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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While reading chapter 53, I discovered a mistake in comprehension, hence I had to change different analyses (BNK’s confessions, part 1 / realization part 1). Thus I had to revise Hearsay part 1 as well. I have to admit that it was a little more difficult for me to be accurate back then. I didn’t have all the info since the second season hadn’t ended yet. Furthermore, I would like to thank my reader Sol Lopez for her input and correction. [This truly shows how much I appreciate that people leave comments on my blog, this exchange of ideas and thoughts helps us to grasp the characters much better, so keep posting on my blog] Thanks to this follower, now I can definitely understand Yoon Seungho’s actions from chapter 50 to 53. Therefore I need to go back to chapter 49. What I mistook for Baek Na-Kyum’s thoughts was actually the lord’s thinking. (Chapter 49) This is important because for the first time, he is acknowledging his body as a part of himself. This indicates that in the past, he considered his body as a part of his mind, he only viewed himself as a spirit existing through his mind. This explicates why he abhorred the idea to be associated to the image of a man consumed by lust. (Chapter 5) That’s why in this scene he couldn’t get erected in Lee Jihwa’s presence, chapter 5] Remember what I said about him: he was like a zombie and this was indeed correct. He lived through his mind therefore he read so many books and owns a huge library. From this observation, the manhwalovers can now better grasp why he never cared about his bad reputation as hell-raiser. The image he had about himself was so different from what the beholders saw. He considered himself as a free spirit. Besides, this interpretation confirms my statement in the analysis “The heart and the mind” as well where I explained that he confused his heart with his mind. Since he never considered himself as a man but as a spirit, he couldn’t recognize the existence of his heart. This explains why he makes such a mistake in chapter 53. Moreover, I feel that my association of the eagle was so point on either, as the latter flies high in the sky. That’s the reason why this bird symbolizes free spirit.
(Chapter 49) During that night, he chose to acknowledge the existence of his body. This signifies, he couldn’t realize before that his heart had always been the trigger for all his actions concerning the painter. In other words, he always rationalized every decision he made in the past. I suspect that his trauma is the first reason why he refused to recognize the existence of his body. This could reinforce my belief that the protagonist had been raped in the past. The other cause for his denial was after the terrible experience he had, the aristocrat decided to view his body as a tool to harm others and to protect himself. These were his secrets. He’s just a spirit and his body his armor.
2. Yoon Seungho‘s transformation
Therefore I come to the conclusion that when he had this huge revelation, he was also coming back to life. He might have been hurt by the painter’s rejection, they were just sex partners and nothing more, yet in this moment he decided to follow his heart but thought, it was just his body. He was no longer a free spirit but a man made of flesh and blood. Therefore we can see in the next chapter (episode 50) this tender scene: (chapter 50) His mind was no longer controlling his body, he acted on his impulses. He let his heart do what it wanted. He no longer ponders like in the past. This explicates why he confuses the mind with the heart. We could say that he was deceived because of all the time he spent thinking. Imagine his reaction when he realized after making that decision that the painter was no longer reacting. He got scared that the painter had fallen sick again, he imagined for one moment that this was a repetition of the incident after the sex marathon. Now, you might be wondering why I bring up this scene again. I would like to point out that in chapter 32, when he said (chapter 32) he was already living under the illusion that he was just following his mind. He made the decision consciously that he would have more rounds with the painter, whereas in reality, he already was under the influence of his heart. He felt unsatisfied with the first round as he had just forced the painter to acknowledge his sexuality. Deep down, he wanted Baek Na-Kyum to accept him as his “husband” but despite the painter’s facial expressions and his climax, the noble sensed that there was something missing. So he kept having sex with him until the painter felt sick. In chapter 49, it was different, as he had already learnt to pay attention to his lover. Nevertheless, this indicates that the lord’s learning process was not complete. During that night he finally accepted the existence of his body. On the other hand, this also illustrates that he was slowly giving up on the idea that the painter could ever open up to him. Striking is that both made a similar decision during that night. While the painter chose to accept the lord only physically, the lord made the same decision. That’s the reason why in the end, I believe that when I confused the noble’s thoughts with Baek Na-Kyum’s, it doesn’t change much, as the thoughts are quite similar. Both acknowledge the existence and influence of the body. We could say that their expectations were aligned. This outlines how similar the two characters are. Both were living under the influence of their minds. One was brainwashed, while the other chose to live as a spirit in order to avoid any pain. Nonetheless, I believe that he was also brainwashed.
