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.
In this essay, I would like to elaborate why it is taking so long for our two main leads to recognize their love for each other. I have to confess that I only realized it after composing “The spirit and the shadow”.
Now I know why exactly Yoon Seungho fell so deeply for the painter. All this started with Baek Na-Kyum’s first confession. All this time he has been hoping to hear the same words from the painter but this time really addressed to him and not to Jung In-Hun. Sure, you’ll say that so far, this is nothing new. Nevertheless, we need to examine the painter’s first love confession again.
Back then, the love declaration revolved around respect and admiration indicating that the artist loved the scholar spiritually. Since the lord considered himself as a spirit until the chapter 49, no wonder these words must have moved his heart. The irony is that the painter was in reality longing for sensuality. He desired a physical love as the admiration was not fulfilling enough. Moreover, Jung In-Hun kept pushing him away. In other words, the low-born confessed because he longed for warmth and love and felt the need for sensuality. The spiritual love he continued clinging on till the chapter 20 kept hurting him as it was actually one-sided. Besides this spiritual admiration couldn’t satisfy the low-born entirely as his repressed sexual desires hadn’t been removed completely. Due to Jung In-Hun’s rejection in the chapter 19, the painter chose to look for sensuality in order to ease the pain. Yet, the spiritual love was still present.
From my point of view, Baek Na-Kyum moved the lord’s mind and heart with his confession, unaware that with these words, the lord’s heart had started beating again for real. However, the lord didn’t realize the change in him. So when Yoon Seungho heard the confession, he hesitated for one instant and accepted the confession. The lord imagined that he would just get the opportunity to taste the man. Yet, the moment the painter kissed and hugged him, the lord discovered sensuality but couldn’t notice the difference right away. He was still under the impression that he was just a spirit. He imagined that this would be like another “sex session” hence he became impatient and rough towards the painter..
With this signification, it becomes understandable why their first night felt so different for the lord. There existed someone who could feel respect and admiration for him, something he had never witnessed before. First, he is known as an infamous sodomite and hell-raiser. Even his best childhood friend Jihwa never considered him as a spiritual or intellectual man and I am quite sure that the protagonist knew about it. Deep down, he was well aware that his childhood friend only saw him as a . For the readers, it becomes more comprehensible why he told his friend he knew nothing about him. Yet for the first time, he met someone different… the painter was honest and so easy to understand, yet so difficult to control. All this time, he was sexually attracted by the painter but since in his eyes, he was just a spirit, he imagined that he felt the same way with Baek Na-Kyum. In his mind, the painter was just like the other men he had met.
Nevertheless in that chamber, he discovered that the painter was a spiritual being too. Furthermore to his surprise, he heard that the low-born had remained a virgin, the symbol of purity and chastity, showing how much he valued the teacher spiritually. It showed how strong-willed the painter was, as he had been raised in a brothel. He never fell into temptation, that’s why the noble could only fall for him. The painter was spiritually strong and since he viewed himself as a spirit, he could only choose him as his partner. As a conclusion, he saw in the painter a kindred spirit.
However, the longer they interacted together, the more the lord discovered sensuality. The warmth and love coming from the painter’s gestures could only touch his heart, therefore during that night he became a man of flesh and blood as his heart started beating again. That’s why he is able to show such a tenderness and affection. He could never do it before as he was just a spirit. In other words, the spirituality got replaced with sensuality. While the lord thought, he was still a spirit, he didn’t notice the transformation. Furthermore he didn’t forget that the painter was spiritually attracted by a man. This could only reinforce the lord’s confusion. At the same time, the sex was no longer a fight but a sign of love and warmth. Therefore the lord had no idea how to differentiate love, sex, spirituality and sensuality, since he couldn’t distinguish spirit and body. This explains why he is as confused as the painter until the chapter 53. He only saw himself as a spirit until the chapter 49 and hoped to be loved for his mind and not his body. On the other hand, he had experienced sensuality thinking that this was spirituality.
