally eaten by jealousy. Imagine, he belongs to the high nobility and the painter chose a low aristocrat with no huge income and connection over him. He, used to be surrounded by many nobles due to his wealth and power, kept experiencing rejections. Not only he was turned down multiple times but the person even preferred running away from him. The aristocrat made terrible experiences for the first time: not only jealousy but also he started feeling insecure. His reaction towards his servants (the beating) demonstrates that he was not just mad but also panicking, trying to vent all his negative emotions onto the staff. The one he chose because of his feelings for him had no consideration for him, a high noble. Neither wealth nor power nor force could make the painter submit to him. Only the butler could read his master’s expressions and behavior as an open book.
So if we go back to the scene 50, we see the lord in the former room of the scholar. Each time, he went there or wanted to go there, he was triggered by envy and resentment. As a first conclusion, he went to Jung In-Hun’s room because of his jealousy. And the lord’s appearance confirms this statement. Many readers noticed the beautiful lord’s hanbok.
He is wearing a black robe with short sleeves and the pattern is in red. Since many of my readers already know the signification of the clothes in this manhwa, they were already able to perceive the master’s feelings. He was full of anger and jealousy. Since black often refers to death and red to blood, there is only one conclusion left that can explain the lord’s motivation behind his visit in the scholar’s room. He wished, he could kill the man. That’s why he went there with his sword, he felt the need to destroy the books symbolizing the low noble. Consequently the manhwalovers see him cutting a book with his sword.
This gesture actually symbolizes the scholar’s execution. Let’s not forget that Jung In-Hun’s image is associated to books hence we often saw him surrounded by books. In the second picture above, he is so furious that he can’t restrain himself from destroying the book. If the learned sir had been present, Yoon Seungho would have definitely killed him. To summarize, the master went there because of his jealousy and his urge to “kill” the scholar, well aware that this was not possible.
But we have now to ponder about the following question: Why would he feel so jealous again? What was the trigger for his “pointless” action? Even the valet was puzzled by this reaction. Only the manhwalovers can answer this as they witnessed the special night before. Yoon Seungho got a confession, finally… but this was so different from the one he heard in the chapter 20: The painter didn’t express any admiration nor love for him. In the new confession, the master was more or less degraded into a tool, a sexual body: He is not the recipient of the painter’s love, the artist feels only attracted to him physically. He is the one who can make the painter feel good but that’s it. Who wouldn’t feel envious of Jung In-Hun who was literally worshiped by the painter? Since the chapter 20, the noble has been waiting for the same confession but this time addressed to him for real. He wants to feel admired and loved by the commoner, yet the latter still refuses to give in in this aspect. In other words, he got rejected again, yet the kiss and the caress stopped him from getting angry again. In that moment, he felt that the gestures let transpire more than the commoner had conceded. But we shouldn’t forget that despite this, the noble couldn’t forget the rejection and saw the huge contrast between the two confessions. No wonder why he still felt resentful and jealous. On the other hand, the valet Kim never got to witness the second confession therefore he can’t comprehend the master’s motivation. Because of this weird confession, the noble made up his mind: he accepts the painter’s confession, hence they are just sex partners and nothing more. He will never be the painter’s confident. However, what caught my attention in the lord’s thoughts is the word “need”. He definitely felt the need to share their thoughts. In reality, he longed to be the recipient of the painter’s love. What he mistook for “mind” was in reality “heart”. I have also the impression that this mistake can be explained by the first love confession he heard from the painter. Observe that the artist never used that word love and only utilized the semantic field about the mind: respect, admiration, pining. Everything was revolving around the mind and not the heart. Consequently he could recognize that what he was longing to get was the painter’s heart. Besides, I have already stipulated that the main lead represent the opposite of the painter. While the painter’s unconscious expressed during his sleep or daydream, the lord’s unconscious revealed itself, when he was awake. Therefore I come to the following interpretation: The choice of the hanbok doesn’t just mirror the lord’s jealousy and thirst for blood, it also reflects the bleeding of Yoon Seungho’s heart. When he made up his mind, he was really sad, I would even say, he was literally dying.
You might have already noticed it but I didn’t follow the chronology of the images from the chapter 50 and there is a reason for this. I wanted to follow the chronology of the event with their causes as it is imperative to reconstruct the motivations of Yoon Seungho, step by step. Once he woke up, he was envious as he couldn’t forget the confession. He chose the red and black hanbok with short sleeves for two reasons: he resents the scholar deeply and he feels like he is dying.