Yoon Seungho thought that he would be content with his actual situation. He could have sex with him without any other expectation. But the reality was different: the moment he accepted his body and as such his heart, he was already dying. (Chapter 50) His mind might have chosen to resign, yet his body was telling the opposite. His heart wanted more, but his wish was denied by Kim. The author revealed that Kim was selecting the lord’s hanbok. Consequently, I am deducing that the butler had predicted how his master would feel. His heart would be bleeding. Notice that the valet Kim only tells him the truth, after the lord is dressed up and not before. They meet at the scholar’s chamber, when he discovers that Baek Na-Kyum only views himself as a prostitute, hence everything changes. Now he can’t even let his body lead. If he did, then he would make the painter feel dirty. In other words, he would hurt him. (Chapter 50) How strange that the moment he comes back to life, he has to die a second time, he can’t let his body take the lead. That’s why he remembers the painter’s sleeping face. His mind is telling to distance himself from Baek Na-Kyum, yet his heart is showing him something else: the painter. (Chapter 50) The man gets torn due to the conflict. Therefore I have a different interpretation of the last panel. One might say that he becomes a ghost again. It was as if he was vanishing again… disappearing in the books. (Chapter 50) This symbolizes his second death. Thus we have the black and red hanbok indicating death and blood. However, he can no longer become a spirit like before. Due to the acknowledgment of the existence of his body, he can only transform into a shadow. In addition, he can no longer return to his former self: a spirit. His image has now changed, from a spirit to a shadow. How strange… Since I am an optimistic person, I still perceive a positive progression. He is slowly coming back to life, despite the hurt and pain. He is slowly materializing himself.
One might say that his concession (chapter 49) was the first step of his distancing from the commoner. This is only partially true, because he makes an important discovery before: he is indeed a man of flesh and blood. Although he confuses the heart with the mind, we shouldn’t forget that during that night the aristocrat recognized the existence of his body, This means that he is indirectly accepting the existence of his heart. All this will help him to understand what love is. In other words, he is one step closer to the truth. His body existed for a moment and at some point, he will come back to life for real, the moment he realizes that the painter is returning his affection. For me, this realization marked a turning point in the lord’s life despite the setback. Another observation is the lord only needs to distinguish the mind from the heart. As a conclusion, chapter 49 helps us to understand why there was a regression in the relationship between the painter and the aristocrat. On the other hand, it explains why the lord also couldn’t return to his older self too.
In chapter 51, we hear through the maid that Yoon Seungho has now returned to his older self. This is only partially correct again. Sure, he had somehow died for a second time after hearing about the incident. Kim was not telling the truth, for he only mentioned the scholar’s betrayal after the painter had had a change of heart. He was no longer perceiving himself as a prostitute. Nonetheless, Yoon Seungho couldn’t live like in the past, where he used his body as tool, because before he had acknowledged his body and even wanted to let his body take the lead. Furthermore these words implied that he could only react to the painter. That’s why he was a shadow of himself. People were upset because they imagined that the main lead would organize sex sessions like in the past. However, he couldn’t have sex like before, as his body could only accept the low-born. The painter was no longer a prostitute, so was the lord either. He could no longer use his body as a tool, for he was no longer a spirit. That’s why he invites many lords and spends his time drinking or even smoking. He was trying to numb his body, he needed to do that as he was masking his broken heart and soul. He couldn’t allow his body to feel the pain. But without the painter, he couldn’t take the lead. Thereforehe was entirely dressed in chapter 52 and had no erection, (chapter 52) when he got a fellatio. His heart was telling him that he could only get attracted to the painter, therefore he doesn’t feel the need to have sex with his guests. Striking was his passivity as a host. He said nothing and did nothing except smoking. He was not taking the lead literally speaking contrary to episode 8. Since he was only a shadow of himself, there was no real desire. At the same time, it also explains why he remained passive to Min’s attacks. The latter was acting like the guest of honor, and as such taking the lead. There was no fire in Yoon Seungho to fight back and this illustrates why he gave in in the end. (Chapter 52) Simultaneously his body was indeed taking the lead in his chamber too. The moment he discovered the painter’s presence at his door and even heard his guest’s words, he couldn’t help himself to react. (Chapter 52) That was his heart pressuring him to kiss Black Heart. He wanted to protect the artist. He simply let his body take the lead. To conclude, the lord‘s resolution in the study became a reality.
