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. 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 the chapter 53, we discover that Yoon Seungho is in denial about his affection for the painter. The cause for his dismissal is that he believes, he always made decisions influenced by his deep thinking and never recognized that behind his actions, it was his heart influencing his mind. Because of the opposition between mind and heart, I couldn’t help myself connecting this to the famous quote made by the French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal:
“Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point”. “The heart has its reasons that reason doesn’t know.”
With this citation, the author means that the mind is unable to understand the justifications and decisions made by the heart. As you can observe, love has nothing to do with logic and rationale, yet the main lead thought that all his choices were made consciously. He viewed his mind as the supreme authority, while it was not the reality. In other words, he was blind to his own heart and confused the heart with the mind. This is not surprising that on his way out, he is acting like a blind person. While he is walking, his mind is focused so much on his thoughts that he doesn’t realize where he is going. Observe that his eyes are focused on the door facing him and he keeps walking straight, until he pauses due to the scream he hears coming from the painter’s room. The reality is that he is actually acting on his impulses and emotions. He is definitely enraged because he was mocked by Min. He keeps denying the noble’s words and even tries to convince himself that what he has with the painter is nothing special. It is really complicated to pinpoint exactly what he was thinking here. Either he really wanted to bring the artist or he desired to let Min believe that he had finally given in and had planned something else. For me, I have some doubt that he was looking for the painter. His emotions were all over the place but he kept reassuring himself that Baek Na-Kyum and him had just a physical relationship. He was mad and he tried to convince his mind that the painter meant nothing to him. However, what caught my attention is that while he recalls his decision from that night, he sees the painter’s sleeping face. Back then, he felt the need to share what was on his heart, mistaking that his kiss and caress were motivated by his mind. What he really wants to share is not his mind but his heart but his eyes are not able to distinguish the difference. Because of the link between the heart, the mind and the blindness, I had a sudden revelation:
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
This means that only love or friendship can help you to distinguish what matters in life. The real values will become visible, the moment you recognize your heart. Do you know where this quote is coming from? The Little Prince, a famous work written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. And now, you know what the topic of this essay will be: a comparison between The Little Prince and Painter Of The Night. Before starting with the comparison, I need to explain the story and its signification of The Little Prince.
When you look at this picture, you have the impression that this is a book addressed to children, although it is actually quite the opposite. This famous work is in fact classified as a philosophical tale. First, the author was criticizing through this fiction our modern society… People should know that it was written during World War Two, where reasoning was misused to the extreme (see my analysis Baek Na-Kyum’s confessions part 1 and 6) therefore he wanted people to question themselves and their values. The main points are the following:
– the contrast between appearances and reality
– the incapacity of communicating between adults and children and people in general
– the importance of relationships among people and to take care of them
– the sense of responsibility towards others
– the loss of true values due to money and power (represented by different kind of adults: the king, the drunkard, the geographer as scientist, the businessman, the vain man and the streetlight igniter)
In The Little Prince, the adults are portrayed in a pejorative way: their lives consist of dependencies (alcohol, the need of admiration, the greed to possess etc.), of loneliness and lack of feelings. The main protagonist might be the little prince, yet this fiction is told from the perspective of an adult. The narrator is an aviator whose plane crashed in the desert and there, he meets the little prince. Yet the story doesn’t start with their encounter, it starts with the narration about the aviator’s childhood. It is important as it represents the key of the story. Because of his bad experience with adults, the narrator decided to grow up and give up on his imagination and creativity. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry associates these values to innocence and childhood. In other words, the narrator was incited to give up on his childhood. The cause for this change were drawings. Once he painted an elephant eaten by a boa and the adults couldn’t understand the picture.
They rejected it as they claimed, it was impossible in reality. They forced him to drop his passion, drawing, because he always had to give explications to his pictures. That’s why he chose his career as pilot and became like all the adults, a pragmatic person using his reason all the time. In the whole book, adults are criticized, they prefer numbers over emotions and simple things like laugh f. ex. They are often portrayed as superficial and narrow-minded.
