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.
I bet, you must be surprised that I am writing a second part about Jihwa’s confession, when the first part was so long and it really looked like I had exhausted the topic. However, while rereading the manhwa again in order to discover new details, I found another scene that was very similar to Jihwa’s confession.
It’s actually the scene in the chapter 5, where Baek Na-Kyum approaches the lord asking for his forgiveness with the hope that the latter will be willing to return the poem from Jung In-Hun. Observe the parallels between the two scenes:
- We have a piece of paper which forces one of the main leads to meet the other character.
- The color of Yoon Seungho’s robes is very similar: he is wearing dark blue in both scenes. And you know that there’s no coincidence in this manhwa. Blue is associated to care, trust, loyalty, and peace of mind.
- Besides, we have two persons speaking about forgiveness
- The two conversations deal with Yoon Seungho’s image as man consumed by lust
- Their positions are very similar. While in the chapter 5, the main lead sits smoking and looking out of the window, the painter is begging on his knees. Then in the chapter 57, Jihwa is also on his knees, while the lord is sitting too as he can no longer stand due to his illness. Both beg the lord in the end. Striking is that everything is indeed related to love. The manhwaphiles should remember that the plagiarized poem deals with love. The scholar faked his affection for the painter with his poetry.
- Both scenes are involving Yoon Seungho’s childhood friend. In the first season, Jihwa had to suffer from the painter’s lip service, in the episode 57 the second lead plays now an active role because he is at the forefront. This time, he confesses. However, the real similarity is the following. Jihwa used the letter in order to get his friend’s attention. As a conclusion, in both scenes, the lord’s attention on his sex partner plays a huge role.
- Another parallel is the rejection. Because of the low-born’s indirect reproach, the lord can’t stop thinking about Baek Na-Kyum’s words hence he is unable to focus on Jihwa who is sent away at the end. In other words, the ex-lover’s advances are jilted which really upsets the red-haired aristocrat. In the chapter 57, the manhwaphiles don’t witness the rejection personally, we hear about this through the butler’s testimony. And this occurs again, when the aristocrat confesses to his friend. The latter’s mind is focused on the painter again.
- This leads to the next analogy. In both cases, Jihwa is left behind after the rejection. In the chapter 5, the lord leaves his bedchamber and in the newest episode, he leaves with his loyal assistant to go to the doctor’s office.
After listing many parallels between these two episodes, the readers can detect that the author could only have done it on purpose. For me, this analogy gives another explication why Jihwa ends up rejected. And now, I’ll elaborate this reasoning.
Notice in the chapter 5 that although Yoon Seungho forgives the painter, he doesn’t return the poem. Why? Let’s not forget the painter’s real intention behind his concession. The low-born desired the noble to change his mind. He imagined that if he expressed his apology, then this would move Seungho’s heart so that the latter would give back the poem. We could say, we have another allusion of “change of heart”. However, his apology was just a lip service which the noble could sense. The irony in this scene is that while the low-born denies that he views the master as a man consumed by lust, he is actually saying the opposite which triggers something in the aristocrat. He’s hurt and annoyed due to the artist’s words. Now, you might wonder about the reason for his annoyance as the day before, the painter had reproached him to be a man obsessed with sex. In my opinion, there are two reasons for the change of attitude. The painter had disqualified him for judging the quality of the poem as he was not educated, due to his busy sex life. And notice that in the chapter 5, he only repeats the part “consumed by lust” but the allusion to his education is reduced to “what not”. Therefore this leads me to the observation that Baek Na-Kyum’s lip service did cause a change of heart but not a change of mind!! For the first time, Yoon Seungho is confronted with his negative image by someone so honest and direct. This reveals that no one has an idea how literate he is. The day before, he was upset when he heard these words but he just dismissed it, thinking that the painter had no idea about his true personality. But the moment the painter refers to the incident, he is omitting the part about his intelligence and education. And this is important because the artist is the only one who gives a true reflection to the protagonist, while Jihwa is not complaining at all.
Let’s not forget that till the chapter 49, he only views himself as a spirit. So in his mind, he was only a mind full of knowledge hence he didn’t need to show himself entirely. However, it is a different story, when someone so genuine reminds him that he has been fooling around with men and has never revealed his brilliance. And this is very important because despite his lip service, Baek Na-Kyum forces the lord to change, to confront himself with his own image. So despite the painter’s selfishness in his apology and lie (he wants to receive his treasure), there’s genuineness which is also visible later. He argues, when the lord refuses to return the poem with the justification that he won’t change his mind. He needs to paint for him in exchange for the poem. While the red-haired noble complained about Seungho’s change of heart, in the past he actually desired a change of heart as well. He couldn’t bear the thought, his lover was having sex with other men. As you can detect, the change of heart occurred back then which affected Jihwa so much. At the same time, it also outlines Jihwa’s lack of sincerity. He might long for the lord yet he was never satisfied with the lord. First, he was fooling around and now he is focusing his attention and care on the artist. Both were confronting the protagonist with his bad reflection, yet their intentions and approach were different. First, the painter never intended to hurt the noble with his lip service. Secondly, he somehow admitted his wrongdoing hence he expressed his apology. Striking is that he’s not blaming the counterpart. There are no reproach expressed here. His apology might be insincere, yet he admits to be in the wrong, whereas the red-haired noble is reprimanding his friend and never questioning his actions. That’s why he is the one forgiving and not apologizing. Now, you understand why he’s blaming his childhood friend. He had to hurt him because he had changed, because he had neglected him, because he was a man consumed by sex etc. Despite a certain selfishness and insincerity visible in the painter (chapter 5), the later is still showing a certain respect towards Yoon Seungho and is even willing to take responsibility for his behavior. But at no moment, we can observe this with Jihwa. In my opinion, that’s the reason why Baek Na-Kyum could provoke a change of heart in the lord so that the latter could no longer focus on sex.
What caught my attention is that although Jihwa is always physically close to his childhood friend (see above and here ), he is so far away from him mentally. And this stands in opposition to Baek Na-Kyum who was physically far away from the lord, yet there’s a certain closeness due to their exchange of words. As you can perceive, Jihwa didn’t pay attention to the lord’s words in the chapter 5. When the latter revealed that he had been described as a man consumed by lust, the sex partner got upset because the noble was not focusing on him and he was left behind. During that night, Jihwa could have talked to Yoon Seungho but he didn’t deny anything, he just complained that Yoon Seungho wasn’t paying attention to him. And this distance between Jihwa and Seungho becomes more visible in the chapter 57, when you compare the drawings between Baek Na-Kyum and Yoon Seungho in the chapter 5. Notice that Byeonduck always zoomed on both faces, underlining that there was a real conversation, while it’s not the case with Jihwa. It’s a very long monologue. All the panels represent the red-haired aristocrat’s perspective and thoughts and the zoom on his face symbolizes the climax of his speech. Everything revolves around him that’s why we don’t see Yoon Seungho all this time. In my opinion, the mind’s eye of Jihwa is not looking at the friend at all. He might star at him at the end, yet for me he is more speaking about himself and his feelings than exchanging thoughts with his ex-lover. And that’s the reason why Yoon Seungho could only reject his friend. He has never really tried to open up to his childhood friend. There is no real conversation. Observe that when the lord refused to return the poem, Baek Na-Kyum started to argue with him but accepted the lord’s words at the end. In the chapter 57, Jihwa is not giving a chance to Yoon Seungho to give an explanation to his bad behavior, since he states that he knows everything.
Since in the chapter 5, Jihwa was sent away, we could say that the outcome in the chapter 57 is not a surprise. The weirdest thing is that the chapter 58 actually confirms my observation. The same question, yet there is no longer a physical gap between them. Now, the lord is even holding the painter’s hand, instead of holding the pipe. And observe that they talk to each other in this scene again. There’s another real conversation. And this is the other reason why the protagonist could only fall in love with the artist. The latter was the only one talking to him, even when he hated himand he expressed his feelings. He argued with him showing that he was noting his presence as a spirit, a mind and he wasn’t just a man obsessed with sex. Consequently, Jihwa could only fail as he never exchange his true thoughts and feelings. Even when they had sex, they would talk to each other with a certain honesty. And this was not the case with Jihwa. Besides, by only having sex with him and not sharing his mind, he contributed to Seungho’s mental isolation and loneliness. Seungho was first attracted by the painter’s works, hence there was a mental connection between them before their first meeting. And from the moment they were together, they kept talking to each other, while it was never the case with Jihwa. He was not listening to his friend’s words, even when the latter warned him or reminded him that he didn’t know him that well. It was, as if his words meant nothing. This is not surprising that Yoon Seungho could only consider himself as a spirit using his body to get revenge on the double-faced nobles. This explains why the main lead can’t distinguish Jihwa from Min in the end. Both are treating him the same way. Both assume, they know him so well and can do anything to him, justifying their actions with this excuse. As a conclusion, this manhwa reveals that love can only work if there’s a real communication and attraction is not the main component.
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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.
Finally, Jihwa confesses his love to Yoon Seungho but unfortunately for him he gets rejected. The readers don’t witness it personally but it is insinuated through Valet Kim’s testimony to the doctor. He describes the red-haired noble shedding tears on the ground, a sign that the lord didn’t obtain what he had been longing for a long time. Furthermore, he adds that the owner asked them to leave her inn reinforcing the impression that the young man must have cried a lot. The lady criticized the aristocrats for ruining her business.
But why did the lord reject his friend in the end? Sure, the manhwalovers would reply to this question that Yoon Seungho has never loved his childhood friend the same way Jihwa did hence the former could only push his ex-sex partner away. However, I believe that there are other explanations for this outcome too. That’s why in this essay, I’ll examine the noble’s confession more closely.
First, if we look at the way the lord admitted his affection to his friend, we can notice one huge analogy between Jihwa’s declaration and Seungho’s in the chapter 55. Both are blaming the loved one for feeling miserable.
While the red-haired aristocrat describes his ex-lover as a man consumed by lust which has always been affecting him, Baek Na-Kyum is responsible for Yoon Seungho’s strong negative emotions (jealousy, rage). At no moment, Yoon Seungho didn’t dare to look at the painter, while confessing as he recognized his bad actions. He had no hope and was actually expecting to get rejected. However, Jihwa looked at the friend’s face on his knees, searching his closeness in order to convey his feelings properly. . Therefore while the master Yoon blamed the painter in order to push him away, Jihwa is actually hoping the opposite. He wants to be accepted. Whereas in Seungho’s mind he didn’t deserve his affection, the red-haired noble believes that the friend should be happy to receive such a dedication. We can conclude that the main lead was definitely selfless in his confession. By comparing this to Jihwa’s, the readers can sense the huge improvement in the main lead, while Jihwa is still selfish which I’ll explain further below.
Another parallel is the importance of pride. While the main lead never mentioned it directly unlike Jihwa, he implied it with his behavior. The two nobles tried to protect their pride by waiting. Sure, Yoon Seungho wasn’t even recognizing his own feelings, yet he knew exactly what he wanted from the painter, although he is saying the opposite with this rhetorical question: He wanted to see admiration in the painter’s eyes, in other words to obtain spiritual love, like he finally admits it at the end. But the low-born kept rejecting him which made the aristocrat suffer. Consequently the loved one had to suffer due to their “rejections”. And we have the same case here. Yoon Seungho became the real victim of Jihwa’s pranks.
Moreover, the protagonist was so unsure about his feelings and expectations revealing his vulnerability and insecurities. Here, Jihwa is also showing a certain vulnerability in his confession with his tears and his position. Let’s not forget that he is on his knees. While he blames his friend for his bad actions, he can’t help himself longing for him and wanting to embrace him. However, there’s another huge divergence. The red-haired lord is very sure about his feelings, because Yoon Seungho has been his first and only love. His love started in his childhood. That’s why I can’t help myself connecting this love confession to the artist’s first’s in the chapter 20. Notice that the painter is hoping that the low noble would see his affection and respect. Remember what I wrote about Jihwa’s doomed love with Yoon Seungho. He was deep down hoping the same, seeing admiration in his friend’s gaze but he could never get it as the former was too wounded. Therefore I come to the conclusion that Yoon Seungho is playing the same role than Jung In-Hun had with the painter. Let’s not forget that the scholar was also Baek Na-Kyum’s first love. Jihwa has been also longing that his feelings would been perceived by his childhood friend. Another analogy is that the red-haired master has a false perception of Yoon Seungho. He’s a man consumed by lust, but his love started in his childhood, hence the source of his affection comes from a certain idealization. Jihwa has the impression, he knows the friend the best because he knows his past. But the reality is that he has no idea. He might know certain facts (nightmares, the terrible incident with lord Song) but he is not aware of all the torments Yoon Seungho went through. He might know about the wound caused by lord Song, yet I am quite sure that he doesn’t know about the prostitution. There’s no ambiguity for me that father Yoon acted as a pimp in the past despite his disdain for homosexuality. That’s why I think Jihwa’s love for Yoon Seungho is very similar to Baek Na-Kyum’s affection for the scholar: a “pure” love based on a false image. The painter had no idea that his surrogate father was jealous and double-faced. Consequently, I am expecting a real fallout between the two childhood friends first. Since he has been rejected, Jihwa will drink again in order to ease his pain and my prediction is that he will meet Nameless so that we would have another “Wedding night” which will affect the second lead. The latter will deny the existence of their intercourse. Yet I still believe that after Jihwa’s long suffering and redemption, the noble and Seungho will become true friends again. However, I sense that they will go separated ways for a while.
Another similarity is that Jihwa and Yoon Seungho are under the influence of alcohol, when they confess. However, this resemblance ends here because unlike the red-haired noble, the protagonist had planned to confess, he even opened the door so that the cold would wake up the painter, he sensed that his health condition was worsening but he needed to express his thoughts. Nevertheless, I don’t believe that Jihwa had planned to confess in the first place. In my opinion, he was triggered by his friend’s words. Notice that he puts Jihwa in the same category than Min, revealing that he is no different from all the nobles the main character meets. This could only upset Jihwa because he considered himself different from all the others as he was his childhood friend. I guess, the words forced Jihwa to show his friend that he was in no way similar to Min. This explains why he portrays himself in such a positive light. He excuses his action by saying that Yoon Seungho forced him that way. As a conclusion, Jihwa felt that he had to confess. Besides, he sensed that his friend was getting even further away from him.
By comparing both confessions, I still judge Jihwa as someone egocentric. Why do I perceive the latter like that? It’s because his words are very similar to Baek Na-Kyum’s confession from the chapter 49. Here, the painter was using a lot the personal pronoun “I, me” and was telling his lover that he was finally willing to accept Yoon Seungho as lover but he would never give him his heart. Since Seungho was the one who had to lick and to kiss him in order to make the artist feel good, the painter was not hiding that he was using Yoon Seungho as a tool for his own enjoyment. The artist had put himself on a pedestal, which was also reflected in his position. Notice that the noble had to look up. The powerful master should treasure him and their physical relationship. Since in that confession, he was admitting that he was using the lord, this signifies the artist didn’t pay attention to Yoon Seungho’s feelings and desires. Baek Na-Kyum was indeed inconsiderate, yet here he wasn’t even hiding his thoughts. He was once again brutally honest. There’s reason why I continue associating brutality with honesty. It’s because each time the painter was sincere, his words wounded the lord very much. For Yoon Seungho, each word must have felt like a stab in his heart, hence he was not happy at all, after hearing this confession. Remember that he wanted to get angry but was stopped by a tender kiss. Besides, I am not the only one who criticizes the painter for his selfishness. Even valet Kim reminded him in the chapter 52 that he was acting like a spoiled child.
But let’s go back to Jihwa’s love declaration. His words are very similar. One might argue that the situation is different because Jihwa’s the one who desires to forgive and embrace Yoon Seungho, who stayed by his side, while the lord was fooling around with other men. Hence he’s selfless. However, he might be the subject and Yoon Seungho is the object of his affection, yet since each sentence begins with the personal pronoun “I” (“I know”, “I can embrace”, “I’ll forgive you”) this is a good indication that he values himself very much. That’s why I came to this observation: he’s selfish. He’s also not considerate towards the lord’s feelings and thoughts. He doesn’t let the counterpart speak. Strangely, his position contrasts so much to the low-born’s in the chapter 49. Jihwa is on his knees and has to look up at Yoon Seungho giving the impression that he’s worshipping the young master. However, his words are contradicting his position. He’s rather looking down on the former sex partner than adoring him. The beholder would interpret from Jihwa’s posture that Jihwa is humble and devoted, yet his speech is actually contradicting his attitude. Despite on his knees, he is the one who forgives, while in reality a witness would think, the opposite is happening as Jihwa looks as if he was begging. Yet his stance reveals the red-haired master’s despair, he’s indeed pleading his friend to acknowledge his feelings. Simultaneously, he appears as arrogant as he judges his friend as man consumed by lust and blames him for his reckless behavior. In my opinion, he’s a little pretentious because he thinks that he knows everything about the noble’s past. But since he’s still acting like a child, there is no ambiguity that he is actually naive. That’s why I believe that when he sent the letter, he didn’t grasp the scope of his action. He knew that he would get hurt, yet I don’t believe that Jihwa is exactly aware of the true event with lord Song. Furthermore let’s not forget that I link this declaration with the painter’s first confession too. Here, the commoner had put the scholar on a pedestal, hence he had to stand on tiptoes reflecting his “admiration”. Back then, the low-born had put the scholar on a pedestal indeed. He had confessed that he pined on him and would respect him so much and as you can detect, Jihwa is actually saying the opposite. Yoon Seungho is far from being admirable that’s why the protagonist’s heart can never be moved.
Since I see so many connections between the confession in the chapter 20 and 55, it is logical that Yoon Seungho can only reject his friend. Baek Na-Kyum was never destined to receive the low noble’s love (impossible love) and Yoon Seungho blamed his loved one while confessing in order to get rejected! And since the noble is quite selfish in his love and Yoon Seungho has been longing for a pure and selfless admiration, the friend can only be pushed away.
If Yoon Seungho used the reproach and doubts to push away the painter, then why is the red-haired master using the same tactic? Does he hope to be rejected too? The answer is quite simple. Jihwa has a different purpose by blaming his friend. When Jihwa declares that he is willing to accept his ex-lover with his flaws which could be perceived as a positive aspect, he is trying to create a good image of himself: he is selfless by accepting Yoon Seungho with all his flaws. Who would be willing to accept such a man? With these words, he’s implying that no one would ever come to love him. He’s the only one who knows him so well insinuating that he has no one left by his side, except him. As you can observe, the noble is turning himself into a good Samaritan, while he is portraying the main lead as someone terrible. He’s selfless and tolerant. And that’s how he portrays himself through his speech and that’s how he also perceives himself. Yet the red-haired aristocrat is not realizing the contradiction in his own words. He criticized his friend for changing, but he never liked the man sleeping around. Deep down, he wished, the man would have loved him. That’s why there’s certain dishonesty in his confession which was the case in the painter’s first love declaration too. While the low-born claimed that he was longing for his spiritual love, deep down he wanted to be desired and experience sensual love. We shouldn’t forget that he had been struggling with his increasing libido and repressed his sexual desires. Since the upset lord has noticed the change of his friend’s behavior, he should have been happy, since he became monogamous. So the sleeping around stopped, yet Jihwa is not satisfied because he is not the loved one. Everything is related to the painter, a low-born. According to him, he shouldn’t have changed implying that he prefers him fooling around with other men than having sex with a low-born. This reveals his jealousy. Deep down, he wished to be the one to be loved. Yoon Seungho actually changed for the better which was even noticed by the town folks but Jihwa chooses denying it. He has every reason to deny it, since the lord is intimate with a low-born, which Jihwa condemns. This illustrates that Jihwa is actually lying to himself, when he confesses to his friend. With this picture, the manhwalovers can realize that Jihwa was actually bothered that the noble with the mole wanted to have sex with Yoon Seungho. Notice that he considers his acquaintance the same like “with all those other men” hence I believe that the prank played against the painter was actually an action in order to get rid of another potential lover. After listening to his friend’s narration, he sensed that Baek Na-Kyum represented a source of danger, especially after hearing from his “friend” that Yoon Seungho would keep starring at the commoner. Jihwa could only get jealous of their locked gaze as this was exactly what Jihwa wanted to share with his childhood friend: his feelings should be seen and as the same time, the lord’s gaze would reveal respect and admiration. Therefore I come to the observation. He used his friend as legitimation claiming that he had been avenging him, while in reality he was protecting his own interest. He wanted to claim the lord as his lover. But why is the red-haired noble determined to portray his friend in such a pejorative way? It’s because he wants to be admired by his friend, an admiration which he never received. He thought, waiting would solve the problem but he was totally wrong. By describing the main lead as a man consumed by lust, he is actually achieving the opposite of what he intended to get. The former lover has never comprehended that Yoon Seungho hates the image of a man consumed by lust which he has been implying with his confession, although Yoon Seungho revealed it to him in the chapter 5. Back then, the guest didn’t pay attention to his words, he was more upset that his friend was not focusing on him. And this shows that the friend was too focused on his own feelings and pride to understand Yoon Seungho. Hence this is the other cause for the failure of his confession. Jihwa could never obtain what he wanted, the admiration in Yoon Seungho’s eyes as the red-haired master never reflected real admiration in his eyes. As a conclusion, he couldn’t get past the image of a man obsessed with sex. How can Yoon Seungho love him back, if the noble judges him like all the others? In order to love someone, the main lead needed to perceive himself differently, as he already hated himself so much.
Why could the painter succeed, where Jihwa was destined to failure? The difference between the painter and the noble is the following. First, Baek Na-Kyum and the other main lead had a spiritual connection even before their first encounter. Secondly, through the paintings, the artist was able to give Yoon Seungho a different image about himself. Each time the painter was able to make him smile, while it was not really the case with Jihwa (chapter 1, 2, 3). He showed him an attractive man, worthy to be desired. Besides, he was indeed physically attracted to him. Sure, now he is not admiring the lord spiritually but once he accepts the noble, the latter will reveal his qualities which he could never reveal as he never felt loved. Baek Na-Kyum will discover a new side of Yoon Seungho: educated, intelligent and even patient. Jihwa says that he knows the reason for this reckless behavior, however I believe that Jihwa doesn’t grasp the whole dimension of the main lead’s suffering.
As you can observe, by comparing the different confessions and even examining Jihwa’s love declaration in its details, it becomes very clear that Yoon Seungho could only reject him. Nonetheless, there are more reasons why Jihwa was doomed to fail.
I have to confess that when I read this scene for the first time, an event from the season 1 came to my mind, the straw mat beating and in particular this picture: The lord came personally later and stood there, like he was on a podium, while the painter was lying on the ground. Just before, he had been rolled up in a mat. And observe, the scene at the tavern is really similar, although the perspective diverges. The lord kicked the friend so that the latter fell down. The main lead is standing, while the other is lying on the floor, hurt, exactly like the painter. Let’s not forget my theory that Jihwa is the noble version of the painter. But there are actually more parallels between these two incidents hence it is necessary that I outline all the similarities by listing all the elements contained in both incidents:
- We have a ruined painting in the first season, whereas we have a letter reminding the lord of his terrible past. Both are just pieces of paper, yet they have such an impact on the main lead. Both causes immense pain in the main character’s heart. In the first case, it was as if his identity had been erased. Let’s not forget that the protagonist perceived himself as a ghost but thanks to the erotic pictures, he could feel alive. And the moment the painter portrayed him, he saw a different reflection about himself, like I mentioned above. It could liberate him from his self-hatred, he saw that he was desirable. Simultaneously, the drawings were a proof that he was actually a man defeating his enemies, the double-faced and treacherous nobles, as a part of his “revenge”. As for the letter, it was a reminder of his terrible past. It’s clear that Lord Song is someone terrible based on Kim’s reaction. I have to admit that after giving some thoughts, I have come to the conclusion, the mysterious lord must be an older version of lord Min. But let’s get back to the comparison. Both pieces of paper caused a scene: a punishment. While Jihwa received a kick, the painter was condemned to the straw mat beating. One might say that the last punishment is worst as Baek Na-Kyum could have become handicapped or even worse, he could have lost his life. However, the kick in a public place for a noble is already a big humiliation. Not only he appears as a weak person but a kick is a treatment rather reserved to commoners. His reputation can only be affected (rumors). Let’s not forget the importance of honor for an aristocrat. Having a title is a synonym for respect and privileges, yet the boot on his arm gives the impression to the folks that Jihwa’s lacking of honor. It was as if he was a low-born despite his nice appearance.
- Then we have Jihwa drinking at the tavern rejoicing about the success of his prank whereas in the chapter 57, he is there to drown his sorrow. This is no coincidence that it’s the same place.
- The words and the reactions of the characters are very similar. Yoon Seungho is saying that he has been really patient and he can no longer accept such a behavior. (chapter 12) Then the reaction of the ukes is very similar. Notice how the painter cries begging the lord for his leniency, whereas the red-haired noble weeps telling the lord that he will forgive him for his rude behavior. Although the red-haired is speaking about forgiveness, he is in reality begging his friend to look at him and consider his feelings. He’s asking his friend for his heart and to become his official lover. And strangely, we should remember that the servant relating the incident to his master told him (chapter 13) that the lord had a change of heart. As a conclusion, both incidents are revolving around Yoon Seungho’s change of heart.
- Finally, while the painter was rolled up in a mat and got water on his face, Jihwa has to feel the former friend’s foot on his throat. Then later both ukes’ position is almost the same again. It looks like Baek Na-Kyum is also on his knees after his release.