This proves that his body didn’t really die in chapter 50, he was just deeply hurt. His body was now acting on his own. Despite his relapse, his mind/heart still revolved around his “former lover”. While in the past, I used to think that this laugh belonged to Yoon Seungho, I realized that it was in reality the Joker’s laugh. However, this doesn’t change anything. (Chapter 51) Baek Na-Kyum from far away had the impression that this was his lover’s laugh. The lord was masking his wounded heart with these fake parties. Either he laughed so loudly in chapter 51 or ignored his guest’s remarks in chapter 52. (chapter 52) In the last picture, he still wondered why the painter came to his side, he must have heard about the rumors. But since Black Heart understood the lord’s actions perfectly, he kept rubbing salt into the wound so that the host finally gave in. (Chapter 52) Here, since his mind was the authority making the choice, I come to the conclusion that the lord was admitting his defeat. His retreat was explainable, as the main lead was no longer a free spirit, but just a shadow of himself. Notice that we only see the door opening violently, as if the noble was indeed a ghost. (Chapter 52) Nonetheless, there was a certain rage and brutality in his gaze. Thereby he might have been defeated in that moment, yet.he had not lost the war. Why? It is because he was boiling internally. He was furious. His mind chose to give in to prove Min’s words wrong. But why? It is related to his brainwashing and past trauma. He shouldn‘t take it to heart. (Chapter 50) If he does, it will bring him only misery. And in the bedchamber, it looked like Kim‘s words were correct. Black Heart had bothered him so much that the only solution he had was to give in. That way, he would no longer be bothered. He would be left alone and find his „peace“. However, deep down, he was so annoyed and angry. Notice that his rage changed him. He became proactive allowing his body to take the lead.
3. The conflict between the mind and the heart
However, the moment he left the chamber, his feet led him elsewhere. He was not looking around, his gaze was looking straight, just like his steps were guiding him to a different room. Strangely, he was indeed following his body and not his mind. The mind made the decision to bring the painter back, the body chose not. That’s why he stopped the moment he heard the scream from the painter’s room. That’s how the readers discovered the contradiction. That’s also the reason why this manhwa is not easy to understand after first reading.
I also detected another opposition between chapter 52 and 53. The lord refused to ignore Min’s disguised attacks and even gave in, because he had no reason. However the moment the lord discovered that his loved one was bullied physically and emotionally, he turned into a beast and beats the servant Deok Jae. He proved Black Heart‘s statement right. Baek Na-Kyum was precious to him.
The artist was indeed the light igniting the fire or better said, the heart making the lord live. What caught my attention was this drawing:
We barely sees the lord attacking the vicious domestic. He is indeed represented like a shadow. The noble materializes himself the moment he stands next to the painter. In front of others, he is a shadow, but he turns into a vengeful ghost, when the painter appears close to him. Baek Na-Kyum is the reason why Yoon Seungho becomes a man of flesh and blood, why he uses his strength against another man. The main lead is not only allowing his body to take the lead, he shows some fighting spirit again. Strangely, we never really see the lord’s beating the servant
Either the manhwalovers hears his voice, sees a glimpse of his robe or a tooth rolling on the floor.
This illustrates my interpretation: the noble had transformed into a shadow, but in the presence of the painter, he comes back to life and shows a fighting spirit. This explains why he intervened at the door with the kiss and why he attacked Deok Jae, when he discovered the assault on his lover. His love for the painter allows him to reconnect with his body. He feels the need to protect his loved one and to punish the servant for his wrongdoings. Therefore the hug in this chapter is so meaningful: (chapter 53) He feels warmth coming from Baek Na-Kyum. This also helps him to feel that he is more than just a shadow, he is a man in reality. Furthermore, the painter didn’t even resent him for the slap but instead even embraced him. (Chapter 53) He wasn’t even forced to hug him like that. The noble got shocked because he had hurt the painter again.
He acted on his impulses and the result was that he wounded his loved one. He must have felt agony for one second, until he got embraced. The hug could calm down the beast, as the latter felt the affection. Furthermore, note how the low-born is even burying his face on the lord’s shoulder. That’s the reason why the latter touches Baek Na-Kyum so tenderly.