However, by meeting the little prince, the narrator rediscovers the importance of innocence and childhood. As a conclusion, one of the main messages of this philosophical tale is that adults should keep the inner child in them, they should stop using too much the reason and mind so that they are able to realize what matters in life. If you have the time, then I encourage you to read this wonderful work, full of deep meanings, although it really looks like a fairy tale due to the title and the pictures. In reality, the images are addressed to adults, to let them rediscover the child in them they abandoned because of reality. The author is encouraging people that despite growing up, they should keep an innocent and pure side in themselves, hence the readers discover this quote in The little Prince
“All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.”
We have a scene in the manhwa where the contrast between adulthood and childhood is illustrated. The children can indeed enjoy the beauty in simple things, while the scholar’s mind is only focus on his books and his hunger for power and admiration. Therefore he can’t really enjoy life as he is left unsatisfied with his situation. As you can observe, the manhwa offers a similar philosophy. Jung In-Hun is just an adult who lost his inner child a long time ago.
And now, it is time to focus on the characters from the philosophical tale. You can imagine to which person I am associating Yoon Seungho, it’s the narrator and aviator. He truly resembles Yoon Seungho a lot. He is an adult through and through, using his mind all the time. That’s why he doesn’t know happiness and joy. Furthermore, their situations are similar. The pilot is in the desert, feeling lonely and facing a dangerous situation. The main lead in Painter of The Night is lonely as well. He might meet many people but he doesn’t share his thoughts to others. Furthermore, his sex sessions are fights so we could say, he has to face a certain danger as well. He needs to live up to people’s expectations: an infamous hell-raiser. A desert is like hell and for Yoon Seungho life has nothing to offer. He is already living in hell. From my point of view, just like the pilot, he was also forced to grow up, to face reality and used his reason and mind to survive… and everything happened because of an adult, his father. I am quite sure that father Yoon never loved his son, just viewed him as a tool for his own interests. And when his life and position were threatened due to the purge, he chose to betray and abandon his son in order to survive. The latter became an adult through really bad experiences. He hasn’t even recovered from it yet, therefore his hand is shaking in Yoon Seung-Won’s presence and he keeps having a nightmare, the moment he meets one member from his former family. In fact, his inner child died at the moment he got betrayed by his own father so that he stopped living for real. He was like a zombie, the mind was the only proof that he wasn’t truly dead. His thoughts were the remains of his existence and this explains why he detests the idea that he is a man consumed by lust. For him, the body was just a tool thereby he never paid attention to his own body. His sex sessions were just a tool to deceive people, to hurt his father and ensure that he wouldn’t get wounded again. This explicates why he is no big eater, why he was even willing to give his whole lunch to the artist. He only existed through the mind and his eyes. That’s why he can’t see and recognize his own heart even after meeting the painter.
And now, you can already envision who the little prince is. This is our beloved Baek Na-Kyum whom I strangely related to a lamb during the first season. The irony is that when the aviator and The Little Prince met in the desert, the latter asks the aviator to draw him a sheep. Since the narrator hasn’t drawn for a long time, he paints an elephant eaten by a boa and strangely, the boy understands the meaning of the drawing perfectly. However, the boy is not satisfied with this and keeps requiring his sheep. By each new drawing, he complains about the picture: too ill, too old etc. At the end, the aviator designs a box telling him that the sheep was inside.
