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.
When I read the chapter 53, I was happy to discover that my predictions were mostly correct. It really turned out like a new version of the chapter 30. That’s why in this essay, I wanted to compare both chapters in order to outline the differences. Consequently the readers would perceive better the characters’ evolution and the change in their relationship. Furthermore it would help me to imagine how the story could go on. But since there are so many details to contrast, I chose to focus on Deok-Jae in the first part. By examining Deok-Jae more closely, I had suddenly a realization and this will be the topic of this analysis: Deok-Jae’s secret leading him to have prejudices against the painter.
It all starts with the discovery of the painter’s disappearance in the chapter 29, which causes the lord to get so infuriated that he starts beating all his servants. Even valet Kim begs for his master’s mercy, willing to receive any punch so that the servants suffer less. The former is pushed away, the moment the protagonist witnesses the painter’s return. Among the victim of the physical abuse, there is Deok-Jae. The manhwaphiles discover his face for the first time in the chapter 30. The domestic’s face is covered with blood and bruises, when he opens the door to Jung In-Hun and the painter. However, the author introduced him for the first time in the chapter 29 which didn’t catch my attention as I was too focused on the lord’s behavior and reaction. [I want to thank taeminiebaby for her tip, this shows that everyone is welcome to contribute to my analysis] This gradual introduction is quite important for two reasons. First, his face gets more and more features. While the man has no visage in the first drawing, Byeonduck gave him eyebrows and a mouth in the second drawing. And the climax of his presentation is in the chapter 30, when Deok Jae opens the door. Striking is that in the two scenes, he always stands close to a door. These two observations are quite important because I’ll refer to it later.
In the chapter 53, we discover that before the escape, the noble had already given the order to his staff that they should keep an eye on the artist but no servant took it seriously. The explication is quite simple. Baek Na-Kyum was a low-born hence he couldn’t be a guest. On the other hand, his job was so different from the servants’ as he painted erotic pictures of sodomy. Due to all this, the staff could only disapprove the artist. In other words, due to his undefined position, the servants couldn’t view him as a part of the staff but just as an outsider. That’s why the low-born could escape. On the other hand, they never witnessed how the noble started having a relationship with the artist (chapter 20/21; chapter 25/26/27) therefore they just thought, he was only important because of the paintings.
The irony is that in the chapter 53, the servant is even referring to that incident. He notices the contrast. Back then, Baek Na-Kyum had no reason to run away because the servants didn’t witness the rape. Yet he decided to flee. Now the innocent young man is doing the opposite. Despite the lord’s neglect and the suffered violence he refuses to leave the mansion. He resists to the jealous and resentful domestic with his body (“you dig in your heels”), although the latter is weaker than the brutal domestic. This displays the commoner’s strong will. Therefore this forces the domestic to hurt his hand. If the protagonist is disabled, the noble can no longer keep him as the latter has lost his ability and function. The consequence could be terrible for Baek Na-Kyum. Yoon Seungho could decide to send away the low-born. Deok-Jae has already anticipated that the lord is no longer favoring the painter as he returned to his older self during that week. That’s the reason why Deok Jae says this: What caught my attention in this drawing is the first comment. His words reveal that the domestic must have stood by the door of the bedchamber, when he heard the artist’s moans. Therefore we should ask ourselves when and why he was spying on his master and the painter. Striking is that he mentions the lord’s chamber and the moan sounded similar to pain. Thanks to this info, we can already reduce the number of probabilities and almost figure out when he was observing the painter. Naturally, I can only mention the sex sessions that we could witness.
He can’t be referring to their “wedding night” or the rape as the protagonists were not at the master’s chamber. The one occurred at the painter’s chamber and the other at the pavilion. Deok-Jae couldn’t be referring to the night in the chapter 42 and 48/49, as they were at the painter’s study, when they had sex. . We have two possibilities. The first one would be that he heard the moan during the sex marathon, yet valet Kim seemed to pay attention to the lord’s bedroom. Since the domestic notices the resemblance of the sound between the pain and the moan, he could be thinking about the sex session in the chapter 45. Yet, the problem with this proposition is that the painter never complained here so that the moans can’t be similar to pain. As you can conclude, the mention “master’s room” is an important clue.
