Painter Of The Night: Baek Na-Kyum’s confessions (part 2) (second version)

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. If you want to read more essays, here is the link to the table of contents: 

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In the first part, I demonstrated that the night in the episode 49 marked a pivotal moment in the painter’s life, for he was abandoning Jung In-Hun’s doctrines and cutting ties with the scholar for good. First, he had asked the valet Kim to get rid of the painting about Jung In-Hun’s inauguration, which showed that he was taking his distance from his former admired sir. (chapter 44) He saw it as a confirmation that the teacher had truly abandoned him, for he never bid goodbye to him. However, now I believe that Kim never informed the artist of the scholar’s departure. (chapter 44) He just delivered it in delay so that the artist would feel even worse than before. Without the farewell, he could only come to the conclusion that he had been truly abandoned by Jung In-Hun. Yes, the artist didn’t react like the butler had expected. He remained in the mansion despite the gate had been left wide opened. By getting rid of the painting, he was cutting ties with the learned sir. Yet this was a baby step compared to the scene in the chapter 49. Here, he has finally become the master of his own life and fate therefore he’ll live his life the way he wants. He is accepting his homosexuality and as such his sensuality. He views sex as a part of his life. He rejects abstinence and doesn’t view sex as an addiction. (chapter 49)

Furthermore I explained that he became a full-pledged person again, as he regained his own identity. We could even say that he had lost his identity as a painter. In the first chapter, the aristocrat was looking for the painter hiding behind a pseudonym and not for Baek Na-Kyum himself. Their first wedding night changed everything: from that moment on, Yoon Seungho wanted the man Baek Na-Kyum and not the painter- Hence the creation of new drawings became obsolete. For Yoon Seungho, only an image about their first night mattered, as he perceived as a validation of their marriage. But back then he was not realizing the signification of this wish. Yet as you can imagine, it is impossible to separate Baek Na-Kyum from his true vocation. That’s a part of his identity. So when he explained his reason for the “why”, he revealed many things. First, he accepted his homosexuality and his physical attraction to Yoon Seungho and indirectly that he was a painter, although he didn’t verbalize it loudy. Many readers were upset because they thought that Baek Na-Kyum was still acting as a prostitute at the end. The reason for their interpretation was the following picture: The lord’s thoughts were reflecting the artist’s mind-set. Yet, observe that in this scene, the real “prostitute” was more the lord. Why? It is because the painter had stipulated that it was the noble’s duty to lick him and as such make the painter feel good. Yet, there was a slight difference. A prostitute’s duty is to focus on the client’s pleasure and not on her/his own sensuality. Yet, observe that the noble’s thoughts are revealing that he will make sure that he enjoys their sex/love session too. Since he said that he would let his body lead him and his life, they thought that he was selling his body. But no, here he was saying that he would also pay attention to his own needs too. In other words, he was becoming a libertine, exactly like the painter. Both chose to live as libertines during that night. People would call it: a relationship with no string attached. However, what these readers failed to realize (in my perspective) is that Yoon Seungho and Baek Na-Kyum never mentioned any remuneration in exchange for sex, while it was different in the past (chapter 46). In fact, in this image, he was acknowledging his other part: he was a painter.

I regard this expression “my body take the lead” from Yoon Seungho as a reflection of the artist’s true and original belief, before he was brainwashed and almost destroyed by the teacher. It is strongly connected to his painting. Remember that when he was a child, he painted an erotic image of sodomy. (chapter 1) I perceive this image as an indication that the artist had dreamed about this love session. Note that all dreams about the painter were linked to sex and love. For me, this picture is a proof that the brothel had nothing to do with it. He was drawing outside and he had no model for such a scene right in front of him. In other words, the child allowed his body (his arm, hand, eye and brain) to take the lead, hence he was able to create such a sensual picture. Even Yoon Seungho wondered how a virgin could produce such beautiful drawings. (chapter 20) I have always pointed out that Baek Na-Kyum was a homosexual right from the start, which he accepted as something natural. He was also encouraged by his noonas. (chapter 87) He saw no crime in it, rather as something lovely and beautiful, hence he never felt the need to hide it. Notice that in this picture, he was creating such a lewd painting (chapter 1) where people can behold it, he feels neither shame nor embarrassment. He had no idea that he was violating social norms. That’s why I came to the following interpretation, when the painter said (chapter 49), he was rediscovering his old belief, he wouldn’t feel flustered if someone calls him a sodomite or whore due to his paintings. Notice that he didn’t blush, when he heard Min’s comment or when he saw the sudden kiss. (chapter 49) Now, you understand why I was really happy with this chapter. Baek Na-Kyum was slowly returning to the person he was in the past before the teacher and his noona Heena transformed him into a shadow of himself. He was accepting every part of himself: his sexual desires, his sexual orientation and more importantly his work as painter.