The little prince accepts the image with the explication. This outlines that only imagination matters in a painting. As time passes on, the aviator gets closer to him and rediscovers his passion and talent: drawing. They become friends without realizing it. Striking is that in both words, the painting is important. Sure, in the manhwa, the roles are reversed. The lord is the one asking the low-born to draw him erotic pictures. However, remember painting is related to imagination and creativity which are both associated to childhood by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. And we know for sure that Baek Na-Kyum was inspired by his own creativity, when he started painting erotic picture of sodomy in his childhood. They were the expressions of his innocence and purity in the end, which the aristocrat felt. We could say that through the publications, the noble rediscovered the forgotten childhood and innocence. And this coincidences with the narrator’s life. The latter used to love painting but was forced to renounce his passion, painting. So by meeting Baek Na-Kyum, the lord is encouraged to paint again. (chapter 8) (chapter 23) (chapter 36)
On the other hand, the topic of Baek Na-Kyum’s painting had nothing to do with innocence and purity, as they were all showing sex. However, I interpret that the boy was longing for love, and already knew about his sexual orientation. He saw it as something natural and nothing embarrassing. In his eyes, sex was an expression of love, which was unusual for this historical period. Sex was related to marriage, family and procreation. With this signification, the manhwa sends one message: homosexuality is no abnormity, it is also a form of love. So when the aristocrat discovered Baek Na-Kyum’s erotic publications, he sensed the naturality, purity and warmth in these paintings. That’s why he felt so moved and he needed them for his sexual activities. Before, he had to use subterfuges to fake erections. This is no surprise when he meets the painter for the first time, he is full of joy and innocence. Remember when he even grabs the painter’s hands, he is treasuring them. There is indeed a certain candidness in his gestures and comments. The erotic paintings were the fire to ignite the main lead’s heart. The inner child was awaken. Therefore he is again happy like a little child, when the artist appears at his chamber in the chapter 8. Thanks to the painter, the lord’s heart started beating again. He was able to reconnect with emotions that were buried by his huge trauma. However, since he had to use strategies to force the painter to paint, he explained everything with his eyes and mind. Although the low-born rejected him in the chapter 49, the aristocrat overlooked an important aspect: The heart. Baek Na-Kyum’s heart is racing in the lord’s presence so this is definitely more than physical attraction. Another parallel with the French story is the value of responsibilities. The aviator and the prince become responsible for each other, while they live in the desert. And this is what is occurring in the manhwa. Yoon Seungho takes his responsibility for the low-born and it is the same for the painter. The latter is the one who offers comfort and warmth to the lord, only him can soothe the noble’s extreme emotions.
Since the painter is the little prince, we have to explain how he came to meet the aviator in the desert. He comes from a planet, where one day a rose suddenly appeared. Before, he worked every day, cleaned the planet. On his planet, he had to remove baobab seeds and to clean volcano chimneys so that they wouldn’t explode. And now, you can envision my smile, while writing this. Remember that from the start, I kept comparing the aristocrat to an dormant volcano, which erupted each time he was in a huge conflict with the painter. The latter was the spark to initiate the fire, he was the one who brought him back to life. However, the more time he spent with him, the calmer and the more patient our protagonist became. Notice that the little prince brought tranquility and regularity to his planet, as he cleaned the chimneys each day. This is exactly what is happening to our protagonist. Only the artist is able to calm the main lead.
Note the parallels between the little prince and the painter. Both symbolize innocence and purity. They are also hard-working and dedicated. They are social, although the manhwalovers shouldn’t forget that both the little prince and the artist came from a secluded place. The brothel is not a place where many children come by and where people want to chat with the gisaengs. As you sense, they were quite secluded, however they felt comfortable there. But if the little prince lived on his own on his planet and was happy, what made him leave his place?
If you look at the planet, you’ll notice a rose protected by a glass bell. The little prince fell in love with the rose but the latter was vain and quite arrogant. The flower requested a lot of things from the boy so that at the end, he couldn’t bear it any longer. He became unhappy as he was wounded by the rudeness and selfishness of the rose. At the end, he decided to leave her. The rose recognized her faults and even apologized. Finally she confessed her love to the boy, yet never asked him to remain by her side. She wished him happiness and tried to hide her tears before his departure. She regretted her behavior but she didn’t attempt to change the prince’s mind. She just complained that both were stupid to realize their feelings for each other. However, in this story the boy only realizes that he felt love for his rose after landing on earth. It took him a long time to recognize what love really is. For that, he needed a guide. Now, if the manhwalovers compare the philosophical tale with Painter Of The Night, they’ll detect some parallels between the rose and the scholar. Both represents the love of the innocent main lead. Furthermore, Jung In-Hun and the rose are arrogant, stupid, vain and selfish. The painter had to leave the scholar’s side too. However, the huge contrast is that the teacher never regretted anything, he felt no remorse for the physical and emotional abuse on the painter. Besides, he never cried for the low-born, while the rose was genuine. Nonetheless out of pride, the flower tried to hide her tears and sadness. With the departure of the prince, it is implied that the rose will die as there is no one to take care of her. She is already coughing. However, like I explained before, the low-born mistakes his admiration for love. His mind has been manipulated and influenced by the low noble and his noona, hence he is blind to the obvious. Just like our powerful protagonist, both ignore their hearts. One doesn’t know that his heart is beating again, while the other was constantly repressing his deepest desires at the beginning. He wouldn’t listen to his heart, just only his mind which was actually the scholar’s mind. Now, it is a little different. He is accepting his sexual desires, the mind is no longer controlling his body. However, the painter hasn’t recognized the meaning behind the racing of his heart.