Since the valet has no idea why the couple argued, he can only imagine that there can only be one cause: the scholar’s words said to the painter. Consequently the loyal servant decides to finally reveal to his master the conversation between the painter and his learned sir overheard by servants working at the library.
This is quite important because it illustrates once again the liberty valet Kim is taking concerning his master’s love life. He has known about the content of their conversation for a while but chose to hide it from his master as he feared that the latter would be displeased and even envious. This would also explain why the domestic Kim went personally to buy the painter’s material. The gentle man was well aware that his master’s lover had been hurt by the scholar’s words. He thought that if he kept putting new brushes and an ink stone next to Baek Na-Kyum, the latter would realize that he was a painter in reality and no prostitute. However, his actions didn’t help neither his master nor the painter. Remember the saying: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. And this is exactly what is happening. The valet caused more agony to both protagonists with his actions. First, he asked the tailor to hide the true identity of his master’s lover to the folks, then he never confirmed the real status of Baek Na-Kyum to Deok Jae (he is just favored) so that he kept the painter in a very ambiguous status, which his lord didn’t catch. The painter had been literally destroyed by these poisonous words and the butler didn’t even comfort the man because he couldn’t. Due to Kim’s neutrality/passivity, the lord’s behavior could only reinforce the negative reflection the painter had about himself and his sex partner. We shouldn’t forget that Yoon Seungho was described in the first chapter of the second season as someone obsessed with his new lover. The lord initially imagined that he had finally won and enjoyed his time with the painter, only to slowly realize that he was still missing something: the lack of passion and warmth. But the valet Kim kept this important detail from him. That’s why the master is so angry with his loyal domestic and with the low noble. The former acted on his own accord, although he is just a servant and Jung In-Hun, despise his absence, was still able to cause trouble in his relationship with the painter. Therefore Yoon Seungho feels the urge to kill the scholar symbolically, once he discovers the truth. He comprehends the painter much better, why he behaved like a prostitute, why he had lost his strength and strong will.
The black in this drawing represents the darkness and hatred for the scholar hence he uses his weapon to destroy the book.
The readers should now wonder why the valet Kim desired to hide this conversation from his master and why he keeps relativize the words exchange.
Based on this image, it becomes clear that the domestic’s intention is to protect his master from any pain. What could hurt the lord the most? The first thought would be Jung In-Hun’s portray of his actual sponsor. The judgement of the rich noble was so negative. He was described as a person led by his sexual desires, incapable of controlling his emotions and acting like an undignified noble.
But I doubt, this is the real reason for the valet to camouflage this conversation. My explication is based on the chapter 28. I would like to point out that both chapters (28/50) have many similarities:
– Yoon Seungho’s longing for the painter’s love
– Baek Na-Kyum’s rejection
– the lord’s fury and jealousy towards the “learned sir”
– his visit to the scholar’s room
In the chapter 28, Yoon Seungho discovered that Baek Na-Kyum disobeyed him. The artist had run away from the lord illustrating that the commoner had chosen the scholar over Yoon Seungho. If we pay attention to the chapter 40 now, we remember that the origin of the quarrel between Jung In-Hun and his former student is responsibility. The painter went to the library asking his teacher to take responsibility as he had implied it before. However, the jealous and arrogant man couldn’t allow a low-born to question his authority. Besides, he was even somehow forced by him to take responsibility. In that scene, the scholar refused this idea and even abandoned the painter with the simple excuse, he saw Baek Na-Kyum as a prostitute. He can’t be tainted by him. In other words, the painter remained at the mansion because he had nowhere else to go, he didn’t choose Yoon Seungho in reality. He had no option left. That’s how the valet interpreted the commoner’s decision. He anticipated that the noble would be hurt, if he disclosed this secret. Baek Na-Kyum didn’t pick him, just like in the chapter 28. Remember that Kim paid attention to his master’s facial expression and he didn’t want to relive such a scene. And now, imagine how he was already dying because of the weird confession he received from the painter. It was as if he was getting another stab in the heart.
What the valet Kim failed to see is that he didn’t always possess all the information. He wasn’t present, when the lord triggered the painter to question his own motivation: Why would he support the low noble in his career, if he expected nothing? Here, in this drawing, the noble is definitely pushing the artist to interrogate the true nature of his relationship with his learned sir, while at the same time he shows that he’ll assume the responsibility for him. But in this scene, the manhwalovers could never see Kim as he had been left behind at the tailor shop, taking care of the order for the new clothes. If the lord had known about the existence of this conversation, he would have been happy and not hurt, since he would have noticed that his words and actions had affected the artist. Yoon Seungho is well aware of the true meaning of this exchange, while the valet Kim wasn’t.