As you can detect, in both terrible events, we have a prank leading to a punishment which is connected to a change of heart. Yet there’s a huge difference. While the powerful protagonist had a change of heart for the painter, Jihwa is actually complaining about this change and would like the lord to have a change of heart as well. Therefore he confesses his love to the noble at the inn in front of commoners, creating a real scandal. Jihwa really hopes that his tears and love confession will evoke feelings in his counterpart. However, this is the opposite. Yoon Seungho rejects him. And you might wonder why we have all the analogies between these two incidents. In my opinion, we should perceive the lord’s confession and rejection as his punishments. He is paying now the price for his prank with the ruined painting and the letter in reality. One might argue that the second lead was already punished for his misdeeds in the chapter 18. On the surface, it really looks like it. For each misdeed, he had to pay for his wrongdoings : he slapped the painter, therefore he got grabbed by the topknot and dragged to the courtyard in front of the staff. Furthermore he had planted a spy in his friend’s household, consequently the domestic got stabbed. He ruined the painting hence the young lord cut ties with him. However, we shouldn’t forget that the aristocrat expressed schadenfreude, when he heard the news about the sanction. He even celebrated it and asked his friend to pay the bill for this “party”. Therefore this is not surprising that his humiliation happens at the place where he rejoiced, when his prank had been successful.
Furthermore, he had treated his amateur spy very roughly in the chapter 13 by pushing him very hard onto the floor hence we could say the kick Jihwa receives in the chapter 56 is the punishment for his gesture towards the servant and the foot on his throat is the sanction for the prank with the letter. Jihwa is indeed treated like a commoner. People might say that Jihwa is acting according to his status, as a noble is entitled to mistreat commoners. Nonetheless, my impression is that one of the main messages from this manhwa is that “prejudices” will only lead to suffering: karma. Baek Na-Kyum got sanctioned for rejecting and denying his own homosexuality, whereas one of Jihwa’s prejudice is about the commoners. This is not surprising that his suffering keeps increasing as he is never questioning this doctrine that low-borns are no real humans, not worthy of any respect. My readers are well aware that Baek Na-Kyum was living according to the scholar’s doctrines, therefore we have to imagine that Jihwa has also been living following the social norms of the nobility: commoners are low lives.
First, I would like to examine Jihwa’s prejudice. The latter was humiliated in front of Yoon Seungho’s staff but this didn’t change the noble’s mind. In fact, the loss of his friend didn’t really force the red-haired aristocrat to reflect on his misdeeds. In fact, he insulted Yoon Seungho “old bastard”, while admitting at the same time, he would understand the protagonist the best (chapter 36). Yet at no moment he never questioned his actions nor his prejudices. Notice that in the chapter 57, he’s again humiliated but this time in front of town folks, the people he looks down.
As you can observe, the humiliation and the mistreatment at the inn are increasing. First, his disgrace occurred at the mansion but Jihwa tried to maintain his honor by announcing to Seungho that he had been using him. Now, he’s kicked in front of commoners creating a rumor. And this is no coincidence in my opinion. For me, these humiliations are just the consequences of his misbehavior and false conceptions. He looks down on commoners therefore he constantly gets disgraced in front of them (chapter 18, 36, 43, 57). This is his karma for defending such unjust norms. That might be the common norm for back then, but since Baek Na-Kyum has suffered because he defended doctrines condemning sodomy, it becomes clear that Jihwa’s role as a character has another purpose: the lack of respect for low-borns.
Moreover, I believe that Lee Jihwa has another prejudice, just like Baek Na-Kyum had another prejudice as well: the negative image of nobles. But this one is less obvious because he loved his teacher, a low noble. Since I sense that Jihwa is very similar to the painter, then we have to conclude that Jihwa has two prejudices. The artist denied his homosexuality and he saw the nobles as nobles only good in appearance. That’s why I believe that Jihwa is more prejudiced towards commoners, yet he isn’t truly admitting his homosexuality. I am well aware that some might doubt this interpretation. First, the manhwalovers should remember that Baek Na-Kyum came to deny his sexual orientation due to the intervention of the low noble. So his natural homosexuality was repressed. Since Jihwa has been in love with Yoon Seungho, he’s also a natural homosexual. And it looks like Jihwa’s sexual orientation has also been repressed somehow. Remember that we have this: and it becomes obvious that Jihwa was separated from the protagonist. So he did suffer from getting separated from his first love. This would explain why he hid his true emotions behind his smiles and cheerful comments too and wasn’t honest any longer.
At the same time, this explains why he only slept with Yoon Seungho and never confessed his love to him. He hoped to get his love by having sex and he tried his best to seduce him. However, he could only fail as Yoon Seungho never felt any pleasure during the sexual intercourses. He only considered them as fights. Simultaneously it was the reason why the other nobles and even the commoners were aware of Jihwa’s love for his friend. He never went to sex orgies. Hence I believe that Jihwa has been influenced by the social standard among nobles as well. Maybe being separated from his friend made him realize that he needed to hide his feelings. The other evidences for this interpretation are the following:
For me, here he is not admiring the hickeys as his words don’t express any admiration, sound more like a complaint. Besides his mouth is not smiling as the upper lip goes up. This is Jihwa smiling 10 minutes later, once he hears about his friend’s early visit. Observe, this time the lower lip is going down. Therefore I come to the conclusion that he is actually reproaching his friend for living marks on his body, a proof of his hidden homosexuality. Besides, if he was rejoicing, we should see the exclamation mark and not the suspension point. Another evidence of his not truly outlived homosexuality is the following: he hides the hickeys the moment the servant barges in his room. Yet, the moment he hears about the visit, he doesn’t pay attention that the hickeys are still visible. Then at the pavilion, he tries to suggest to move to his bedchamber. He is definitely trying to influence Yoon Seungho with this rhetorical question. He doesn’t want to be seen by his staff. But for me, the biggest clue that he is not truly admitting his sexual orientation is in the chapter 18: Notice that sodomy has a certain pejorative connotation. According to the nobility, homosexual intercourse is tolerated, yet the red-haired master insinuates with so deep that there’s a limit. Hence homosexuality with commoners is not allowed. For me, this limitation is actually an allusion that feelings between two men are not allowed, that’s why it’s not allowed to do it with commoners. Why? Because among nobles, they can hide their love behind business and exchange of favors and this is exactly what Jihwa did. This explains why Jihwa defended his honor that he had been using Yoon Seungho while being with him. He could legitimate his sodomy by saying that he had some favor to ask. Yet, this was just a cover and everyone was well aware that Jihwa was in love with the noble. So there’s a certain hypocrisy, which is quite similar to Baek Na-Kyum’s who accepted to work for the main lead for his scholar’s sake.
This explicates why the red-haired master was so determined to be with his childhood friend. If he was with him, he would be able to live his homosexuality to the fullest, as he would be able to love and be loved. For me, that’s the other reason why he didn’t confess to his friend in the end. He imagined that by sleeping with his friend, the latter would fall in love with him. That’s the reason why he was so determined that the painter must have been seducing Yoon Seungho. He can’t envisage that the painter would be bold to confess to another man, this is not tolerated. Remember that their wedding night started with a confession. The last evidence appears in the chapter 52. What caught my attention is lord Min’s insult, when he stands in front of the painter. He actually insults Jihwa as sodomite which is quite strange, since Min had also sex with other men. He even slept with Yoon Seungho as uke. The only difference is that Jihwa is in love with his childhood friend. Because he tried to hide his love for his childhood friend, we could say that he hasn’t truly admitted his own homosexuality.
My explanation is the following. Having sex with another noble is not considered as abnormal because it is not related to love. These are just fights and a form of exchanging favors. He has been attempting to hide his intimate relationship with Yoon Seungho, while in reality all the town folks are well aware of their special bounding. He didn’t confess to his friend, hoping that the latter would fall in love with him through seduction but at the same time, he hoped to be admired and loved by Yoon Seungho. I know that some might be skeptical, yet I have different reasons for thinking like that which I illustrated above. For me, Jihwa’s biggest fear is to reveal his homosexuality and especially in front of commoners as he has internalized this rule: love is not allowed among men. Remember that father Yoon condemned him, describing as ill.
That’s why when he confesses could be considered as the same suffering the painter experienced at the pavilion. Revealing his homosexuality in front of town folks was indeed a huge humiliation as he had always tried to hide his feelings from the others. It is definitely possible that Nameless even witnesses this scene from afar, as it was implied Jung In-Hun saw the rape at the pavilion. We shouldn’t forget that at the pavilion, he admitted to have loved the scholar. And this is another reason why Jihwa could only fail with his attempt.
Jihwa was well aware that with this letter he would hurt Yoon Seungho, the man he claims to love. Sure, one might say that since he got kicked and humiliated, then the sanction was already enough. But we shouldn’t forget that in the chapter 18, Jihwa had actually decided to cut ties with Yoon Seungho in order to save his face. Here, we can definitely perceive how much he values his reputation and honor. That’s why he couldn’t go to his friend and beg to take him back, after witnessing the love session between Seungho and the painter. Jihwa was well aware that he could no longer approach the friend, because this would mean, he would go back on his word. Hence he knew that he had to initiate something so that Yoon Seungho would come to see him. So the painful reminder was the only way to force the noble to encounter him. That’s why the noble laughed, when he saw his former friend. His trick had worked. Yet the moment, his friend put him together with Min, he could only get hurt. He was treated like all the others, while he saw himself as different, since he had feelings for him. Hence he tries to legitimate his action with the letter, he was trying to explain that he was only one who knew his dark past.
With these words, it becomes clear that the red-haired master is attempting to differentiate himself from all the other men Yoon Seungho fooled around confirming that the lord only confessed as he disliked the idea to be similar with Min. The confession was not planned and it happened at a place, where many commoners would observe him. And this was a huge punishment for the character. We could say that he was brave to do it but the question is how he will react after the rejection. Will he yell at Nameless and ask him to do the deed much sooner? Or will he accept Min’s involvment? If he does that, then this means that his downfall won’t stop here and there will be another retribution. Sure, one might say that the attempted assassination has been incited by Min, yet he is no child as such. He’s an adult and he will realize the consequences of his decisions if something bad happens. It’s definitely possible that the aristocrat might ask Min to take his responsibilities as he was involved and he was the one who proposed the idea. However, since Min is such a huge hypocrite, it is quite certain that Min will wash off his hands from this.
Some people might criticize me for stating that Jihwa’s fate will get even worse before getting redemption but the thing is that since he’s the mirror of Baek Na-Kyum and the latter suffered a lot during the first season and even in the second season, the readers should prepare their heart as Jihwa’s destined to have a similar fate. It took 49 chapters before the artist dropped the scholar’s doctrine and we should expect the same for the noble to admit that low-borns are humans too. Now, he has finally admitted to have feelings for his childhood friend but this didn’t represent the biggest prejudice. He will realize the absurdity of his belief that commoners don’t deserve any respect. And after the rejection, I sense that he might resent Yoon Seungho even more than before because of the following words: Notice that he is blaming the main lead for ruining him, while his downfall is more related to his naivety and selfishness. So far, he has never questioned his own wrongdoings.
As a conclusion, there were many reasons why Jihwa was doomed to be rejected. The confession could never move the protagonist’s heart. Besides, he doesn’t realize his own flaws as he never questioned his own actions. He is indeed similar to Baek Na-Kyum who never questioned the teacher’s words and doctrines. Furthermore, this was part of his punishment.
Feel free to comment. If you have any suggestion for topics or manhwas, feel free to ask. If you enjoyed reading it, retweet it or push the button like. My tumblr-twitter account is: @bebebisous33. Thanks for reading and the support.
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.
This is not an analysis but again a new prediction. There’s a reason why I suddenly came up with this idea. It all started with a tweet created by @YourMorbidMoot where the wolf symbolizing Yoon Seungho is tamed by Baek Na-Kyum, the innocent rabbit. When I saw this very cute story, it made me smile because it illustrates the taming of the main protagonist.
Simultaneously, I couldn’t help myself thinking about my essay called “Yoon Seungho and Baek Na-Kyum as animals” [https://bebebisous33analyses.wordpress.com/2020/06/09/painter-of-the-night-yoon-seungho-and-baek-na-kyum-as-animals/] where I had explained that for me, the eagle and the lamb would represent much better Yoon Seungho and Baek Na-Kyum respectively. The readers must know that as soon as I wrote the essay mentioned above, I started associating the characters with animals. The weirdest thing is that I couldn’t restrain myself noticing that the nobles were always represented by birds (or flying animals), while the commoners like Baek Na-Kyum, Deok-Jae or valet Kim were rather domestic animals. With this expression, I mean these animals are part of a mansion. This is what I had found so far:
|Jung In-Hun||Peacock (snake-chameleon)|
|Min||Magpie – crow (snake)|
|Father Yoon||„Dragon“ (snake)|
|Lee Jihwa||Pheasant – crane|
|Deok-Jae||Rat (greedy, materialistic, rats out his master)|
This is not surprising that the dog symbolizes valet Kim, as he is loyal, strong, caring but also protective and defensive. He follows his master everywhere and is able to find him very quickly, like in the chapter 57. Let’s not forget how he yelled at Deok-Jae for his so-called prank. It was as if he was barking at the vicious domestic.
But then, I realized that I had actually made a mistake. Yoon Seungho was indeed a bird, not an eagle. In fact, he was a phoenix, hence we see him wearing this robe during that fateful night. The next morning, he is no longer wearing it. He gave his robe to the painter as cover. It definitely marks the moment of his “death” and announces his rebirth. It has not occurred yet, since he is still feverish but we should consider it as a part of his rebirth: he rises from the ashes. It becomes clear that the rebirth of a phoenix is related to fire and you all know the expressions “to burn a fever” or “to burn out a fever”. As you can observe, fever is indeed linked to fire. That’s why I came to the realization that Yoon Seungho is in reality a phoenix which would explain why father Yoon was so jealous of his son. How can a dragon exist next to a phoenix? Both are mystical animals, yet let me remind my readers that father Yoon has only the eyes of a dragon, he’s not a real dragon. Nonetheless, my association to a bird for Yoon Seungho was actually correct , it’s just the choice of the bird was wrong.
Then I had explained that Jihwa considered himself as a crane and thought, he would bring good fortune to Yoon Seungho, hence he dressed up with such beautiful clothes. However, my perception was that he was misjudging himself, he was just a gold pheasant. That’s why I feared for his life after reading the first season. Since the start of the new season, I had to review my prediction and now I believe that he will get terribly hurt. My thoughts were that he would either lose his title or get a scar… due to a big injury. I came to this belief after recognizing that this character is very similar to Baek Na-Kyum. Since the latter got raped in the first season, I am anticipating that the noble will suffer a lot as well. It will take him a while before he becomes a true crane and that’s only because of his fateful encounter with Nameless. But as Jihwa is the mirror of Baek Na-Kyum, this means that the painter is actually a crane too. And this is definitely no coincidence that in the chapter 45, Baek Na-Kyum is covered with a cloth where the pattern contains cranes. That’s why I came to the conclusion, Baek Na-Kyum is actually a crane but due to his social status, he was a lamb. I have to admit that in the manhwa “Serene Bird” which is very similar to “Painter Of The night”, the pure and innocent Yoo Chung is called a crane by the seme which can only reinforce my interpretation. Baek Na-Kyum is the one who will bring good fortune, freedom, honor, royalty, happiness, balance, grace, prestige and love to our protagonist Yoon Seungho.
But based on my observations, if the painter is a crane, this means that he has to become a noble. For me, Baek Na-Kyum will turn into a crane thanks to Yoon Seungho’s aura and support. Therefore I came up with this idea. What if Yoon Seungho decides to ennoble the painter after the first attempted assassination? You might ask why. The reason is simple. There’s a first attempted assassination and the valet Kim becomes the victim, while he protects the artist. Let’s not forget that he is a dog, very protective and determined. But since he ‘s a low-born, no one can get punished. Yoon Seungho might have power but since this is a norm among nobles not to go after the nobles responsible for a commoner’s death, the protagonist can’t use officials in order to get justice. They might suffer some inconveniences but they won’t be punished harshly, like losing their title. However, this incident makes the main character realize that in order to protect his lover, he needs to elevate his social status.
But in order to make its possible, he uses Jung In-Hun, the noble he sponsored. Let’s not forget that he promised him a position in exchange for a favor. Imagine the humiliation for Jung In-Hun. He is indeed used by the powerful seme and has to confirm that Baek Na-Kyum is a noble in exchange for the sponsorship. We shouldn’t forget that the painter’s origins are unknown and the head gisaeng handed over the artist to the low noble, implying that the latter had become his official guardian. In other words, Jung In-Hun is forced to admit that the artist is a noble, even worse, he might be even related to him. The manhwalovers are well aware that no one knows about the painter’s origins, except the scholar. The servant who investigated the identity of the unknown creator has been killed. As for the women from the brothel, they would never reveal his true origins since they are well aware of the negative repercussions.
And that’s how the painter becomes a noble. But in order to appear and act like a noble, he needs to be educated, hence the seme becomes his real teacher. The artist starts wearing a topknot and is now treated like a real noble. Let’s not forget that in the chapter 38, the painter claimed in front of the staff, he was not a servant. Secondly, the scholar arrived at the mansion shortly after the painter’s occurrence. Third, when his study was always next to the lord’s chamber and he was sleeping in a bed reserved for a master. Even the doctor got confused because the painter was dressed like a low-born but he was sleeping in a nice bed, when he examined him for the first time.
Imagine how Jung In-Hun must feel, when he witnesses Baek Na-Kyum’s elevation of status and he becomes the helping hand. He must be infuriated. The question is if Jung In-Hun really gets his position like Yoon Seungho had once told him. It’s definitely possible that the lord decides to keep his promise under the condition that Jung In-Hun admits to be related or be a witness that Baek Na-Kyum is a noble. The jealous man can only resent the protagonist even more than before and decides to join hands with father Yoon. Both want to get revenge on the main lead for not acknowledging them as superior. That’s why they start working together and since the father used prostitution to have connections, he might use the same strategy but this time, Jung In-Hun is the pawn. I still maintain this idea that the low noble will experience a downfall (total loss of integrity), too blinded by his arrogance, desire of revenge and his worldview.
By turning the painter into a noble, Yoon Seungho ensures that his lover is protected, however I doubt that Min decides to give up on him. Besides, it’s definitely possible that this ennobling happens afterwards so that Min can’t escape a punishment. I think, everything will be more difficult for Min to get his hands on the painter after the attempted assassination. And this leads me to think that Min might join forces with father Yoon and Jung In-Hun.
Since we have a transformation of the main lead, the rebirth of a phoenix, it is definitely possible that the painter metamorphoses into a crane. He was a lamb and becomes a crane. With a title, the artist is now allowed to visit the Royal Academy. I also believe that we could also witness a transformation with Jihwa but first he will have to suffer a lot before losing completely his innocence and changing into a real man with a good heart.
Let’s take a look at the table again but this time, with the new discoveries:
|Min||Magpie – crow|
|Lee Jihwa||Pheasant – crane|
As you can observe, I added Nameless and connected him to the wolf. This animal lives in a pack, where there’s a leader, the alpha. We know for sure that Nameless is not acting on his own, he has minions. The wolf has a very fearsome reputation, can be ruthless and brutal, just like Nameless. Simultaneously, a wolf can leave the pack for a while and act on his own. At the same time, a wolf is very loyal and protective which the criminal does, when it comes to Jihwa. A wolf can definitely be tamed too, yet it still keeps his dangerous aura.
Feel free to comment. If you have any suggestion for topics or manhwas, feel free to ask. If you enjoyed reading it, retweet it or push the button like. My tumblr-twitter account is: @bebebisous33. Thanks for reading and the support.
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. As for the psychology of colors, I used this website: https://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/color-blue.html
In my former analysis, I associated father Yoon to corruption due to the color of his clothes. Khaki is a synonym for dead water and rotting and in the chapter 57, the readers discovers how the young protagonist’s heart got poisoned by his vicious and cruel father. Sure, we just get glimpses of the main lead’s past but it is enough to establish the father’s responsibility and ruthlessness.
In my opinion, his corruption starts with the visit to the doctor. The father is determined that his son is ill, although the physician can’t confirm the sickness. In fact, he can’t make a real diagnosis. These panels are important for two reasons. First, we detect the physician’s reservation. He expresses his doubts about the illness: “It seems”, “he said strange things” and “he looked alert and his complexion was rosy”. Furthermore, it becomes more obvious that the doctor is repeating what father Yoon told him: “since a very young age”. However, we know for sure that the physician only met the young man, when he was a teenager so the expression “since a very young age” indicates that he is relying on the father’s information. According to the latter, the protagonist was ill very early on but fact is that there is no diagnosis confirmed by any doctor.
What caught my attention is the huge contrast between the doctor’s saying and father’s words: Note that Yoon Seungho has a very good reputation, yet the doctor had never heard any rumor about his illness. That’s why I come to the conclusion that father Yoon had decided to use medicine on his son because of his jealousy. The reason for this statement? This is no coincidence that his good reputation is mentioned altogether with his illness. Father Yoon couldn’t bear the thought that his son’s notoriety was exciding his own.
Notice that when the father describes the illness, the physician recommends a visit to a shaman, but the father refuses. He keeps saying that Yoon Seungho is sick. In other words, the protagonist’s relative acts as if he was a doctor and he knows exactly the diagnosis. Yet the words “he said strange things” expressed by the doctor outlines the incompetence of the noble with “dragon eyes”. He uses technical words without knowing the true meaning. With this, I conclude that father Yoon’s real knowledge is superficial and he is actually overestimating his intelligence. The lack of knowledge didn’t get unnoticed by the expert. In reality, the noble with the khaki robe is just picking up the medicine for his son and needs the doctor’s collaboration. Here, it is important to point out that after this visit, the father never went to this physician again. The latter only became Yoon Seungho’s personal doctor again, after the latter had been abandoned by his own father. Let’s not forget that the physician only visits Yoon Seungho after the topknot incident. Valet Kim must have decided to ask for his help remembering their first visit and how good and qualified the doctor was. The latter took his time and talked a long time with the father, like we can witness in this panel. The father had to sit down indicating that the doctor didn’t fulfil his wish right away. He had to persuade the expert. Unfortunately, despite his doubts, he did follow the father’s wish. So when the doctor visits the lord for the second time, he is able to diagnose that the young aristocrat is really sick. Here, he can observe the symptoms. As a conclusion, despite his doubts about the mysterious illness diagnosed by the father, he did prescribe the medicine and kept giving it to valet Kim. Strictly speaking, he has still not questioned the real use of that medicine because after his second visit, the patient was indeed unwell. It’s important to note that until now, Yoon Seungho has kept drinking this medicine, ordered by his own father. Valet Kim was the one taking care of it all this time. Yet this has nothing to do with insomnia, since Baek Na-Kyum asks if his “usual medicine” is related to his sleeping problems and the doctor denies it. He replies that he has been taking it since his youth and back then, insomnia was never brought up. All this indicates that the corruption is still effective due to the drug. No one has ever questioned the true purpose for that medicine, neither Yoon Seungho nor valet Kim nor the physician. That’s the reason why he is still agitated in my perspective.
In my opinion, since the father couldn’t force his son to fake any illness, he used “sodomy” as an excuse for his son’s sickness, although he never mentioned that explicitly. Yet, his description of the sickness “illness of the spirit”, “contagious illness” are all related to homosexuality. I think, he must have come up with this idea, when he saw the interaction between Lee Jihwa and Yoon Seungho. The father must have realized that his son’s friend was attracted to his eldest son and he saw the perfect opportunity to separate Yoon Seungho from Jihwa under the pretense of an illness and isolate his son. By using the drug and his reclusion, he made sure that his son’s reputation would no longer overshadow his own notoriety. By banning him from leaving home, he hoped, Yoon Seungho would lose people’s attention, while he would get more support. I have the impression, he used this “illness” to submit his son too. However, I doubt that this was enough. At some point, he must have realized his lack of influence and power as he was a very ambitious man. I am quite sure that he must have dreamed of achieving greatness. There is another clue for this interpretation. Let’s not forget that Jung In-Hun did the same to the painter. He used “sodomy” as an excuse in order to pressure the artist to stop painting. It was immoral and filthy according to him. The low noble must have known that Baek Na-Kyum’s publications got famous among nobles, when he was asked to become the commoner’s guardian. Yet within one year, the painter stopped publishing due to the vow forced by the coercive persuasion. So this is how Baek Na-Kyum’s perversion started and here, the administration of the drug marks the beginning of the educated protagonist’s corruption.
The most upsetting is that valet Kim never questioned Yoon Seungho’s father’s decision and action behind this visit. He imagined that this was for the sake of the boy. Who would suspect a father drugging his son due to jealousy? Valet Kim has always liked the boy and this close relationship is visible in this chapter. He keeps company to the boy and the latter looks at him with such a tenderness and affection. This explains why the loyal butler remained by his young master’s side and why he accepted the mood swings later. He knows deep down the lord’s true personality. And since the corruption started with the drug administrated by valet Kim, this would explain why the lord has still mood swings in the end. This is not just caused by his trauma. There’s a combination of both in my opinion. However, by interacting with the painter, the lord’s heart and mind improved a lot, but his transformation and purification have not been completed yet, unlike with the low-born. The latter is no longer thinking about his former teacher, has dropped for good Jung In-Hun’s doctrine and is using his own mind and eyes, while he observes his lover. We could say, the painter’s thoughts are always revolving around the lord
when he takes care of him,
when he is separated from him
when he masturbates etc). Jung In-Hun’s influence and shadow has disappeared for real. Like I wrote once, the lord has been the cure for Baek Na-Kyum, so is the painter for lord’s. The artist will be the one who purifies the main lead. And now, I come to the second part of this essay: purification.
What caught my attention in the chapter 57 is the final scene and especially the final panel. For the first time after the lord’s confession, Yoon Seungho is looking at the painter’s gaze. He is no longer avoiding his eyes showing that he has regained some confidence. He no longer fears his eyes. he has gathered enough courage to face his lover. He would like to read the painter’s thoughts and emotions, as he knows about his transparency. Furthermore, both protagonists are quite close and this hasn’t happened since the chapter 54.
The other important detail is that the artist took the initiative to approach the noble, creating another precedence. We should remember that in the chapter 52, he did it because he was criticized by the butler and in the chapter 55, he was asked to take care of him by the loyal domestic. Sure, in the last case, the main lead would have done it on his own, as bringing the bucket of water was his own choice before. Nonetheless, I sense another progression as Kim never gave him any precise order here. While looking at the young master, he recognizes that the hat must cause some discomfort to the aristocrat hence he wants to remove it. However, we could say that he is just looking for an excuse to approach the master as he keeps starring at him. Hence we have two pictures about Yoon Seungho’s handsome face from his perspective.