Just like in the philosophical tale “Candide”, the little prince is learning through experiences. After leaving his planet, he meets different kind of adults, all of them living isolated on a planet. His initiatory journey makes him realize the danger of adulthood. The first one is a king who gives orders to the little prince. The latter questions his position as king, as there is no one else next to the king. The latter believes his power is unlimited and doesn’t recognize the absurdity of his situation. Here, the author wanted to criticize the futility of power. A person can’t truly rule over nature as he can’t control it. Then the monarch can’t truly rule over people as the latter can just refuse to obey the orders. Strangely, I couldn’t restrain myself to associate the king to our protagonist Yoon Seungho as well. The latter had to learn through the hard way that his power meant nothing in front of the painter. The latter kept rejecting him, criticizing him and even challenging him with his authority. It took him a long time to realize this… he was on the verge of abdicating, when he finally changed his approach. Observe the painting is what brings them back together. This is no coincidence, since imagination and creativity are important for children. Then if I had to compare all the other adults, I would say that Jung In-Hun is a combination of the geographer and the conceited man. The former lives in his books and makes no experience, he doesn’t visit the places he reads in his books. He has no idea about real life and the conceited man lives in order to get admired. The scholar is often seen in company of books and has no idea about the real world, therefore the lord warned him before his departure to the city. As for the conceited man, since he is alone on his planet, he is left unsatisfied. And we all know how arrogant and conceited the low noble is. The two adults represent each of them a negative feature which people should avoid in their life. Knowledge is good but without experience, it is reduced to nothing.
As you can sense, the little prince and the narrator stand both on opposite sides, yet after their meeting, they discover what they were both missing which coincides with our protagonists: childhood/innocence versus knowledge/experience. The pilot rediscovers his creativity and innocence but he shares his knowledge and experience to the little prince. This is the same with Baek Na-Kyum and Yoon Seungho. Besides, both of them stand on the opposite side of the social hierarchy reinforcing the contrast. In other words, they both change for the better. While the lord teaches the painter critical thinking, the former experiences what it means to take care of his partner. He makes many experiences, positive and negative, yet from them he is able to learn and change indeed for the better. While the pilot realizes the importance of friendship, as the boy becomes his companion and confident, the lord feels the same need: he wants to share what is on his mind… he would like to communicate his thoughts and feelings. As you can sense, the noble was not realizing that he desired to share his heart.
On the other hand, the prince makes on earth a huge discovery: he learns what friendship and love are. How does he know these?
Before encountering the pilot, the little prince meets a fox. The former tells him that he is looking for friends to which the fox replies, he can’t become his friend as he is not tamed. Hence the animal proposes a deal to the boy. The latter should tame him as taming signifies bonding. “if you want a friend, tame me”.
Now, you can observe how similar both works are. Right from the start I kept saying that the painter has been slowly taming the protagonist, an eagle, and the latest chapter (53) proves me that this metaphor was totally correct. The painter tamed Yoon Seungho, was even willing to get wounded in the process in order to soothe the lord’s anger. The hug signifies their special relationship. The huge difference here is that taming is not connected to friendship but to love. However, as you can observe, the protagonists in both stories are making the same experiences. They learn the true value of love and friendship, they make bad experiences. One encounters terrible adults which resembles a lot to the painter’s past tragedies. The main lead made him suffer, yet everything was caused by the scholar… Remember that if the rose had treated the boy nicely, he would have never left his own planet. On the other hand, Yoon Seungho is discovering the innocence and purity through the painter. He comes back to life, as he reconnects with his inner child and his heart.
Another similarity is when thanks to the fox, the little prince realizes how unique his rose was:
“It’s the time you spent on your rose that makes your rose so important.”
And unique reminds us of the lord’s word at the beginning of the chapter: “special”. He refused to admit that Baek Na-Kyum was special to him.