Moreover, the conversation was overheard by the domestics which is quite important because at the end, this is what they noted:
- Baek Na-Kyum comes from a brothel
- He was abandoned by Jung In-Hun who only considers him as a prostitute.
- The painter has a sexual relationship with their lord, confirmed by a noble. This is no longer a gossip.
- He became a painter of sodomy because he witnessed it at the brothel
- Jung In-Hun implied with his terrible words that the painter was depraved, a man consumed by lust.
From my point of view, this is relevant because it gives the reason why Deok Jae looks down on the painter. He must have heard from other servants about this conversation. He might be a commoner too, yet he wasn’t raised at a brothel. I do think that some of the servants might have adopted the scholar’s judgement. However, since the incident at the kitchen, the servants got to fear the master’s punishment for expressing so openly their disrespect. But this doesn’t mean that Baek Na-Kyum has been openly accepted by all the servants at the mansion. His special status with their lord and his origins could only reinforce the bad impression some domestics had about the new sex partner. The manhwalovers recognize that the head-maid from the kitchen has already accepted Baek Na-Kyum but Deok Jae is the proof that there is still some resistance and resent among the staff.
Yoon Seungho realizes that his servant has been acting on his own hence he scolds him. He needs to remind him of his real status. His advice is not helping his cause that’s what the noble realizes. Why should he doubt the content of the overheard dispute, when it explains perfectly why the painter behaved like a whore and was just an empty shell? Kim is dismissing it because he fears the lord might get hurt due to his jealousy. Therefore he is questioning the true content of the exchange (“it may not be accurate”).
Here, the noble gets aware of the scholar’s shadow. He might have sent him away so that his relationship with the painter could improve but it didn’t really work like he had imagined.
What caught my attention in this scene is that we never see the lord’s face, only from behind. The readers are not permitted to see the noble’s face because they are encouraged to imagine his emotional state with the following details: the location, the sword,
the hanbok, the gestures
and his words are clearly underlining his pain, resentment and jealousy. However, this changes the moment the author adds this picture: a zoom on the master’s gaze.
This gaze is only revealed after the following flashback.
The lord remembers the painter’s sleeping face oozing tranquility and comfort. Here, the noble was first surprised by the painter’s reaction. He didn’t even wake up from the kiss. So when he recalls this moment, he has a huge revelation. Despite the decision he made (they were just naked bodies), he felt something else. He couldn’t help himself to kiss the painter, although the latter was already asleep. He felt the need to share what was on his mind… or better said what was on his heart. He had to kiss him. Yet, this supposed “exchange of thoughts” occurred, while Baek Na-Kyum was asleep. That’s his realization. He can’t be satisfied with the intercourse. That’s why he finds it strange. He mistakes the origin of his actions. He has the impression that his mind is behind all his reactions, while in reality, it’s his heart pushing him to express his love. He senses that he wants more but can’t explain it exactly. He is no longer satisfied with pure physcial interaction. That’s what he realized. He knows that the painter has finally been capable to distance himself from the low noble, yet his shadow is still present. Due to him, he is not able to get what he is longing for: he believes, he wants an exchange of thoughts.
In my opinion, the remark “how strange” is linked to himself. He is actually introspecting his new emotions or better said, his “thoughts”. I couldn’t help myself to connect this drawing with the following scene in the chapter 27.
The painter stopped Yoon Seungho from murdering the scholar by using his own body, barely clothed. When the painter discovered the master’s huge erection, he distanced himself from the noble. In that moment, the powerful protagonist looked at the painter’s face and saw his tears flowing, reminding him of their wedding night, where the painter had cried out of joy and happiness. In that scene, the wealthy main lead couldn’t help himself from looking away from the painter’s visage covered with tears.
Then he made the following remark:
He couldn’t recognize the origin of his fury, he was terribly jealous of Jung In-Hun. The lord had never felt anything for a long time because he had been living like a zombie. This discloses why the lord has some difficulties to understand his own motivation and feelings. From my point of view, the readers are confronted with a similar situation in the chapter 50, however this time, he is discovering new feelings, actually positive ones. I do think that there is happiness and relief. He realizes that the painter has cut ties with the scholar, the latter is no longer his admired “learned sir”. Notice that his eyes are not showing any negative emotions, rather a certain relief.
