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/
In this analysis, I’ll study the portraits of two important characters from the chapter 52: Min and Yoon Seungho. This time, the drawings will be in the center of the study. Yet, in order to be able to describe these two figures correctly, I have to include other chapters and their relationship to Jihwa and Baek Na-Kyum too.
What caught my attention is the way Byeonduck chose to introduce Black Heart’s return.
We only witness a man’s mouth from which smoke is coming out. Since the author didn’t draw the eyes, the readers are unable to recognize the person. As you know, eyes are relevant in order to determine a person’s identity. From this single picture, we could already gather a few info about the figure’s personality. His mouth is wide open and even without seeing his gaze, we can clearly determine that he is looking at the sky due to the orientation of his head and mouth. Due to the comment and the way the mouth is open, I can clearly sense that the man is enjoying smoking. He is not really paying attention to his surrounding, as his face is turned towards the sky. He is taking his time because of the pleasure he takes from that smoke.
Because we all know now, this person is Min, I detect that this drawing reflects his personality so well. Therefore the author chose to introduce him like that. As you are well aware, in this manhwa each drawing has a special meaning. Now, if the manhwalovers take a closer look at the image, they can imagine that the head’s position and the mouth have an important signification. His mouth wide open makes me think of all the disguised insults he said to Yoon Seungho and Baek Na-Kyum. The smoke of opium in the first drawing reminds us of the poisonous words Min voices in that chamber. Observe that during the scene in Yoon Seungho’s chamber, he keeps talking all the time. He is not even waiting for Yoon Seungho’s answer. There is a reason to this. His words resemble the arrows he used during the hunt. He had to use many arrows in order to really hurt the pheasant. However the protagonist was the one ending the suffering of the wild bird, by killing him with his own hands. That’s why I conclude that Min’s mouth is full of poison, just like the opium, and his words are like arrowheads. Consequently he keeps stabbing from a certain distance, thinking himself safe. Because of the connection with the chapter 41, I have the feeling that Min considers the main lead as an easy target, for he views him as a pheasant. In an earlier analysis, I had imagined, the pheasant was Jihwa. And this interpretation was confirmed with the chapter 43 and 67 In both episodes, he used his words to poison the second lead’s heart and mind, so that the latter would suffer so much. Remember after each suggestion, the noble felt so tormented: chapter 51 and chapter 76 . He is so plagued by his existential fear and remorse that he feels like dying. But as you can imagine, due to my previous analyses and the evolution of the story, I would like to add another signification. From my perspective, we should consider Baek Na-Kyum as the pheasant too, for both ukes are mirroring each other. By living next to Yoon Seungho, the painter was slowly metamorphosing. Therefore I come to the conclusion that Baek Na-Kyum was indeed the deer in the first hunt. The scholar’s words were represented by the arrowheads and the lord’s sword symbolized his phallus. In other words, the first hunt announced the rape and the painter’s loss of innocence in episode 25 and the lord’s abandonment in chapter 40. As you can observe, the chronology of the hunt was not respected. But this interpretation allows us to be able to predict the future season and Black Heart’s personality. Since the two main leads are going through a metamorphosis, it signifies that this phenomenon will occur to Jihwa and Min as well. Since Min believes that the main lead is an easy prey, this signifies that he considers the host as a pheasant too. Moreover, I think that the vicious noble has the impression that he is similar to Yoon Seungho, that’s why he can understand him so well. Therefore he views himself as a pheasant, but in this battle for the painter, he attacks his rival with his beak, similar to the arrow points, unaware of the main lead’s true nature. The latter is a phoenix, based on different essays. This mystical bird embodies fire and passion – the flames of true inspiration. Moreover, it brings good luck, harmony, peace, balance, and prosperity. This signifies that by defying the phoenix, Min’s fate is doomed. His fight against him will bring only misfortune and destruction. Hence Heena’s words (chapter 68) seem to be true: Yoon Seungho will ruin misery to his adversaries. But in chapter 52, the noble had not gone through his spiritual death. That’s why the Joker had the upper hand in episode 52 and could hurt the main lead’s heart. As you can observe, I felt this chapter was announcing Min’s chronicle of a death foretold. And this perception was confirmed with chapter 76. His addiction to opium is already destroying The Joker, therefore he vomits and he loses his temper in front of Nameless. Observe the contrast with chapter 52, where the vicious noble controlled the situation and cornered Yoon Seungho. Black Heart was calm and vicious, he had the upper hand, whereas the opposite happened in chapter 76. But let’s return our attention to chapter 52. Yoon Seungho was put under pressure, thus the latter avoided Min’s gaze and remained silent, until the main lead gave in:
Since Min’s head is turned to the sky and not to the surroundings, it reinforces my impression that the aristocrat is actually blind. Besides, we don’t even see his eyes, reinforcing this interpretation. Although he noticed the lord’s beautiful hanbok, and tried to imitate the noble’s style the next morning (chapter 56), he wasn’t able to copy him entirely. This was a poor imitation. In other words, the Joker is short-sighted. He was able to defeat the protagonist in chapter 52, yet the one who definitely put the final blow to Yoon Seungho was not Black Heart, but the painter. His words in chapter 54 definitely wounded Yoon Seungho’s heart: (chapter 54). That’s why we could say that chapter 54 was a new version of the rape scene. Yet Min was not able to achieve his goal, for the main lead was confronted with his own reflection and his traumatic past: (chapter 54). Contrary to the first season, Yoon Seungho was able to stop before repeating the same mistake. And this is not surprising that the next morning, the noble confessed to the artist. He had been in truth defeated by the artist. The roles had been switched. And now, you comprehend, why we have two painful nights (52-53-54/62-63-64)) in the second season. They both represented the hunts from the first season, yet the roles had been reversed and the actors were different: Kim and The Joker. In chapter 68, valet Kim wounded his master with his words in order to undermine his judgement and as such destroy him.