The commoner was already an empty shell, when he met the main lead for the first time. Let’s not forget that he was living as a drunk, since he had vowed to never paint again. By forcing him to drop painting, Jung In-Hun had already ruined the low-born’s life, as painting was a part of his soul. We could say that the low-born was already withering. However, back then Yoon Seungho was not interested in why the painter suddenly dropped his true vocation and why he lied to him too. The lord was more obsessed with the erotic drawings. The cause for this long explication is necessary as with this interpretation, I am predicting what is going to happen in the future.

This signifies that after this episode, Baek Na-Kyum’s talents will return with full forces and Yoon Seungho will even be his source of inspiration. The lord will become the artist’s new muse.

In order to understand this, we need to go back to the chapter 46. There, the beholder could sense that Baek Na-Kyum had lost his passion for painting despite his claim.

His head was down, his cheeks were red as if he was feeling ashamed. Furthermore there was no real passion in his eyes, when he conceded it to the head-maid. His confession about liking to paint was indeed meek. The lord’s observation made later was correct, although he never got to hear this revelation. Here, this drawing illustrated the frozen state of the painter, the loss of his soul and talent.

The artist was only able to produce a new painting because initially he masturbated. Striking is that this scene was a clue about the artist’s original belief. Here again, he allowed his body to take the lead, but it was once again behind closed doors and nobody was present. He was hiding again, indicating that he still wouldn’t admit his own sexual desires and his homosexuality. Until now, he had only asked for comfort and love from his counterpart (chapter 20/21 and 41/42). Remember that in the chapter 41, he just asked to be hold and as such, he only wanted to be embraced initially. However, due to his inexperience and pain, he confused love with sex. As you can see, the belief “the body taking the lead” had resurfaced indicating that little by little, the painter was changing. More importantly is that he hadn’t been triggered by an immediate sex session, unlike in the past (chapter 8/9). For the first time, Baek Na-Kyum’s sexual desires had come back to life. Unlike in the past, he didn’t judge the cum as something dirty and filthy. Moreover, Baek Na-Kyum could only ejaculate due to Yoon Seungho’s warmth and love. He had these flashbacks where the lord made love to him.

Thanks to these two elements (the body taking the lead and Yoon Seungho), he could paint again, however he could just create an unfinished and unrefined drawing because of the image he had of himself: a prostitute. His talents were diminished, even the lord’s influence couldn’t remove the false reflection about his identity caused by the scholar’s punishment. In this scene, we had another confession: Baek Na-Kyum was no longer hating the noble indicating that in the end, he had forgiven him for his wrongdoings:

  1. The brutality the painter was exposed to due to the noble (chapter 1, 11, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31-33)
  2. The rape
  3. The forced fellatio
  4. The sex marathon which made him really sick to the point that he could have died

Sure, he was only talking to himself but in the retrospective, I interpret this scene as the prelude of Baek Na-Kyum’s real transformation. By forgiving the protagonist, the painter has already started valuing the lord differently. The chapter 46 revealed the growing influence of the noble in the painter’s mind and body. He had already started being an inspiration for the artist’s new work. One might argue that this had already happened in the past, yet I have a different perception. In the first part of the first season, Yoon Seungho was forcing the commoner to paint, the latter had no choice to have the master as his model. Then Yoon Seungho was hopelessly waiting for the drawing of their “wedding night” which never occurred. The painter chose to ignore this night and to repress his memories. Then in the chapter 41, he painted so many images in order to ease his pain. That’s why his paintings lacked passion and warmth. He was working like a robot. As a conclusion, until the chapter 46, Baek Na-Kyum never considered his “husband” (I am well aware this is not how Baek Na-Kyum perceives Seungho) as his muse. He just used him as his model as he had been forced to or he wanted to smooth his agony.