To summarize, he went to the scholar’s room out of fury and jealousy, just like in the chapter 28, yet this time, his face doesn’t turn sour, he is somehow relieved at the end. He senses that there’s a breakthrough. He has achieved something: the painter is no longer pushing him away, feels relaxed enough to doze. During that night, he couldn’t interpret the true nature of the incident as he had been first worried that the painter had gotten sick again. We know for sure that he worries a lot about the low-born’s health. Even in his sarcastic comments, he lets transpire his worry. Now, you understand why it is important to know this manhwa very well. The previous chapters help me a lot to perceive the thoughts and emotions of the main characters. Byeonduck uses the episodes from the first season to enlighten the development of her characters, underlining their transformation. In the beginning of the chapter 50, the manhwaphiles witness how much the main lead has changed. He has become very gentle, selfless and making sure that his lover is feeling well. But he is still ignorant of his own feelings. For him, reasoning is the cause of his behavior. Let’s not forget that during the first season, the main lead had to ponder a lot and even suffer due to remorse. So the painter did occupy a big place in his thoughts that’s why the lord is still making the mistake. On the other hand, he is now capable of expressing his love much better, although the artist couldn’t see it with his own eyes. However, his body has already sensed it.
And now, I would like to analyze the final image in order to close this long essay.
On the surface, we could say that the shadow represents the scholar. Although he is actually at the capital, his presence is still there affecting the painter’s life and his relationship with Yoon Seungho. Nevertheless, we know that this is the protagonist’s shadow. What does this drawing mean? In my opinion, this is actually foreshadowing the rich noble’s future evolution. He will become the “learned sir” the painter has always longed for. But this will take some time, until it becomes true therefore he is just a shadow.
We shouldn’t forget that Baek Na-Kyum has always addressed Jung In-Hun as learned sir because he admired him for his “intelligence” and “knowledge”, unaware that behind his words and smiles, Jung In-Hun was never the learned sir the commoner had imagined. He was in reality an illusion. During this chapter, Yoon Seungho heard that the scholar told his lover that the latter was born to be a prostitute. Hence the noble is smart enough to realize that if he wants to get the painter’s recognition, he needs to prove the low noble’s words wrong. The lord is standing in front of the books and this is his future role. Actually, he has already started acting as the painter’s teacher because he encouraged the commoner’s “critical thinking” (chapter 40).
That’s why I would like to remind my readers of what I wrote at the beginning of this analysis. I described Yoon Seungho as a libertine due to his sexual practice. However, a libertine is more than just a person experiencing his sexuality freely. In reality, libertine is a free-thinker. The Libertinage is tightly related to the Enlightenment, an European movement from the 18th Century, where reason and critical thinking were central.
The German philosopher E. Kant once wrote: “Enlightenment is man’s release from his self incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man’s inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. […] Have courage to use your own reason”
A libertine questions authorities like the king’s or church’s, religion and its dogma. He experiments and uses his own mind in order to find solutions. He rejects any form of doctrine coming from above. In other words, a libertine stands in opposition to traditions and ancient rules. A libertine advocates liberty and equity, values that were defended during the American and French revolution. The problem is that libertines often lived their sexuality openly so that in the long run, the Libertinage was reduced to the sexual aspect. Yoon Seungho as a true libertine rejects social hierarchy hence he doesn’t view his relationship with a low-born as a problem. He reads a lot in order to improve his knowledge. As you can detect, he embodies the opposite of Jung In-Hun. That’s why he has another reason to despise the shallow noble.
Yoon Seungho will transform into the “learned sir”, Baek Na-Kyum has always been longing for. For that, he needs to teach the painter writing and reading. That’s why the books are in the middle of the picture. The master hasn’t slipped into the role of the teacher yet. However, I am sure that the master will do it very soon. Now, he has the knowledge, why the painter kept seeing him and himself as “men consumed by lust”. These were the poisonous words said by the jealous noble. The painter never saw “his lord” with books, the only ones he was seen with were the erotic publications, even in the chapter 23. Since Baek Na-Kyum has now adopted the doctrine of a libertine, then he is already open to this idea of receiving lessons from Yoon Seungho. The latter will show him what a real libertine is, it is not just about living his sexuality freely, it is also thinking freely, see beyond the facade and recognize the true nature of people. He still needs to perceive Jung In-Hun’s vicious and cruel personality. However, there is still a long way to go because the lord is now hurting. He knows now why the painter remained by his side. He never won his heart and he discovered it due to the valet’s revelation.
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