Painter Of The Night: Baek Na-Kyum’s future (part 1)

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.

Funny is that on the same day of the release of the chapter 46, I posted my essay titled “Dreams” and explained that Baek Na-Kyum had no dream any longer, meaning that he had no goal in life. The chapter 46 mirrors this interpretation, as it’s in the center of the focus in this chapter. The episode 46 questions the painter’s future, but this time it is from the artist’s perspective: « What am I going to do and where am I going to live? »

What caught my attention is that in this chapter the chronology is out of order. We have past, present and future all together. This mixture of different timelines in the same scene is relevant for different reasons. First it outlines the confused painter’s state of mind. Secondly it characterizes the importance of the past altering the present and future. It illustrates how the past affects the protagonist so much so that his future changes. Moreover this irregularity of the timeline shows the change in the relationship between the characters. But now it’s time to analyze closer the chapter.

First we see the artist playing with the snow by building snowmen ⛄️. This gesture illustrates the low-born’s innocence. He still hasn’t left his childhood behind. Sure, he wanted to help the servants in the first place but he wasn’t allowed. The head servant of the kitchen asked him to play but fact is that he was the one who chose such an occupation. There’s still innocence in him despite the pain and the experienced abandonment.

Besides, notice that building a snowman is related to drawing. This illustrates the artist’s creativity and how important painting means to him. He needs to create something with his hands. Striking is that he is also building two snowmen and not just one. This could be random but I feel that since there is no such coincidence in Byeonduck’s work, this could be perceived as the low-born’s unconscious wish of companionship. He feels lonely, however he desires to have someone by his side.

Now, if we pay a closer look at one snowman, we’ll notice that it reflects the artist’s inner feelings. The face expresses mixed feelings, since the eyes are expressing a certain sadness, while there is a glimpse of a smile on the mouth. The painter’s heartache has not completely disappeared, but the agony has diminished. The size of the eyes is quite interesting. The logical explication is that Baek Na-Kyum couldn’t find stones of the same size, yet I can’t help myself giving it a deeper signification. This symbolizes the transformation of Baek Na-Kyum, he is between childhood and adulthood. The small eye refers to the childhood and as such the candidness, and the bigger one to the adulthood, as he is now able to comprehend better the world and its reality (inspired by the saying getting a bigger picture). Through the bad experience (abandonment by the teacher), he is disillusioned but not to the point where he has lost his innocence definitely. That’s why I interpret that the future attempted assassination will become a real wake-up call and will mark the pivotal moment in the painter’s life. He will lose his purity for good, his worldview will change forever. Like I said before, the painter hasn’t perceived the teacher’s true personality and his real intentions behind his harsh words. He hasn’t grasped that the scholar was so jealous and envied him that he felt the need to destroy him with his words. He still thinks that what Jung In-Hun said was correct. Later, I’ll explain the reasons for this mindset. But let’s get back to the snowman.

This occupation reveals that the painter is enjoying the moment, he is more focused on the present, hence he is able to smile while creating the second snowman. He is under the influence of the Latin saying “carpe diem” (enjoy the day).This illustrates that the commoner is trying to avoid to think about his future. This doesn’t surprise us, when the servant Deok-Jae appears and destroys his work. He can’t comprehend the harshness in the domestic’s behavior and comments. He is left speechless, feels uncomfortable hence he is sweating. Notice that while the servant kept criticizing him, he never said anything to his defense. This outlines what I explained in the essay “An easy conquest”, he is not able to express himself due to the loss of his ex-mentor and guru. Furthermore, there is another reason for his silence. He somehow believes what the jealous domestic is saying. He still views himself as a low-born and even worse, as a prostitute. The fact that he wanted to stay in the backyard with the staff shows his longing to be perceived as a servant. He feels like a prostitute but he would like to be treated like a servant so that his special position would not be detected. He feels really embarrassed, when the head maid from the kitchen outlines his special status. All this displays that he feels out of place, as if he had no real belonging. He is neither a master (he has no topknot) nor a low-born. His ambiguous situation, which was portrayed in the chapter 45, is mirrored here too, yet this time it is shown how Baek Na-Kyum feels about his unclear status. He has the impression that he is a prostitute. He is already too bothered and embarrassed about his ambiguous situation that’s why he can’t think about his own future.