The final observation on this picture about Min is the following: the absence of his head. To me, it was as if the aristocrat was brainless. He uses his mouth and doesn’t think very deeply about his words. He knows the power of words, yet he is overlooking his surrounding and as such his opponent. In other words, this image reflects Min’s arrogance, thoughtlessness and blindness. In my opinion, he is making the same mistake than Yoon Seungho. He is confusing the heart with the mind. While he has the impression, his decisions are consciously made, they are in reality influenced by his heart and unconscious. This explicates why he will be defeated in the end. On the other hand, I believe that neither Yoon Seungho nor Baek Na-Kyum will be the one killing him or giving him the final blow. Remember this scene in chapter 60. Nameless proposed to Jihwa to become his hands (chapter 60), therefore I deduce that Nameless will become Yoon Seungho’s hands. The final episode already exposed the animosity between Black Heart and Nameless. Besides, the latter had to threaten the commoner: (chapter 60). But in order to get rid of Min, Nameless will have to get the support from Yoon Seungho. In other words, the latter could be the one giving the execution order. I would like the readers to keep in mind the protagonist’s words from chapter 11: . And the criminal behaved exactly like in chapter 54. He killed Deok-Jae and no one dared to suspect him. (chapter 54) That’s why I am expecting a new version of this scene in the third season, and in my opinion The Joker will be the victim… let’s not forget that in Yoon Seungho’s words (chapter 11), the scholar’s life was threatened. This means, a noble will be targeted in the future. As a conclusion, I am predicting Black Heart’s slow destruction and final death. But he doesn’t turn into a beautiful bird like Yoon Seungho (phoenix) or Baek Na-Kyum (from a deer, he metamorphosed into a pheasant before becoming a crane!). Min has already transformed into a crow, consequently he wears a black hanbok in the final chapter 76!
Now, I would like to compare this picture to Yoon Seungho’s images shown in the chapter 52. Since we had three important gestures in Min’s drawing (smoking, the expression “huu” and the zoom on the noble’s mouth), I chose similar drawings.
In the first selected picture, the manhwaphiles observe the powerful noble smoking with his head up, he is looking at the ceiling. However, you’ll notice a huge difference with Min’s, he moves his gaze to the ceiling after looking at Min (the gesture of the hand). We had the following pictures before: This is important, as it contrasts to Min’s gesture. The lord decided to look up, because he was wounded. He acted, as if he chose to ignore Min’s attacks. This stare at the ceiling was not connected to fun, rather to faked indifference and pain. His heart was wounded and he was trying to hide his vulnerability. At the same time, I also believe that he was also pondering, wondering why the artist came to visit him, although he had never asked for him. From my point of view, Black Heart’s poisonous words created a certain insecurity in him. Let’s not forget that in that scene, Min was describing the artist as a man consumed by lust. Besides, his butler had revealed to him that Baek Na-Kyum had become so easy, as he was now viewing himself as a prostitute. In other words, Yoon Seungho felt insecure and doubted the artist’s innocence. The position of his head symbolized the opposite, deep thinking, while it represented Black Heart’s carelessness and confidence, contrasting to Yoon Seungho’s doubts and mistrust. Min was not noticing his surrounding, as he was too focused on his own pleasure, while Yoon Seungho was looking up on purpose. The host was actually attempting to avoid Min’s arrows hurting him. Min was criticizing the main lead, insinuating that he was a killjoy. If he hadn’t sent away the boy, they could have fun. But the lord’s gaze remained cold and indifferent, because his mind and heart were elsewhere. He kept thinking about the motive of the painter’s visit. That’s why he couldn’t react to the fellatio imagining the possibility that Baek Na-Kyum might be after pure sex. Let’s not forget that in their last encounter, the artist had stated that he loved having sex with Yoon Seungho, leaving the impression that only sex mattered. As you can sense, the painter’s words combined with the butler and Min’s comments could only portray the artist as a “prostitute” or a man consumed by sex. Since the whole head of the lord is shown looking up, this was not a sign of brainlessness, quite the opposite. That’s why his mouth was closed and the reader also viewed his whole face. This picture showed that Seungho is smart and thoughtful, but also very emotional, as we could also see his chest, where the heart is. Furthermore this is no coincidence that there was no smoke coming from the lord’s mouth. Here, he was not smoking for fun, it seems to help him to ponder. During the petty attacks, Seungho didn’t say a single word. It was, as if he considered, he shouldn’t spend too much energy and words for Min. However, deep down he was getting more and more wounded. I remembered, when I read this chapter 52 for the first time, I couldn’t help myself getting upset about the lord’s final reaction. He chose to follow