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.
This is going to be the last analysis about the chapter 49, where I’ll examine the painter’s confessions and their evolution. Like I had mentioned it before, we had confessions in the chapters 20, 40, 42 and 49. I am excluding the one in the chapter 25 because the person who should have received the declaration wasn’t present.
In the chapter 20, the artist declares his love for the teacher Jung In-Hun in front of Yoon Seungho, mistaking the latter for his teacher: If the manhwaphiles pay attention to the words used by Baek Na-Kyum, they notice in reality the vocabulary field is not love but worship. There is respect, admiration and longing (“pine for”). So it becomes really obvious that the commoner is not really loving the man. He is acting more like a member of a cult. Baek Na-Kyum venerates his teacher. It was, as if Jung In-Hun had become a deity in the painter’s eyes. However in fact he is not a god, just an idol, signifying he is only a fake god. The idolization is first truly visible, when the painter creates the painting: The scholar has become a high official in the drawing. He sits above all the people surrounding him, as if he was different and superior. His inauguration reminds me of a religious ceremony. Let’s not forget that this event is indeed linked to religion, as the new official has to thank the king and the gods in order to get good fortune. In other words, this picture is indeed linked to religion. The usual form of idolatry in the Bible is the worship of images or statues that are thought to embody the various pagan deities, like for example the golden calf. [For more explanations about the golden calf https://www.britannica.com/topic/golden-calf%5D
This shows, how delusional and arrogant Jung In-Hun is. He created a cult, where he appears powerful due to his intelligence and knowledge and turned the painter into his first believer. We shouldn’t forget why idols are considered as fake gods. Their power exists only in the mind of the worshipers, in reality they are just ineffective pieces of stone or wood or in this case an impotent piece of painting. Take notice that I relate idolization to the mind and not to the heart embodying emotions. Therefore the incapable idols can never achieve greatness. This scene is really important, as the strong seme demonstrates his power over the low noble. He shows him his powerlessness, he confronts him with the reality. He is not a god. He has no real authority, hence he can’t change the world like he would like. In this scene, the scholar has to recognize that Yoon Seungho stands above him. Moreover, the former makes him realize that the protagonist was never a new member of his cult. He never fell for his deceptions, he perceived his true abilities (the plagiarism and his poor poetry). That’s why Jung In-Hun got upset. For the first time, he met someone who was superior to him in all aspects (financially, physically and mentally) and couldn’t be manipulated, as he had wished. As a conclusion, the creation of the new cult was born out of the scholar’s arrogance and blindness. He thought, he was like a god due to the painter’s admiration. By the way, this explains why the intellectual asked the powerful main lead to follow him to the capital, he imagined that if Yoon Seungho accompanied him to Hanyang, then he would receive people’s attention due to the presence of the “famous” noble next to him. He wanted to use the main character’s reputation and attraction. He desired to create a situation where he could get the impression that he was also admired. Despite the scene at the hunt, the low noble hasn’t given up on his “dream”. He still wants to be regarded as a new god, receiving respect and admiration.
Now, you might argue with me that the interpretation where Jung In-Hun is judged as a fake god, contradicts my earlier statement, where I associated the scholar to a dictator, like Hitler. Dictatorship and idolatry don’t seem to fit together, yet this is just a misconception. Hitler’s true wish was to replace Christian religions (Protestantism and Catholicism), which were deeply rooted in Germany, with National-socialism as ideology. According to the German dictator, National-socialism should become the new religion of The Third Reich. That’s why the Christian cross should be supplanted by the swastika, the new rallying sign for Aryans. His work “Mein Kampf” (My fight) should be perceived as a new version of the Bible, hence this book was given to newlyweds, after Hitler had entered the government as Reichskanzler (the name for the Prime Minister). In many publications (especially history books) under the control of the Nazis, Adolf Hitler was even presented as the new messiah. According to these books, his arrival was predestined, as all the great German historical figures had failed before. Luther, Frederick The Great or Bismarck or Hindenburg as his predecessors contributed to the construction of the future Germany preparing the Nazi’s coming. Hitler embodies the climax.
Only he will be able to transform Germany and create an Empire that will last 1000 years. That’s why it is called the Third Reich, the dictator tried to connect this new Germany to the past. The first Empire was “Holy Roman Empire” (1254-1806), the second one “German Empire” (1871-1918) founded by Bismarck. As you can observe, they never lasted 1000 years so Hitler wanted to surpass them. He was definitely delusional, since he thought of himself as better and stronger than any other historical figures. To summarize, the German dictator tried to install a new cult and used propaganda and festivities in order to manipulate people, to get more and more worshipers. Remember what I wrote in the first part, there exists a ruler’s cult in a dictatorship. “My Führer” becomes a surrogate father figure, a guide for all the members, just like the scholar is an adoptive father, a guide for the painter. This proves the interpretation that Jung In-Hun is indeed similar to Hitler, who can be compared to an idol. Jung In-Hun hoped to experience the same, thinking that he will move the masses with his skills and aura but his “dream” got ruined during the hunt. Let’s not forget that Hitler was a politician and official in the first place, while he wished to be worshiped like a messiah too. We find the combination of religion and politics in Jung In-Hun’s life too. The latter wants to use his new position as high official to impose his cult, the new version of the Ten Commandments, which I called the 7 rules:
- The artist can’t be associated to sodomy.
