This is where you can read the manhwa. https://www.lezhinus.com/en/comic/painter 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: https://bebebisous33analyses.wordpress.com/2020/07/04/table-of-contents-painter-of-the-night/
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In chapter 52, the manhwalovers witness the return of Min who dared to challenge Yoon Seungho on different occasions during the first season (chapter 33 and 41). In my two analyses about Min, I had described him as someone ambitious, jealous and manipulative thereby I started considering him as a villain for the second season. The lord with a green robe is led by his desire to overthrow the protagonist and to replace him as the new alpha among the local nobility. Thanks to this chapter, we definitely get to discover new sides of this villain called “Black Heart”.
But it is time to dedicate to chapter 52. In the beginning of this episode, we see Min smoking with a huge smile on his face. (Chapter 52)
He seems to enjoy it very much. However, to our shock, we discover that this aristocrat is smoking opium, a very addictive narcotic drug which was very popular among Chinese back then. Yet, you have to know that in reality opium trade was in the hands of British dealers. Already in 1729, the Qing emperor Yongzheng even forbade opium but this interdiction was useless as British merchants continued flooding the market of Qing dynasty with this drug, made possible by corrupted officials. Consequently during the 19th Century, according to historians, there existed around 12 millions Chinese addicted to opium so that the economy was affected. The high number of opium addicts forced the 8th emperor of Qing Dynasty Daogang to ask his Prime minister to confiscate opium from British sellers leading to the First Opium War between Great-Britain and Qing Dynasty (1839-1842). This info is quite relevant as it helps the readers to understand better the story. This explains why opium is imported from Qing and secondly why Min shouldn’t smoke it in the street. First, since Min shouldn’t smoke it in the street, I assume, opium was still forbidden so that we can conclude that this trade was certainly smuggled. Since Joseon was a vassal state of Qing, I assume that opium wasn’t legal in Joseon either. In other words, Min and his fellows are committing a crime.
Nonetheless, I deduce another info from this scene. Min is not the one who bought the opium but the other noble, for Black Heart asks him about the nature of the “tobacco”. Yet Min smokes it as if he owns it. From this single observation, I come to the interpretation, Black Heart is a profiteer and opportunist. He can enjoy opium without spending a high amount of money as his fellow was the one who bought it. He likes taking things from others, acts as if people around him were indebted to him hence he has the right to claim things from other aristocrats. As you can observe, Min is not just greedy and jealous of Yoon Seungho, he treats the other masters the same way.
The third observation is that Black Heart shows a disregard to others and especially to low-born. He doesn’t care if people see him smoking opium as he considers commoners as nobodies. This proves that Min believes, he is above the law as he is a noble. He shows no concern for his reputation, since he doesn’t fear any repercussion. No low-born will report him for smoking opium. On the other hand, he is not pleased to hear from the master with the khaki robe that he has to stop smoking the opium. He follows the fellow’s suggestion, however he can’t help himself criticizing him for his remark: “Do you have to be so difficult..?”. His comment is interesting because it indicates how Min views his companion, he is a killjoy. This reveals how much fun signifies to Black Heart. That’s why he likes manipulating people and even incited Jihwa to have the painter killed. This wasn’t just because he wanted to hurt Yoon Seungho and establish himself as the new king. He takes pleasure using people as his puppets. This was already palpable in the chapter 43, (chapter 43) but this signification is reinforced with this chapter. To summarize, Min treats everyone as pawns, including nobles. This outlines his arrogance. He considers himself as a puppet master, a great mastermind hence he is superior to everyone, including Yoon Seungho.
Then, we see how the noble with the khaki robe leads our villain to the protagonist’s mansion. A single gesture, yet it is so full of signification. The aristocrat is behaving like a servant. He even addresses him as lord Min showing a respect but also a certain distance. Lord Min is treated as if he was superior to him. Yet, the noble doesn’t appear to be affected by his role as underling. He seems to be used to this situation. Therefore I come to the observation that lord Min seems to have imposed himself among nobles. He has become a high authority explaining why his actual position stands in conflict with Yoon Seungho’s.
What caught my attention in this drawing is the role played by Min’s fellows. They are his source of info. That’s how he learns about Yoon Seungho’s sponsorship and Jung In-Hun’s success at the first round of the civil service examination. As you can note, the arrogant noble is relying on his connections among the nobility in order to obtain new info about Yoon Seungho. This is also confirmed later, when he meets the painter at the mansion. He is so surprised to encounter him.