Because he wanted to help, the head servant understood the painter’s reasoning and feelings hence she let him stay in the backyard. On the other hand, she couldn’t allow him to work like a servant because she knew how her master would have reacted to this situation. She had been told that the painter was no longer authorized to eat in the kitchen with the other servants. His status had been elevated by the lord. He is his partner hence he can no longer be perceived as a servant. The fact that he is no longer wearing his white headband illustrates that Seungho doesn’t recognize him as a commoner but as his lover. I would say that since he has no topknot, his status reminds me of a concubine, although it is quite obvious that for the seme, Baek Na-Kyum is his wife. From my point of view, the lord is changing his status little by little, the closer they get. Remember that there is a lack of trust between Seungho and the painter. The noble has no idea why the artist chose to give in, hence he asked in the episode 45. However I explain the sudden order from Yoon Seungho as a consequence of the “love confession” in the chapter 45. The more Baek Na-Kyum is opening up, the more Seungho is showing his true colors, intentions. But the trust is based on shaking grounds. In reality, the “I like- My lord” is a misunderstanding, on the other hand the chapter 46 reveals that Baek Na-Kyum is indeed leaning more and more on the noble, as he has no home any longer. The first reason why I associate the painter’s status to the one of a concubine is that he has no topknot like Seungho. If he had one, he could be considered as a master. Secondly, they still don’t eat together hence has the servant as companion. Finally they still don’t share the same bed during the night. They might have sex on the red and yellow bed, however they don’t sleep together during the night. Their intimacy has not reached its peak yet.

Notice that during the altercation between Deok-Jae, the head maid of the kitchen and Baek Na-Kyum, the present, past and future were here mixed, like I mentioned above. The domestic resented the painter for playing in the backyard because he had the impression that Baek Na-Kyum was showing off. In the former’s opinion, he is a low-born, nonetheless he doesn’t need to work, he can just play. The suggestion of the head maid didn’t help the artist in the end as it increased the prejudice and the resent Deok-Jae had about the favored servant. Besides, the jealous man pointed out that the “favored servant” wasn’t a master at the moment, but he could be perceived as one due the privileges the artist has. Yet the envious man was somehow making fun about this (“might”), as if this idea was so ridiculous and impossible. Notice that at no moment, the painter spoke for himself, defending his actions and his innocence indicating that what Deok-Jae said about him was how he views himself. He has such a low self-esteem. He didn’t voice one complain (even the destruction of the snowmen), he let the domestic criticize him because he even feels lower than the servants: he is indeed a prostitute. That’s why he can’t think about his future and he is not even focused on his painting too. Hence the readers saw no new painting in his bedroom. The paper is blank and the artist is focusing on masturbating. He has no inspiration, no motivation. Even the sex with Seungho is not motivating him at all. This picture symbolizes the confusion and the sense of loss of the painter. It was as if his passion for painting had been lost by the teacher’s words: he is just a prostitute. That’s why he can’t think about his own future because even in the present, he feels empty.

That’s where I would like to end this first part. I have more to say but this will be written later.

Feel free to comment. If you have any suggestion for topics or manhwas, feel free to ask. If you enjoyed reading it, retweet it or push the button like. My twitter account is: @bebebisous33. Thanks for reading and the support.

6 thoughts on “Painter Of The Night: Baek Na-Kyum’s future (part 1)