Striking is that when he is looking at his lover and perceives the hat as a source of discomfort, we can detect the presence of two important items full of symbolism: A mirror on the left and a white candle on the right. This was noticed by my chingu @user4792569. This signifies that Baek Na-Kyum is no longer represented by the yellow candle on a candlestick, a symbol for frigidity and selfishness. Here, the manhwalovers can conclude, the artist has finally truly returned to his old self. He’s pure and selfless which is reflected by his behavior. As for the mirror, my interpretation is the following: the mirror just symbolizes the painter’s function. His face will serve as mirror for the noble in the next chapter. Yoon Seungho will be able to see his own reflection: he is worthy to be loved. The readers should keep in mind that the main lead still fears his own image. This would be a new version of the chapter 31 and this time, Yoon Seungho would be the one who gets liberated. Another possibility is that the painter truly uses the mirror to show the lord his true image. But honestly, I have more doubt about this probability.
In this scene, he observes his lover, prepares the bed and finally approaches very close to him. All this reveals how dedicated he is towards Yoon Seungho. That’s the reason why we have a white candle behind the painter. This is not surprising that he keeps thinking about the love confession in his dream, disclosing that he is no longer repressing his desires and unconscious. He is truly free. Surprising is that his knees are even touching the master’s robe, reminding us of the scene in the chapter 55, where he first kept a certain distance from the lord’s bed but at the end, his feet touched the sick man’s cover.
While he tries to remove the hat, he is stopped by Yoon Seungho as the latter fears hands next to his head, a repercussion of the “incident with the top knot”. Until now, no one has ever been allowed to touch his head, except his loyal assistant. And this is relevant as it announces the transition, slowly the painter will replace valet Kim. I anticipate that Baek Na-Kyum will be permitted to touch his hat, displaying the increasing of trust between the two protagonist. When the lord grabs the low-born’s hand, it is just an instinctive gesture but what is different now is his reaction. He’s not pushing away the painter, like he did in the chapter 4, a good connection made by another follower, @kei_tsukishima.
[As you can observe, my essays have now such an influence on my readers that the latter are able to notice and interpret details. This can only make me happy, it feels like my work as teacher is very successful. The analyses have affected so many people that they are now capable of helping me, that’s why I hope, people will decide to contribute with observations to my essays]
But now let’s focus on the hat again. The huge contrast between the lord’s attitude in the chapter 4 and 57 mirrors the evolution of their relationship. The aristocrat trusts much more the artist. Striking is that the hat played a huge role in another chapter. Can you guess which one? It’s the chapter 39. Here, the hat announces the arrival of the first romantic and tender kiss between the two main characters. Back then, the painter didn’t hide his pleasure and reciprocated the kisses making the lord so happy. That’s why I believe that in the next chapter we will witness a kiss, as the hat will be the trigger for the kiss. And since I’ve made a connection between the chapter 39 and 57, I also think that this chapter should be judged as a new version of the chapter 39:
- We have a visit to downtown. Kim and the painter went together and they are joined later by the lord. Here, the butler had to leave the low-born’s side in order to fetch his sick master. (tailor-doctor)
- The painter is wearing the clothes from the tailor. Like back then, he is no longer wearing the white headband. In other words, he has accepted his position as Seungho’s lover.
- We have a person who is trying to recover from an illness.
- The valet leaves Baek Na-Kyum and Yoon Seungho together and remains by the side of the owner of the house.
- The way Yoon Seungho is dressed is similar. Back then, he wore a pink inner robe (a man in love) covered with a black robe indicating that he was denying and hiding his feelings. Furthermore, we shouldn’t forget that in the chapter 39, the main character was suffering from jealousy, he didn’t like how the tailor was touching his lover. However, since he is wearing two robes in blue the choice of color is relevant. This is no coincidence that we have a rather pale blue which means creativity and the freedom to break free, a sign for liberation. Furthermore, if we look up at dark blue, this is what we discover:
Dark blue is the color of conservatism and responsibility. Although it appears to be cool, calm and collected, it is the color of the non-emotional worrier with repressed feelings, the pessimist and the hypocrite. Dark blue can be compassionate but has trouble showing it as its emotions run deep. Dark blue is a serious masculine color representing knowledge, power, and integrity, and is used quite often in the corporate world.
As the manhwalovers can sense, the lord’s mood and confidence have improved again. He’s compassionate but still fears to reveal his feelings. We can make another connection to the chapter 39, the recurrence of the topic “responsibility”. While in the chapter 39/40, Yoon Seungho kept saying that he would assume his responsibility for the painter, we have a switch of roles. The artist is now the one taking responsibility for the noble. He’s prepared the bed, wants to remove the lord’s hat, he would like him to lie down and rest properly.
That’s why I am quite certain that in the next chapter, we’ll have a new version of the chapter 40. The purification can only work if the painter is caring, selfless and gentle towards Yoon Seungho and since all the conditions are met, the manhwaphiles can prepare their hearts. They will witness how Yoon Seungho gets cured by Baek Na-Kyum’s love. Actually, the idea of purification came to my mind the moment I saw this picture:
The colors of the bed contrast so much to the lord’s bed. I had already explained that yellow was related to sand and as such referring to a fight arena and red to blood and death. Here, while the blue reminds me of water, I link white to purity. The bed might look less comfortable and more simple, yet I consider its simplicity as a positive feature. And this is what I found about Sky blue:
Sky Blue: One of the calmest colors, sky blue inspires selfless love and fidelity. It is non-threatening and promotes a helpful nature that can overcome all obstacles. It is the universal healer. quoted from https://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/color-blue.html
As you can observe, blue is associated to healing and liberation. We have so many different blues in this chamber that it is now important to quote the positive aspects of blue:
“loyalty, trust and integrity, tactful, reliability and responsibility, conservatism and perseverance, caring and concern, idealistic and orderly, authority, devotion and contemplation, peaceful and calm.” quoted from https://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/color-blue.html
Hence I believe something important will occur in the next chapter: the renewal of the wedding night. I have to admit that when I saw this panel, I couldn’t help myself connecting it to the k-drama Dong Yi. In the k-drama, inspired by a true story, King Sukjong falls in love with a low-born named Dong Yi and the latter becomes a famous concubine, she even gets the rank of sook-bin . The irony is that in the k-drama the king has his first night with Dong Yi in a simple home, which is very similar to the room, where the two protagonists are.
But there are other elements why I think that we are about to witness a renewal of their wedding night. First, let’s not forget that during that fateful night, the color of the room was also blue , just like the night was light blue. They used a blue robe as bed. And we had also the presence of white as well in during their Wedding night: the white candles and the paper in the background and the white bottle. Back then, the painter was under the influence of alcohol, yet the lord once commented that the low-born was delirious, another reference to the lord’s actual sickness. Notice that in the final panel there is no distance between them, the painter doesn’t need to stand on tiptoes. They are now equal which is an indication that their relationship can work for real now. Consequently I am expecting a confession. Let’s not forget that the painter has just dreamed about a confession coming from Yoon Seungho and like I am pointed out before, his visions always became a realit. Consequently, I am quite sure, his wish will become true.
But when I read the chapter for the first time, I connected it to purification and to the chapter 40, the romantic date. Yet since Yoon Seungho is sick, I doubted that he would have sex with the painter. Furthermore, we had a masturbation at the tailor shop, so my initial thought was that there would be only foreplay. But by analyzing the scene more closely, I couldn’t help myself connecting to the Wedding night because of the bed and Dong Yi so that I somehow forgot my initial thoughts: they can’t have sex as Seungho is too sick. However, this morning, I had a revelation. The renewal of their wedding night doesn’t mean, there will be sex as such. Quite the opposite, it will be something very pure: deep love.
Let’s not forget that when the lord went to the painter’s room in the chapter 19, he really hoped to have sex with the painter but what he received was a love confession. The pure kiss led to a passionate one and the lord thought, he could finally taste the painter. Remember what I wrote: he went for sex but discovered love, when Baek Na-Kyum hugged him, declared one more time that he liked him. The artist even added how happy he was. He couldn’t believe, that this was real, it was so beautiful that it felt like a dream. Therefore we should expect a renewal of this scene: a hug, the reference to a dream and a love confession. The manhwalovers are well aware that Baek Na-Kyum had a dream and loved to be confessed. I have the impression that the painter will change his words: From “it feels like a dream” it will become “my dream has come true”. Back then, he was doubting if all this was true therefore I am expecting that this time, there will be no insecurity from his part. He will accept it as a reality which will make him happy. And he will shed tears of happiness again. That’s why I am even more convinced that the next chapter will be a renewal of their wedding night but quite different. After kissing, hugging and even caressing each other, they will share the same bed and this time, I have the impression that Baek Na-Kyum will be the one hugging his lover as the latter’s the sick one who needs comfort and care.
The purification had already started in the chapter 20/21 but the problem was that back then we had the presence of a third person. Now, the shadow of the scholar has vanished for good and the lord has already rejected his friend Jihwa. He made things clear, he wouldn’t accept his love. Simultaneously, thanks to his friend’s love declaration, he discovered that it was still possible for him to be loved, since Jihwa would accept him despite his flaws. As you can see, I believe that Jihwa’s behavior did help his friend in the end. And let’s not forget the presence of a witness during their first night, valet Kim. It’s definitely possible that he interrupts them and has to leave quickly. We could have another whisper “close the door” or he just closes the door silently.
As a conclusion, since the readers witness the start of Yoon Seungho’s corruption in the chapter 57, it’s not surprising that the final scene announces the beginning of his purification. The lord will finally get what he has been hoping all along: feeling loved by the painter, being admired as someone respectful and trustworthy. In other words, the next chapter will be a new version of the chapter 40 and 20/21. And this is definitely needed as the enemies are gathering around them. We have the appearance of the lord Song, father Yoon and the planned assassination ordered by Jihwa, incited by Min. Only their love for each other can help them to overcome adversity.
In this analysis, I’ll focus on Baek Na-Kyum’s wet dream from the chapter 56 and its interpretation. This event is important as it reflects not only the painter’s emotional state but also his desires. In the first season, he already had four illusions or dreams (chapter 2, 6, 28 and 34) which I already analyzed. https://bebebisous33analyses.wordpress.com/2020/06/06/baek-na-kyums-dreams-and-their-interpretation/ (2, 6 and 34)
Back then, I explained that these dreams were the expressions of Baek Na-Kyum’s unconscious. He was not only repressing his homosexuality but also his sexuality as such. However, his repressed sexual desires revealed that he was physically attracted to the lord. Observe that during the first real dream, the painter imagines the unknown man to be Yoon Seungho and not Jung In-Hun showing that his “love” for the scholar was actually more mental. In reality, his adoration was just the result of the coercive persuasion and the painter’s coping mechanism. In order to stop and forget the abuse, he idolized the scholar.
But let’s start with the dream from the chapter 56. And it begins with a zoom on the shelf with the candles. It reminds us of the night from the chapter 48 and 49 because of the disposition of the candles. That’s why the manhwalovers are not sure if this is real or not first. However, the black frame between the pictures is the clue that we are witnessing a dream. And if you look carefully, you’ll notice that this dream is inspired by that night. Not only the room is the same but also the words and the gestures. Compare the pictures from the chapter 49 to the ones from the chapter 56:
As you can see, the painter’s unconscious is inspired by the sex session occurring in the chapter 49. Why? There is an important reason for that. First it shows how much this sex session has affected the artist and this in a positive way. Back then, the artist saw himself as a prostitute implying that he was just doing a job and couldn’t feel any pleasure during the intercourse. In my opinion, this represented the last wall of resistance in Baek Na-Kyum’s mind. If he was just a whore, then he was not doing because he liked it. In other words, it was still as if he was denying his sexual orientation. He might have sex with the lord but he was somehow forced to, hence he is not a real homosexual. Strictly speaking, his mind was still denying his homosexuality. And now, you understand the lord’s words in the previous picture (chapter 49). He was right, he noticed the contradiction between the painter’s words and his physical reactions. And because of this rough session, Baek Na-Kyum was finally forced to admit that he liked having sex with the lord. Remember what I wrote about the painter’s confession. It was the moment, he dropped the scholar’s doctrine for good. The “prostitution” was just the last defense Seungho had to defeat and he succeeded. And if you look at the words said in the painter’s dream, you’ll notice that he is in reality quite kinky. Sure, Seungho is the one saying it but let’s not forget that a dream expresses the repressed desires. So deep down, the lord’s words are in fact reflecting the painter’s unconscious mind. And what looked like a torture because the painter kept saying no and looked scared, in reality the artist was feeling pleasure. And this explains why the drawing he made later doesn’t reflect any negative emotion. Note that his mouth is open, it was as if he was moaning and there are no tears and no visible pain. As a conclusion, this illustrates that the readers should be careful with what they witness and hear in this manhwa. The spoken words and behavior don’t always reflect the true thoughts and emotions, especially if someone has been brainwashed.
But the sex session from the chapter 49 is not the only source of inspiration. Their position, certain gestures and words also mirror the Wedding night in the chapter 20. Let’s compare these drawings from the two different episodes, just like above.
The position and the sensation “ticklish”/”tickle” are both there. As the manhwalovers can observe, the lord is whispering to the painter’s ear in both scenes as well. He also did it in the chapter 49. From my point of view, Baek Na-Kyum’s unconscious is trying to tell him to remember this important night where the lord made love to him. Because so far, he hasn’t really remembered it. He saw just glimpses and that was it. The commoner’s unconscious wants him to remember his first night as he felt loved and ecstasy at the same time.
But there is another important message in this dream too. The painter’s unconscious is actually telling him what he truly desires. He would like to be loved by Yoon Seungho and he even wished, the lord would confess properly. His dream has really changed compared to the dream from the chapter 6. This is no more about his repressed sexual desires and physical attraction. His heart is longing for the lord’s love but the problem is his mind and as such his conscious. The painter is still denying the truth that’s why he keep saying that this is not possible. (chapter 49, then he recollects Jung In-Hun’s fake hug so that he judges the warmth coming from Yoon Seungho as not real) (chapter 54) (chapter 55)
In his mind, no noble with his power and wealth would be attracted to him and even love him because he is just a low-born. We have to remember that even a low noble like the scholar showed disdain towards him due to his social status. That’s why his mind is rejecting the obvious and his unconscious is trying to reveal the truth. Deep down, he wishes that the noble would love him and would call him with “Na-Kyum-ah” (in Korean) which is quite intimate. And this observation made me realize how similar both protagonists are in reality. One might have been a homosexual right from the start, while the other wasn’t, yet both have a huge heart hence they are really passionate. They both possess a strong will and used their mind for many years in order to control their unconscious and body. One did it because he suffered a huge trauma like rape and abandonment, consequently he viewed himself as ghost and the other started denying his sexuality because he was exposed to coercive persuasion and feared another abandonment.
Striking is that if you compare this dream from the one in the chapter 6, you’ll notice a huge contrast between them. Back then, he could only imagine being touched as he was a virgin. Now, the dream feels more real as the gestures are more precise. The painter has discovered his own heterogenous zones (the nipples, his ear, his butt). And I have even the impression that he likes it from behind because we see it in both dreams (chapter 6 and 56).
What caught my attention in the painter’s dreams is the following. Each time, the painter had a dream or a vision, it became true. Let me give you all the examples:
Chapter 48 The lord entering his room during the night, while he is in his bed.
chapter 16 Here, we have the same expression.
chapter 49 They hug the same way.
Chapter 34 Chapter 34
Here, he imagined that the lord would almost kiss him and the same scene happened in the same chapter.
The commoner dreamed to be called in an intimate way (Na-Kyumah) . What he doesn’t know is that the noble is already calling him Na-Kyumie which shows that for the noble, his social status doesn’t matter in their relationship. He doesn’t call him “Baek Na-Kyum” or “the painter” or the “low-born”. Observe that he always mentions him like that in front of Kim and he already did it in the chapter 11 (based on the English version). But the painter never got the chance to witness it.
As the manhwaphiles can conclude, everything he dreamed is turning slowly into a reality.
Therefore in my opinion, what we witness in the chapter 56, the love session, will occur too and this soon.
Furthermore this is not a surprise that in the chapter 56, we have a new version of the chapter 34.
In both scenes, he springs. On the other hand, in the first scene, he reacted like that as he couldn’t accept what his unconscious was telling him. He desired to be kissed by the noble. In the chapter 56, he is shocked because he noticed his wet pants. Consequently, there is a huge difference between the two scenes. In the chapter 34, he woke up due to a shock. Notice his blushing, he feels embarrassed, indicating that he is still denying his physical attraction to the lord and his sexual orientation, while in the chapter 56, his reaction is much softer. He feels no embarrassment, as he has accepted his homosexuality. Besides, he has an ejaculation because of a love confession. And this is important as it proves that the commoner is now desiring something else: the seme’s affection. This is no longer just a physical relationship. The love confession was the cause for his climax as this was the last thing he heard. He is no longer affected by the sexual pleasures caused by the lord. As you can observe, there is a huge progression. The painter is no longer hiding his homosexuality but what he is still rejecting is the idea that the lord loves him. This is a normal reaction because he has been deeply hurt by Jung In-Hun. Back then, he admired the scholar in such a selfless way so that the moment the low noble betrayed him, the artist decided to change his behavior. He wouldn’t act so selfless again. Notice that in his confession (episode 49), he never paid attention to the powerful protagonist’s feelings. Baek Na-Kyum was the object of the lord’s adoration (kiss him, lick him etc) but the low-born would just accept the seme as his sex partner. He would never give him his heart which did hurt the noble. And this is also reflected in the chapter 56. The painter is the object of the lord’s affection. Observe that the artist is quite passive in this sex session. The lord is the one touching his nipples,, kissing his back, while the painter is just immobile.
And this is not astonishing that the candlestick represents the painter. The commoner is not entirely transformed, he is still a little frozen and selfish. Let’s not forget that even valet Kim criticized him in the chapter 52 and described him “spoiled”. But I am not saying that the artist is selfish by nature, he’s just influenced by his bad experience. But for me, the moment the painter hears Yoon Seungho’s confession, he will open up for real and starts showering the noble with his love. Let’s not forget that this dream reveals the passionate nature of the artist, hence as soon as the painter decides to follow his heart, he will love the noble very deeply and selflessly, just like he did with the scholar.
In other words, Baek Na-Kyum’s mind is still very careful now and is trying to protect his heart. I believe that the moment the lord conveys his feelings properly, the painter will no longer resist and deny the obvious. From that moment, he will make love to Yoon Seungho for real because in the painter’s vision, the seme was making love to him, while he wasn’t. He was just receiving his affection.
In the first part, we demonstrated the significance of the candles in the manhwa. They reflect the protagonists’ feelings and state of mind. While a yellow candle on a chandelier mirrors a certain frigidity and selfishness, the white candles symbolizes selflessness and purity. We also explained the importance of the fire. A burning bougie mirrored hope, desires and affection, while the darkness of a room with the lack of candle reflected the opposite. Now, it is time to focus on the chapter 55 and 56, where the candles play another important role. Observe that during the eventful night (chapter 52, 53, 54), we never got to see any bougie or candle. And this is no coincidence as the lord was acting like a ghost again.
Now let’s start with the chapter 55.
In the first panel, the candle is not burning because the main lead is unconscious due to his illness. However, this shows as well that the lord has given up his hope to get the admiration he desired to see in the painter’s gaze. Besides, the noble thinks that the painter must have run away after what had happened during the night in chapter 53 and 54. Therefore, the candle is not burning for 2 reasons: the lord is unconscious and the loss of hope to win the painter’s heart. And remember that during the confession in the morning, he acted rather selfishly in order to make sure that the artist would run away from him. Hence we have again a yellow candle on a chandelier. His confession was full of doubts, fears and even blames. He didn’t pay attention to the painter’s feelings and emotions as he had already anticipated that the artist would hate him for his misdeed.
Striking is that when the painter returns with a bucket of water, he sits down next to Kim. Observe that the yellow bougie stands exactly in front of the painter. That’s the moment where there is a switch. From that moment, the yellow candle will represent the low-born. He has neither affection nor hope nor desire for Yoon Seungho right now. However, I believe that the doctor’s words must have surprised and affected him. For the first time, he discovers that the noble has been ill for quite some time and needs to take medicine regularly. Until now, he had always thought, the protagonist was just a strong and healthy man, especially after witnessing and experiencing so many sex sessions.
Striking is that when the night comes, Byeonduck drew a picture with a bougie in the center. In our opinion, this image announces the return of intimacy between the characters, the return of warmth and care contrasting to the coldness and brightness of the room in the morning, when the lord confessed to the painter. In that picture, there were two people facing each other, yet there was such a distance and loneliness exuding from this scene. With the nightfall, the atmosphere in the room changes. Let’s not forget that the rich protagonist is associated to the moon, hence he is more himself during that time.
And this is now not surprising that the yellow bougie is burning, though Seungho is unconscious. The burning bougie represents the painter. Remember that the switch occurred during the day. Sure, one might say that the burning candle is related to the night. Yet, let’s not forget that neither in the chapter 52, 53 and 54, the manhwalovers could see any candle. We shouldn’t forget that the position of the candle plays a huge role. Hence it is always important to consider the camera angle. Here, the candle stands between the painter and the aristocrat exposing a certain distance. Yet, the gap between them has considerably diminished compared to the morning’s. This displays the artist’s wish to get closer to the noble. But first there is a certain shyness and hesitation as his hands are on his knees.
What caught our attention is the change in the painter’s behavior which is reflected with the candle. If you compare both drawings, you’ll notice one huge difference.
As you can see, in the second drawing the candle stands in front of Baek Na-Kyum’s legs proving our theory one more time, a candle embodies a person and reflect their emotions and thoughts. Therefore we believe that the burning candle displays the painter’s affection and care for the lord. Observe the divergence of the intensity of the light. The light is brighter compared to the one from the first panel. This displays the increasing care and warmth of the commoner for Yoon Seungho. Furthermore, it also reflects the artist’s desire to get closer to the noble that’s why the low-born’s feet are touching Yoon Seungho’s bed.
Yet, if you pay attention, the room remains quite dark indicating that this light is not strong and bright compared to the candle light in the chapter 2 for example. This reflects the humbleness and the absence of sexual desires for Yoon Seungho. The commoner just provides comfort and warmth, exactly what the lord needs right now. Let’s not forget that he is trying to understand the lord’s actions, while taking care of him. That’s why we would say that the candle seems to provide more warmth than light.
On the other hand, there are three white candles in the background and these are not burning. Note that they stand exactly in the position of Yoon Seungho’s body. Since there is no fire, we could say that this reflects the lord’s unconsciousness due to his illness. Moreover, the candles stand far away and there is a certain reason for that: Seungho has decided to stay away from the painter reinforcing the idea that he has lost his hope to get what he truly desires. This contrasts with the position of the one candle as now Baek Na-Kyum wishes the opposite, getting closer to him. Yoon Seungho has given up on the painter for real after his brutal confession in the morning. Since he is unconscious, he can not detect the painter’s gentle gestures. He has no idea that Baek Na-Kyum is not resenting him, actually he is forgiving him. He is actually doing the opposite of what the lord had anticipated. This proves one more time that the artist is a real puzzle for Yoon Seungho.
As a conclusion, Baek Na-Kyum steps on the lord´s bed because he wants to be closer to Yoon Seungho and wishes to take care of him. That’s why the angle sort of merges the painter´s legs and the candle: his desire has taken control over the legs and, thus, the painter is moving closer. Overall, in this case, the candle represents Na-Kyum’s interest in the lord and his desire to take care of him, whereas Yoon Seungho has distanced himself from the painter. He has resigned to the idea that he will never be gazed like he wished.
Since this candle stands close to the painter and the lord, the light coming from the candle helps Na-Kyum to observe the man:
The gaze of the painter has clearly changed in this chapter: it reflects warmth. The light Also, it is seen that the painter has the desire not only to be closer to the lord but to touch him since he is moving his hand toward the noble. Yet, his fingers are bent exposing that the painter has stopped his hand from touching the lord. The light illuminates the lord’s face, a metaphor for the painter’s care and warmth.
Moreover, in these particular panels, the candle is not only associated to warmth and desire but to hope as well. Why? Before answering this question, we need to analyze the following picture:
Here, the bubbles are white whereas the overall panels are black. The content of the panels is important since Nakyum refuses to believe that the lord is in love with him. However, the painter’s words reflect the hope as well with the following expression “and yet”. Let’s not forget that Yoon Seungho used the same idiom to confess showing that this “antiphrasis” caught the painter’s notice. While the lord expressed his resignation and despair during that morning, Baek Na-Kyum voices the exact opposite. Combining all the ideas above, it leads to the following conclusion: the white bubbles represent the hope and light, whereas the dark color of the panels mirror the painter’s denial of Seungho’s feelings. Overall, both the candles and the speech bubbles are the symbols of “light in the darkness”.
Moving on to the next chapter, the same candles are present, but their position has changed. Notice that the candlestick stands now next to the white bougies. Why, especially when the painter is not present? One might now argue that our theory is wrong, since the painter is not next to the lord and the candlestick is actually associated to him. However, the manhwalovers shouldn’t remember that in this chapter, the painter is actually dreaming about Yoon Seungho. So he is present through his thoughts. Furthermore, while talking about the letter and Song, Yoon Seungho can’t help himself asking about the whereabouts of Baek Na-Kyum. So the painter is also present in the noble’s mind. This mirrors their closeness, the night spent together brought them closer. The lord nodded to his question if he had feelings for him and his answer moved the painter’s heart hence he blushed.