The last probability is when the powerful mean lead masturbated the painter for the first time (chapter 16). Remember that during that night the door of the lord’s chamber got open and no one could see the perpetrator of this wrongdoing. Every reader speculated that a servant must have opened it but we wondered about the reason for this action. Many manhwaphiles complained about the lord’s leniency. Furthermore since we didn’t see any face, we were clueless about the motivation behind this action. From my point of view, during that night Deok-Jae could have been the one observing the door. Since no one talked about the event happening, then it is clear that Kim must have been the one opening the door and he left it open in order to force the painter to leave Seungho’s side. However, I am quite sure that the loyal butler wasn’t the only one who paid attention to what was happening in the lord’s chamber. Why? It is because of Jihwa’s words in chapter 17. With his statement, it is clear that someone was observing the door and the painter’s move. Jihwa is using the expression “servants” in order to hide the identity of the informant. There is no doubt that the domestics had no idea how Seungho felt attracted to the painter, since he kept organizing sex sessions (8,12-15). Besides, observe how the noble implies that the spy must have observed the low-born, until he returned to the study, while I doubt that Kim would have kept observing the artist till the end. The heard footsteps indicate that the valet was running away. From my perspective, Deok-Jae must have witnessed how Jihwa left Yoon Seungho’s chamber but he didn’t see or hear the painter leaving the master’s room and worried that Seungho would make a move on the commoner. Annoyed, he could have misled the butler so that the latter would interrupt them. He knew that if Kim intervened, the master would never scold him. Besides, he had no right to open the door. We shouldn’t forget that during that night, the lord hugged the painter before the latter tried to leave the bedchamber. Imagine that their shadows were visible from the outside due to the candles light hence Deok-Jae could have seen how the master had got close to Baek Na-Kyum. The other reason for this supposition is that the painter cried during the masturbation… which is also related to pain. We shouldn’t forget that the low-born felt embarrassed to have an erection. He was still in denial about his homosexuality. This could explain why the moans were so similar to pain. From my point of view, Deok Jae was spying on his lord for an important reason and used valet Kim to stop this event. Now, you are wondering why as well.
My interpretation is the following. Deok-Jae has always felt attracted to the lord and wished deep down to become his sex partner. But this wasn’t just a pure love, for it was mixed with greed. He wished to change his position. Nonetheless he had to witness how the lord showed so much care for the artist. He saw how they got closer and closer. The lord went even so far to spare the artist from the straw mat beating. The moment you assume that the domestic wanted to be the lord’s partner, you understand why he resents his lord and the commoner so much. But let’s go back to that famous door. If my assumption is correct, then it makes sense why the domestic opened the door and ran away. He wanted to stop his lord to get closer to the innocent main lead. The domestic got jealous and resentful that the painter, a low-born like him, could get the noble’s attention and the master would try to woo him, which Deok-Jae refused to admit.
If you pay attention to the servant, you’ll observe two details distinguishing him from all the other low-born. He is the only one not wearing a white headband. Even valet Kim wears one. He thought if he had no white headband, this would reduce the distance between him and his master. Furthermore he might catch the lord’s attention that way. The second observation is that he is often seen next to doors. We can see him standing next to the door of Jung In-Hun’s chamber in the chapter 29, opening the door in the chapter 30, then we have this drawing in the chapter 45, then in the chapter 47
in the chapter 51 (when he visits Nameless and at his return). The manhwalovers can notice the door on the right side in the chapter 52 and finally in the chapter 53.
I don’t think my readers have already forgotten the signification of the door. Back then, I demonstrated how the door represented the painter’s opinion concerning his sexual orientation. In other words, Deok-Jae is a homosexual too, attracted to Yoon Seungho but he can’t reveal it because it is a taboo. Let’s not forget the criticism Jihwa told to his childhood friend in the courtyard in front of the staff. Sodomy with a commoner is considered as degrading and filthy. I have to admit that I was totally wrong concerning Deok-Jae’s resent.
I thought, he had been punished a second time hence his hatred for Yoon Seungho had increased to the point of betraying him. We know for sure that pure greed was not the motivation for his betrayal.
So why would he resent the lord so much? The beating in the chapter 30 can’t be the explanation as many servants were punished, included valet Kim. But it is a different story, when it comes to love. He had to witness how his master fell in love with someone else and this person was not only coming from a brothel but also was wearing a white headband without a topknot. From my perspective, Deok-Jae was trying to imitate the nobles with his hair dress. Yet this could never appeal the master as he is not attracted to superficiality and beauty. He was attracted by the naturality and purity of Baek Na-Kyum’s tears and reactions. But there is nothing attractive about Deok-Jae as he is vain, full of malice and envy. This explains why he kept hurting Baek Na-Kuym by pushing him or poisoning his rice or calling him a whore.