The fox plays a huge role in the philosophical tale as he embodies knowledge and wisdom. In other words, he is the opposite of cunningness, which is usually related to the fox. Now, you already anticipate who the fox in Painter of The Night is. It’s Min. He is the one who tells Baek Na-Kyum and Yoon Seungho what the lord feels for the low-born. Yet, in this story, Min is far from wise and well-intentioned. That’s why he kisses the painter. Through his gesture, he reveals the secret. The lord likes the painter. In The Little Prince, the fox also unveils a huge secret:
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Striking is that his nickname “Black Heart” fits so well. Since he sees with his heart, he can recognize the true nature of their relationship. The problem is that neither the low-born nor the powerful lord were using their hearts in order to perceive their affection for each other, both were using their mind:
The lord confuses his mind with his heart. And the painter is in the same situation. He got hurt, when he saw the kiss between Min and his lord. However, he tried to rationalize this incident. He shouldn’t feel wounded. On the other hand, he kept asking why. As you can see, the painter’s mind is controlling his heart. I had the impression that he would be the first one to recognize his emotions, because he is the only one who talks about his heart. Notice the resemblance to the famous citation. The artist mentions his eyes and heart, just the the fox: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Yet, I had underestimated the strength in the artist’s will and mind. That’s why I come to the conclusion that Baek Na-Kyum values more his eyes and impressions than his heart.
Thanks to Min, the fox, the secret was finally unveiled.
However, I have the impression that unlike in the French novel, a rivalry could start between Black Heart and Yoon Seungho. In The Little Prince, the aviator and the fox didn’t fight against each other because they were too different. Yet I believe, this could become different here, for both are nobles. Back then I felt, Black Heart might try to covet the commoner, since he kept asking the lord to bring Baek Na-Kyum to him (chapter 33, 52). Sure, he enjoys the fun and likes playing with the protagonist’s feelings, yet I sense a certain obsession and envy behind his requests. I can’t forget the look he had on the painter in the chapter 8. Min looked at him with a certain desire. And this assumption was proven correct: The Joker is determined to taste Baek Na-Kyum. However, he is not wise like the fox in The Little Prince. In truth, he embodies the negative version, because he is not reflecting on his own behavior and emotions. He has no idea why he is so obsessed with the painter: for me, there’s no doubt that he is confusing lust with love. He definitely got upset, when he saw the couple hugging each other tenderly. That’s why he felt the urge to vomit. Min is too focused on looking at Yoon Seungho and Baek Na-Kyum that he is not recognizing his true motivations behind his actions. That’s why he said this: In my opinion, The Joker needs the presence of others in order to feel his own existence. In other words, while the fox in the original story asked the prince to tame him, the fox in Painter Of The Night is acting the opposite. He is trying to tame the others, but he keeps failing all the time.
As you can observe, both works convey similar messages: value the right things. Power and wealth mean nothing, as they don’t bring happiness. Love, friendship and relationship are vital for humans. At the same time, it is important to keep a certain purity and innocence in us, even if we are adults. That’s exactly what the two protagonists are learning now. The noble is longing for chastity and love, although he hadn’t recognized it yet.
At the end of the story, The Little Prince leaves the aviator behind. Officially he goes back to his planet but since a snake bit him, we can wonder if he died. The adult would be rational and say yes, he died. The child would answer that he returned to his planet in order to see his rose, like the snake told him. And this is important as even this story mentions death. This belongs to the growing up and facing reality.
We have a similar evolution in the manhwa. The painter loses little by little his innocence, he experiences the harshness of the world, whereas the lord is rediscovering the lost childhood, his buried heart, just like the aviator.
At the end of the story, the narrator says that he is still looking for the little prince, even asking the readers if they saw him which shows, he refuses to imagine his death. He has maintained his pure heart despite their separation. Besides, when the aviator looks at the stars in the sky, he always thinks of him. As you can see, the aviator doesn’t forget his “inner child”. He is an grown-up after all, yet he shouldn’t forget his inner child. However, Painter Of The Night can’t have the same ending. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the moment the noble admits his love and is willing to show it correctly (chapter 70) , he starts acting like a child again: he plays pranks (chapter 70) (chapter 74) or he is teasing his lover. , These are signs of the return of his innocence. The readers can feel the inner child in Yoon Seungho.
Nevertheless the message is really similar: the lord and the painter are discovering what really love is. While the painter confused “love” for Jung In-Hun with admiration and later indoctrination, the noble never felt anything before. That’s why he couldn’t recognize his affection for the low-born, he was denying the existence of his heart. For him, he was just a mind and his body a tool. As a conclusion, they need to pay attention to their hearts and stop relying too much on their mind. That was the lesson the readers should learn from the chapter 53.
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