Strangely, all of the candles are burning. One might say that the lord is conscious now. But this is not entirely correct, since we had a picture, (chapter 35) where Yoon Seungho had blown out the candles and we had explained that this represented his despair and his resignation. So why are the white candles burning, especially if he had decided the day before to give up on the painter? For this explanation, we have two possible interpretations:
Before explaining the first possible explication, we would like to remind you of the symbolism of fire: “Fire symbolizes many things, including passion, desire, rebirth, resurrection, eternity, destruction, hope, hell and purification”.
As you can see, distraction fits here because Seungho is obviously irritated: the lord has recognized Jihwa’s handwriting therefore he’s furious as he had already warned the red-haired noble not to cross the line. If we look again at the signification of fire, we discover this: Fire consumes, warms, and illuminates, but can also bring pain and death. Therefore, the fire coming from the white candles symbolizes Seungho’s anger but also the pain the protagonist is willing to inflict on Jihwa since the latter hurt his former friend by bringing up the past. Jihwa knew very well that he would wound the protagonist by mentioning the name Song. Yoon Seungho’s desire to beat the noble is proved when the main lead punches Jihwa with his leg right after seeing him:
The other possible explication (but without any concrete proof) is that the lord is now hoping again. Let’s not forget that the chapter 55 resembled a lot to the chapter 35, where the noble was on the verge of giving up on the painter, until he saw him blushing. The fact that the painter had reacted to his presence had such a positive effect on the main lead that he started smiling a little and couldn’t restrain himself from stroking the artist’s hair. With the low-born’s little reaction, it was enough for the lord to regain hope and attempt to get closer to him through the paintings. And we have a blushing Baek Na-Kyum in the chapter 55. The latter is so surprised and moved by the lord’s nodding that he can’t help himself reddening. That’s why we have to wonder if during that night, the lord heard the painter’s question and witnessed his lover’s reaction giving him hope that he had been accepted and forgiven. The lord might have closed eyes but this doesn’t mean that he wasn’t truly unconscious. Remember that he couldn’t face the painter’s gaze in the morning, hence he looked down but since he is lying in bed, it is impossible for him to avoid the artist’s gaze. So with closed eyes, he could face the painter without looking at him. He could detect the commoner’s reaction, as the latter cleaned his body, even stroked his face. The moment the lord’s head nods a little, observe that the painter’s gaze gets more intense and then removes his hand from the main lead’s face. So during that night, Yoon Seungho could have sensed the painter’s attitude (his care and his question) making him realize that his desire could still come true. This is just a theory based on the observation made that the second season is inspired by the events of the first season. So it is definitely possible that we might get a flashback of that night. Furthermore, this would also outline the effect of Baek Na-Kyum’s actions. During his recovery, Yoon Seungho sensed the artist’s warmth and care hence this gave him hope.
As a conclusion to this essay, you can sense the huge meaning behind the candles. Therefore in the future chapters, play attention to these candles and what they might reflect.
The idea from this essay comes from @user4792569. After reading all my analyses, a detail caught her attention so that she started researching on the subject and made new discoveries. In order to make sure that her ideas would reach more people, I proposed her to post her thoughts on my blog. But since it was her first essay, I offered to complete her work so that it would be much more detailed. Therefore, this essay is the result of two persons. Now, you are surely wondering about the nature of the detail. In this essay, we will present how Byeonduck used the candles in order to convey different thoughts and emotions, all related to the two protagonists: Yoon Seungho and Baek Na-Kyum.
Before starting with their utilization in the manhwa, it is important to explain the symbolism of the candles. First, a candle is associated to life that’s the reason why it is often used in literature and in religions as a metaphor for a human life. Let me give you two examples. In the fairy tale “Der Gevatter Tod” (Godfather Death) from the brothers Grimm, the doctor who has as Godfather Death dies the moment the light of his bougie disappears. Death kills him because he disobeyed his order. Striking is that just before the light from the doctor’s candle is extinguished, Death explains that the length of the bougie represents the length of people’s life. When the doctor asks Death to show him the light of his life, he discovers to his horror that he is about to die. As you can observe, the candle’s length and its light symbolizes life. At the same time, it is also related to hope. In many religions, when people pray, they often enlighten a candle.
Therefore this is not surprising if we find the following quote in Christian congregations: “The candle symbolizes light in the darkness of life especially individual life, illumination; it is the symbol of holy illumination of the spirit of truth.”https://findanyanswer.com/what-does-an-extinguished-candle-symbolize
This quote is influenced by the bible, where the candle is often mentioned, like for example “The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord. An unlighted candle is standing in the darkness, and some one comes to light it.” (proverbs 20:27)
The expression “light in the darkness” can be interpreted as hope since: “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” And “In the light, there is always hope. In hope there is always love.” As you can observe, light, hope and love are strongly intertwined. Let’s not forget that Christianism advocates charity which is a synonym for brotherly love (“l’amour du prochain” (French), Nächstenliebe (German), amor al projímo (Spanish). In other words, bougies symbolize life, hope and love.
Besides, it is important to note that candles can’t be separated from fire. Therefore, we need to explain the symbolism of the fire.
“Fire symbolizes many things, including passion, desire, rebirth, resurrection, eternity, destruction, hope, hell and purification…We used fire to cook food, forge tools, and stay warm at night.” https://firefightergarage.com/symbolism-of-fire/
Since in the second quote, the keywords are “desire” and “stay warm at night”, we can definitely relate the candle to passion and desires as well. As you can observe, the candle can represent different types of love: the passionate and sensual one as the brotherly and caring one. What caught our attention was the different kind of candles Byeonduck used in her story. And since each drawing and even detail has its signification, we will also focus on the form and the position of these candles as they not only reflect the characters’ thoughts and emotions but their relationship as well. Now, you can better understand why we came with the title “light, hope and desires”.
The readers are wondering in this moment why we associated the candles to Yoon Seungho and Baek Na-Kyum. It is quite simple. After reading the manhwa closely, we detected that the bougies were always positioned parallelly to the characters, like for example in the chapter 2 or chapter 16 As you can observe, the yellow bougie on the candlestick symbolizes the lord, while the white ones embody the painter. But later, it has changed. The one on the candlestick symbolizes the painter, and the white ones the lord. The switch occurred in the chapter 32. (chapter 35) This explains why in the chapter 55 and 56 we have the following pictures:
But now it is time to start with the examination of the first appearance of a candle in the manhwa. In the first chapter, the servant is telling Seungho all the information he has found about Baek Na-Kyum Since Yoon Seungho is right next to the candle it represents his conscious. It indicates that all his thoughts are focused on Baek Na-Kyum. In this case, the fire of the candle symbolizes his desire and hope to meet the painter soon, since the young master has been really curious about his hidden identity. Furthermore, it also announces the role played by the artist in the future. The commoner is the “light in the lord’s dark life”. In other words, the moment the lord encounters Baek Na-Kyum, a honest and pure person, his life changes forever. However, observe that there is only one candle illustrating that the affection hasn’t grown that much yet. Moreover, the candlestick stands quite far away from the lord, which seems to indicate that the lord is controlling his emotions and thoughts. Finally, the candle is on a chandelier mirroring the frozen state of our main lead. He hasn’t been living like a man, rather like a ghost as he was most active during the night.
Then in the chapter 5, we have the following situation. Jihwa is in his friend’s bedroom trying to arouse him, while the lord keeps thinking about the painter. The proximity of the candle reflects the lord’s thoughts. He keeps thinking about the painter’s criticism. It gives the impression that the light is almost coming from the protagonist’s head. It truly shows how important the commoner has already become in Yoon Seungho’s life. It was as if the noble had an illumination, had now a reason to ponder about himself and his own image. Notice the contrast to the picture from the chapter 2. Here, there’s no candle for the painter, yet his aura illuminates the room hence it looks brighter and warmer than in the chapter 5. You can imagine, why there is no candle for the artist in the second chapter. He fears his powerful host, he doesn’t have any feeling for him, yet the painter’s presence was enough to illuminate the room as the lord’s hope and desires were much stronger than in the first chapter and the chapter 5.
Then in the chapter 8, we have for the second time a zoom on candles and this twice. Why do the bougies have different colors? In my opinion, they mirror the protagonists’ purity. Yellow is linked to selfishness and white to innocence and selflessness. The lord is definitely attracted to the painter but his affection is more linked to sensuality and sexuality than real and deep love. He’s definitely selfish as he doesn’t pay attention to the artist’s emotions and state of mind. On the other hand, the two candles for the painter symbolize the innocence of his soul but simultaneously, his increasing and strong libido. On the one hand, he paints for the main lead as he has been forced to for his teacher’s sake. So his exposure to sex is not voluntary. Let’s not forget that during this sex session, he gets so aroused that he can barely control his libido. While he’s painting, he imagines himself replacing the two ukes. At the end, his urges are so strong that he leaves the chamber in a hurry in order to masturbate. Striking is that in the second picture, the candle burns differently compared to the one in the chapter 5. The light has not only increased but also the warmth as well reflecting Yoon Seungho’s growing attraction for the commoner. As you can observe, the candles illustrate the noble’s increasing desires. Not only he thinks more and more about Baek Na-Kyum but also he wants to touch him. Since there is warmth, this means that his feelings are much deeper as well.
And it is time to focus on their Wedding night. Strangely, there are candles in the room but there is no fire. Does it signify that there’s no love or no desire? No, but the lack of light reinforces the idea that this event is like an illusion, a dream. However, what caught my attention is that during that night, the moon is shining very brightly so that we could say that the lord’s wishes are reflected by the moonlight. It was as if his wishes had been answered. He has found someone who would admire him. As for the painter, he expresses his admiration for his teacher and not for the main character hence there can be no candle with a light. Moreover, deep down he is also longing for sensuality so he is not entirely honest here either. He knows that this should remain a dream because his doctrine makes it impossible to have sex with another man. The lack of light is a signal that this event is an illusion.
Strangely, the last time the yellow bougie is associated with the noble is in the chapter 32, when the sex marathon occurs. This represents the climax of his selfishness but strong libido. He pays no attention to the artist’s health condition so that at the end, the latter faints. Note the contrast to before. The bougie is shorter, there is no warm and the light is not so strong compared to the one from the chapter 8. This fits the situation. The lord is only obsessed with sex and his own natural needs, the climax of his selfishness. So when he finally notices that the artist is sick, he starts acting differently. Hence the kiss marks the turning point in the noble’s mentality. With this kiss, he is gentle and tender, he wants to take care of the artist but it is already too late as the commoner is seriously ill. From that moment, we no longer see the candlestick associated to the rich protagonist. He has learnt his lesson, he needs to be more caring and pay attention to the painter’s feelings. That’s why we have the following picture in the chapter 35. The lord has discovered how to love more properly but he’s desperate. Notice that the light has been switched off hence it gives the impression, he has lost hope. This is not surprising that in this chapter, he is on the verge of giving up on the painter. He has even suicidal and murder thoughts as he has no idea how to obtain the painter’s love. The latter is truly a real puzzle which he can’t solve so easily.
On the other hand, we observe a reversal of situation. The painter is now associated to the candlestick and no longer to the white bougies. There’s a reason for this. Little by little, the painter is discovering the scholar’s true personality and losing his innocence. Strictly speaking his heart is suffering. We could say, he is little by little losing his warmth and getting more and more frigid. At the same time, the candlestick stands closer to the master so that we could say that their relationship has somehow improved. While the lord becomes more and more selfless, the painter is too focused on his discoveries and pain to perceive the kindness in the lord’s gestures. Observe that during the chapter 42, when they have sex, the room is totally dark and there’s no candle. This symbolizes the painter’s loss of hope and love. That’s the moment his heart gets frozen hence there can be no fire. Their sex session is full of sadness and the lord’s attempt to warm up the painter with his embrace and passionate kiss can not stop the transformation.
Another presence of the candles is also significant in the chapter 49:
On the first panel, there’s one candle separated from the other 3. From our perspective, these candles represent the noble as they are seen parallel to his head in the next picture. He’s not entirely himself. Let’s not forget that until that night, he still saw himself as a spirit. Therefore the lord’s transformation is not completed. He’s not been reunited with his heart. His mind is so focused on the painter that he has not realized that his heart was the real trigger. Since the candles are burning, it illustrates the love and affection the main lead is oozing. Striking is that the noble is conscious of his own actions, as his words reflect his intention and care. The increasing number of candles reflect the depth and power of his love. Yet, since they are closer to his head, it is now more understandable why the master has not realized his feelings for the painter. His mind was under the influence of his unconscious as his thoughts kept evolving around his lover. And since he was just a spirit, he couldn’t sense his heart beating for the low-born. As the fire symbolizes “warmth”, the bigger the fire is, the stronger the desires and the affections are. Therefore, it leads to the conclusion that those candles represent not only Seungho but the strong love coming from him. Therefore it is not astonishing that the aristocrat is the one hugging the painter and even caressing his back. Simultaneously, the former is longing for affection as well, he is hoping to have his desires fulfilled. He wants to be seen and admired, to be embraced and loved for his spirituality. We shouldn’t forget that he has been waiting for that moment for a long time. Even the painter can sense the warmth exuded from his lover, yet since the former had a bad experience with his first “love”, the scholar Jung In-Hun, he is rejecting the noble’s affection thinking that this is not real warmth.
This is not surprising that the candle on the bottom shelf symbolizes the painter. It is located next to his heart but note that it is still on a candlestick, showing that the painter has not abandoned his frozen state completely. Furthermore, it accentuates a certain selfishness as he is not paying attention to the lord’s words and feelings. As you could observe, the candlestick in this manhwa have only room for just one bougie.
Since the bougie stands behind his back, we could say that he is not showing his affection for the noble. And there’s a reason for this. His mind has chosen to perceive Yoon Seungho’s warmth as fake and artificial. That’s why his love is not visible to the noble. His feelings are not so deep compared to the other main character. He’s not letting his heart beat for the lord. That’s why later the painter only accepts to recognize the master as his sexual partner but refuses to give him his heart. And the moment, the painter makes this confession, observe how the room gets darker. As the light vanishes slowly, Yoon Seungho’s hope for love and admiration disappears as well. And this is no coincidence that when he has this realization, to accept his body to take the lead, the room is quite dark. He has lowered his expectations and he has the impression, he is slowly losing the fight.
This marks the end of the first part as the candles play another huge role in the next two chapters.
Now, you are thinking that I’m going to talk about the relationship between Yoon Seungho and Baek Na-Kyum and question if they will have a happy ending. But no, you guessed it wrong. In reality, my main purpose is to examine the protagonist’s relationship with his childhood friend Lee Jihwa. Why could Jihwa never become the lord’s true love, although the folks in the town knew about their close relationship, even considering him as the lord’s mistress? Therefore my main topic will be to explain why Jihwa’s love for his friend was doomed. But before examining their relationship, we need to elaborate Yoon Seungho’s thinking as it played a role in their doomed love.
First, it is important to explain the lord’s deepest wish which is unveiled in the chapter 55. Here, the noble admits two things. First, he wants to be admired. Secondly, he would like to see the admiration in the painter’s eyes. This signifies that he desires to see a very positive image of himself in the painter’s gaze. He would like to be seen as worthy to be adored. This observation is important as it confirms the very pessimistic image the lord has about himself. Remember what I wrote about the main lead. He fears his own reflection and as such mirrors that’s why he needs Kim to dress him properly. As you can detect, for the main lead, the reflection is central and I would even say, it is vital. No wonder, if his gaze is also the mirror of his soul either. To him, the eyes are the only proof of his own existence, since he has been viewing himself as a spirit. A ghost can see but never feel or touch. They are supposed to be invisible, yet they observe the livings silently.
But the eyes are also important for another reason. The gaze can serve as a mirror of his own reflection that’s why the lord has always shown an interest for eyes and paintings. In the pictures, the figures have eyes and reflect emotions. This explicates why the protagonist was aroused the moment he viewed the painter’s first publication. The drawings oozed warmth and love which could only moved the main lead’s heart. And when he met Baek Na-Kyum for the first time, he could recognize the artist’s personality: honesty and genuineness. He was so transparent despite his lie. We shouldn’t forget that transparency is related to reflection. Glass and water are transparent but also possess reflective features. This is no coincidence that eyes are quite similar to glass and water (tears). Strictly speaking, the painter’s eyes and face were so transparent that the lord could see the artist’s pure soul. At the same time, they were able to mirror admiration. In other words, the painter’s gaze reflected innocence and adoration, something the lord had been longing. That’s why the aristocrat could only become more and more attracted to the painter. In two occasions before their wedding night, he saw in the painter’s face love and admiration, in the chapter 4, where the painter cries for the scholar’s poem and accuses Seungho of being a man consumed by lust and in the chapter 7, when Jung In-Hun arrives at the mansion. From my perspective, the low-born’s words, facial expressions and eyes made Yoon Seungho realize that the admiration and love he was seeking truly existed and was even possible. And he wished to be the recipient of that admiration.
Since he had such a negative image about himself, it is not surprising why he could only be attracted by the painter’s gaze. This adoration could make him feel worthy and alive, this would erase the bad image he had about himself. The artist’s purity and abnegation are the reasons why Seungho couldn’t take off his eyes from the painter. He sensed attraction in Baek Na-Kyum’s eyes and saw himself as handsome and charismatic. This is not astonishing that the man fell more and more in love with the painter and couldn’t push away the artist the moment the latter confessed to him during their first night. He knew, this confession was addressed to the teacher, yet he had heard exactly what he had always wished to experience himself. The love declaration implies not only the gaze and the reflection but also the purity and selflessness. Moreover, the love here is spiritual and has nothing to do with beauty and superficiality. He adores the man for his talent, intelligence and education.
And now, if you look at all the drawings Byeonduck created for the fans, [I would like to thanks @masteryoonsimp and @shin_chan332 for their help to gather these] you’ll notice one common denominator. Yoon Seungho gazes at Baek Na-Kyum every time. For me, it truly shows the noble’s thinking. He has to see the painter’s gaze in order to seek approval and love, through the reflection of his eyes, he feels alive and loved. Without the painter’s eyes, he would remain a spirit with a terrible image of himself. It helps him to accept himself and since his eyes are always directed at the low-born, he will make sure that the painter feels secure and happy. As a conclusion, the lord’s leitmotiv is: “I see love and acceptance in the painter’s eyes, hence I am a man worthy of affection and adoration. I am neither a man consumed by lust nor a spirit”.
This explicates why in the chapter 55, he doesn’t even dare to look at the painter’s gaze. He fears to see hatred and rejection because he has made a huge mistake. He almost destroyed the artist’s purity hence his eyes were void of any real and genuine emotion due to the wine and the drug. It was as if he had soiled the man. No wonder why the lord got shocked and pained after seeing this gaze. He felt so guilty and since he has such a self-hatred, he could only blame himself for this terrible situation. Therefore he had already imagined the artist’s reaction. He would hear the same words than in the bathroom. As a first conclusion, the painter’s purity, spirituality, honesty and abnegation reflected in the painter’s face are the reasons why Yoon Seungho was bewitched. It gave him hope to judge himself in a better light.
And now, it is time to focus on Lee Jihwa. The red-haired noble has always loved his friend and imagined that with time, he would be able to get the lord’s affection. But the problem is that Jihwa is a vain and selfish person which is reflected in many occasions. He keeps looking at his reflection (chapter 3 chapter 41). He visits his friend without making an appointment and buys a spy in order to observe the lord’s moves. Finally he plays tricks in order to get rid of a possible rival. So he is very different from Baek Na-Kyum embodying spirituality, honesty and abnegation. And since he keeps looking at his own reflection, I come to the conclusion that he was actually waiting to see admiration in the lord’s gaze. The moment Jihwa would have sensed that adoration was reflected in Seungho’s eyes, the red-haired aristocrat would have become more honest and expressed his love for his friend. As you can observe, it was impossible right from the start as the lord’s low self-esteem and even self-hatred could never give such a reflection. The protagonist was looking exactly for the same admiration. Since Jihwa was scared to unveil his feelings, his gaze and facial expressions were never genuine. That’s why for example, in the chapter 12, behind his smiles, he was actually upset to see how the incident with the ruined painting hadn’t ruined the relationship between his friend and the low-born. He tried to influence his friend by disgracing the painter but the main lead was no fool. He could perceive the intentions behind his words. Therefore the lord could never fall in love with his friend. The latter was never honest, hence his face was in reality a mask of deception.
But let’s not forget that in order to get noticed by Yoon Seungho, Lee Jihwa had decided to become Yoon Seungho’s regular lover hoping that through their intimacy, the friend would feel the love he needed and would fall in love with him. As you can see, Jihwa envisaged to use sex as a way to get closer to his friend. He thought that not revealing his true feelings was better, since he wanted to see adoration in the lord’s gaze. In other words, they were looking precisely for what the other wanted to get: admiration and affection in the counterpart’s gaze. Yet both were not willing to make the first step, hence Jihwa’s love for his friend was doomed. Moreover, he made a huge mistake. He thought, sex would bring him closer to Yoon Seungho, while the latter saw in it a way to show his power and strength. For the lord, sex was always like a fight and was not associated to love. Hence according to his philosophy, Jihwa was just an enemy he always defeated and in no way a lover. As you can see, their relationship was like a vicious circle. Jihwa’s love would have never come true as he wasn’t really aware of Seungho’s true needs and thoughts. He has no idea about his self-hatred and his real vulnerability. He knows about his past but that doesn’t mean that he knows his secrets: his PTSD, his suicidal thoughts, his guilt, his shame. Besides, Jihwa would like to be admired hence we can say, his selfishness stands in the way to fully grasp Seungho’s personality. Besides, Jihwa can not expect from his friend to make the first step, since Yoon Seungho is so insecure and weak. We could say, both are selfish therefore it is not possible to give what the other needs.
As you can detect, the lord’s personality plays a huge importance in their doomed love. He is terribly sick and needs a responsible and strong person. Like my follower @Thakhesiz pointed out, Yoon Seungho, might be even suffering from Borderline personality disorder as he shows many symptoms from this mental health disorder:
- emotional instability – the psychological term for this is “affective dysregulation”: An intense fear of abandonment, even going to extreme measures to avoid real or imagined separation or rejection; rage sorrow, terror, panic, long-term feelings of emptiness and loneliness
- disturbed patterns of thinking or perception – “cognitive distortions” or “perceptual distortions” : upsetting thoughts – such as thinking you’re a terrible person or feeling you do not exist. You may not be sure of these thoughts and may seek reassurance that they’re not true
- impulsive behaviour: Suicidal threats or behavior or self-injury, often in response to fear of separation or rejection; a strong impulse to engage in reckless and irresponsible activities – such as binge drinking, drug misuse, going on a spending or gambling spree, or having unprotected sex with strangers
- intense but unstable relationships with others https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/symptoms/ https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20370237
I have to admit that I am no psychologist but after reading this list, you can sense the similarities. As for the causes, many patients suffering from this disorder were exposed to abuse or abandonment or neglect.
- being a victim of emotional, physical or sexual abuse
- being exposed to long-term fear or distress as a child
- being neglected by 1 or both parents https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/causes/
Sure, the scientists explain that there are other causes as well (genetics, problems with the brain). But like I mentioned above, the abuse and abandonment play a huge role and we know for sure that the castration (the incident with the top-knot) affected the noble so much that he felt rejected and abandoned because he saw a disapproving gaze in his father’s eyes. The image reflected in his father’s eye gave him such a negative image about himself, that he could only hate himself. And this image made me think of a famous monster, Medusa. In Greek mythology, Medusa was a beautiful person before she turned into the monster. One of the legends says that she got raped by Poseidon in a temple dedicated to Athena. The goddess got so angry that she punished the victim and cursed her to have a head full of snakes and a gaze that turns men to stone. A victim turned into a monster… it really sounds similar to our story. We could say that the father’s gaze turned the protagonist into a Medusa. Only the painter is able to face the main lead’s eyes and not to turn into a stone. To summarize, our main lead is a person with huge psychological issues and the gaze plays a huge role in his life. It helped him to survive but at the same time, it was a curse as well because he never saw any positive reflection in people’s eyes. And deep down, Jihwa’s conscious has always known that his friend’s eyes were the mirror of his soul therefore in his nightmare, he sees his friend’s gaze empty of any expression. He knows that if the painter is killed, the lord will lose his will to live. He will turn into a spirit for real. Deep down, Jihwa has always sensed it but ignored it because his desire to be admired was stronger than to give admiration and affection to his friend.
Since we described Jihwa as a spoiled child, how can he give comfort to such a person who is already suffering from PTSD but could also have a Borderline personality disorder? The protagonist needs to find a person with a big heart, strong determination and courage, someone who is willing to show understanding but at the same time, show certain limits. As you can imagine, Baek Na-Kyum fits the profile. And the painter’s honesty was the other reason why Yoon Seungho felt comfortable with him because the commoner never faked anything. The fact that in their confrontation, the artist was brutally sincere and direct made the lord realize that he was seen and he was feeling something, even if the words and gaze were not what he wanted. At least, he was perceived as a person, while the others only interacted with the master of deception, who was a spirit in reality. Besides, Baek Na-Kyum who has already experienced abandonment and rejection can understand the noble’s fear better. Besides, the painter possesses another quality. Let’s not forget that Jung In-Hun has pushed the painter 3 times and the latter never gave up on his affection. It chnaged, the moment the low noble showed his true thoughts. The painter saw a very negative image about himself. So he has been put through something similar.
As for Jihwa, he needs to find someone selfless too, who will perceive his purity. From my point of view, the red-haired noble got his heart corrupted (jealousy, his need for admiration, vanity) because of the bad influence from the other nobles. He had met the wrong people and had adopted their way of thinking.
In the second season, in just three episodes, many people got hurt physically or emotionally therefore I would like to examine these wounds because they reflect the personality of the person who suffered them.