And it is time to reveal the real evidence for this theory. In the chapter 29, when the painter escapes from the mansion and meets Jung In-Hun in the street. Their encounter is no accident, although it looks like one, as Baek Na-Kyum runs into the teacher out of fear. The painter mentions that he has been tipped off by a servant. He says no name but if you contrast this to the following picture. Deok-Jae is actually saying that he has no idea about the noble’s whereabouts. Then there is a drop of sweat on his face. From my perspective, Deok-JAe was the one who helped the painter to flee and gave him the info about the scholar so that both would disappear. The drop of sweat indicates discomfort and now, the readers can fill the blank. He is actually lying to Yoon Seungho. He hopes, his master will buy his lie and give up on Baek Na-Kyum. The servant Baek Na-Kyum is referring to can only be Deok-Jae, since he is slowly introduced in the same chapter.
And now, if you consider him as a jealous man who longed for his master’s attention, you’ll understand why he destroyed the snowmen, why he pushed him hard and why he spoiled the rice. He acted as a jealous concubine we can see in Chinese or Korean historical dramas. Killing the rival is another typical trope too hence this is not surprising that he is determined to have the painter killed so quickly. This discloses Deok-Jae’s urgency, he needs to act now as the painter is no longer favored. His action to ransack the painter’s room reminds me of the concubine’s plot trying to ruin clothes. Now, I understand better his jealousy and resent for both protagonists.
He acts like a dejected concubine, out of revenge. Moreover, this would explain why he never stopped the painter from leaving the mansion in the first place. He wished, the man would leave the place so that he would no longer represent a thread. No wonder why he keeps making rude remarks, when he sees the painter receiving the butler and the lord’s attention (the clothes, the material for the painting, the special dishes etc.). He wanted to be the one receiving the master’s favors. That’s the reason why the servant acted on impulse that night. There was despair, resent and urgency… Deok-Jae feared that the master would change his mind. With this new revelation and interpretation, I feel a little stupid for not realizing it sooner. I made the mistake to imagine that he had been beaten as an explanation but the reality seems to be different.
But let’s go back to the picture, where Deok-Jae claims that he can hurt the painter. The mean domestic thinks, he can do whatever he wants to the painter as the lord no longer cares for Baek Na-Kyum. The typical behavior of a jealous concubine in front of the neglected wife (LOL). Besides, Baek Na-Kyum is not part of the staff. Deok-Jae never considered him as one right from the start and with the incident in the chapter 30, his prejudice was reinforced. He justified the lord’s fury with the painter’s seduction. Baek Na-Kyum must have somehow bewitched his master. How could he fall for someone who had no topknot and was wearing a white headband? On the other hand, while the painter claimed in the past, he was no servant (chapter 38), he is now determined to remain in this mansion as a servant. This outlines how much the mansion means to him. It has indeed become his home. If he’s a servant, then he can’t be called a prostitute. For Deok-Jae, it is really important to perceive him as a prostitute because he has no other explanation for the lord’s behavior. How could he fall for someone like him, when he on the other hand had worked at his place for a long time and paid attention to his appearance? That’s why he can only insult the painter , when he sees the drawing of Seungho having sex with the painter. Observe his look. He is not disgusted by the drawing as such, he is not rejecting sodomy. He resents the artist, he wished, they would have switched places.
At the same time, we shouldn’t forget that in the chapter 53 the painter’s position and image are relevant. Baek Na-Kyum is not like in the past, where he was proud of his work, in this moment he is willing to be viewed as a domestic which explains why he abandoned the expensive clothes. First Baek Na-Kyum is rejecting the tailored clothes therefore he can’t be considered as a prostitute. Secondly, he is lowering himself in order to be included in that mansion. He did listen to the butler’s words. He could no longer act like a spoiled princess, he was a part of this mansion and needed to serve their master. Thanks to the reprimand, the painter realized that he could become an assistant if he was dressed like the others. Through Kim, the painter was reminded of the words from the maids. Now, the painter is choosing his position at the mansion. Since the begin of the second season, his status had become even more ambiguous. Was he a wife, a favored servant or a prostitute? Due to the separation, the painter had no other option than becoming a servant.