In the past, I used to belive that Jung In-Hun was Baek Na-Kyum’s first love and he became his muse. However, later on I realized that the artist started painting for a different reason: survival. (chapter 1) He had no choice. He had to paint erotic paintings. Thus I conclude that the artist couldn’t fully show his true talent and express his passion for painting totally. Yet, his publications were still beautiful, since the lord’s heart and gaze were moved. On the other hand, the noona Heena sent her adopted son to Jung In-Hun, because she feared for her brother. (chapter 46) However, I believe that she was acting on the learned sir’s request. She justified her decision to send him away to the teacher, because she knew that by the learned sir’s side, the artist would never outlive his homosexuality. She imagined that the low noble was her son’s source of inspiration (chapter 46), whereas the artist had other motivation. Therefore she thought that it was for the best, if he was by the teacher’s side. I assume that the teacher wished the low-born by his side for two reasons: money and the prospect to benefit from Baek Na-Kyum’s talent. It is very likely that out of greed, the learned sir desired to sell the painter’s works for his own benefit. But for the artist had been requested to paint these erotic paintings for survival, I come to the conclusion that he had been asked twice to paint erotic pictures. The first time, it was for a precise client, and the second time it got sold among the commoners, which explains why the tailor knew about the identity of the painter. (chapter 64) There’s no ambiguity that the scholar’s prospect got ruined, hence he unleashed his jealousy and resent onto the painter, until the man vowed to follow the scholar’s doctrine. The poor man could never tell Heena about the physical and mental abuse, as he had already been abandoned. (chapter 34) He had to keep his promise to never return to the kisaeng house. I believe that the kisaeng must have used this incident (chapter 94) to send her brother away and exactly like in chapter 44, she made sure that the noonas wouldn’t be informed. That way, she could deceive her colleagues. It had been the painter’s choice. (chapter 93) For the man was his guardian, the low-born had to accept his situation. But since he was just a low-born, I doubt that he could sleep in the same room than the scholar. From my point of view, he had to sleep outside on the wooden planks, the older version of this scene. (chapter 1) Therefore it is not surprising why he didn’t leave the mansion in the end and why he said this to the head-maid. (chapter 46) He could live a normal life again. Besides, since the coercive persuasion, Baek Na-Kyum had been unable to paint, not just because of the vow in my opinion. Jung In-Hun had trained his body and mind to disregard his impulses. His body was not allowed to take the lead, hence he had to drink in order to numb his soul. (chapter 75) Painting was his passion, and the childhood drawings kept by the noonas clearly indicate that he didn’t paint erotic paintings, since he was a child. (chapter 94) He painted animals and as such nature.

This changes the moment the painter meets the protagonist Yoon Seungho. The noble is able to trigger his unconscious, therefore he is able to create a terrific painting, (chapter 2) although he hadn’t created anything for almost one year. From my point of view, this is the return of the painter’s passion. That’s why he paints under trance. Even the master was expecting that the painter wouldn’t be able to produce such a good work right from the start. However, he was proven wrong. Now, I am wondering if this gesture wasn’t the light igniting his repressed sexual desires and as such his dormant talents: (chapter 1) Sure, the painter’s mind was reminding him that this is filthy and vulgar, yet I sense that this affected the artist’s unconscious a lot. All the wet dreams Baek Na-Kyum had, the seme’s phallus played a huge part. Thus we have such drawings in the fantasies, where the protagonist’s sex is in the center of the painter’s imagination: (chapter 2) (chapter 6) (chapter 8)

Since in the chapter 49 he confesses to his “husband” that his body is affected by him, (chapter 49), it becomes obvious what this confession means. In front of his partner, the artist is declaring that he will use their sex session as a source for his creativity. On the surface, it looked like the painter was using the noble as his sex toy, since the latter is the one kissing, licking him so that he feels good. Hence the latter got upset while hearing this admission. However, the real message is that his interaction with Yoon Seungho will help him to create new paintings. As you can sense, Yoon Seungho is getting closer to his ultimate goal each time. From my point of view, this was only a matter of time, until the painter realized his true feelings for the noble. It would have come much sooner, if people like Kim, Jihwa and Heena hadn’t meddled in his life. From my point of view, when Yoon Seungho was thinking this , the painter had the exact same mind-set. Since he would follow where his body would lead him, then this meant that he would follow his heart. Thus we have this confession in the kisaeng house: (chapter 94) The painter followed his heart. Observe that the numbers have been switched: 49-94. The mirror effect and in the study we had a reflection too. Both main leads reflected each other’s minds: acceptance of a sexual relationship, but rejection at the same time, no strings attached.

The heart is a part of a body and soul. This means that the lord has already become the painter’s source of inspiration. (chapter 94) (chapter 94) So the lord is now associated to the moon and as such to nature. Thus I conclude that the noble will discover the painter’s true talent. From my point of view, his new paintings won’t be just erotic pictures about himself with the uke, but also about nature (animals, plants). The diversity of the topics will increase, yet I am sensing that the pictures will definitely reflect the painter’s love and admiration for the seme. (chapter 92) Yes, it is very likely that Baek Na-Kyum decides to recreate this scene, because we could see that Baek Na-Kyum’s heart and soul was moved. A new version of this scene: (chapter 36) Besides, the painter’s works will reveal what the protagonists feel and think about each other: love.