First, let’s start with Deok-Jae. The latter hurt Baek Na-Kyum’s hand and insulted the painter foretelling him that he would end up as a prostitute. But he got caught by Yoon Seungho. The protagonist was so infuriated that for each wound afflicted on the painter the mean domestic got punished. First, he lost a tooth for his insults and for the pretty face he envied, his face got bruised. Furthermore he could no longer walk properly, he had to crawl as he had some difficulties to stand up. We could say that the fate he wanted to impose on the low-born became his punishment. He could no longer work as servant at the mansion (door guardian) and fled from the place. The lord acted as the judge, though we have to remember about his terrible emotional and physical state. The injustice the painter experienced gave the main lead the power and energy to intervene and protect his loved one. In that moment, Baek Na-Kyum could no longer see him as a man consumed by lust. He sensed the care in the master’s words, while he was beating the man. The painter could detect the positive emotions behind his violent outburst. He wasn’t just a brutal master, he did it for him because he cared for him. That’s the reason why Baek Na-Kyum could embrace the noble. Simultaneously, he recognized that the lord couldn’t control his emotions, the commoner knew that he had to calm him down because he would kill Deok-Jae. The painter didn’t want to have blood on his hands but this is not the only reason for his actions. Observe that the painter keeps hugging the lord after the latter has already stopped beating the servant. Baek Na-Kyum senses the lord needs to be consoled. He doesn’t even complain about his own injury, the lord’s emotional pain is more important. However, the moment they get closer and more intimate, the guest Min ruins their reunion.
The second person to get injured is Min. Remember what I wrote about Min and his introduction in the second season. His mouth was wide open and the beholder couldn’t see the aristocrat’s gaze and head. This image reflected the vicious man’s personality. He’s arrogant hence blind, but due to his Black Heart, he is able to hurt people with his words. That’s why I concluded that Min’s mouth was full of poison, just like the opium, and his words were like arrowheads. Consequently he keeps stabbing from a certain distance, thinking himself safe. However, the moment he stole a kiss from the painter, he got slapped and pushed to the ground. Then he decided to insult the main lead in the chapter 53, so that he got punched by Yoon Seungho. The irony is that Min misunderstood the reason for the host’s action. While he thought, Yoon Seungho was doing it in order to save his honor, he never imagined that the master was doing it for the painter’s sake. He never mentioned the painter’s name, just called the lord’s lover a low-born. In other words, he had insulted the painter too. That’s why Black Heart’s mouth was punched so many times, the host wanted him to shut his mouth and he succeeded. It was as if the noble’s hand had become the hand of justice for the painter and as such for commoners. With his actions, Min thought, he had won the battle and even the war therefore he smiled while leaving the place. In his mind, he had been able to separate Seungho from his childhood friend Jihwa, then he had put the painter in a terrible situation (gangrape) so that Baek Na-Kyum could only resent his master and would leave the house.
And here is the next question: What do Deok-Jae and Min have in common? They commit crimes and at no time, they are suffering from pangs of conscience. They feel no remorse. In fact, they would even blame others for their misery or lack of recognition.
And now, I would like to focus on the lord’s injuries.
Now, you are surprised that I chose this scene. How is it related to injuries? We have to imagine that this laugh is actually a scream. The lord is here laughing because he is hiding his wound behind his mask. His heart has been hurt by the recent discovery. Yoon Seungho thought, the painter had chosen him, while in reality Baek Na-Kyum just remained by his side as the scholar had abandoned him. Strangely is that the moment, the lord chose to accept his condition as human (chapter 49), he discovered the next morning why the artist was just an empty shell. Consequently the latter couldn’t perceive the lord’s warmth and presence. From that moment, the aristocrat knew that he could never seek the painter’s intimacy as the latter viewed himself as a prostitute. He had just resigned himself to never be loved the same way than the teacher was and to his horror, it was even worse than he had ever imagined. In that moment, his heart started bleeding so much that he needed to numb his emotions. However, neither the wine nor the opium could erase his feelings for the low-born. So this laugh is actually a cry of desperation and agony. As you can detect, the joy expressed by the noble reflects the opposite of the emotions he is feeling. He’s actually very sad and pained. The cry should be seen as tears he can’t shed.
And now imagine what he did during the same night. Despite his own wounds, he still protected the painter three times (the kiss with Min, the beating of Deok-Jae and Min) but his feelings for him got denied by Baek Na-Kyum hence Yoon Seungho had the impression that he had been rejected another time. For him, the painter hadn’t noticed all his good actions and the painter’s gaze in that moment gave him the feeling that he was still a monster. It was not the same gaze he gave to the scholar. Consequently he felt betrayed. It was as if the artist had backstabbed him hence he made a wrong decision. However, once he realized the consequence of his choice, he got shocked. He realized his wrongdoing, he had allowed the nobles to rape the man. Since the lord had forced himself on the commoner once and the latter had expressed his hatred, for the aristocrat, the painter could only resent him even more. He couldn’t use his good actions from before in order to defend himself since he already has such a negative image about himself and he is a person with a high sense of justice, compared to all the nobles we met so far.
This is not surprising that the next morning, he gets so ill, especially after such a long and eventful night. His body has reached its limits hence he ends up collapsing. But this is not the only reason why the noble fainted due to a sickness. From my perspective, his first physical sickness coincidences with his guilt. The lord felt such remorse that his body couldn’t take the self-blame any longer. He brought the painter to his guests and he would have been raped. The moment the lord realized it, he got so shocked as he was reminded of his own past. Imagine, he hasn’t moved on yet and still resents his father very much. That’s why he couldn’t face the painter’s gaze as he envisioned the disapproval and hatred in the artist’s eyes. However, unlike in the past (chapter 33-34), he didn’t run away from his wrongdoing. He preferred facing the artist and even confessing in such a way that the artist would leave his mansion. He felt such remorse that his body could no longer protect the noble. That’s how much he was pained due to his emotional injury and his huge remorse. Both led to his collapse. So his confession is not just a love confession but a confession of his sins: “ There is regret and pain in it. He admits that he has sinned. He is not hoping for forgiveness and accepts his fate, if the painter chooses to leave him.
And now it is time to focus on the biggest victim of these 3 chapters: Baek Na-Kyum. What caught my attention in the chapter 55 is the painter’s injury. This is the result of Deok Jae’s misdeed. The wrist is swollen and the artist feels the pain. Yet during the whole day, he acted as if his hand was fine. Interesting is that when he looks at his hand, he is not upset at all. He could resent the vicious servant and even blame Yoon Seungho but he is neither complaining nor blaming someone for his strained wrist. In fact, the moment the lord fell sick, Baek Na-Kyum remained by his side and helped willingly. Like I have mentioned it before, he acted on his own, when he brought the bucket of water, since the valet Kim didn’t pay attention to him. Because of the wound, I couldn’t help myself remembering the essay about Yoon Seungho’s scar, where I explained the meaning of such a small injury.
Back then, the lord received a scar on his face and at no moment, he treated his wound. He preferred taking care of the painter in the bathroom than treating his wound. Striking is that the painter’s hand injury reminds me of the lord’s scar and his behavior in this scene. Notice the parallels:
- An injury
- A person is feeling guilty and suffers from pangs of conscience
- the presence of water
- the wounded person paying attention to the partner who is emotionally upset, depressed and angry
- The need to stroke and console
Back then, the painter rejected the lord’s hand and even criticized the lord for his behavior. Strictly speaking, he refused to forgive him for his misdeed. Baek Na-Kyum has now perceived the lord’s emotional pain and the remorse which he didn’t sense in the bathroom. Notice that now the roles have been switched. The painter is the one taking care of the noble despite his injury because Yoon Seungho is now physically and emotionally weak. However, like many readers could observe, the painter is no longer wearing the white headband indicating that he is no longer acting as a servant. He has become the closest person to the master. Note that Kim doesn’t send him away, when the physician is disclosing the secret concerning the lord’s illness. He has become a confident.
What happens in the chapter 55 is important because despite the injured hand, Baek Na-Kyum starts washing the lord. For me, this gesture is full of symbolism. He is washing his sins away: the head with the dark thoughts, the mouth saying rude things and the chest with his wounded heart. He cleans the places responsible for his mistakes. The water and the white cloth purify the lord’s body. It is a gesture of the painter’s forgiveness. The painter’s hand shows that he has accepted the lord’s confession and he is on his way to get redemption. That’s why his gestures give comfort to the sick main lead, like he caresses the aristocrat’s cheek with his hand through the cloth. And there is a reason why this new version of the chapter 26 has changed so much. This time, the lord’s face is no longer rejected because the painter has finally understood the main character’s suffering. He knows that the lord felt terrible and was pained. They have become much closer and the lord will be very surprised, when he wakes up to realize that his “farewell letter” or confession had the opposite effect on the painter. He remained by his side because he was brutally honest: he showed his doubts, fears and rough emotions. Baek Na-Kyum’s injury reveals how much he already values Yoon Seungho. He is not only his savior but he represents his salvation. His hands were always powerful as they could wound the noble’s face or stop him from killing someone but now, their power is the reason why the lord is cleaned from his sins. He can now start a new relationship with the painter. And what we are actually witnessing is the death and rebirth of the phoenix. The poison corrupting the noble’s heart has been removed since the painter chose to take care of him. This explains why after his recovery he will love the commoner properly. There will be no jealousy towards the scholar any longer because the painter chose Yoon Seungho for real this time. He could have run away but he decided not to. In fact, he treated him with such a care that the powerful protagonist can slowly abandon his insecurities. The painter is now looking at him with the gaze he had been longing to get. He’s no longer a man consumed by lust but by heartache. The artist understood that his pain was his driving force.
And this is no surprise if at the end, Deok-Jae died because he never felt regret or remorse. In fact, he wanted to hurt others. And I believe, Min will suffer in the end, because he has the same attitude than the vicious servant. Greed and jealousy are the reason for Black Heart’s behavior. In my opinion, Yoon Seungho will become the hand of justice for Baek Na-Kyum so that once the lord discovers what Jung In-Hun did to the artist in the past, he will make sure that the scholar pays for his sins.
In the first scene of the chapter 55, Seungho confessed his love for the painter finally but this declaration was actually indirect, since he never said words like “I love you” that’s why the painter was unsure after the lord’s declaration. First, he expressed his despair and longing that Baek Na-Kyum would look at him the same way he looked at Jung In-Hun. He would like to be admired and loved too. Later, he added that whenever he saw his face, his heart would race so much that this always would trigger similar feelings linked to a memory from his past. In the last picture, the manhwalovers get to witness the protagonist’s past. There is no ambiguity that this drawing represents Yoon Seungho’s perspective and it is the moment, the seme got his topknot cut off and publicly abandoned by his father. Now why would he connect the emotions felt for the painter with this traumatic event? I believe, it is related to the father’s behavior. In my opinion, the main lead must have met such a terrible gaze from his father that his heart got broken. He loved his father and the next moment, he saw his own reflection in his father’s eyes that he couldn’t bear it: disgust and resent. Secondly, I believe that this is related to the brother. Many readers noticed that the father stopped Seung-Won from joining his brother and saw it as a positive sign, the younger brother felt the desire to stop this. He wanted to help Yoon Seungho. What they fail to realize (including myself first) is how this gesture from the father was perceived by the powerless and humiliated Yoon Seungho. He had to witness with his own eyes how the father chose Seung-Won over Seungho. Since the main character was so young, this gesture combined with the disapproval gaze could only enhance Seungho to feel worthless. Try to put yourself into his place. Why would his father choose his younger brother over him? What did he do so terrible that he deserved such a treatment? Not only he got abandoned by his own family, but also he had to experience to feel like an abject pariah, although he was innocent. The incident with the topknot should never been underestimated as it is a symbol for castration. He got humiliated in front of the staff as well. And if he got gangraped before, like I imagine, then he must have felt even worse. Let’s not forget that after such a traumatic event, people need their family as support to overcome the trauma and here, the opposite happened. He had no one by his side to help him to recover from this horrible incident. This explains why the young man started suffering from a severe PTSD.
I have always said that he couldn’t bear people’s gaze and even worst, his own reflection. This confession scene is a confirmation for my earlier statement. Note that at no moment he dares to look at the painter’s face. He fears disapproval and rejection, that’s why he keeps looking down. He doesn’t move too, he is like paralyzed. This is not just the effect of his coming illness and drunkenness, since he was able to open the door before.
So when during the topknot incident, he witnessed how the father’s hand stops the younger son, Yoon Seungho must have felt terribly jealous of his brother who didn’t suffer at all and was even protected by the father. This explicates why Seungho got so upset and enraged. He felt many negative emotions (rage, powerlessness, jealousy, worthlessness etc.). His father demonstrated such a preference in front of him, while he had been so obedient before. The sudden loss of grace must have shocked the young man and he had no explanation for that in my opinion. Later he must have found out the real reason. However, for him, it must have felt as if an avalanche fell on his head.
And now if we look back the painter’s confession, Baek Na-Kyum declares exactly what the lord has been longing all this time. Sure, the lord hesitated for one moment as he knew that the low-born was confessing to Jung In-Hun but he couldn’t stop himself. Notice that his lips ad the hands are the first responding to the painter’s advances. And you all know that his lips and hands were always under the influence of his unconscious. That’s why he decided to respond to the artist’s kiss. In his mind, he thought that since the painter had offered himself to him, why shouldn’t he enjoy him? Yet, he never realized that his heart had already fallen for him a long time ago and this confession confirms it. He might say that he brought him to his mansion as a plaything, yet the reality is different as he admits that each time he sees his face, he feels strong emotions. I had already pointed out that the lord fell for the painter’s face which was visible in the first chapter. So his argumentation “plaything” is just a justification brought up by his mind, however his unconscious had already felt attracted by Baek Na-Kyum. They had already a spiritual connection through the erotic paintings. The problem is that the moment he accepted the painter’s love confession and switched the teacher’s identity, he started a love triangle, which could only remind him of his own past and trauma, the moment the father showed a preference for Seung-Won.
This explains why at the pavilion, Seungho couldn’t control his anger and fury, the moment he got rejected by the painter. He had the impression to relive the moment, the father picked up the brother over him. Since he was so powerless and weak back then, Seungho could only react with such a force and violence in the painter’s presence as he didn’t want to feel helpless again. Observe that he grabs the painter’s hair in that moment. This is what he experienced back then. At the pavilion, he wanted to get out of this terrible situation and desired to be chosen no matter what, hence the rape occurred. This explains why later he wanted to kill the scholar, once he heard that Baek Na-Kyum would hate him so much. No wonder, if he is so jealous, when he sees the painter blushing in the tailor’s presence. Seungho’s strong jealousy comes from a huge inferiority complex and his severe PTSD. His father whom he loved very much selected his brother over him and let him suffer such a horrible fate.
By wanting to replace the scholar, he put himself in a terrible situation which could only bring back bad memories, the moment he got “castrated” and rejected by his father. The latter had chosen Seung-Won over him.
Thanks to my follower @user4792569 who asked me if the lord’s words could be perceived as a confession and would represent a new version of the chapter 20, I started comparing the painter’s confession to the aristocrat’s. They have so much in common and yet they contrast so much as well. The parallels are:
- The importance of the door: the lord was the one who opened it in both cases
- This time, he is the one under the influence of the wine
- Just like Baek Na-Kyum, he doesn’t look at his counter’s face. Both feared to be rejected.
- Both were weak, felt rejected. Seungho got hurt, when he realized what he had done to the painter. He was reminded of his own past as well.
- Seungho doesn’t initiate anything.
The difference is that the lord is not standing, sitting on the floor due to his weak condition. This symbolizes his vulnerability. Although he is very weak, he chooses to open up and reveal his true thoughts. While in his love confession, the artist used words linked to respect and adoration (mind), the lord uses idioms from two different vocabulary fields: emotions and body (“insides”, “emotions swing”, “gaze at me”, “face”, “contain”). As you can observe, the lord’s love is really different. He wants a sensual closeness. But since he spoke about the gaze, it is clear that he wants to be recognized and admired as well. In other words, he is longing for a spiritual and physical love. He desires to feel warmth through their intimacy. However, each time he saw the painter blushing for the scholar, he couldn’t stand the idea to be overlooked or rejected due to such a double-faced and arrogant man. That’s why he had the impression to relive his traumatic past. He was once again neglected and felt abandoned all over again due to the painter’s behavior and words. The irony is that he has no idea that the painter’s gaze has changed, he is no longer admiring his learned sir, quite the opposite. As you can see, their Wedding night was the reason for him to be confronted with his past and trauma. At the end of the chapter, we have another confession from the lord. This time, it is the noble’s unconscious speaking. His heads nods to the painter’s question, if he had feelings for him. This resembles a lot to the last confession the artist made during their first night. This means, the lord has no idea that he admitted for real to love him. He didn’t see the painter’s reaction because if he did, he would have realized that his wish had finally come true. However, right now, he is still full of insecurities, totally vulnerable and he has the impression because of his weakness, he can’t be be loved.
And now imagine how the lord felt, when his brother Seung-Won visited him. He has to witness how the father is once again choosing his brother over him. For Seung-Won’s sake, Yoon Seungho has to visit their father so that the reconciliation can become official, without the father ruining his own image. If the lord pays a visitation to his father, it signifies that he recognizes his mistakes (he was a sodomite) and simultaneously, he is asked to help his brother to get a high position. Seung-Won is the favored son and it becomes quite clear why the lord suffered that night. Seeing his brother again and seeing how the father treats him could only trigger the repressed bad memories.
As you can see, we have two love triangles: Yoon Seungho – Baek Na-Kyum – Jung In-Hun and Yoon Seungho – Father Yoon – Seung-Won, although the last one is not obvious at all. However, as the manhwaphiles already know, these two are not the only love triangles. We have Jihwa – Yoon Seungho – Baek Na-Kyum and the last one: Yoon Seungho- Baek Na-Kyum – Min.
Therefore I would like to focus on the last because it has just begun. Nonetheless, I feel that this love triangle will play a huge role in the relationship between the two protagonists. Why? It will help the main lead to realize his true feelings (which he is still doubting) and at the same time to lose his huge insecurities. Let’s not forget that these were caused by his past and by the painter’s past behavior. However, this time he will witness how the painter chooses him over Min. How did I come up with this idea?
First, I observed the parallels between Min and Jung In-Hun. Both are hypocrites full of prejudices and envy the main lead. While the teacher would like to be rich like him, the other would like to become the new alpha among the local nobles. Both look down on low-born and the scholar hates homosexuality. As for Min, I have the impression that he has a very ambiguous relationship with sodomy. Since he insulted Jihwa as sodomite (chapter 52), I have the impression that he doesn’t consider himself as a homosexual. In my opinion, he decided to act like one in order to overthrow Yoon Seungho hence he used sex as a way to get close to him. This means, he only perceive sex as fights. That’s why he was a uke in the chapter 8, but later he acted more and more like a seme (33, 41, 52). So he is not a convinced homosexual. Furthermore, right from the start, Min looked at the painter with such lustful eyes. That’s why right after the sex, he was looking at the painter the whole time. Secondly, in the chapter 33, he asked Yoon Seungho to share the commoner with them indicating that he was interested in the artist. Then in the chapter 41, he wonders how the painter really tastes. He makes the same request in the chapter 52 with his insinuation and in the chapter 53, he even kisses him. One might argue that if he was so interested in the painter, why did he push Jihwa to plan an assassination on the commoner? In my opinion, Min had two reasons to eliminate the painter through Jihwa. The first one is quite obvious. He needs to destroy Yoon Seungho by taking away what is precious to him without getting directly involved. It will be funny to see how the two men turn against each other. Min is well aware that the painter means a lot to his rival. But in my opinion, he has another justification which is less visible. Let me explain how I came up with this interpretation. And if you look carefully at Black Heart’s words in the chapter 53, you’ll notice two aspects. He keeps pointing out that the artist is just a low-born and even adds that the latter bewitched Yoon Seungho.
And that’s how he feels concerning Baek Na-Kyum. He looks down on low-born, hence how could he feel attracted to him? He has the impression to have been bewitched himself. Min can not accept to feel attracted to a low-born, this doesn’t correspond to his worldview. In other words, what he described to Jihwa was just a projection of his own thoughts onto Yoon Seungho. That’s why he felt the need to get rid of Baek Na-Kyum before it became too late. He didn’t want to do it himself either, he had the impression, he wouldn’t be able to give the order. There is a reason for my observation. I have the impression that we are witnessing a dilemma of Min’s conscious and unconscious, similar to his competitor. Moreover, since Min’s personality is very similar to Jung In-Hun’s, hypocrisy is their major feature. I have the feeling that Byeonduck intents to use Min the same way. The scholar abhorred homosexuality but yet he was willing to abandon his doctrines for his own career and use homosexuality for his own interest. As Min detests low-born, I think that what Jihwa said in the chapter 18 is Min’s philosophy. He will justify his action with the need to defeat Seungho. That’s why I predict that Min will have a similar evolution. I think, after that night Min will change his plan. He has already tasted the artist’s lips, saw his courage and strong will so he will decide to snatch away Baek Na-Kyum from Yoon Seungho. He has always envied the protagonist and now, he has one more reason to do so. Besides, Black Heart can only feel attracted to a pure heart. It is definitely possible that we have a scene like in the chapter 19, where Yoon Seungho observes the painter from afar interacting with Min or the other way around. The latter might come to the low-born and make him an offer. Another possibility is that Min might confess to the painter, a new version of the chapter 40 and the painter rejects him. There’s no doubt that Min doesn’t know the painter that well and because for him, low-born can be easily bought, I am quite sure that he will approach and try to tempt him. We have to remember that the scholar asked the painter for help many times so I have the feeling that Min will act similarly. However, none of this will work, hence he will organize himself a kidnapping. Okay, I admit that the last part contains predictions, yet I still feel that Min will play a huge role to bring our OTP together. He has already contributed with his interventions: the kiss and the questions. During this time, Yoon Seungho will notice how the painter defends him more and more and even chooses him over Min and Jung In-Hun so that his torment can finally come to an end.
As you can see, love triangles play a huge role in this manhwa and jealousy among siblings is nothing abnormal. However, it is different, when it is related to betrayal and abandonment. Jung In-Hun has no idea that he has now lost his biggest pawn for his career.
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/
Now, you might be wondering why I chose to focus on the sun and the moon, when the chapter is about Yoon Seungho and his past. In fact, it should be in the center of that examination. It is because for me, this picture mirrors Seungho’s situation symbolically and already announces his final transformation. But in order to understand why I came to this interpretation, you have to read or remember the essay called “Drawings and emotions, part 3”. Back then, I discovered a link between the moon and the house.
“In my opinion, the artist is the “earth” as the house symbolizes the painter. That’s why we have Jung In-Hun as the sun, since the Earth rotates around the sun. Since the sun abandoned the Earth, the painter’s heart is frozen. For Yoon Seungho is the moon, the painter was never able to notice it as it is not so visible during the day. We all know that the moon is a satellite of the Earth. Now, the painter is able to see that there is another planet circulating around him. Yoon Seungho has caught his attention, therefore he is no longer looking at the sun. In reality, Jung In-Hun is a fake sun, while Baek Na-Kyum thought, he was looking at the real sun… it was a fake source of warmth, an illusion”.
As you can observe, I came to the observation that Byeonduck’s drawings of the sky (sun, moon) and of the building are full of symbolism. Since I connected Seungho to the moon and the painter to the Earth, it signifies that I saw in the planets a representation of the characters from Painter Of The Night. That’s why the moment I saw this image, I couldn’t help myself thinking of three planets. On the other hand, it is clear that these bubbles are actually created by the reflection of the sun through glass. Strangely, the 3 balls of glass and light give the beholder the impression that they are merging as each of them cover the part of the next bubble. Because these blue balls reminded me of planets and Yoon Seungho is sneezing in that picture, I began associating them to the lord and came up with this interpretation. The first bubble represents the conscious (mind) and the last one the unconscious (heart) and now they are joining his body (the biggest bubble) and gets reunited. In other words, the lord is really coming back to life and this explains why in the next scene he confides to the painter. Note that the sun is hidden by the clouds in this picture therefore this star is not showing its true warmth and power. From my point of view, the aristocrat is on the verge of becoming a sun.
As he is returning to life, he is no longer a zombie, a creature of the night. His sneezing is a sign that his body is alive, even if it is suffering. Since back then, he saw himself as a spirit, he never got ill. He might have been suffering from insomnia, depression and anxiety but he was never physically sick, because his mind was so convinced that he was just a ghost and he had no real body. Therefore I see this event as a good sign. Yoon Seungho is getting cold and on the verge of getting sick proving that his body is alive. He allows his body to finally show his vulnerability and weakness. Living as a spirit explicates why in the past he needed aphrodisiacs in order to get aroused and when he discovered the painter’s publications, he needed them as well. However, I believe that the erotic books had an impact on his heart and his unconscious, while the medicine only influenced directly his body. However, he couldn’t tell the difference. And this interpretation explains why we have the following drawing We have to imagine that the lord was the one opening the door so that the fresh air would enter the room, since we hear the sound of steps. It looks like the bubbles are entering the lord’s chamber and notice the change of colors. first, the number has increased there are 5 and the colors are different. One is red and the other white and glowing. Two are very small and the last one is even vanishing. From my perspective, the white one represents the lord’s mind, while the small blue one is the unconscious. As for the red, I would say that it symbolizes the lord’s wound and trauma which is still fresh, while the transparent bubble disappearing could embody father Yoon’s shadow. Little by little, the agony caused by his father’s abandonment and betrayal is diminishing.
The fact that the lord opened the door has a huge signification, he is finally opening up to the painter. We saw how the lord slowly turned into a different man so his trauma didn’t disappear but his condition did improve thanks to the painter. At the same time, his mind is working (hence the glowing bubble) waiting for the low-born’s wake up. From my point of view, the lord must have pondered the whole night, while the painter was sleeping. However, he couldn’t wait any longer hence he opened the door. With the coldness, he hoped, the painter would sense it and wake up. Notice that as soon as the painter speaks, he starts talking. So he has been waiting for this moment, but since he sensed his condition worsening, he had to speed up the procedure. This explains why he left the door open. The opened door symbolizes the noble’s confession. He is now revealing himself to the painter and let’s not forget my association of the door to the painter. Finally, he is letting the artist enter into his mind and heart for real.