But this switch of clothes represents a danger for Deok-Jae. Sure, he was asked to make the painter leave the house, yet from my perspective he has another problem. If Baek Na-Kyum becomes a part of the mansion, then he can get the master’s favors again as he had been able to catch Yoon Seungho’s care and even affection right from the beginning. Baek Na-Kyum’s position as a servant represents a source of thread for the rejected domestic. Besides, the more the painter remains there, the more he will become accepted by the others. Deok-Jae has already experienced the change of attitude among the staff. The maids were quite nice to the painter in the chapter 47. This causes the domestic to increase the pressure on the painter. He has to leave the domain. The other reason for his fury is that in his eyes, the protagonist has always been just a whore and he wants him to keep this image.
By breaking the low-born’s hand, Deok-Jae is determined to change the painter’s status and image. If he loses his hand, he will lose his job and become a prostitute. His wish is to turn the painter into a gigolo so that he can get rid of a rival and his prejudice about Baek Na-Kyum will come true. Let’s not forget that’s how exactly the domestic is perceiving him. This pejorative perception he has about the artist is also confirmed with the following drawing.
Here, the painter is described as a seducer, someone who wanted to get some benefit through sex. However, we all know that in the chapter 30, the lord dragged the painter to his chamber so that their intimacy was no longer a secret. The domestic must have witnessed it but due to his jealousy, he resented the artist too much to accept this truth. The painter wasn’t willing to become the lord’s partner but he was forced to. The servant is using the image of a prostitute in order to wound the artist. He claims that everyone is saying this, yet we are all aware that the head-maid of the kitchen declared the opposite. From my point of view, the servant is using every possible mean to make the painter leave the mansion. First, he creates a mess in his chamber out of revenge and enviousness. When the boy appears so suddenly, he has to change his plan, he needs to make him leave the place so that his wrongdoing won’t be revealed. He uses violence to pressure the artist to depart from the domain. But this doesn’t stop here, he needs to become more vicious so that the artist will give in. That’s the reason why he mentions the rumor about the painter in front of him. Notice that Baek Na-Kyum is more hurt by his words than by his brutal gesture of his hand. But the servant doesn’t stop there, he keeps envisioning the painter’s future: he will become a whore. He definitely wants this to happen. His obsession to perceive the painter as a seducer justifies the harsh words Baek Na-Kyum has to hear. He was a prostitute right from the start and he will become one at the end. He has to because if not, how could he explain Yoon Seungho’s sudden change? Baek Na-Kyum won’t escape his fate and Deok-Jae will make sure that this really occurs. In reality, the domestic is projecting his own mentality into the painter. He wished, he had become a favored servant so that he would benefit from it. He would get expensive clothes, fine dishes, wouldn’t need to work etc. He is actually acting like the negative image the nobles Jung In-Hun and Min have about low-born. They would do anything in exchange for changing their conditions.
Another evidence for this interpretation is the way the jealous man portrays the painter. He describes his rival as attractive, revealing that he is well aware of the features that could attract other men. This reveals how envious he is of the artist. If he had been more attractive, maybe he could have caught the master’s eyes.
Striking is that in the chapter 29 and 30, the servant doesn’t play a huge role. First, he only confesses that he has no idea about the teacher’s whereabouts.
Later, he just opens the door and announces the commoner’s return. Back then, he served as an illustration for the lord’s brutality and rage. But it looks like Byeonduck planned to introduce this character slowly. That’s why we have the servant’s face becoming more and more detailed. At the same time, now it becomes more obvious why Deok-Jae was the one who suffered the most among the staff. Since he had no idea where the low scholar was, the lord could only vent his frustration and jealousy on him. Deok-Jae became the lord’s punching ball because of Jung In-Hun. On the other hand, the latter didn’t realize it. For him, the true cause of his brutal beating was the painter’s escape. If he had not run away, then nothing would have happened to him. On the other hand, since he saw the painter as a rival, he must have been more than willing to close an eye on him. Nonetheless, he didn’t imagine that he would become the scapegoat for this incident.
Striking is that during the second season, his role has increased because he is shown bullying the artist many times: chapter 46, 47 and now 53. At the same time, the punishment in the chapter 30 caused a huge resent against Baek Na-Kyum because he has now problems with his eyes. On the other hand, I believe that he started begrudging his master, the more the lord paid attention to the artist. He had remained by the lord’s side for so long, yet he was never able to get his notice. Consequently Deok-Jae decided to help the killer Nameless to fulfil his task. That way he gets rid of a rival and his master has to feel the pain for not taking him as his favored servant.