Consequently Yoon Seungho had been waiting for the renewal of a love confession at the pavilion. Yet, not only he was rejected but he had to witness how the painter would hate him and keep admiring the scholar. Imagine, Baek Na-Kyum would even defend the low noble at any cost. No wonder that Yoon Seungho got so jealous and mad to the point he wanted to kill Jung In-Hun as he knew how fake the low noble was. Because the protagonist still viewed himself as a spirit and intellectual, he couldn’t understand the painter’s adoration for the scholar. The powerful noble knew that he had more knowledge and could even perceive people’s nature very well, yet he was unable to get the painter’s admiration. Imagine the humiliation. The young man fell for Jung In-Hun’s deceptions all the time.
The first confession also explains why the main lead confused the mind with the heart. Baek Na-Kyum never said “I love you” right from the start, he only did it much later and since the painter had spoken about adoration and respect, the noble thought, the painter was still speaking about the mind and not the heart. As you can observe, it makes sense why it took the noble so long to discover that his heart was the reason behind all his actions and not his mind. He had been misled by the painter’s confession as well. Finally, this also explicates why the aristocrat decided in the chapter 49 to drop his perception as a spirit as he felt, he would never get anything from the painter, except the physical relationship. At least, the painter had accepted him as his partner, it was better than anything else. Thereby he decided to lower his expectations. Since he couldn’t get the same respect or admiration, then he should be satisfied to get the physical affection. In this picture, it becomes obvious that sharing what is on their mind is an allusion of their first night together.
We all know that all the sex sessions with the painter were an attempt of Yoon Seungho to relive their first night, to feel the sensuality and affection experienced during their first night. Yet, since he had no idea he was longing for the painter’s heart as he saw himself as a spirit, this is not surprising that the lord could never confess or never tell him what he wanted exactly.
The origins for the confusion between the heart and the mind is not only result of the lord’s philosophy but also the painter’s coercive persuasion. The latter had been forced to transform the physical love into a spiritual one due to the doctrine the scholar imposed on him. In other words, the painter’s thinking contributed to this misconception. At the same time, Baek Na-Kyum had been pressured to ignore his own heart, his mind had to control his body and as such his heart therefore he got confused himself. Since both were disconnected to their heart, they were no longer able to make the difference between the mind and the heart. And Yoon Seungho couldn’t even help the painter in that aspect. He was lost as well.
Jung In-Hun even brought more confusion when he compared the painter to a prostitute. The sensuality the latter had just accepted was turned into a perversion. He could no longer feel any admiration and respect for anyone as he saw himself as a nobody. While the lord thought, he had finally won the battle in the chapter 44, he kept waiting for a renewal, kept criticizing the painter for his passivity and lack of passion. He wanted to feel the painter’s admiration again but as time passed on, he realized that the sex between them wasn’t like he desired. Since he was a spirit and mistook his heart for his mind, he couldn’t voice exactly what he was missing as he had no idea what he really desired. This also explains why he replies this to the painter, when he is interrogated to the reason for his care: He is pained all the time, as he keeps missing something but he can’t tell him why. He can’t even say that his heart is hurting all the time, hoping to hear the admiration the painter expressed in his bedroom during their first night. Many readers kept wondering why he didn’t confess here. He couldn’t as he was still viewing himself as a spirit, although he had already become a man made of flesh and blood a long time ago but he had no idea about it. He had never realized his own transformation. This picture really reveals the lord’s illusion. He still believes that his mind is ruling his life and that his decision to just accept the painter as his sex partner will satisfy his need and longing. However, the reality is different. The hanbok he wears the next morning reveals that his heart is already bleeding and deep down he is hurting again. What he imagined, his mind was still ruling his life was no longer true. He had become a man a long time ago and his last decision could only hurt him even more. On the other hand, with his confrontation, he helped the painter to abandon the scholar’s doctrine for good so that he could finally liberate himself and become a free spirit. From that moment, he made his own choice, accepted his homosexuality and his relationship with Yoon Seungho. But in that moment, he also decided to ignore his heart due to the bad experience made with Jung In-Hun. He got scared that the warmth he felt with Yoon Seungho was fake so he made up his mind that he should keep his distance from the lord. He could only have a physical relationship with the protagonist. The painter made the mistake to still mistrust his body and indirectly his heart. Because of this decision, he wounded Yoon Seungho again.