But let’s return our attention to episode 49. In my opinion, the last thoughts in this chapter illustrate the protagonists’ innocence. Both were deceiving themselves in order to protect themselves from pain. These confessions reflected their similar philosophy: “to let my body take the lead” and as such the acknowledgement of sexual pleasure.

First, the ” I feel good” symbolizes the climax of his disclosure. Note that “I” and the body “feel good” are what matter to the painter. The noble comprehends the low-born’s philosophy, hence he is annoyed. (chapter 49) But the kiss and the caress catch the powerful noble by surprise. These gestures stop him from complaining, because he is surprised by the painter’s initiative. Simultaneously, the kiss reminds him of the first Wedding night. This time, the artist is kissing him and not the scholar, so it is an improvement. He is recognized as his sexual partner.

Striking is that we see the lord making love to Baek Na-Kyum, for he is hugging the painter’s body . He is even protecting his head. He has never been so close to him before. Despite the hurt, the noble accepts his new situation, unaware that he has come one step closer to his goal. The tragedy was Yoon Seungho had no idea about his real wish. Unconsciously, he desired to be loved by Baek Na-Kyum. This explicates why it took so long for the protagonists to become a real couple. The lord had not recognized the existence of his affection. He thought, he was motivated by his mind, which is here reflected in the study. The reality was that he was motivated by his wounded heart. However, deep down he was lowering his expectations, for he had been hurt.

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7 thoughts on “Painter Of The Night: Baek Na-Kyum’s confessions (part 2) (second version)

  1. I’ve re-read chapter 49 for the third time and noticed something. Like you mentioned that Seungho protected Na-Kyum’s head during their session after the confession,I noted that Na-Kyum grabbed the bedsheets. I remember him just grabbing on to air or pushing Seungho but him grabbing the sheets is new. Idk if it’s much of a detail but it’s still something 🤔

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh this one makes me very hopeful! I appreciate the scrutiny of the “two naked bodies” line — it really is more poignant when you consider it from an artist’s perspective. I’ve been especially eager to see Nakyum’s painting talents flourish even more. I know the narrative doesn’t spend a ton of time on it, but from the beginning I’ve found it so important that Seungho genuinely supports his talent (and valet Kim). I really hope that we see his work become more integral to the plot this season.

    The other bit on my wishlist is a tender lil smooch while they’re both clothed… can you imagine the blushing..

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, that’s why it is important to ponder on such lines and not take it too literally. Actually, despite the pain and sadness in each episode (season 2), I was still able to perceive the positive aspects. To me, Seungho knows that the painter hasn’t opened up to him but at least the kiss, the stroke and the confession were real and addressed to him. He was entirely honest so Seungho took a risk and didn’t lose anything in the end. Notice that the painter doesn’t resent him after the rough sex session. He still accepts the noble as his painter. All the paintings reflected the painter’s state of mind that’s why I examined them very early, even before the first season was finished.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. I love how you pointed out the positive side in this chapter because it really does tie up with the previous ones! It changed my whole perspective and how I understood Nakyum’s thoughts. I read comments in mangago saying that when Nakyum was embraced by Seungho, he imagined SH being his teacher… But I don’t think so as well. After that panel of him and Inhun hugging, there was a black sort of stain on the page which kinda indicated that it was a bad memory now, or rather something that was ‘fake’ or insincere, which is the complete opposite of the warmth Seungho is providing him.

    Also, I rlly want to see the both of them sleeping together under the sheets after the session, until morning comes. I mean, I never saw them sleep together (or even SH’s previous sex partners…. even Jihwa who was his childhood friend. They always went home afterwards). NK would always go back to his quarters. Because if they do, it shows that they’ve opened up even a little bit ;^; But I think that’s too much even for SH XD

    Liked by 3 people

    1. They slept in the same bed in the chapter 37-38. Yes, I am waiting for this too. But my intuition is telling me that first Seungho might sleep in BNK’s bed first because Seungho has to be the one looking up to BNK/longing for his warmth.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I mean like, sleeping together after a sex session xD It would be a different story tho if they’d wake up together bc last time in Ch 37-38, NK woke up without SH beside him. But I guess that’s a huge step up already hahahah

        Liked by 2 people

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