He had heard through nobles that Yoon Seungho had returned to his old self, and had started inviting nobles again. Black Heart explained the lord’s sudden change with the painter’s death. Furthermore, during all this time, the artist was never seen by the guests hence they had come to the conclusion that he had disappeared. So in Min’s mind, his plan had succeeded. This detail is quite important as his sources of information are not reliable. Min can only see and hear what aristocrats witness in the main lead’s presence. Besides, their observations are biased, like the following picture proves it. (Chapter 52) One aristocrat calls the main lead “a madman”. So he is judging the seme based on his perception and knowledge and in my opinion rumors about him played a huge part. All the info collected by the nobles and reported to Min are somehow filtered. They only pay attention to other nobles and to what matters to them. This is important as I believe that they are neglecting the commoners. Since they are low-born, they are nothing in their eyes. This explicates why Min didn’t even bother to ensure that Nameless was indeed hired and he would do his job. He only heard about Nameless through other nobles and maybe even used him too, yet he accepted the rumor about Nameless as truth. (Chapter 43) Therefore I believe Min defends the values perpetuated among the aristocracy: titles give lords the right to consider themselves superior to commoners and to treat the latter as bugs. Min is the representative of this mentality, for him low-born have no value and no right. They can be killed or be mistreated, this is the normality for him. And this mentality is faulty as Min is neglecting an important factor: commoners. They represent the majority and play a greater role in the masters’ life. The result is that he made a huge mistake because of this source of info. He just relied on his fellows, however I have always said that Yoon Seungho used rumors and has always acted in front of other nobles. In other words, Min has a false image about the main lead and there is no doubt about it.
Pay attention to Min’s statement about the powerful protagonist:
For him, he is easy to read. Black Heart is contradicting his counterpart since he is saying, the main lead is no lunatic. Striking is the expression “watch closely”. This detail is important because it explicates why Min approached Yoon Seungho in the first place. He needed to observe him in person to make his own judgement. He noticed the locked gaze between the main lead and the low-born, he realized the preciousness of Baek Na-Kyum in Yoon Seungho’s life. That’s why I see a confirmation of my previous analysis about Min. He was never an uke in the first place. He had to play this role in order to get close to the protagonist. Therefore he acted like a whore in that chapter 8. (chapter 8) Furthermore, after having sex one time, he remained by the painter’s side observing his expressions and reactions. He understood what the painter meant to the protagonist. (Chapter 9) However, his judgement is only partially correct as his perception is also influenced by the reports he received through his connections, like I wrote above. After the two challenges, Min could no longer approach the main lead hence he had to rely on other sources.
But why does Min think like that? He has the impression that the lord is not a deep thinker. Black Heart has no idea that the protagonist read all the books in his library. He thinks, Yoon Seungho is led by his emotions and can’t anticipate people’s moves. He might be merciless towards commoners but he is not really using his violence against other nobles. So far, he has never attacked any aristocrat. He might have humiliated them but that was it. Even after Jihwa got caught, Yoon Seungho only punished the spy but spared his childhood friend. In his mind, the lord is no strategist. He didn’t anticipate that Min would manipulate Jihwa to have the painter murdered. He threatened Jihwa and even Min, yet nothing really happened.
The arrogant mastermind imagined that if something precious to the main character is destroyed, then he would either return to his old self or be devastated. He would never retaliate. He can’t be really in love with a low-born or if he really is, then he will never reveal it. For Min, the famous lord might have been intrigued and attracted by the low-born, yet in reality he is just like them. He is too attached to his social status. Besides, he is just a depraved man so his moves are quite predictable. The lord will never go after another noble because he never did it in the past. Besides, each time Min challenged him, the lord retreated(chapter 33) or left it with a simple thread. (Chapter 41) Min never took it seriously. He only saw it as an empty menace. The problem is that Min’s perception is mostly influenced by the rumors existing about Yoon Seungho. I doubt, he is aware that the main lead has shadow guards. I even suspect that he never heard Yoon Seungho’s thread made in front of the painter.
Let’s not forget that in this chapter, Yoon Seungho was threatening to murder a noble which is quite daring. From my perspective, the aristocrat wasn’t making any empty thread. He was honest. As you can observe, Min’s words are revealing a lot about his false judgement about the main lead, which could be fatal for him. He believes that he is protected thanks to his title, Yoon Seungho will never dare to oppose him. He is not a real fighter. He became the ruler because of his infamous notoriety and there is nothing real behind it. He always avoided any confrontation.
Striking is that just before he contradicts his fellow, he has a strange reaction. He is looking up at the sky but not at his companion. It was as if his mind was elsewhere. Here, I see another sign of his blindness and arrogance. He doesn’t pay attention to his companions, he doesn’t need to. They are far so inferior to him… how can they perceive Yoon Seungho as a madman? He is so easy to manipulate… you just need to strike the right nerve, and the man will just back off. He will never dare to fight back like in episode 33. The man literally fled, when he was pressured to bring the painter. He is just a man consumed by lust, nothing more. That’s his biggest mistake in the end. He might have perceived Yoon Seungho’s weakness, but he hasn’t truly investigated his personality, his background and his past. More importantly, he is not aware of Yoon Seungho’s true mentality: he hates nobility due to his past suffering. Hence for him titles have no value. Moreover he has no problem to be in contact with commoners. The painter is the best example.
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