- He is not allowed to paint erotic paintings.
- He can’t admit to be a homosexual.
- He isn’t permitted to have sex with a man.
- He is not allowed to concede that he feels pleasure, when he has an intercourse with a man.
- He is not authorized to question the teacher’s words and actions. He has to obey him blindly.
- He is not permitted to fall in love with another man.
Now, the manhwalovers might wonder why I keep talking about the German dictator, while my essay is about the painter’s confession. My reason is quite simple. We needed to determine the nature of Baek Na-Kyum’s confession and for that, it was important to define the object of his admiration. Since he is a worshiper, a member of a new cult, readers should judge Baek Na-Kyum’s declaration as a sign of fanaticism and not love. What is exactly fanaticism?
“Fanaticism is an extreme and often unquestioning enthusiasm, devotion, or zeal for something, such as a religion, political stance, or cause. It can also refer to behavior motivated by such enthusiasm or devotion.” https://www.dictionary.com/browse/fanaticism
Striking is the idiom “unquestioning” which is palpable in the painter’s previous behavior. Initially he never questioned his learned sir, nonetheless only under the protagonist’s influence, we could witness how the painter used more and more his own mind and started criticizing his admired sir. As a conclusion, the painter was more a fanatic than a man in love. It was the painter’s mind which was focused on the scholar and not the heart. From my perspective, the low noble had achieved to transform the painter’s love for him into an idolization or better said to fanaticism. That’s why in the artist’s first confession, the low-born voices yearning, aching and not just respect and admiration. The “I pine for you” reveals a certain pain. It can’t be simply explained by the coercive persuasion, since the latter had repressed it. The low-born had sensed that a distance had been created. Since Jung In-Hun was like a god, the painter could only watch him from far away, since he was just a commoner. There is another reason why I associate the first confession to fanaticism, it is the significance of the mind compared to the heart.
Many people perceive the Nazism as an ideology where people gave up on reasoning and let their emotions take over their life. This is also another misconception. In reality, Hitler used reason and the mind to the extreme. In his doctrine, he described Jews as parasites and as such undesirable elements that needed to be eliminated. The Holocaust is the logical application of this doctrine. Since Jews were no human beings, they could be killed like bugs. This was just cold reasoning and it did work. Many people contributed to the Shoah, they just wanted to make Hitler’s plan into a reality. Hitler didn’t develop himself the idea of gas chambers… his willing helpers did. Everything was done under the premise: we should materialize what he wrote in “Mein Kampf” (My fight). The impression that emotions were central in the Third Reichh comes from the events where people yelled their enthusiasm and made the Hitler greeting. The beholder feel that the masses are very emotional.
But this is only partially correct as only negative emotions like hatred, resent and jealousy were encouraged. Furthermore the spectators’ mind were the real target. They were influenced through the eyes and the ears. Hatred and cold reasoning (“the enemy must be destroyed”, “Aryans must fight till the end to protect their race”), used in the speeches, were the source of manipulation of the spectators. Empathy was non-existent, as it was literally killed with words. Goebbels and Hitler’s speeches are important as through the language and the visuals, they led to the loss of millions of people. Germans were willing to keep the war, because they should show no mercy and remain ruthless. Notice that at the end of the video, the moderator points out that German became the real victims of this ideology. And now you can perceive the similarities. The painter also became a victim due to the idolization resulting from the indoctrination. Another parallel is the importance of the scholar’s voice hence the low-born could only recall the low aristocrat’s voice and mouth. Baek Na-Kyum was indeed indoctrinated, influenced by the learned sir’s speeches, therefore he used the same words. He also looked down on others (sodomite here). This explains why he became a victim at the end, since he was confronted with internal and external fights. Yoon Seungho wanted to get erotic paintings and later to have him as his true partner. In order to keep following the 7 rules, the low-born always used his brainwashed mind, cold reasoning, like f. ex. “I am painting it for the teacher’s sake” or “Seungho is just a man consumed by lust” and struggled against his sexual desires, his own heart. The painter’s mind was full of rules and “despise” hence he couldn’t judge Yoon Seungho differently. By connecting the doctrine or the new religion to rules and disdain, the scholar wanted to kill the painter’s empathy and as such his heart. Consequently Baek Na-Kyum always repressed his sexual desires as they are connected to the heart.