From my perspective, Yoon Seungho wants to remove the white headband, which he always felt as burdensome. It truly represents a hindrance between them. However, he doesn’t have time to enjoy his time with Baek Na-Kyum as they are disturbed by Black Heart. Despite the embrace and the tenderness, the noble still doesn’t understand his own emotions.
He still thinks, the mind and heart are the same. He hasn’t even realized that he is no longer an empty shell in the past. In chapter 52, his mind was busy pondering on Baek Na-Kyum, while his heart was racing the moment he detected the artist‘s presence at the door. He couldn‘t let Min see the artist.. That’s why Min, the cunning fox, becomes his teacher in chapter 53. He teaches him that his heart is influencing his actions. However, he does more than just teaching. He is actually mocking him the whole time. He compares Yoon Seungho to a killjoy. He should have wounded the servant much more, it would have been more fun. Then he describes his love for the boy Na-Kyum as a weakness
We have to imagine that the noble is making fun of him here, because he listens to someone and the worst is that this person is a low-born. The latter symbolizes humanity and seriousness, while Black Heart stands for brutality and fun. He is no longer independent and strong. Min is laughing at his host and the “lesson” is actually a series of humiliating remarks. The kiss even represents the climax of the challenge. (Chapter 53)
The reason for all this is that Min senses the lord’s weakened condition. He thought that the painter had died therefore the lord had returned to his older self. Yet he anticipated that the man would only be a shadow of himself and he could seize the occasion to usurp the throne. Yet, the problem is that the painter isn’t dead. So the lord has not lost his strength for real. He might have lived like a shadow for a week, yet the mere presence of the painter brings back the lord to life.
In the final panel, what caught my attention is the way the lord puts his hand on the painter’s head. His hand covers the artist’s ear. It was as if the aristocrat didn’t want him to hear Black Heart’s words. So does it mean that he doesn’t want the painter to discover his weakness (liking him)? From my perspective, I doubt it. His instinct is to protect his lover from Min’s poisonous words. Let’s not forget that the host knows Min’s personality: he likes saying poisonous and hurtful things. Seungho is well aware of the painter’s innocent disposition. He almost got killed by the scholar’s words so this could happen again. Yoon Seungho’s body ensures that the painter is protected. He will do anything so that the latter doesn’t get wounded. What sounds like a weakness in Min’s words represents the opposite in my opinion. The lord is no longer a spirit, but a man full of flesh and blood, when he is next to the low-born. Just like the painter became an empty shell for a while, the same happened to the lord, yet the length is different. The distancing lasted for one week.
People kept asking if the lord would deny this or not. Yet, what mattered the most was that Yoon Seungho had finally discovered the existence of his heart through Black Heart’s words. What he mistook for his mind all the time was actually his heart. Since he had initially recognized the existence of his body, he could no longer live like before.
4. The return of the shadow
Striking is that in the shaman‘s house, we have a reflection of this scene. However, the roles are switched. This time, the painter is Black Heart‘s teacher. Since the Joker viewed life as a game, he saw blood and pain as entertaining, the gods decided to teach him a lesson. In the study, Min had reproached his host to be a killjoy, he should have beaten the domestic to death. (Chapter 53) Thus in the shaman‘s house, the lord fulfilled his wish. He wouldn‘t stop because someone had asked him to. (Chapter 102) As you can see, Min was put in a similar situation, the only difference is that he was now the target of the protagonist’s fury. The gods decided to reveal to Black Heart how wrong his thinking was. A life of a commoner is not different than the noble’s. Yoon Seungho‘s heart got broken, the moment he saw the painter‘s bloody face. (Chapter 102) Therefore he transformed into a shadow with a bleeding heart. (Chapter 102) This is no coincidence that Min couldn‘t stop the main lead. How can a human influence a shadow? It is impossible. As you can see, Min‘s joke in front of his friends came to bite him in the end. (Chapter 101) In the shaman‘s house, he was not beaten to death, but stabbed to death. This was the usual punishment for a noble. The irony is that because the painter was unconscious, he couldn’t stop Yoon Seungho. The latter let his body take the lead and committed murder. He couldn’t act differently, as he had lost his reason to live. The main lead had once again confused the mind and the heart. This explicates why he couldn’t detect that the painter was just unconscious. And that‘s how Min became a spirit.
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