The reason for his years of misery is finally revealed. He was hiding all this time a big secret which was burdening his heart and mind. This is no coincidence that the lord finally confides to the painter during the day. He is slowly showing his true nature. He was always a sun but due to his traumatic past, he could never unveil his true personality. That’s why I consider the noble’s illness as a positive sign. Finally, his body has acknowledged that he’s a human too and no longer a spirit.
Since I explained that Yoon Seungho is related to the moon and now the sun, it is important to remember the connection between Baek Na-Kyum, the house and Earth. And in this chapter, we have a drawing focusing on a part of the house too. (chapter 55) For the first time, Byeonduck chose the chimney and not just the roof or the walls. In my opinion, the change indicates the transformation of Baek Na-Kyum. The chimney is a metaphor for warmth and love. In French, the word “foyer” has two meanings: home and fireplace. As you can see, French relate home with the fireplace. And this is no coincidence. For Baek Na-Kyum, the mansion is slowly turning into a real home, where he can feel warmth and love. Simultaneously, we could say that the artist has become the fireplace for the lord, where he can finally feel loved and accepted. Since I have started analyzing this manhwa very carefully, I have no doubt that these two drawings convey much more than giving the info: the servants are preparing the medicine for their master during the day. Furthermore, this kind of picture doesn’t seem to contribute to the story itself. So why paint such drawings? It is because they serve another purpose: a metaphor for the next scene. Notice that shortly after this panel, we see Baek Na-Kyum bringing a bucket of water. He wants to take care of Yoon Seungho himself. He must have been acting on his own accord as Kim doesn’t pay attention to him. Kim is not even looking at what the artist brought indicating that Kim had no expectation from him. Imagine, now the artist is willing to help and makes decisions on his own. Besides, he doesn’t feel out of place, when the physician is giving his recommendation or criticizing the lord for his bad behavior leading his illness to worsen. The painter feels as if it was his place to take care of his lover. He is the one giving the warmth and care to his lover, paying attention to his every move. The chimney signaled the painter’s future behavior.
Striking is that the third part of the chapter is also introduced with the picture of the sky. This is the moon again which I had already associated to the powerful but sick aristocrat. What caught my attention is that for the first time, the stars are visible in the sky. The moon is more glowing as well and seems to get closer. If you compare it to the former image with the moon night , you can observe that the moon seems to be even closer than before. This reflects the improvement of the relationship between the painter and Yoon Seungho. Since the chimney symbolizes the artist, it is normal that this time, we don’t see the roof or the walls of the mansion. The chimney is closer to the sky and stands above the roof of the mansion. In other words, Baek Na-Kyum has not only become closer to the lord but also he is thinking only about the main character. We have to imagine, the commoner as the chimney is starring at the moon. It was if his gaze was directed at the moon, since it is almost in the center of the drawing. With the stars next to the moon, the sky looks beautiful. I would say, this picture mirrors the painter’s thoughts. He is able to perceive the beauty in the main lead. That’s why we have this intimate interaction between the lord and the painter after this drawing. The low-born keeps pondering about the lord’s feelings for him. Are they real or not? He enjoys gazing at him as well, like we can observe in the following drawing. As you can see, the pictures about the sky were important as they displayed what was going to happen. They announce the change in the sick main lead’s and the painter’s attitude. Baek Na-Kyum is no longer a servant but the fireplace of that mansion. That’s why the white headband disappears again.
Feel free to comment. If you have any suggestion for topics or manhwas, feel free to ask. If you enjoyed reading it, retweet it or push the button like. My Instagram – Reddit – Tumblr- Twitter account is: @bebebisous33. Thanks for reading and the support.
This is where you can read the manhwas. Painter Of The Night: https://www.lezhin.com/en/comic/painter Serene Bird: https://www.lezhin.com/en/comic/serenebird But be aware that these manhwas are mature Yaois, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes.
As you can imagine, this is going to be a very long essay! So now you’re warned.
This essay was suggested by one of my readers, Sol Lopez. She noticed many parallels between Painter Of The Night and the fairy tale “La Belle et la Bête” written by Madame Leprince de Beaumont in the 18th Century. The irony is that shortly after, I started reading Serene Bird, created by Brothers without a tomorrow, and noticed so many similarities between the two manhwas. Not only the plot and characters contain so many affinities but also the stories in their realization have many common denominators. That’s the reason why this analysis will focus on two aspects. First, I’ll study the fairy tale and examine their parallels with the famous fairy tale and later I’ll compare both Korean works with the story from the 18th Century. Just a reminder, I will use the original fairy tale as basis, since I’ve always used classic novels and original fairy tales (Rapunzel, Snow White) for comparisons. I have to admit that the other purpose of this analysis is to incite people to read Serene Bird, especially if they love Painter Of The Night so much.
First, I have to summarize the fairy tale in order to avoid any confusion with modernized adaptions (Jean Cocteau, Disney etc.) and to outline the important elements of this story. In this famous story, Belle has 3 brothers and two sisters. Since her father is a rich merchant, we could say that Belle’s family belongs to the bourgeoisie. The protagonist is admired by many people for her gentle, selfless and pure nature. She likes reading books, while her two sisters prefers living in high style. The latter have many suitors but they dream to get a title. Strictly speaking, they wished to marry nobles. Consequently they keep rejecting proposals.
However, one day their father suddenly loses his wealth and the whole family is forced to abandon their house in the city and return to the countryside. They have to live like peasants. The irony is that the moment the family loses their fortune, the two sisters have no longer any admirer, whereas Belle is still asked for her hand. Yet the latter refuses out of filial piety. She wants to share her father’s burden and fate. In other words, the sisters are forced to follow the family and resent Belle even more than before. There, the main lead starts helping her family in the household, while her sisters continue living like rich people. The latter act as if Belle was their servant. One day, the father receives some news that a boat with his merchandise has just arrived to the port so that everyone in the family has the impression, their misfortune has come to an end. Before their father leaves for the city, the two sisters ask for jewels and robes, whereas Belle, modest as ever, would like to receive only a rose. She believes that her gift won’t cost much to her beloved father. However, what happens is the father is just as poor as before because he needed to pay taxes with his trade. Consequently on his way home, he has no present for his family.
Because he is chased by wolves while traveling during the evening, he finds refuge in a huge mansion middle in the woods. There he’s well treated because he can eat delicious dishes and has a comfortable bed. Yet at no moment, he meets the host. Everything goes well, until he takes a rose from a bush, as the father is reminded of Belle’s wish. At that moment, the beast appears and threatens to kill the man, yet the latter explains the cause for his action. Thus the beast proposes a deal: if one of his daughters is willing to sacrifice herself for his sake, he is saved and if none of them agrees to this proposition, then the man has to return after 3 months and accept his death sentence. After his return, the poor father can’t hide his misfortune, hence Belle decides to sacrifice herself. I would like to point out that before the former merchant’s departure, the beast offers him a large chest filled with gold coins. So Belle goes to the beast’s house with her father and after one evening spent together, her beloved relative is sent away.
Each evening, the beast appears and asks for her hand in marriage. The latter refuses but since she is treated like the wife of the house, she notices that the beast, despite his ugliness and lack of knowledge and intelligence, has a good heart. She starts getting fond of the beast and believes to see in him a friend. After 3 months, she asks the beast if she could visit her father. The latter has been ill since their separation. Belle is aware of the situation of her family because she could see her relatives through a magical mirror. The beast accepts her request under the condition that she returns to his side after 8 days. Belle is sent to her father’s place with a magical ring.
She meets her sisters again who are now married. Yet they are both unhappy in their respective marriage as one spouse is too vain and self-centered due to his handsome face and the other is so arrogant due to his knowledge that he irritates people with his remarks. The sisters can only get mad and jealous towards Belle who seems to have a better fate. Therefore they decide to plot against her and begs her to remain longer than 8 days. Their true intention is that once Belle returns to the beast’s mansion, the latter kills her for breaking her promise. However, Belle witnesses in the magical mirror how the beast is letting himself die. She uses the magical ring and comes back only to find the beast dying next to the lake. Just before he dies, the pure woman agrees to marry him and expresses her regret for not realizing sooner her love for him. She even admits that she can no longer live without him. As soon as she pronounces this, the beast transforms into a beautiful prince. He explains that a witch had cursed him to live like a beast, until a woman would agree to marry him. He couldn’t use his handsomeness or his intelligence and knowledge in order to woo a woman. He had to rely on his good heart. With his kindness, he was able to move Belle’s heart. With her vow, a fairy appears and congratulates the heroine and at the same time, she condemns her two sisters for their jealousy and misdeeds. As punishment, they are turned into statues and have to witness Belle’s happiness. Their curse will only end the moment they recognize their wrongdoings and their own flaws.
Before comparing the manhwas with the fairy tale, I believe, it is necessary to dwell on the lessons of this story. Some readers think to see a reference to “Stockholm Syndrome” since Belle is kept captive in the mansion and can only see the beast. She is excluded from society thereby she starts developing an affection for the beast, they consider it as a description of the “Stockholm Syndrome”. However, I have to admit that I am quite skeptical with this very modern interpretation for a simple reason. Based on this article
A person with Stockholm syndrome may start to identify with or form a close connection to the people who have taken him or her hostage, Norton told Live Science. The captive may begin to sympathize with the hostage takers and may also become emotionally dependent on them, he said. That’s because a victim with Stockholm syndrome may become increasingly fearful and depressed and will show a decreased ability to care for themselves. This, in turn, will make them more dependent on their captors for care, Norton said. https://www.livescience.com/65817-stockholm-syndrome.html
a victim suffering from Stockholm Syndrome starts getting depressed and neglecting herself/himself which is not the case with Belle. The later might be living in seclusion, but she sees her family through the mirror indicating that she is still very attached to her relatives. This explains why she is even willing to remain next to her sisters after the 8 days have already passed. She doesn’t become emotionally dependent on the beast, she still loves her father and is able to occupy her free time on her own. She shows no sign of depression. But I’ll still keep this aspect for the comparison.
In my opinion, it is more important to put this story into its historical context. This fairy tale was written in the 18th Century, where arranged marriages were common places. And if you read the story under the perspective of an arranged marriage, you’ll notice the resemblance. The daughter has to sacrifice herself for her family. In exchange for his daughter, the father receives some money and his financial situation improves (chest with some gold coins). Since the man is a beast, then we have to imagine that it is a metaphor for an older man. A young woman is forced to marry an older man she has never met before for her family’s sake. She might not accept him as her husband first because he is not good looking or very intelligent. But she’ll realize that her situation is not bad in the end as she is the wife of the house. She will be treated according to her status. In other words, the real historical lesson was to submit young women to their fate. They shouldn’t hope for big love and passion but see in their spouse a companion. Beauty and knowledge are not relevant in an arranged marriage, rather wealth and power but according to their respective status. On the other hand, the women shouldn’t have too high expectations, like the jealous sisters who thought, they could enter nobility due to their fortune. Far more important is that the father should be the one who decides about the future husband of his daughters. The sisters were asked in marriage by young men who were in love with them. The father never selected himself the spouses of his two other daughters. As you can observe, the story advocates arranged marriage over love marriage. Eventually, these women will discover that with time, they love their husband. As a first conclusion, this fairy tale is very conservative and is not fighting for women’s rights.
The author is even giving the feminine readers the illusion that a wife can reject the husband’s sexual advances. From my perspective, the sexual aspect is insinuated with the question the beast asks each evening: the hand in marriage is a metaphor for sex. But we can imagine that this was not the reality. It was expected that a wife submitted herself to her husband’s authority and wishes.
Because of this statement, it becomes more clear why Belle was developed like that. She should be seen as a role model for all the young women in the 18th Century. They all should be innocent, kind, honest, filial, selfless and modest. They should occupy their time with books and not focused too much on festivities and their appearances. For me, according to this book, women should live more in the background, rather secluded so that they wouldn’t spend too much money. They should also obey to their husband. Breaking her promise is similar to a crime as it almost causes the Beast’s death. The moment they are married, the daughter is no longer part of her father’s family. Let’s not forget that the author is herself a woman from the nobility hence she wanted to teach young women what they should expect in a marriage and how they should behave. This is not surprising that the new adaptations of Beauty and the Beast are modernized and convey other values (f. ex. women’s education and independency in the movie from 2017).
Now, it is time to list all the most important characteristics encountered in the fairy tale:
- The protagonist’s innocence, humbleness, gentleness and kindness
- A deal between two persons
- The Beast as the second main lead: he instills fear and has a negative reputation
- The innocent main lead saves the powerful beast from his death and releases him from his curse
- Blows of fate: loss of fortune and social downfall
- A sacrifice has to be made by the protagonist
- An arranged marriage, love will come gradually versus love marriage
- “Stockholm Syndrome”
- Sex: The wife can refuse her husband’s advances
- The rejection of superficiality and vanity
- Brother-sister relationship and their problem: rivalry and jealousy
- The presence of a mirror
- Conspiracy and life threatening situations
- Abandonment. The sisters desires Belle to replace their father as they blame her for that incident. After arriving at the beast’s mansion, Belle is left behind by her father
- Loneliness. She has no one she can turn to, except her husband, hence at some point she starts looking forward for their meeting
- The mansion as prison
- Live in the background and find an occupation like reading books and walking through the garden
Now, I’ll compare the manhwas Painter Of The Night and Serene Bird with the elements from the tale, however I can’t treat them separately as they are often strongly connected to others.
As you can imagine, Baek Na-Kyum resembles a lot Belle due to his personality: strong-willed, hardworking, social, humble, selfless, innocent, brave and willing to sacrifice himself for his teacher in different occasions:
- chapter 8, when he accepts the deal,
- in the hall, when he stops the noble from killing the teacher with a fellatio (chapter 26)
- and in the chapter 30 In the courtyard, he recognizes Seungho’s killing gaze hence he submits himself to the noble. Furthermore, he lived quietly despite the huge success of his erotic publications, until he vowed never to paint. Even after that, he becomes a drunk, until he is forced to paint for Yoon Seungho. After getting abandoned by Jung In-Hun in the chapter 40, he begins painting like a robot, however at no moment he tries to get praise for his work and to get the lord’s attention. He remains humble and prefers being in the background. Due to the high number of abandonments (he was abandoned in front of the brothel, then by the head-gisaeng and finally twice by the teacher), Baek Na-Kyum feels abandoned and very lonely. Imagine, in the chapter 46, he confesses to the head-maid that he escaped once again but returned because he had nowhere else to go. He fears loneliness and longs for a home.
And now it is time to introduce the new manhwa. In this story, Yoo Chung was a traditional Korean dancer who renounced to his career for his twin brother’s sake Yoo Hong. The hero has many reasons to do so: he feels very guilty because he was adopted without his twin brother and couldn’t keep his promise to remain by his side. Secondly, Yoo Hong got sexually abused by the director of an orphanage and Yoo Chung feels responsible. If the latter hadn’t slept too long and had gone to the director’s office like asked, then his brother wouldn’t have become the victim. The main lead embodies innocence and purity which is indicated with the crane, the color of his clothes (blue-white), the hydrangea representing him and his habit to bite his finger nails, when he is stressed . When the other main lead Sha Hu Rong appears at the café where he’s working, Chung rejects the deal to be scouted. He doesn’t want to become a famous dancer. Although he never expresses it directly, it is clear that his twin brother is the reason for this decision. Yoo Chung doesn’t desire to ruin Hong’s dream for fame. He senses that his resemblance with his brother could become problematic for his career. The other reason for his action is that he fears loneliness and has abandonment issues, just like Baek Na-Kyum. His birth mother abandoned him, he lost his twin brother for a while and his adoptive parents died in an accident. In other words, he is another Belle and Baek Na-Kyum but in another century. Since Sha Hu Rong is here describing him, this exposes how well he knows Yoo Chung’s personality and how much he admires him for his purity. This explicates why the seme doesn’t give up on Yoo Chung after the first rejection because his real purpose is to have him as his lover. That’s why later, the man with the nickname Serpent uses his company to pressure the Entertainment company where Yoo Hong works as a trainee. The CEO is postponing the signature of the deal between the two companies. Sha Hu Rong’s well aware that the twin brother will force his sincere and selfless hyung to contact him. As a result, the pure man begs Sha Hu Rong and asks for his help. That’s why Yoo Chun sleeps with the main lead after this. We could definitely say, he prostitutes himself for his brother’s sake. Despite this action, Yoo Chung remains so pure and Serpent is well aware of his real situation. Furthemore, I would like to add this is not their first sexual encounter. The hero had sex with Sha Hu Rong before and he did it on his own accord implying that he is a natural homosexual. Yet the next morning, he told Serpent that this was just an one-night stand. That’s why the seme used the deal with the Korean entertainment company in order to incite the hero to return to his side. As the manhwaphiles can detect, we have two semes using strategies to obtain results, similar to the Beast’s behavior. In order to get a wife, he manipulated the former merchant and made the offer that a daughter could take his place. He must have realized that the man must be close to a woman since he only intervened the moment the man picked up a rose. In my opinion, the rose was a signal that there existed a woman in the guest’s life. In order to get more info, he threatens the man and once he hears the whole story, then he makes the offer. As you can observe, all the Beasts are quite manipulative.
The irony is that the two ukes are unaware of the real personality of the persons they are trying to protect. These persons are vicious, selfish and hypocrite. One might argue that Belle’s father is different as he loves his daughter dearly. Yet, the father is not entirely innocent either. He fails as a merchant and secondly, he allows his two other daughters to act selfishly. He doesn’t stop them, when the latter use Belle as a servant and even blame her for being responsible for their father’s misfortune. So the father is also a character full of flaws and Belle is oblivious to his flaws too. Yet, in the manhwas, the negative features of the person the innocent protagonists wish to protect are enhanced. Both believe that the person they love and respect is a truly good person and deserves such a sacrifice. Belle’s father might have flaws but he’s not that mean and sneaky. All the heroes are so nice that they never complain about their sad fate. Since Yoo Chung has dropped his career as dancer, he works diligently at a café and during the night at a motel. Baek Na-Kyum was willing to give up on his work as painter in order to follow his “father’s doctrine”. Besides, he can’t even tell his learned sir that he has been forced to paint or even got raped. He always has to hide these horrible situations. The protagonist from Serene Bird doesn’t feel the need to confide to his brother that he slept with the Chinese man, since he feels that he is less important and his life should revolve around Yoo Hong. He has decided to dedicate his life to have his brother’s wishes come true.
In Painter Of The Night, Yoon Seungho has such a bad reputation, he is called an infamous hell-raiser. He shows no respect to social norms with his actions giving the impression that he is living like an animal. He even instills a certain fear due to his ruthlessness, very similar to the Beast. Besides he’s also very rich and lives alone in his mansion, another common denominator with the main lead from that fairy tale. I am not counting the staff because the lord never pays attention to them. He’s also older than Baek Na-Kyum who has just become an adult. Furthermore, since Yoon Seungho has a very traumatic past which is somehow very similar to a curse, he can no longer live normally. Until the chapter 49, he considered himself just as a spirit. And as time passes on, he shows more and more kindness towards Baek Na-Kyum, thereby even the painter starts noticing it. So deep down, the noble has a good heart but could never show it due to his terrible experience. Thus his actions are also similar: he uses threads and forces the painter to swear an oath of allegiance. Belle had to promise to return to his castle after 8 days. As the manhwaphiles could sense, he has many affinities with the beast. Let’s not forget that I even associated him to an eagle due to his behavior and gestures, like the hand looking like a claw.
In Serene Bird, the seme is actually the head of a powerful mafia clan called Kowloon Ring, hence he has this huge tattoo on his back: a snake. That’s why his nickname is Serpent. Strictly speaking, he is associated to a beast too. The Kowloon Ring consists of 9 bosses and Sha Hu Rong is the face of the Kowloon Ring. Due to his social situation, he lives on the edge of society. When he interacts with Yoo Chung, the former asks his lover if he fears him.
As you can observe, the innocent lover does find Sha Hu Rong a little frightening but it has more something to do with his sexual stamina from my point of view. The ugliness inducing fear is represented by his job: he belongs to the mafia and his life is full of danger. Interesting is that from the start, Yoo Chung never saw Serpent’s dangerous side, contrary to his friend Jun Hyung, hence he has a similar attitude like Belle. This explains why he tries to help the head of the clan, when he imagines him surrounded by dangerous thugs. Imagine the irony, the boss has to run away from his own minions, dragged by this very agile and fragile man. And just like the beast, Serpent shows his care and kindness which doesn’t escape the main lead’s notice.
Here, I see a divergence between Baek Na-Kyum, Belle and Yoo Chung in their initial interaction with their respective Beast. Unlike the other characters, the painter is somehow afraid of Yoon Seungho due to the rumor circulating about him, hence he lies about his identity. He doesn’t wish to be associated with such a person, he wants to be seen as a person with a normal sexual orientation or even worse, as an asexual person. However, this difference is explainable. His mind has been corrupted by Jung In-Hun therefore we could say that he is less pure and innocent than Belle and Yoo Chung. He has some prejudices which make him blind to the truth: his teacher is in reality the Beast.
Another interesting aspect is that all three Beasts are powerless at the same time, although they are strong financially and physically. The Beast can’t leave his mansion and can’t force Belle to return to his side. His castle is his prison. Yoon Seungho fears his own reflection and seems to be avoiding the capital. I have the impression that the gangrape must have happened there. So he is also trapped in his mansion. He might leave his house in order to visit other nobles (chapter 3, chapter 6 and 33) or to hunt (chapter 22 and 41) or to follow the painter in the town (39, 40 and 45), yet he never travels far away, he always remains in the proximity of his mansion. This exposes the function of his house: it serves as a protection but as a prison as well.
As for Sha Hu Rong, he is also vulnerable and powerless. He can’t avoid Yoo Chung’s kidnapping and his gangrape. And just like the other protagonists, he is hindered in his moves. He explains that he needs to go where the crane’s nest is. Here, the seme is referring to Yoo Chung with this metaphor because while dancing, the innocent man reminded Serpent of a crane. In other words, the mafia boss is forced to follow his lover in order to win his affection completely. As a conclusion, Shu Ha Rong shares so many features with the main lead from the fairy tale and Yoon Seungho too. His “prison” is just different, it is connected to his position as mafia boss. Besides, he’s already bound to Yoo Chung.
The role played by the hero: Both seme have the same function than Belle. They are all the savior of their respective Beast. The painter forces the main lead to abandon his philosophy (living as a spirit) and to leave his self-inflicted prison. But for that, Baek Na-Kyum had to force the noble to see his own reflection and confront his past. As for Yoo Chung, first he “rescues” Serpent from a danger, although he misunderstands the situation. Later, it becomes clearer that Serpent is feeling lonely and can only find peace and love thanks to the “crane”. Due to his dangerous “job”, he will always be reclusive hence he needs a companion next to him. He made this decision at a very young age, as he knew his future. However, his choice for Yoo Chung is not random. First, he met him, when they were both young Furthermore he fell in love with him the moment he saw his Korean dance. Notice the age gap between the two protagonists. As you can observe, the age gap is indeed a parallel to Beauty and the Beast. Sha Hu Rong is well aware that the moment the former dancer chooses him as his partner, the man will be forced to live in a cage. As you can observe, the mansion from the fairy tale as a prison becomes here a cage. However, the order has been changed. Here, the seme wants Yoo Chung to love him before he puts him in “his birdcage”, while in Beauty and the Beast, love only comes at the end and she lives in a prison first.
4. Another similarity between the manhwas and the fairy tale is the terrible fate afflicted on the heroes. There are conspiracies (murder assassination, kidnapping, rapes etc). Both “Prince Charmings”, Baek Na-Kyum and Yoo Chung, have to suffer a lot because of jealousy. In Painter Of The Night, due to the coercive persuasion, the artist rejects the lord which leads the latter to force himself on the low-born. However, none of this would have happened, if the painter had not been brainwashed. From the start, he felt attracted to the lord (the wet dreams and the mirror: chapter 2, 6 and 28). Moreover, because of Jihwa and Jung In-Hun, the painter is sentenced to the straw mat beating (chapter 11/12). Yet, we observe three persons hurting the painter due to their jealousy (Jihwa, Jung In-Hun and Min), while there are only two jealous sisters in the famous story. Yet, Jihwa represents an exception as he is not purely evil. His heart has been corrupted. Despise the different number of resentful persons, I see no real difference because when at the end of the tale the two sisters are punished, the fairy announces that their curse will end the moment they realize their flaws and wrongdoings. As you can detect, redemption is possible, although it is not revealed. The fairy implies that they will never change but since the story ends before, we don’t know for sure. Byeonduck proposes atonement either. Jihwa embodies exactly this aspect. The second season will be about his transformation and redemption. Atonement is always accompanied with suffering, hence Jihwa will suffer a lot in the second season. His mind is already in pain, he’s tormented by his huge pangs of conscience.
When we examine Serene Bird, we have indeed two jealous brothers, however the constellation diverges. The “two sisters” in this story are Sho Wang, Sha Ru Hong’s older brother, and Yoo Hong, Yoo Chung’s twin.
Sho Wang and Sha Hu Rong were adopted by Baek Ro, a woman originated from Korea but who lived in China as the head of Kowloon Ring.
So the source of the older brother’s jealousy is greed and rivalry. As the eldest, he should have become the head of Kowloon Ring but Sha Ru Hong got chosen in the end. However, I also think that his jealousy started even before. When he sees the affection Serpent has for Yoo Chung , he feels the need to retrieve the “crane” from Sha Ru Rong. He also would like to have such a relationship. However, he only views the pure man as a “precious” that he needs to take away from his younger brother. So he is the one orchestrating the abduction and the rape. And during Yoo Chung’s captivity, we have to wonder if “Stockholm Syndrome” will occur. First, the vicious Sho Wang uses an aphrodisiac so that he can have sex with Yoo Chung without meeting any resistance. Furthermore, the illustration of Serene Bird is Yoo Chun with his two shoulders covered with a tattoo. They represent the snakes Sha Ru Hong and Sho Wang have on their back. For sure, both brothers will fight each other because of Yoo Chung.
