This is where you can read the manhwa. https://www.lezhin.com/en/comic/painter But be aware that this manhwa is a mature Yaoi, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes.
In 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.
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