Another huge contrast is that the chapter 30 begins with the beating, whereas the beating ends the chapter 53. Yet, the last person getting punched is not Deok-Jae but Min. Nevertheless, what caught my attention is that in both chapters, the servant got punched because of the painter. In the episode 30, the reason was his escape and in the chapter 53, it is because Deok-Jae is insulting and even hurting Baek Na-Kyum. While he only looked down the painter in the past, now he truly hates the low-born. He blames him for his punishment and for his rejection. What the servant fails to recognize are his own short-comings and prejudices. This is no coincidence that he is losing his sight. His physical blindness mirrors his mentality: he is blind due to his prejudices. Striking is that in this chapter, the manhwalovers witness the servant’s thrashing for the first time. Back then, we only got to see the result: a bruised face. Now, we view how Deok-Jae gets pushed, then later punched. The brutality increases so much that at some point we barely see Deok-Jae. The readers only hear the sound of the slaps and the crashing displaying the domestic’s physical powerlessness and the huge amount of strength Yoon Seungho uses with his hands. It was as if little by little the domestic was disappearing due to the violence used by Yoon Seungho. First, the servant is reduced to a lost tooth., then the manhwaphiles only hear the sound of the thrashing. The vengeful shadow is slowly killing Deok-Jae, almost turning him into another shadow too. The irony is that while he is getting beaten, he has to hear from Yoon Seungho: “Who do you think you are to put hands on him?” Now, I believe, I can answer his question. Deok-Jae viewed himself as a future concubine, waiting for the lord’s favors but at the end, he is so hurt that he can’t even walk straight. He crawls out of the room.
Striking is that during the thrashing, Deok-Jae’s face starts vanishing: from this picture to this image. His identity has been reduced to a single tooth. Furthermore, during the whole beating, the author drew pictures with Deok-Jae from such an angle that his face was not visible reinforcing the idea that he is losing his face and identity. At the end, when the vicious man leaves quietly the room, his visage looks quite similar to the drawing in the chapter 29: no eye, only the eyebrow. (chapter 29) . If you compare these two images, you’ll notice the absence of the mouth in the chapter 53 displaying that he can no longer talk. We could say that his lips are sealed as he has no longer a mouth here. For me, I interpret this last drawing as an indication of his future. Since his face is slowly disappearing, this signifies that he is slowly losing his identity. He is vanishing slowly mirroring the gradual introduction in the chapter 29. Therefore now that we know what happens in the chapter 54, I perceive this picture as a clue about Deok-Jae’s future: his death. By disappearing quietly from the lord’s side, he is not only losing his visage and identity but also his important function as Nameless’ secret helper.
While some readers think that his death is unsure because we only see a black veil next to blood, I believe to see another evidence for Deok-Jae’s death in the presence of the door!
Remember that he is always associated to the door. Since I have always pointed out that Byeonduck likes using metaphors and symbols for certain events, I do think that the door embodies the mean servant. Besides, let’s not forget that Deok-Jae threatened Nameless to reveal the secret about Jihwa’s involvement in the planned assassination. We shouldn’t forget that secret and door are strongly connected to each other that’s why in many languages there are expressions linking a secret to the door: coming out, behind closed doors, sortir du placard (French), à huit-clos (French), hinter verschlossenen Türen (German), detrás de puertas cerradas (Spanish), a porte chiuse (Italian) etc. Furthermore, since I have already explained that Nameless mirrors Yoon Seungho and the second season is inspired by the events in the first season, we should see Deok-Jae’s death as a new version of the lord’s killing in the chapter 1. Unlike Yoon Seungho, Nameless has to hide the servant’s body as he is just a commoner, while the noble had used his right to dispose of the low-born. Besides, let’s not forget that Baek Na-Kyum was responsible for the domestic’s death in the chapter 1 due to his lie. As I have already declared that Jihwa is the noble version of Baek Na-Kyum, then his order to have the painter killed is the reason why Deok-Jae ends up dead.
So with Deok-JAe’s death, all the secrets are buried or better said remain behind doors: his homosexuality and Jihwa’s involvement in the planned assassination.
This was my 100th analysis, although I have to confess that I should remove or edit a few essays because some of them contain errors. However, like I had mentioned it before, since the second season is not entirely released, it is much more difficult to be accurate. Yet the purpose of this blog is to let people read this manhwa, to let them to perceive this story in a different light and to share our ideas.
And it is indeed working because many of my readers gave me ideas and info which helped me to understand the manhwa/characters much better. Therefore this is my message: if you discover any little detail, you are more than welcome to tell me about it. I might use it for my analyses.
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