As for the younger twin, Hong is jealous of Chung because the latter always attracts more people’s attention, although they look the same. He shows his true colors the moment his older brother appears at his company. Yoo Chung cooked lunch for him and wished to meet his younger brother. Note Yoo Hong’s coldness towards him and how he pouts the moment he hears from his colleague that Yoo Chung could replace him due to their huge resemblance. Right after, he vents his anger at his hyung in front of the other trainee which surprises the latter. He never thought, Yoo Hong could become so rude. However, I believe, there’s another cause for his fury. “Replacement” reminded him of his past. From my perspective, Yoo Chung decided to take his brother’s identity as the latter didn’t want to leave the orphanage without his hyung. Baek Seung-Hyun, the adoptive uncle of Sha Hu Rong, adopted one of the orphans. The one crying on the left is Yoo Hong, while the other smiling is his hyung. By switching their identity, it explains why it took so many years before Serpent could meet his “crane”. He must have seen Yoo Hong’s face and mistaken him for his older brother. Since Serpent speaks about the real thing, he implies that there’s a copy, a fake. And this leads me to another observation: the presence of the mirror in Serene Bird. Yoo Hong is the reflection and as such indicates the existence of a mirror, the same procedure in Painter Of The Night, where the painter’s face serves as a mirror. The other difference is that Byeonduck used in her historical manhwa much more the mirror (chapter 3, 28, 31-32, 41, 54) compared to Serene Bird. Yet I have to say that the story has less chapters so Brothers Without A Tomorrow could have already planned to utilize this important item in other chapters.
But now, let’s go back to Yoo Hong’s jealousy. I sense that the switch of place wasn’t the start of his resent and jealousy. Remember what I wrote above: Yoo Hong got raped, when initially he took his brother’s identity. For that, I need to explain how it came to this. After getting abandoned by their young mother, they had to share a pack of gum, the last present bought by their mother. The two boys always divided the gums equally, until one day, it was stolen by another child from the orphanage. Yoo Chung got so angry that he started a fight and got punished by the director. His calves were severely caned. First, this illustrates how courageous Yoo Chung is, he showed no fear to argue with the other child and he accepted his punishment without complaint. What caught my attention is that while the hyung explains that he needs to visit the director in his office in the evening, the manhwaphiles witness Hong’s gaze. It is directed at the gum on the floor. Due to these two pictures, I came to the observation that the younger brother must have been the one who stole the gum. Furthermore, if you pay attention to the colors of the clothes Yoo Hong, you’ll notice that he prefers green, orange and red. And this is no coincidence, the negative aspects associated to orange are: lie, deception, jealousy in a couple. As for red it is fury, anger and blood. Green is famous for representing envy and jealousy. So early on, Yoo Hong felt jealous and wanted to have more. He always let his brother burdened everything. Nonetheless I believe that he realized at some point that he needed his twin by his side in order to become successful. That’s why he keeps him by his side and views him as an object. Yet he doesn’t want to be seen together, thus they are barely together in the end. Their real connection is through the phone and Yoo Hong only calls him, if he wants some help. So when Yoo Hong realizes that Sha Hu Rong is trying to steal Yoo Chung from him, he immediately requests from his brother to cut ties with the CEO. He doesn’t care if he used his brother as a prostitute. The problem is that we don’t know if there will be a redemption arc in this manhwa. The story has only 31 episodes released in English, yet it shouldn’t be excluded.
Since I mentioned the “Stockholm Syndrome” in the fairy tale and already noticed that this could occur in Serene Bird, I would like to explain if we have this phenomenon in Painter Of The Night. And yes, it’s true, yet Baek Na-Kyum has developed the Stockholm Syndrome with Jung In-Hun and not with Yoon Seungho. There are many evidences for this. Let’s not forget that after the painter was abandoned by his adoptive mother, he was living with the teacher so that he was exposed to physical, emotional and mental abuse. Since he had no other place to go, he could never escape this hell. It became so terrible that his unconscious decided to repress this memory. These memories are so terrifying that he wakes up so suddenly. Imagine, his unconscious can’t bear to view these images, hence it forces the painter to wake up. The artist’s conscious is here to help the unconscious to overcome the trauma. Many readers underestimated these drawings as they are shown only once and some thought, this was an occasional punishment. However, the artist’s reaction displays shock and fear. They were deeply buried in his unconscious. The Stockholm Syndrome explains why the painter started “loving” Jung In-Hun and neglected after the first abandonment. Let’s not forget that he became a drunk! His love was associated to the mind and never to the heart. And the fact that we see how Baek Na-Kyum fantasies about Yoon Seungho in a conscious and unconscious state clearly proves that the painter is definitely attracted by Yoon Seungho’s body. The Stockholm Syndrome has no effect on the unconscious. So the Beast’s ugliness in Painter Of The Night is more related to the image Yoon Seungho has created through his rumors than his body and face. Furthermore, we shouldn’t forget that the artist was the first one to discover the main lead’s true face: his huge smiles and happiness, when he met the lord for the first time. However, just like in the fairy tale, the artist starts discovering new aspects about the master: he can be caring and kind towards him.
Like I mentioned above, I see in the fairy tale a description of an arranged marriage which turns into a love marriage. As you can anticipate, we have a similar evolution here. Baek Na-Kyum gets closer to his “husband”. As for the lord, he imagined that once he had taken the boy’s virginity, the artist had become “his wife”, although his conscious never realized the meaning of his actions. Deep down, Seungho wished to be loved. But nothing happened like expected, since it was an arranged marriage right from the beginning. Remember that it started with a deal. The surrogate father would get support in exchange for the painter’s talent. Furthermore the manhwaphiles should envision that Jung In-Hun was well aware that putting a repressed homosexual next to the biggest sodomite could only lead to one thing: sex! That’s why he accused the artist of seducing the noble and refused to believe in the low-born’s words (chapter 19), when the nature of the deal was unveiled.
However, the moment he accepted the truth, Jung In-Hun started acting as a father selling his “daughter” in exchange for his support. We have elements of arranged marriage in Painter Of The Night but Yoon Seungho’s unconscious is longing for love and as such for a marriage of love. And little by little, we are getting there, the love marriage will arrive. We have a similar evolution in Serene Bird, although it is a combination between arranged marriage and love marriage. Serpent knows that he needs Yoo Chung to fall in love with him in order to put him by his side, “his bird cage”. The uke is slowly falling in Sha Hu Rong but doesn’t realize it. On the other hand, he doesn’t know his lover very well and is not aware what awaits him: the bird cage.
After comparing both manhwas with the fairy tales and outlining that both manhwas contain all the elements listed, we have the impression that Painter Of The Night and Serene Bird are just two modern versions of Beauty and the Beast. However, it is important to remember the lessons expressed through the original story. The author was not a representative of women’s rights, quite the opposite. Moreover, we have to remember that stories always reflect the social norms of their society. And this is not different with the two manhwas. Both are also mirroring the mentality of our modern society, where freedom and individuality are in the center. Besides, homosexuality should be accepted as normality which coincides with the gradual acceptance of homosexual marriages. This explains why the protagonists are men and not a normal romance between a woman and man. In the 18th Century, it was unthinkable to write about a homosexual couple.
Furthermore, these stories reflect the sexual emancipation of women because the majority of readers of these manhwas are indeed women. The uke can be perceived as a metaphor for a woman. Note that women’s emancipation concurs with the homosexuals’ liberation (20’s and 60′). Sex is nothing embarrassing, quite natural. Women and homosexuals can outlive their sexual fantasies but at the same time quench their thirst for romance. Women are quite sensitive to beautiful love stories. Furthermore, since the authors depict gangrape and rape as violent physical assaults, they are actually condemning these which corresponds to the appearance of “Me too” movement. What was omitted in the fairy tale (sex) is clearly unveiled. However, all these works have one message in common: They expose that women are owners of their own body and can choose if they want to have sex and not.
The other message is that marriage is not just about love and sex, but the acceptance of the partner’s flaws and mistakes. Let’s not forget that nowadays marriages tend to end up in a divorce. The increasing rate of divorces all over the world shows that the definition of marriage has changed. People seem to forget that marriage is indeed about companionship too, living with someone with flaws and deals with them. That’s why I don’t see in Beatuy and the Beast an indication of Stockholm Syndrome, rather the author tried to display how a lovely marriage should be: real communication, acceptance of flaws, forgiveness and endurance. I hope, after reading this essay, you’ll read the other manhwa and you’ll try to discover what other lessons Painter Of The Night gives to its readers.
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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This won’t be a long analysis compared to “Conscious versus unconscious” but I felt the need to examine the scenes from the first chapter, after I made this discovery while analyzing the chapter 54: Yoon Seungho’s hands and feet are under the control of his unconscious, while his mouth speaks for the mind representing the conscious. Under this interpretation, certain scenes from the first season have now another significance. This helps us to understand why the lord had his mood swings. This proves that the lord was never an unsensitive character, in reality quite the opposite. There is a fire burning inside his body, a metaphor for the intensity of his feelings and the moment he gets wounded, he literally explodes. There’s anger mixed with pain.
However since his mind chose to live as a spirit, he could only repress any feeling. This explicates why due to the power of his repressed emotions, he could only get blinded by his rage and heartache, the moment they came to the surface due to a wound. As you can imagine, it is impossible for me to study all the scenes from the first season therefore I decided to pick the ones from the first chapter as an illustration. Consequently, when you read the manhwa from the start again, pay attention to the hands, the feet and the mouth because their actions mirror the inner conflict of this traumatized man and his growing desires for Baek Na-Kyum.
Let’s start with the first scene. What caught my attention is the noble is cleaning his sword while menacing in front of the servant that someone could die. Since the lord speaks about a bloodbath in a calm manner, he appears cold and even heartless. The cause for his lack of sensibility is that his mouth is controlled by his mind and the latter is denying the existence of any emotion. Striking is that his hands are busy as they are focused on wiping the sword. I perceive a contrast between the tranquility coming from the mouth and the activity of the hands. This scene already implies the first inner conflict between the conscious and unconscious. Notice that he is neither smoking nor drinking so that his feelings are not numb. The movement of his hands displays a certain edginess. With this first introduction, Yoon Seungho appears bloodthirsty due to the association of the blood and the sword. However, if you look again at the scene, you’ll notice that he only threatens, after hearing that the painter is no longer working. So the trigger for his menace is the fear that his wish to get new erotic paintings might not be granted. He denies that this news should concern him, yet right after he comes up with this thread. Someone could die. The contradiction between the hands and the mouth and even the disparity between “that’s nothing to concern myself” and “surely he won’t insist on it once he sees some blood” actually betray the aristocrat’s eagerness to have the artist by his side. He wants Baek Na-Kyum to paint for him. In other words, right from the start the noble felt the need to have the painter and his unconscious through the hands revealed his true emotions. However, in this scene he has never seen Baek Na-Kyum. He has no idea how he looks like but through the paintings, his unconscious had been triggered. The erotic images had aroused emotions in him.
And notice that when his servant has finally discovered Baek Na-Kyum’s real identity, the lord can’t wait to meet the artist. He follows the domestic to the tavern. As a powerful aristocrat, he could have sent his valet Kim in order to hire Baek Na-Kyum personally. No, he didn’t… his feet under the influence of his unconscious exposes his real desire and his dependency. He must see the painter himself and have him no matter what.
In the beginning of their first encounter, the lord shows a detached attitude. His face is expressionless, until the painter acquiesces about his identity. From that moment, the lord’s visage changes. There is a huge smile on his face and grabs his hands with such a speed and strength that Baek Na-Kyum is unable to resist. The lord is not even aware that he has dropped his mask of indifference. His eyes are shining, his mouth is even smiling. Striking is that the mouth lets even transpire a lot of affection: “very much enjoy”, “my boy”. His actions contrast so much to the first scene. In my first analysis of the first episode, I had compared him to a fan meeting his idol. However, from my point of view, his emotions are actually much stronger than I had envisioned. The mouth is not under the control of the mind, the conscious. Why such a reaction? It is because the painter has just spoken to him. Therefore I come to the observation that right from the start, the artist’s mouth plays a huge role in their relationship. Baek Na-Kyum’s mouth is the trigger for the unconscious to reveal itself. However, at no instant, Yoon Seungho realizes the contradiction between his body and his mind. He is so happy to meet the painter he admired so much, because he felt a connection through the creations. It’s as if his unconscious had sensed the power of the artist’s emotions (love, warmth) behind his pictures. The unconscious through the eyes recognized the sensitivity in Baek Na-Kyum’s works. For me, the lord had already fallen in love with Baek Na-Kyum, even before he met him for the first time. Yet, I believe, the moment he sees his face and hears his voice, his feelings become even more intense to the point he already has an erection. His body, led by his unconscious, is attracted by the low-born. Interesting is that at no time, Baek Na-Kyum’s status as a low-born is relevant. The noble feels the need to touch his hands, even treasures them. He allows the artist’s hands to touch his loins. There is such a closeness exposing the noble’s desire: his body wishes intimacy, yet his mouth is still fighting the urges expressed by the unconscious. That’s why he keeps talking about the paintings and the effect they had on him. Why do I think that the powerful protagonist is so fascinated by the painter’s mouth and the latter serves as a trigger for his unconscious to reveal itself? Let’s not forget that I wrote that the low-born’s face serves as a mirror to the lord. His face symbolizes the mirror of the truth. Since the aristocrat’s mouth is under the power of his conscious, his mouth is never allowed to speak the truth. Due to his philosophy to live as a spirit and to never feel any emotion, the lord forced himself to use his mouth to disguise himself and to never let transpire any emotion: only rationality and coldness. Therefore his mouth is never honest in reality. Not only it lies to others but also to the main lead himself. The mind through the mouth is ruling his life, telling him and others that he is cold, distant and even heartless. However, deep down his unconscious wishes honesty and genuineness. In reality, Seungho is a very passionate person.
Striking is that the moment, the painter denies that he’s the author of the erotic paintings the lord’s face slowly gets frigid and the smile vanishes gradually. For me, the lie triggered the return of his mask. Look at his faze: it was as if it was paralyzed. The conscious takes over the control of the lord’s face. He is disguising his emotions. He is deeply hurt. His feelings have been rejected, since the painter told him that he wasn’t the person he had been looking for. The conscious might control the face and the mouth for an instant, yet his hands are under the power of his unconscious. That’s why he grabs the sword so quickly. The manhwalovers only witness the sword leaving its protection outlining the rapidity of his hand. This gesture displays the anger he is hiding behind his frozen face. From my perspective, his hands and his feet are expressing what he is feeling inside. There is this rage and pain for being pushed away. He’s already the vengeful spirit, his unconscious feels the need to vent his inner emotions. However, since I observed the return of the lord’s mind, we have to imagine that the main lead has the impression, he is making decisions rationally. He is just following what he said the night before. If his wish is not granted, then someone has to pay. I believe, the speed of his hands and feet indicate that the latter are actually influenced by his unconscious, the lord can’t detect the power of his unconscious as they are actually obeying the order of his mind: someone needs to die. And note that soon after he rushes to the servant’s side. It was as if he was flying towards him, his feet are rushing demonstrating the intensity of his inner emotions. The painter’s mouth, which he is already treasuring, wounded his heart so deeply that he feels the need to punish someone but he can’t hurt the artist because he was somehow moved by the painter’s face. His unconscious must have sensed the innocence in the painter’s gaze. Let’s not forget that Baek Na-Kyum is sweating, when he lies to Yoon Seungho. As you can detect, there are many reasons why he didn’t touch the artist in the first place. Yet, since his mouth said that some blood would be spilled, he needs to find another target and that’s the domestic. Furthermore, the unconscious sees no problem with the killing. I would like to remind that the unconscious is something wild and knows no boundary, the emotions unleashed by the unconscious can be very violent. The mind might have decided that he would kill someone if his wish wasn’t granted and the unconscious might have agree to this in order to vent his fury. In other words, the lord’s body might seem now under the control of the mind, yet from my perspective, the lord’s emotions, led by his unconscious, are playing a huge role in this scene as well. Observe that the moment he is about to kill, his gaze is cold and ruthless, but his face seems like frozen. For me, he is here wearing his mask again. However, his eyebrows and mouth are betraying him. He has a frowning face.
A frown (also known as a scowl) is a facial expression in which the eyebrows are brought together, and the forehead is wrinkled, usually indicating displeasure, sadness or worry https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frown#:~:text=A%20frown%20(also%20known%20as,less%20often%20confusion%20or%20concentration.
This reveals that the lord’s action to kill the domestic isn’t causing him some pleasure, quite the opposite. He is rather displeased and even a little sad, but he is angry as well, because his hand is the one killing the low-born. For me, this murder can be explained by the pain caused by the painter’s lie and not by his thirst for blood. Yet, he is not in a dissociative state either. This is perceptible, when you contrast this situation with the one in the shaman’s house. (Chapter 102) (chapter) Here, the gaze is focused. It was, as if he needed to prove to himself and to others, he is not joking. At the same time, his unconscious needs to vent his frustration and agony. However, I believe what we are seeing here is the result of indoctrination and brainwashing. He has been conditioned, as it is his way to cope with his PTSD.
In my opinion, the heartache is the reason why he is so selfish in the first half of the first season. Everything revolves around himself: his desires, his wishes, his pains and his emotions. Due to the Stockholm Syndrome, Yoon Seungho has turned into a blind and self-centered man. He has adopted the principles of his tormentors. Hence, he’s oblivious to anyone around him. Therefore he didn’t pay attention to the painter’s discomfort, while he was touching his hands. Furthermore, I see a confirmation that the aristocrat was acting on his unconscious too, when he eliminates the domestic. Only after the murder, he sees the painter’s tool, while he explains the reason for his action in a rational and calm manner. My question is: Why didn’t he check out who lied in the first place? Why did he have to kill someone? From my perspective, in this scene, the lord’s heart played a huge part in his behavior. In my opinion, he’s already developed some feelings for the painter, hence he didn’t vent his anger on him. Deep down, he knew that his servant had deceived him, though he couldn’t tell how. He didn’t notice the servant’s discomfort. (Chapter 1) Thus he was portrayed with no eyes. Sure, not everything was a lie, yet the commoner mixed a lie with the truth, turning his testimony into a deception. What appeared as trivial was in truth betrayal. What the domestic didn’t know is that the lord hates lies, for they were the reason for his downfall. He needed to hurt someone, because he had been wounded by the painter’s lie. But the latter was just a white lie. So in the picture above, I see the lord’s conscious attempting to justify his action. Yet his gaze and smile contradict his mouth right after. There is a glimpse of a smile, his eyes are showing an interest. The idiom “the boy” illustrates a certain closeness. I mean, he could have called him “the low-born” but he didn’t. For me, this picture illustrates the lord’s satisfaction. He has obtained what he wanted: the painter.
Striking is that later at his mansion, the painter lies again. Yet compared to the first deception, the lord’s anger is less violent. He is even caressing the painter with his sword. It looks like the sword would remove the cloth so that he can see the artist’s naked body. The way he uses the weapon exposes that his unconscious doesn’t want to hurt the artist, although he is actually displeased to be lied again. This gesture expresses a certain sexual desire, but the counterpart is not noticing it due to his uncomfortable and frightening situation. That’s why there is no rage unlike at the tavern. The sexual desires have returned. Furthermore, we could say that the main character has got used to or that he is well aware that Baek Na-Kyum has the creator of the erotic paintings by his side. He feels less betrayed.
Observe that during this scene Yoon Seungho can’t stop his hands, therefore he starts getting touchy again. First, he wipes the painter’s tears and later he even grabs his hands again. I would even say, the gesture with the sword is another caress showing the power of his emotions. His unconscious feels the urge to touch and caress his face and his hands. Both have already become Yoon Seungho’s weaknesses. Notice that he even lowers himself to the painter twice and gets very close to him. His feet always lead him to the artist’s proximity. He remains by his side, until he is lied a second time. From that moment, he stands up and starts walking revealing a certain uneasiness and edginess. He is troubled and frustrated because he has been indirectly rejected again. Yet, unlike at the tavern, his reaction is less violent and this for two reasons. First, his unconscious is definitely more attracted than before. Secondly, his mind is well aware that the painter is not telling the truth. In other words, his heart and mind are not fighting each other. Their goal is the same, they want to have the painter by their side. Yet the conscious doesn’t realize that behind its decisions, the heart is already influencing his mind. Why does he want the erotic drawings?
The last image where you see the lord weeping his tears is quite interesting, because for the first time, the lord is wondering about the painter’s actions: his lie and his tears. Yoon Seungho is already fascinated by Baek Na-Kyum. Why does he keep lying? Why does he cry? The commoner is quite a puzzle for the noble. His mind doesn’t understand the artist’s behavior. For me, this drawing reveals that Yoon Seungho’s mind has already started thinking about Baek Na-Kyum a lot. Compared to the scene at the tavern, he is less selfish. He pays more attention to the artist’s reaction and words. Everything is pointing out that his mind is already influenced by his heart but the noble hasn’t noticed it yet. That’s why he doesn’t get aware that he is falling in love.
Striking is that he even sent his staff away, creating a certain intimacy. He definitely wants to get close to Baek Na-Kyum physically and mentally. But since he’s just a spirit, he doesn’t notice that his hands and feet have been acting on their own… led by his unconscious.
Yet compared to the chapter 54, the inner conflict between the lord’s unconscious and conscious is less palpable, as the heart and mind are not contradicting each other, since the noble is already rationalizing all his actions and decisions. This is only a matter of time, until his desires for the painter become so unbearable that he starts wooing him. The paintings become more and more just an excuse. I hope, with this essay, you will feel the desire to read the manhwa all over again under these two aspects.
Feel free to comment. If you have any suggestion for topics or manhwas, feel free to ask. If you enjoyed reading it, retweet it or push the button like. My Reddit-Instagram-Tumblr-Twitter account is: @bebebisous33. Thanks for reading and for the support, particularly, I would like to thank all the new followers and people recommending my blog.
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/
Since I spent so much time on the analysis “Conscious versus unconscious, part 1”, I decided to write something quite short so that I can rest and gather some strength for the second part which will be long in my opinion. That’s why in this essay, I’ll focus on different scenes from the first and second season where the protagonists’ hand and mouth played a huge role. Consequently we can observe the characters’ progression and determine the nature of Baek Na-Kyum’s mouth and its relationship to Yoon Seungho’s hand.
First, I would like to compare both slaps. (chapter 11) (chapter 53). Notice that although these drawings are illustrating the same gesture, the perspective diverges. In the first one, the focus is on the lord, while in the second, the recipient of the slap is in the center. Why did Byeonduck switch the perspective? I could use my earlier explanation that in chapter 53, the creator wanted to let the noble appear as a vengeful ghost and not as a human. However, there exist other explications.
First, the change of perspective reflects the evolution of Yoon Seungho’s personality. In chapter 11, he was acting on his own negative emotions hence we could judge him as self-centered and selfish. His anger was triggered by the ruined painting and the painter’s words hence with his slap, he wanted to shut his mouth. He refused the artist’s point. He didn’t pay attention to the artist’s feelings. On the other hand, in chapter 53, the noble has already put the painter as his first priority because he is acting on the artist’s behalf. With the change of the perspective, it helps the readers to feel the lord’s heartache, when he realizes what he has just done. He hurt the servant because he disliked seeing Baek Na-Kyum mistreated and insulted, yet the latter got hurt. That’s why the author zooms on the lord’s gaze, the moment he witnesses the result of his action. (chapter 53) The gaze, the mirror of his soul, reveals his shock and agony. The hand hurt the loved one, although it was meant to defend him. At the same time, by putting the painter in the center of the drawing, the author enhances the painter’s bravery. (chapter 53) Just like in the past, he is willing to get hurt if he can protect someone, although the readers are well aware that neither Deok-Jae nor Jung In-Hun deserves such generosity as they have been acting against the main lead behind his back. Notice that during the thrashing, the painter kept asking the lord to stop but the latter had become deaf due to the immense fury he felt before he intervened. His inner emotions were more important that the words coming from the painter’s mouth. The lord could only hear the painter’s words after the warm embrace.
But let’s go back to the comparison. There is another huge difference between the two slaps. This time, the low-born is anticipating to receive the slap, while in the past, he had no idea that his behavior would trigger such a fury. Whereas in chapter 11, due to the perspective, the lord appeared more cruel and selfish, it also intensified his rage and pain. People could feel his immense anger, his unconscious decided to unleash his deeply repressed emotions. That’s why the hand is not visible in this panel but his gaze and face. The hand betrays his inner emotions, but the eyes mirrors his feelings. We have to imagine that until chapter 49, the lord lived as a ghost therefore he repressed all his emotions. That’s why he was so indifferent to people and kept smoking while watching through the window. He was so detached from the world, because he had been controlling his heart all this time. His mind never allowed his heart to feel anything and to express any emotions. The smoke kept his hands and lips busy. That’s the reason why Jihwa could never win the lord’s heart in the end. Yoon Seungho’s mind had decided to keep his distance from anyone, even from his childhood friend.
Now, I’ll compare the meal shared between Baek Na-Kyum and Yoon Seungho. Yes, in the second season, we have a new version of a shared meal. Now, you might wonder where it occurred during the first season: it’s in chapter 23!!
(chapter 23) Note that here the lord is taking away the apple from the painter. He’s eating his frugal meal. Furthermore he stands above him and his gestures clearly indicate that he has been following and observing the artist before eating his fruit. Here, he appears as selfish and self-centered. He takes without asking. This stands so much in opposition to the shared meal in chapter 47. (chapter 47) This time, the roles are switched, the aristocrat is willing to renounce to his own meal. Besides, he is also giving up on his own seat to Baek Na-Kyum. In other words, the latter is now the one standing above the aristocrat because it was as if he had become the master, since he is sitting on the lord’s seat. Even the noble reminds him to remain seated so that he can keep eating. This contrast emphasizes so much the powerful protagonist’s huge transformation. He is selfless, benevolent and really caring.