  1. Thanks for the analysis. It was pretty obvious since chapter 42 that Nakyum was still attached to his teacher. He still thinks his teacher is an admirable man and whatever he said was right. The only difference is that he no longer has hope to conquer him. He always felt the gap between them and that’s why he probably never dared confessing his love to him. Now, he feels microscopic besides him. He lost all his self-esteem. That’s why I didn’t really agree with one of your previous analysis where you said that NK finally moved on from his relationship with InHun after their altercation. In POTN, we are actually dealing with a love triangle. Still. And it damn hurts! We reached season 2 and the main protagonist’s love interest is still his teacher. He recently gave up on his hope regarding that matter but he didn’t gave up on his feelings. The author is playing with fire. Her persistence to give InHun such importance, although relevant, makes the storyline more and more inextricable. At this rate, we will have 5 seasons at least. I don’t think NK could fall for SH until he realizes for good the true vicious nature of his teacher. That will be his shocking wake up call to adulthood. It seems the author wanted to take the slow, long and hurtful path in this storyline. I respect her choice because it’s not the easy one. I just hope she won’t rush the plot all of a sudden for some obscure reason. I somehow have the feeling she would like to keep SH’s attitude cold and quite rough. Just like in the manga FINDER, the seme will fall for the Uke but in his own rough way. Not a single love word is ever pronounced yet his affection and love are cristal clear. It’s all about the actions. It seems it’s the path Byeonduck is following. It’s great that we get to struggle together with NK so we can feel every single of his emotions. He is in a middle of a heartbreak coupled with an existential crisis. His struggle is universal. I just don’t see yet how SH will fit into his life once he will figure things out. We’ll see.

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    1. In my opinion, the painter never intended to confess his love to the teacher because he knew how he thought about homosexuality. Secondly I explained that he still hasn’t perceived his teacher’s true nature but he is well aware that his teacher and surrogate father abandoned him hence he has moved on. For me, the chapter confirmed that he has accepted that Jung In-Hun left for good. He has moved on, sure his last words are still in his mind, yet he has no longer problem to masturbate and feel guilty. Seungho was shown as vulnerable while it is not the case in Finder. The main lead is not suffering from a traumatic past. But even if you have a different perception, I’m glad for this conversation

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      1. I had the impression that NK intended to confess his feelings may times. One of them was right when his teacher was brought to the mansion by SH. Nakyum told him, while smiling like never: “I feel the same way!”, thinking In-Hun was happy to see him because he loved him. Then when his teacher asked what he meant by that, NK realized he misunderstood so he stepped back from confessing. It happened again another time later in S1 (including the first time he had sex with SH. Although he was drunk, that was one strong love confession for his teacher– ‘I PINE FOR YOU SIR’!). My interpretation is that NK, as naive as he is, always hoped that In-Hun would accept him and love him back somehow. When you mentioned the father figure In-Hun is actually playing in Nakyum subconscious, it could not make more sense! Nakyum is indeed confusing true love with admiration. What I like the most about your analysis is that deep attention to details and how you recognize symbols in the events and the protagonists behavior. I do disagree with few of them though, like the ‘wife status’ for example. It does make more sense now that the series is progressing but I don’t think SH considered NK like his “wife” right from the beginning. I believe he truly saw him as a talented low-born artist and nothing else. Not as a potential lover and never as a servant as well. That’s why he told him once that he “might have a reputation for promiscuity but it doesn’t mean he will ever embrace a lowborn”. He had some kind of compassion for NK, probably because of his young age, but I don’t think he ever considered making him his lover/partner (at the beginning). It’s actually In-Hun appearance and NK’s love for him that initiated SH’s deep interest and fascination. Even without In-Hun, it seems clear that SH would have fallen for the Uke anyways since it’s his innocence, together with his strong will, that ended up making the difference… but it would have taken more time. I find it sad how much NK was always contesting being a servant when called so by other people and now he has such a low self-esteem, considering he is a whore, that he craves to get the servant status rather than the prostitute one. Heartbreaking, really!

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      2. I believe that you misunderstood me in one point. He only saw him as his wife only during their first night together. However my interpretation was he had already fallen in love with him very early on but had no idea about it. First he knows nothing about love hence he could never grasp his own feelings. He was led by his unconscious, just like the painter. However since he’s always awake, we can never see his unconscious, unlike the artist. Nevertheless I like this exchange so keep leaving comments because it makes me realize to explain my thoughts more precisely 😘

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    2. Sabia que lo de la comida era porque subió de rango!!
      Me da mucha pena saber que el se queda porque no tiene un lugar donde ir,nuestro pintor debe descubrirse asi mismo.Esta pasando por una crisis de identidad y no cree que pertenezca a algun lado.
      Me gustó tu analisis,una vez mas me dio claridad. 🙂

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