The moment he tried to renew his confession, he was rejected as he had been questioning his teacher’s authority.He, as a low-born, was asking his “idol” to take his responsibility. The low noble should take care of him, especially after the latter had supported him. Yet the scholar refused for many reasons. First, a god is not supposed to take care of their believers personally. The latter can just pray but never request it from their “god” directly and make them responsible. Then Jung In-Hun was under pressure, for he wasn’t sure if he would be able to succeed. Besides, he was jealous and resentful as the painter was treated better than him, a noble. Moreover, the artist had disobeyed him as he had lied to him. But like I mentioned it above, he had detected that his influence over the painter had seriously decreased. He was distancing from him, he no longer worshiped him like in the past. His questioning and his lies pushed the noble to hurt the low-born in order to remind him of his social status. As a person raised at the brothel, he was filthy, in particular as he had violated the 7 rules. The artist had succumbed to sodomy, the greatest sin in the scholar’s eyes. He needed to punish him. He was a nobody, whereas he stood far above him. His words and gaze were vicious and cruel for that reason: he is a god and Baek Na-Kyum committed blasphemy. He needed to destroy the man.
The heart symbolizes love and not hatred. And this is no coincidence that the moment, Baek Na-Kyum starts confessing to Yoon Seungho, he speaks about his heart. However, the first real confession to Yoon Seungho is not complete. His sentences are broken, he voices fear because it feels so different from before, where he only used his eyes and brainwashed mind for the learned sir. Observe that in this picture he is covering his eyes, he fears the noble’s gaze. Let’s not forget that Jung In-Hun’s gaze was the weapon that killed the painter’s identity. In the scholar’s gaze, he saw his own reflection: he was filthy, he was just a whore. Hence he is afraid of Yoon Seungho’s gaze. How does he perceive me, that’s why he is thinking. During that night, he becomes blind and deaf due to the injury caused by the teacher’s reproaches and abandonment. This is no surprise that his ears and eyes were destroyed. Like I had pointed out before, these organs are essential for indoctrination and for idolization [Remember the comparison to the Nazi event]. So during that night, the sex didn’t succeed to comfort the painter, because the latter was not looking for sex but for comfort and love. We shouldn’t forget that he asked for embrace. He wished to be hold. The problem was that the painter was confused, he didn’t know what he wanted. Besides, the noble had no idea how to show love. It definitely came too late, when Yoon Seungho finally embraced and kissed him passionately. That’s why we could say that the scholar did win the fight against the powerful noble during that night. The main lead might have been able to get the painter, however he only found an empty shell. Baek Na-Kyum had lost his identity and confidence for real. However, the painter had recognized the beating of his heart, before his vital organ froze completely in the figurative sense.
Now, it is time to dedicate to the last confession. Unlike the declaration in the chapter 42, the painter is now able to speak more freely. The sentences are much longer.
What caught my attention were the words “eyes” and “heart”. First, the painter no longer fears the reaction of his heart this time. Secondly his vital organ is influenced by his eyes, contrasting to the past, when he idolized the low scholar. Back then, the voice, the teacher’s words in the form of the poem and his speeches were affecting his mind. Observe the opposition: ears/mind versus eyes/heart. That’s why there is a huge progression. Not only the low-born liberated himself from the false cult, but also he got closer to the noble. He is finally expressing that the noble is affecting him. He might say that this is just physically. Yet what really matters for me is that he is speaking about his heart, the symbol of love. He is acknowledging the importance of his heart. The other contrast to the first confession is that there is no aching in this confession. “I feel good” responds to “I pine for you”. So pleasure stands in opposition to longing. Moreover although in this confession, he admits his homosexuality and his acceptance of pleasure while having sex with the noble, I sense that the painter is one step closer to realize why he is moved by Yoon Seungho. He has already fallen in love with the man. The way to his heart are the eyes. So maybe the protagonist realized it too. Don’t you find it weird that during the chapter 51, Baek Na-Kyum was no longer able to see the noble? And in the chapter 52, when he finally decides to see the noble, he witnesses something terrible: Yoon Seungho kisses Min. Now, he is affected, unlike in the past. Notice on his way back to his study, he wondered why he feels bothered, I would even say, hurt. So the visual confrontation (his eyes) is making the painter realize his affection for Yoon Seungho. He is questioning himself and even before he listened to the valet Kim. We have here again the question: The question mark “why” is related to critical thinking.
As a conclusion, the painter is no longer under the scholar’s influence. There is no longer any adoration or idolization for his former teacher. On the other hand, he experiences pain due to the neglect. Seungho didn’t pay attention to his drawing and he even kissed someone else.
This will be my conclusion: The painter has changed so much during that night. He has returned back to life, he is using his own mind and is also paying attention to his own heart. Even before, he looked at the noble’s gaze, although the latter was upset. He was trying to perceive Yoon Seungho’s thoughts. That’s why we should perceive a positive development in the painter. He is no longer fearing the gaze of others. He is thinking on his own, hence he can no longer become a victim due to fanaticism again. I perceive that Baek Na-Kyum has reached a turning point in his life. He could definitely confront Yoon Seungho, like he did in the past. Remember when he yelled at him this:
He could refuse the lord’s proposition, a sex orgy, as he doesn’t see himself as a servant, although he dressed like one. I can’t help myself connecting to the scene in the kitchen (chapter 38), where he claimed that he was no servant. Let’s hope for this situation!
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