On the other hand, the comparison illustrates the growing closeness between the two figures. Whereas in the chapter 23, he bites in the apple where the low-born bit the fruit, in chapter 47, he puts his finger directly in the painter’s mouth. (chapter 47) Now, there is a direct contact between them. One might argue that this is related to their sex sessions, which is true. However, let’s not forget that the unconscious is voicing itself through the hands, hence despite the experienced intimacy, his unconscious is still unsatisfied. Therefore in chapter 47, the hand feels the need to touch his mouth. Sure, someone might say that he wants to ensure that the painter is not hurt. However, he could have used his eyes and just look at the mouth. That’s the reason why I feel that the gesture was revealing something else. The hand is expecting something from the mouth! Deep down, the lord is wishing to hear something from the painter but nothing has happened so far. At the same time, observe that the lord is smoking right after. It was as if this gesture (caressing the low-born’s mouth) had bothered him so much that his mind decided to control the hand again. Consequently he starts smoking. He needs to act as if he was indifferent. This explains why right after his mouth is revealing the thoughts of the mind: . The smoke is helping him to calm down and control his emotions, yet the mouth can no longer mask the influence of the unconscious because of the choice of words. As you can detect, the use of the smoke is no longer effective. Notice that “hurt, “embrace” belong to the vocabulary field of emotions. So the mouth is not truly rationale. As a conclusion, the mouth is revealing little by little the truth. Furthermore, the hand displays a certain longing: the lord’s unconscious is expecting to hear something from the painter’s mouth. What is it exactly?
In order to understand the new discovery, it is important to remember the analysis “Conscience versus unconscience” where I explained the function of the mouth concerning Yoon Seungho, The mouth embodies the mind and as such the conscious. On the other hand, the lord’s hand is acting on the order of the unconscious. Now, I would like you to pay attention to the following pictures: (chapter 11)(chapter 12)(chapter 26)(chapter 31)
What do these pictures have in common? The lord’s hand and the painter’s mouth. Yoon Seungho’s hand is always close to the Baek Na-Kyum’s mouth. If you pay attention, you’ll detect that his hand is slowly moving away from the artist’s mouth. While in chapter 11 and 26, he covered it up with his hand as he couldn’t bear hearing the truth, little by little, the hand is moving away from the artist’s mouth so that in chapter 48, the hand is now more on the throat than on the mouth. This illustrates that the lord has slowly got used to the painter’s mouth and as such his words. He could slowly get used to the low-born’s honesty and sincerity. This explicates why the master is more and more caring towards the painter. Yet, in chapter 47, his mind didn’t allow his mouth to become emotional and confess his love to the painter.
I could have picked more of these images, yet I feel with this high amount of drawings it is enough to confirm my observation. Nevertheless notice that in chapter 12, Yoon Seungho’s hand is caressing the painter’s lips and as such the mouth. This drawing is important as it reveals that his unconscious is treasuring the artist’s mouth and lips. This explains why he kisses the painter more and more. The painter’s mouth and as such his lips are so precious to him, although Baek Na-Kyum’s mouth keeps hurting him with his words. Why? From my point of view, his eyes noticed the honesty in the painter’s face, despite the lie he told him during their first meeting. For the first time, his gaze met someone so transparent and honest, hence he could only treasure him and his mouth. Since I have already stipulated that Baek Na-Kyum serves as a mirror, then I have come to the following conclusion:
Baek Na-Kyum is the mirror of the truth and his mouth reveals the truth.
Remember two things. The mirror has the following functions:
- to perceive his true self and personality;
- to predict the future
- to reveal the past
- reveal desires and illusions
- beauty, vanity and superficiality
- truth, reality and as such wisdom
The first purpose of the mirror is visible during the sex marathon. Here, the painter is confronted with his true identity. Then we have in chapter 28 the vision in the mirror reflecting the artist’s deepest desires and the future. With Jiwha, the author used the mirror as an illustration for beauty, vanity and superficiality (chapter 3 and 41). And now, Baek Na-Kyum is the mirror of the truth and brutal honesty, just like in the fairy tale Snow White. Remember how the Queen reacted to the reality. She tried to kill her rival but she never destroyed the mirror as she treasured it. We could say that Yoon Seungho is acting like the Queen from Snow White, but unlike in the fairy tale, the rival is Jung In-Hun, a vicious and double-faced man. Despite the heartache, the master is hoping to hear something positive, something about himself and about the painter. If the latter confesses to him, the lord will be able to love himself. As long as the artist views him as a man consumed by lust, he can only see himself as such and detest his own image. Just like the Queen in Snow White, the protagonist keeps asking the commoner and each time the “mirror” keeps rejecting him: But the painter’s mouth is telling the brutal truth. The lord has never confessed to him hence it is a lie that Yoon Seungho loves him. At some point, the Queen gets defeated by Snow White, however I am not expecting the same ending here. The lord will be forced to confess. He has to be reveal his true emotions if he wants to hear a love confession from the artist. We shouldn’t forget that the artist works as a mirror. The moment Yoon Seungho declares his affection to the painter, the latter will reciprocate his feelings because he will mirror his emotions.
My readers might have not forgotten that I often wrote that the painter was brutally honest, especially at the pavilion (chapter 25) and in that bathroom. Each time, he spoke, his sincerity hurt the lord. With his words, the artist confronted Yoon Seungho with reality. The lord could no longer lie to the painter and to himself: the love confession was addressed to someone else and he knew that. I could even say that the slap in chapter 11 was a violent reaction because with the ruined paintings and with his words (refusal of working for him), he had rejected Yoon Seungho which the unconscious could not accept. Hence the constant rejection was always very painful for the lord, the painter’s mouth kept wounding his heart, the unconscious, since the conscious was denying the existence of any feeling. Baek Na-Kyum’s mouth is the mirror of the truth. The lord’s conscious has to accept the crude honesty: he is in love with Baek Na-Kyum. As long as he continues denying it, his unconscious and heart will always be wounded by the painter’s mouth. That’s why he needs to stop denying this. Simultaneously, this explains why the artist’s mouth has a calming effect in chapter 53 . For the first time, the painter’s mouth is showing concern and care. There is no rejection, the artist’s voice and words let transpire feelings which the unconscious has been longing for a very long time. That’s why in that moment, the lord can’t help touching the painter’s cheek and white head-band. The unconscious has finally received something it had been longing: acceptance and warmth. But this is just a brief victory as the moment is ruined by Min’s appearance. However, through this examination, it became obvious that Yoon Seungho needed to confess first. And this observation was proven correct. Yoon Seungho admitted his attachment to the painter in chapter 55.
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What caught my attention in the last two chapters (53-54) is the huge contrast between Yoon Seungho’s conscious and unconscious. Both episodes reveal his inner conflict causing the lord’s deepest pain. In the first season, the manhwaphiles already witnessed the struggle between Baek Na-Kyum’s conscious and unconscious, however it was revealed differently. The painter’s unconscious expressed itself through dreams (real dream or daydreams) revealing the artist’s repressed desires but also the depth of the brainwashing. https://bebebisous33analyses.wordpress.com/2020/06/06/baek-na-kyums-dreams-and-their-interpretation/
In the second season, Byeonduck chose to focus on Seungho’s inner fight. The latter is unwilling to admit his love for the low-born, which is similar to the denial of Baek Na-Kyum’s homosexuality in the first season. I doubt that the lord is refusing to recognize his love for the painter due to his low social status. For me, his rejection to have any feeling is related to his traumatic past. This attitude becomes comprehensible if you explain it that way: Yoon Seungho must have been terribly hurt by the person he loved the most, his own father, hence he swore after the huge betrayal that he would never love again. There is a reason for my statement. Since the lord could understand the painter’s work and feel his sensibility, we can conclude that both protagonists have some affinities (emotional, sensitive and gentle). Because Jung In-Hun, the artist’s surrogate father, was the reason for the commoner’s denial about his sexual orientation, I assume that father Yoon must be the cause for Yoon Seungho’s attitude either. To summarize, both main leads made similar experiences, the betrayal and abandonment of their loved and admired fathers.
Due to his father’s heinous act, the rich main lead chose to consider himself as a spirit because that way, he would never get attached to anyone. Yet, you might wonder why the author didn’t use the dreams for the powerful protagonist too in order to show the lord’s deepest desires. The reason is simple: the aristocrat is suffering from insomnia hence he has no deep sleep. Because of this condition, the unconscious has no way to express itself while the noble is sleeping. It needs to find other ways to reveal itself. This is what I had discovered so far (mentioned in one of my former analyses). Although the lord is always conscious, the repressed desires still find ways to come to the surface. How? The unconscious chose to voice his repressed desires through the noble’s body and as such through certain actions. That’s why if you read the manhwa right from the start again, imagine that the lord’s behavior towards the painter is actually an expression of his unconscious, like for example in the chapter 1 or in the chapter 2 or in the chapter 16 or in the chapter 35 or in the chapter 40In the last one, he places a red dot on the painter’s forehead. What do all these images have in common? The lord’s hand. Through his hand, the noble externalizes his emotions and his desires.
But there is more to it. In my opinion, his lips are the other tool of his unconscious. Therefore, we saw how passionate and tender the noble was towards Baek Na-Kyum in the first season (episode 20) (chapter 31) (chapter 33) (chapter 39). His kisses externalized his true desires and feelings. Funny is that his kisses had already caught my attention therefore I even wrote an essay about these. https://bebebisous33analyses.wordpress.com/2020/06/11/painter-of-the-night-seunghos-kisses/ Yet the difference is that back then, I had no idea that he saw himself as a ghost. Note that I didn’t say the mouth but the lips because there is a huge difference. I’ll explain the divergence later.
Now combine the hand and the lips together, you’ll notice that these parts are essential for smoking. This explicates why we constantly saw the lord smoking next to the window in many scenes: (chapter 5) (chapter 12; here he is blowing the smoke into Jihwa’s face) , in the chapter 33, in the chapter 35 and in the chapter 44. One might argue that this is due to his addiction, yet if you pay attention, the noble didn’t smoke in the painter’s presence during the first season. When he did, he was always away from Baek Na-Kyum. Observe that the moment he catches the painter speaking to Jung In-Hun in the courtyard (chapter 35), he gets so upset that he drops his pipe and prefers grabbing the sword. Moreover, the chapter 5 doesn’t counter this observation, as the artist approached the lord on his own and this unexpectedly. My explication for this habit is his need to control his lips and hands. His mind is making sure that these parts are still under its ruling. Without realizing it, the main character felt that his hands and lips would escape his control if he didn’t smoke. In other words, he used the smoke in order to benumb his body, similar to Baek Na-Kyum’s habit to drink in order to ease the pain. Yoon Seungho needed to ensure that his body would follow his mind, since he perceived himself as the spirit. If his body had moved on its own, he would have detected that he was more than a spirit. However, since the lips and the hands were controlled by the smoking, Yoon Seungho’s unconscious had to find another way to express itself.
Consequently, its unconscious picked up another part of his body as well: the feet. That’s the reason why he decided to meet the painter in person in the chapter 1. He was already attracted by him through his paintings. I could mention the chapter 11 as another illustration. Here we see him rushing to the painter’s side in the chapter 11. He can’t wait to eat his lunch with Baek Na-Kyum so that he leaves his room in a hurry, he is not even properly dressed . Now, I’ll use other pictures from the first season, where the feet betray the lord’s love for the painter, in order to confirm my perception. In the chapter 15, he can’t help himself walking to Baek Na-Kyum before asking him to join him and Jihwa in their sex session. He is definitely longing for the painter’s closeness. Then in the chapter 16, he hinders the painter from leaving his room by hugging but for that he had to stand up quickly and follow the low-born. In the chapter 19, he stops in order to observe the scene and later he visits the painter’s chamber. Here, he wants to take care of the painter, be by his side, hoping that the latter has forgiven him. In the last two pictures, he can’t stand the thought that the artist is so close to the scholar. He needs to separate them. In the second drawing, although he claims that he would have killed Baek Na-Kyum, if the latter had left with the teacher, I doubt that he would have done that because of the way he is carrying his sword. He has no strength left. His hand is betraying him and we shouldn’t take his mouth too seriously. This mouth represents the conscious and as such his mind. The mouth externalizes reasoning and rationality so that he can be cold, manipulative and distant. In this scene, I suspect that with his words, he is actually trying to convince himself and the painter that he isn’t attached to the low-born. This explains in different occasions, he says painful things, as the reason stands in opposition to the emotions.
Here, he is talking like a typical noble, what he says represents the social norm. No noble would like to be associated to a commoner. In this scene, his mind decides to kill his rival because he prefers being hated for a real cause. In the chapter 39, he teases the painter for his blushing. With these three examples, you grasp the importance of the mouth. Yet, if the readers compare the three scenes altogether, they will notice that the mouth lets transpire more and more the noble’s feelings. First, he seems detached, then in the second panel his words reveal his resent and in the last one, they will observe his jealousy behind his joke. His mind told him to cover up his negative feelings, he couldn’t act like that in front of the painter, like he did during the night after the rape. In fact, the mouth never truly embodied the lord, it just represents his reasoning and calculating, standing in opposition to his other body parts, where the emotions can come to the surface, unfiltered. As a conclusion, I determine that the hand, the lips and the feet embody the lord’s unconscious, while his mouth symbolizes the conscious. Striking is that the gaze is related to the hand, the lips and the foot so that I come to the observation that the eye serves as the trigger for the unconscious to express itself.
And if we study the lord’s behavior in the second season, you’ll notice that his hand, his lips and his feet kept betraying his unconscious. I chose different drawings as exemplifications.
I remember that some people complained about Yoon Seungho’s behavior in the chapter 45. He was smoking, while he was having sex with the low-born.
I think, I have now found the explanation. In this scene, the lord was resisting his deepest desires, to show his affection through the intercourse. He smoked to control his hands and his lips because he didn’t want to reveal his affection. The mind was present during that sex session that’s why he made such cold and rational comments initially. In fact, this first scene was already displaying the internal conflict the lord was facing. On the other hand, he desired the painter to show his love for him so that he wouldn’t need to face his own inner demons and as such his denial of his love for the artist. I have the feeling that he sees a part of himself in the painter in the end. It was, as if Baek Na-Kyum was the mirror in reality. Notice, if the artist had shown care and love, the lord would have never been forced to question his own behavior. He would have been satisfied with Baek Na-Kyum’s feelings for him. However, he would have never been pressured to confess to the painter. He would have felt loved, accepted and this would have been enough. Besides, we shouldn’t forget as soon as the lord drops the pipe, he is unable to fight against his repressed desires so that at the end, we have another love session: All this was triggered by the painter’s “confession” and his facial expressions. That’s why we always had a love session at the end of each sex session. Remember that right after that scene, the painter has to eat in his chamber and not at the kitchen. As time passed on and with the painter’s facial expressions and gaze, the lord’s hands and lips were always able to express the unconscious:
Then in the chapter 50, we discover that the lord is in the scholar’s room.In the last two pictures, he rushed to the scholar’s former room, his feet exposed his inner thoughts and emotions. He was really enraged hence he felt the need to destroy the book, the latter representing the vicious low noble. His feet led him there and his hand wanted to do something as he was terribly pained. Both body parts revealed the noble’s unconscious.
And now, you understand why the main lead relapsed after hearing that the painter considered himself as a prostitute. He realized that he needed to keep his distance from Baek Na-Kyum because he would have seen himself as a “prostitute” as well, since the low-born reflects his own image. Hence he had to use opium and wine in order to benumb his body. However, he could no longer sleep with others as his body had already escaped the control of his mind. His hands, eyes and his lips were only reacting to the low-born. His inner struggle was even stronger than before, as his love had deepened that’s why he switched to opium and even added wine.
Yet, this was not enough. In the chapter 52, he rushed to Min’s side in order to protect Baek Na-Kyum from Min. Observe that in this scene, the feet, the hand and the mouth are working together. The gaze betrays his true emotions: he is furious therefore he starts a fight with Black Heart and the tongues are the weapons. However, this scene exposes the powerlessness of the drugs on his unconscious. Despite the opium and the wine, his hands, feet and lips were able to act on their own and defend the painter efficiently. That’s how strong his love for the painter has become. Therefore the more profound his affection is, the more furious he gets, when the painter gets hurt.
At the same time, I could detect the increasing influence of the heart on the mouth in the second season as well, which already started in the first season, like I demonstrated above. Let me give you two examples. In the chapter 47, when he answers to the painter’s question about his motivation for his kindness, he is actually rationally describing the pain in his heart. His words are purely rational, yet they reflect his inner emotions: pain of his heart. Notice that right after, he even teased Baek Na-Kyum again. It was as if he was attempting to diminish the value of his words from before. However, both expressions are not able to mask the emotions the lord is feeling. He might describe everything very logically, nevertheless since the idiom “embracing” is related to emotions, it displays that despite the rationale description, the lord is in reality very affected by the artist’s poor health. Both drawings disclose the aristocrat’s heart, yet the mouth under the guidance of the mind, is making sure that his emotions are not truly unveiled. Ont he other hand, these two pictures show how slowly the heart is winning over the mind. The climax is reached, when the lord finally makes this decision: This is quite important because in that moment, Yoon Seungho has the impression that he is giving up on the painter. He is no longer hoping on receiving the painter’s love, this is what he means with sharing his mind with the low-born. Nevertheless, in my opinion, the opposite is happening. When he declares that he will allow his body to take the lead, then this signifies that the mind won’t control any longer the mouth. So he is actually renouncing to the control of his mind. He will follow his heart and instincts and let his hands, mouth, lips and feet make the decision. This marks the turning point in Yoon Seungho’s life. With this declaration, Yoon Seungho will be forced to confront his own feelings in the end as he is no longer expecting this from the low-born.
Now that you know the significance of the lord’s hand, feet, lips and mouth, I can start examining the chapter 53, while I will study the chapter 54 under these aspects in the second part.
It starts with the noble leaving the bedchamber in rage. He has finally accepted Min’s request hence his mouth is voicing his agreement. These words mirror the cold and rational mind, the conscious. Since this is his conscious speaking, he will show them that he feels nothing for Baek Na-Kyum, however his eye is actually betraying his inner emotions. Yet the moment he is outside his room, his thoughts are revolving around the painter and his denial that the latter is special to him. Nevertheless, while he is talking to himself, his own feet lead him to walk straight because of his gaze. Sure, one might say that his feet led him to the painter’s chamber as he was walking in the right direction, yet he only stops walking the moment he hears the painter’s scream coming from his chamber. Strictly speaking, the aristocrat would have continued ambling, if he hadn’t heard the painter’s shout. This shows that the lord has no control over his own body. Note that his heart is telling him the opposite of his mouth revealing Yoon Seungho’s dilemma. Moreover, since he is talking to himself, it discloses that he needs to convince his mind with his mouth. Even his own mind is wavering. In other words, we could even say that he is trying to brainwash his body and mind that he feels nothing for the artist and the mouth represents the final instance of the mind. Furthermore, he is so focused on his mind that he doesn’t even realize where he is really going. The heart expresses itself through the feet, while the mind uses the mouth to fight the noble’s unconscious. This is not surprising that Byeonduck even drew two pictures of the lord’s feet underlining here the meaning of the noble’s feet. They represent his unconscious. I have the impression that they reflect his inner conflict either. We have to remember that the noble hasn’t been in contact with the painter for a week, thereby he has been missing Baek Na-Kyum’s closeness. On the one hand, he would like to be close to him again, yet since his mind and mouth said that he would offer his lover to his guests, he is torn apart. That’s why he walks in the direction of the painter’s room, yet he is actually about to pass by the low-born’s study without stopping, until the yell pulls him out of his torpor.
But let’s examine even more closely this scene. First, while ambling, he has suddenly a vision. We could say that this flashback symbolizes the noble’s inner conflict. While his hand and eyes are affected by the painter’s presence, he remembers the voice of his mind contradicting the gesture of his hand. From my point of view, this hallucination is the first visual expression of his unconscious. For the first time, his repressed desires are revealing themselves directly. That’s why his mouth attempts to convince his body and his wavering mind that he doesn’t love the painter. The sudden appearance of this memory reveals the growing influence of his unconscious on the mind. This explains why right after, the lord’s mouth expresses the opposite. To summarize, little by little, the noble’s unconscious is getting the upper hand, nonetheless his mouth is still resisting. Yet he somehow becomes blind right after, too agitated by the dilemma. That’s why he doesn’t see where he is going. Note that after this picture, we have the drawing with the feet stopping moving. That’s the reason why I state that after this terrible vision, his mind chooses to close his eyes to the truth due to the mouth’s interference so that the main lead becomes blind. His eyes can no longer focus on his surroundings, too lost with these contradictions. Remember the importance of the protagonist’s eyes. They are not only the mirror of his soul but they serve as a trigger for his unconscious. He prefers becoming blind that following the decision made by his mind and expressed by his mouth. The memory of that caress and kiss had such an impact on him that his eyes are no longer obeying to the mind.
Striking is that in this scene the ear plays a huge role. Thanks to his good hearing, he realizes that something is going on in the painter’s chamber. This significance of the ear illustrates that the noble’s unconscious is taking more and more control of his body. First, we had the hand, the feet, the lips, the eyes and the mind. Now, it is the turn of the ear. His eyes refused to work for the mind so that his ear was forced to work. As you already know, when someone loses a sense, the other senses attempt to compensate the loss of sight. That’s how he can discover the painter’s suffering. His mind might have been fighting his unconscious, yet his body is on his guard as it feels the need to protect the painter from any harm, just like I explained it above with the scene from the chapter 52. Therefore he can only rush to the artist’s study like a ghost. That’s why the servant can’t hear the lord’s footsteps. The feet could only lead the noble to the artist’s side. I would like to thank my follower @PearlArea who was the first to note the difference between the servant and the lord. While Deok-Jae didn’t take off his shoes before entering Baek Na-Kyum’s room, the main character did. And I see it as a confirmation of my judgement about the feet. They express the noble’s deeply repressed desires: he loves his lover so much that even in a hurry, he still took the time to remove his shoes.
Since his body was under the control of his unconscious, it explains not only the violence of Yoon Seungho’s reaction concerning Deok-Jae but also the speed of his gestures. That’s why the manhwalover barely see the noble’s hands. Yoon Seungho appears all of the sudden and starts pushing and slapping the servant. I compared him to a spirit or ghost in my former analysis about this chapter 53, yet simultaneously these drawings reveal the strength of his unconscious. This reflects not only the depth of his love for the painter, but also it exposes now that the unconscious has taken control of the noble entirely. Even the mouth is now revealing his true desires: Who are you
He doesn’t want to share the painter with others. He belongs to him, we could say that he has lost his reason in this chamber. That’s why he keeps beating the vicious servant. Baek Na-Kyum, who has now switched the role with the noble in the first season, embodies the reason, yet a different one. That’s why the manhwalovers witness the constant questioning of the painter in the second season. Baek Na-Kyum is now a combination of the mind with the heart because of his kindness and generosity. Although he was deeply wounded, he never gave up entirely on his heart. Consequently, he could still be nice and gentle towards others. Despite the suffered pain, the artist is able to perceive the repercussion of the lord’s behavior. That’s why he steps in and stands between Deok-Jae and Yoon Seungho. Maybe with his body, he will be able to stop the lord. By hurting the low-born, the lord is stopped because he is deeply affected by the fact that he wounded the one he treasures. He is shocked and pained, when he sees that with his hand, he wounded the artist’s cheek. However, what really stopped the lord was more the painter’s hug than anything else. Finally, his deeply repressed desires have been satisfied. He is now able to sense the painter’s warmth and love. He even hears his voice reminding him that he needs to calm down. However, in his embrace, the lord is still under the influence of the unconscious. Therefore the manhwalovers can observe the lord’s tenderness. In his embrace, the aristocrat’s hand starts touching Baek Na-Kyum’s hair and white head-band, a displeasing sign for his eyes as it is a reminder of the huge social gap between them. Let’s not forget that the unconscious rejects any form of social norms. The gesture of his hand exposes his deepest desires. Right now, he would like to caress the man’s face and if Min hadn’t appeared, the lord would have kissed the artist. The separation affected the lord so much. His urges for closeness kept growing, although he tried to fight these with drugs and the fight with the servant triggered the lord to act on his instincts. So by beating the servant, his unconscious was finally able to express itself. At no moment, the mind intervened as the lord’s body was controlled by the conscious. However, at the end of the chapter, Min ruins the reunion because he ignites a fight by kissing the artist. We shouldn’t forget that in that scene, the lord is still under the influence of his unconscious therefore he pushes Black Heart so violently that the door breaks. Yoon Seungho can’t bear the thought that someone might take away Baek Na-Kyum. The idea that someone else even kisses his loved one can only infuriate the noble. Let’s not forget that during the season 1, he got so resentful that he even wanted to kill Jung In-Hun. From my point of view, this push could be perceived as a new version of the event in the chapter 26, when he grabbed the sword in order to eliminate the scholar. The hands were already the ones voicing the unconscious the best, especially if you recollect the first chapter, when the noble grabbed the artist’s hand and put them on his loins. Furthermore, the eyes were the trigger for his unconscious hence we see this
before he hurts Black Heart. That’s why at the end of the chapter 53, his hand is protecting the painter’s ears. His unconscious is well aware of Min’s black heart, hence he needs to do anything so that the artist doesn’t get hurt. Furthermore his gaze is aiming at Min, it was as if he was expecting an attack from his opponent. But by unleashing his unconscious, he is actually exposing his vulnerability. His heart is indeed in the open, furthermore his body is acting on his own. He guards the loved one, unprepared that the next attack won’t be directed at his treasure but at himself.
As a conclusion, the chapter 53 exposes the fight between the conscious and unconscious, where the latter won the battle. Consequently the lord was finally able to express his deepest affection for Baek Na-Kyum to the joy of all the readers. Yet his mind is not really present in that moment hence he can’t anticipate Min’s moves. This explicates why he couldn’t prevent the kiss and in the next chapter he won’t be able to protect himself from the next attack. Right now, his body is thinking that Min is aiming for the low-born due to the kiss, nonetheless the real target is and has always been the powerful seme. However, all this proves how sensitive and emotional the lord because his repressed desire is to shower the painter with his love, not only through pampering but also through his protective instincts.