Black Heart’s suggestion. However, now I am realizing that I didn’t take into account Yoon Seungho’s wounds and insecurities. Due to the past incidents, he had got a false image of Baek Na-Kyum as well. In other words, Min didn’t get a reply, for the noble was trying to hide his vulnerability. That’s why we have only suspension point (…) in three pictures before there is a real sound coming from the protagonist’s mouth: The sound of a pain. Therefore the “ha” had a different meaning contrasting to Min’s “huu”. This was not a sign of excitement, rather a certain despair and heartache: “Why did the painter come to my chamber, when he must have heard, I had returned to my older self, a man consumed by lust?” The irony is that Min believed that this response was addressed to him. Therefore he increased his assault, he continued insulting his host. He was targeting the noble’s pride. Let’s not forget that despite his bad reputation, the aristocrat never cared about his own image so far, as he always considered him as a ghost. But now, Min was confronting him with his reflection directly. He was not acting like in the past. Does this mean that Baek Na-Kyum had become his weakness? Let’s not forget the long coercive persuasion Yoon Seungho was exposed for a long time. If he admitted that Baek Na-Kyum was his weakness, then this meant that he had been defeated… but more importantly, he could become the aristocrats’ target in the future. The readers will also recall Nameless’ words to the painter: (chapter 66). the nobles would always fight against each other. This explicates why Black Heart had the upper hand in chapter 52 and why the main lead remained passive and silent for a while. He was applying what he had been taught: hide any weakness…. yet in this scene, the lord was definitely in pain. Then the author zoomed on the lord’s mouth, like she often does. Like before, this picture stood in opposition to Min’s. While the latter’s mouth was wide open and expressed joy and poison too, Seungho’s mouth was close because he can’t reveal his true thoughts and emotions. Furthermore, I sense, that the taking on the mouth is associated to pain, contrasting to Min’s fun. “Precious treasure” hurt the lord, as it revealed his weakness. And now, you comprehend why the lord was in denial in the next chapter 53. The reality is that Baek Na-Kyum was already his precious treasure, but he was in denial. He was behaving like the painter in the end. While the latter was raised to deny his sexuality, the aristocrat was taught to deny any affection, a symbol for exposure. He could lose a war. Hence he couldn’t treat the painter like that, since he was a low-born, according to Min. That’s why Black Heart used the idiom “as if”. The arrogant aristocrat was actually reminding his host that he was a noble, he had to maintain dignity. The low-born could only be a toy for fun and nothing more. By having sex with the low-born, he reminded Yoon Seungho of his position and the social norms. Notice how The Joker used social norms to achieve his goal. His true purpose was to taste the painter and Yoon Seungho was able to see through him. In other words, the protagonist had the impression that he got the upper hand in the end. Black Heart had revealed his own “desire” and as such “exposure”. By giving in, Yoon Seungho was deceiving himself. His mind was telling him that he had found the perfect tool to control Min, while in reality he was playing into Black Heart’s hands. And now, you can understand why Yoon Seungho was infuriated, although he was smiling. His fury was already palpable, the moment he stood up so suddenly and opened the door violently, although we didn’t see his body. He was definitely telling himself that he was just a ghost and had no heart. Striking is that Byeonduck chose not to reveal his pain and anger with his gaze, because she knows that his gaze betrays his emotions. She wanted him to remain a mystery to the readers. They have to decipher his actions. We could only feel it with the close mouth and the following drawing: I believe, there was another reason why he didn’t reply to Min’s last reminder. His contained emotions made him speechless, therefore he could only unleash his negative thoughts and emotions by opening the door with such force. During that instant, he has the time to control his fury and could start acting again: That’s why the chapter ended like this. He was acting. His mind was controlling his behavior and facial expressions. His words and smile were just part of his deception. However, the gaze revealed his true thoughts. The eyes and the frowning eyebrow exuded ferocity and revenge in my opinion. There’s no ambiguity that Min will pay for this reminder in the future. The positions will be switched. I am expecting this, since Yoon Seungho is no longer caring for traditions and standard, Yoon Seungho won’t deny in front of The Joker that Baek Na-Kyum is indeed his precious treasure, even if he is a low-born. In chapter 52, Seungho was defeated, because he felt insecure and had a false perception of the painter. However, the chapter 76 put an end to this uncertain situation. Baek Na-Kyum was seeking his closeness and was no longer treating him as a sex toy, but as a family member. Both have become each other’s home.
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