Since the powerful master had never realized his transformation, he could never recognize the existence of his heart. Furthermore he kept thinking that all his choices were made by his mind, because he had continued seeing himself as a spirit for a long time. That’s why he kept looking for a spiritual love but he couldn’t get it as he kept having sex with the painter. This reinforced the artist’s misconception about the noble: he could only consider him as a man of lust. Yoon Seungho’s “obsession” for spiritual love could never become concrete because their encounters were revolving around sex. On the other hand, we shouldn’t forget that right from the start the painter was longing unconsciously for more than just spirituality. Deep down, he hoped for sensuality too. In reality, both protagonists were longing for the same thing, love… but since the noble viewed himself as a spirit and the other was forced to only admit spiritual adoration, they could never say what they were both looking and expecting. However, the more Baek Na-Kyum experienced sensuality with the main lead, the more the artist felt the lord’s love. Hence he had these memories where the lord expressed his love. Consequently he started expecting something else from the lord. That’s the reason why he asked the lord why he treated him so well. Later he kept wondering why he felt hurt, when he saw his lord kiss another man and he didn’t pay attention to his painting.
Striking is that in the chapter 53, for the first time the lord could feel the painter’s affection in the hug. In my other analysis, I even described that the hug helped him to transform from a shadow into a man. But there is more to it. Unlike in the past, the painter remained by the lord’s side. He keeps hugging the man, although the servant has already walked away from them. There is no need for the painter to keep embracing the lord like that. Yet, he does it because he wants to comfort the man. He has sensed the pain in the gestures. So for the first time, the embrace is linked to affection but it is also disconnected to sex. There is only warmth and love without sex. And this is important as it helps them to see that they mean more to each other. This explains why the noble is tender again and wants to remove carefully the white band. Their love has finally come true. They hug each other without feeling the need to express sexual desires. This was also another source for their misunderstanding. The lord had never received an embrace outside their intercourses. The only hug he received in the past occurred in the chapter 26 and it was to save Jung In-Hun. Baek Na-Kyum didn’t hug the noble for solace and comfort but it was for someone else.
In my opinion, the painter could be the one confessing his feelings first. We shouldn’t forget that unlike the master, the artist has already admitted that he felt his heart racing in the lord’s presence. In other words, he has never seen himself as a spirit but has always acknowledged the existence of his heart. Secondly, he is questioning the reason for his sadness due to the lord’s actions. He is the one who keeps asking “why” (chapter 46, 47, 52). Finally, he only rejected the lord in the chapter 49 because he got scared that this warmth was just an illusion. He didn’t want to fall into the same trap and get wounded again. And more importantly, he has a positive and forgiving nature. He didn’t really resent the noble for the kiss, he didn’t cry, when he got expelled at the door. He was sad but not furious at Yoon Seungho. Moreover, he got to hear from Min that the lord liked him. And this is the second person telling him that the lord cares for him a lot. He saw that the lord took his side the moment he entered that room and started beating Deok Jae. Finally, I’ve always said that the painter was the bravest one which was confirmed in the latest chapter 53 again. He showed no fear to step between the servant and the lord, was willing to get a slap and didn’t even resent Yoon Seungho for his violent gesture.
Strangely, despite not knowing how intelligent and educated the lord is, the painter already fell for him as he sensed the love in his actions. The spiritual love will only come the moment the lord reveals his other side to the commoner but for that they need to open up to each other and even entrust their heart to each other.
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