Painter Of The Night: Doomed love?

This is where you can read the manhwa.  But be aware that this manhwa is a mature Yaoi, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes.

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:

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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 drinkingdrug misuse, going on a spending or gambling spree, or having unprotected sex with strangers
  4. intense but unstable relationships with others

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.

  1. being a victim of emotional, physical or sexual abuse
  2. being exposed to long-term fear or distress as a child
  3. being neglected by 1 or both parents

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.

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.

12 thoughts on “Painter Of The Night: Doomed love?

  1. I have some “headcanons” and speculations concerning Jihwa; I like to think that JH was very sheltered and pampered as a child, specially by his mother and/or other women of the house;
    We don’t know about brothers or sisters until now, so I’m assuming he’s an only child, wich (here I am speculating lol) could explain, in part, his behaviour, like the way he faces rejection and his insecurities. I totally agree with you in other posts that JH is like a child (even when he cries he looks like one), he is immature, but he is innocent too, he doesn’t have the malice of others nobles like Min; Maybe his mother was a big influence in his personality, and like a lot of mothers do, tried to protect her child from the “ugliness of the world” without see the damage it could bring to his future; and as I assume he was spoiled, he can’t understand seungho real needs (But he has a feeling of what it could be, this is why he had that nightmare)
    How you said before, JH needs someone out of his social circle, to show a different world view, and here I am betting that Nameless is the “Mr. Right” for the red haired. Jihwa could learn and rethink his prejudices. Maybe I’m seeing with shipper googles, but Nameless seems to have a soft spot for the noble, or rather, his naivety/innocence. If this mere “professional” relationship will develop in something more, only Byeonduck knows!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s how I see it too. Nameless will be the one who will admire him because Jihwa has a pure soul. He feels terrible for asking to murder someone and Nameless sensed it. Jihwa will be able to give him what Nameless needs too. The criminal has a conscience too.


  2. OMG, I’ve never seen some of the drawings the author did for the fans! Do you know where I can get a bigger version of them?

    As for Jihwa, do you think he knows about the traumatic event SH endured? He is his childhood friend so he was probably around when it happened. Maybe he even followed him to that small village to live nearby afterwards… out of love!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, there is no doubt that he knows what happened to him but he doesn’t know the real impact as Seungho never confided to him. He has no idea that Seungho’s issues are jealousy, self-hatred and abandonment issues. As for the pictures, I mentioned my followers on twitter, you can find the pictures there.


      1. After reading the new chapter, we are now 100% sure Jihwa know all SH’s secrets related to his past. He used that mysterious lord Song as a way to trap SH and bring him out of his mansion. Lord Song, who ever he is, must be deeply involved in the traumatic event SH endured. Kim almost peed himself when mentioning the author of the letter. That was scary : //

        Also, you were totally right regarding your theory about Min wanting to have a taste of Nakyum before Nameless kills him! It’s definitely happening. Let’s just hope he won’t be able to do it and SH will intervene before. I will be shattered if that stupid and useless bitch put his hands on someone as pure and innocent as Nakyum :(((

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I would hesitate to term Seungho borderline personality disordered (BPD) and I do have a background in psychiatry. We have to be aware not to slap the label of borderline personality disorder on anyone before we address the trauma. Often times people who experience trauma have many features that resemble borderline traits but rather it’s SEVERE chronic PTSD. My bet on SH is untreated PTSD (including irritability – aka short trigger, impulsivity, negative cognitions). Additionally male borderlines tend to present a bit differently. I would expect that if the author intended SH to be a bit more borderline he would really be sleeping around for the purpose of not being abandoned as well as “testing” the main protagonist. Aka I hate you, don’t leave me. Rather his purpose of alcohol and sleeping around is to really forget. The one person that Seungho does not really want abandoning him is NK currently (at least that is what I’m seeing). He does not appear to have an internal struggle of being “abandoned” by friends and servants alike. His emotional instability likely results from being abandoned by the family that was supposed to actually protect him. And his low self of self likely also stems from the same trauma.

    A good example of character with BPD in a yaoi webtoon would be Woojin from Escape into oblivion. And Shinwoo from Love Bite (this one was hard for me to read since the main character if super frustrating).

    Also Jihwa knows 100% what happened in the past, but his way of love won’t “heal” SH because it’s selfish love. Also also I feel that Jihwa wants that love in a way that SH will not be able to really even understand or demonstrate. Since Jihwa does not really understand the trauma. However Jihwa’s better fitted partner is Nameless (i’m like 90% sure on this one). Nameless looks at Jinhwa the way Seungho looks at NK (and the way I look at cake). I’m wondering if Jihwa will come clean to SH about the plot.

    Also on a different note I’m also fairly sure NK is in love with SH and starting the recognize it. I know previously he attributed the heart pounding to the “replenishing” brew, but this time I’m hoping he recognizes it as symptoms of love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your contribution. Even if he has no Borderline personality disorder, it doesn’t change the fact that Seungho has huge psychological issues. My point was to enlighten that the readers should be careful and not judge the noble too quickly. As for Baek Na-Kyum, I agree with you that he’s in love with Seungho but I know that some readers don’t see it that way. That’s the reason why I was quite careful.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am among those who don’t see it that way. There is not even a single scene where NK’s emotions regarding SH was not related directly or indirectly to sex. Except maybe how he blushes when half-asleep SH nodded to him. It’s true NK feels this sexual arousal with SH and no one else but it does not mean he loves him.

    SH was the one who introduced NK to physical love. Even NK himself thinks it’s only because he “craves being held”. Of course it’s not true. He can’t see yet that he has a particular connection with SH but I won’t call it love yet. The fact he was dreaming of SH in the new chapter makes me think that he likes the idea of being “loved” by SH. It will definitely help him have a better opinion of himself and hopefully stop thinking he is just a prostitute. But not even once he questioned his own feelings. As if it wasn’t relevant. Clearly it’s due to his low self-esteem but then again why would he have stron feelings for the man who wasn’t particularly kind with him?

    I believe SH saving NK from Nameless and Min will be the turning point for NK in terms of love feelings. And I don’t see a good match between Nameless and Jihwa either. We are talking about a violent murderer and a fragile and snobby noble man. I mean, Jihwa is not perfect but he deserves better in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, love has different forms (spiritual, philia/ eros physical /agape: brotherly love). Since he cares for him and he feels really attracted to him, IMO he loves the lord. But he has no idea how intelligent and educated Seungho is. And he will discover it later. Besides, love always evolves. Besides, Baek Na-Kyum has always associated love to sensuality, until he got brainwashed by the scholar. And for me, he has stopped seeing himself as a prostitute after that night. But that’s my opinion.


  5. Hi! I love your rehearsals, I have been thinking about this idea of ​​Jihwa being pure but manipulated and it does not convince me. This is just my opinion and I hope it is not offensive, but reading your review I got seriously thinking about this character and this is what I think.
    Just like I said that Deok Jae was the humble counterpart from Nk, I think Jihwa is the painter’s distorted mirror.
    Where NK is honest, Jihwa conspires and manipulates.
    While Nk selflessly loves and cares about caring for the other person, Jihwa thinks selfishly and whimsically about how to hurt if he doesn’t get what he wants.
    Where NK is brave, Jihwa is coward. (He is selfish, capricious and is so obsessed as to kill an innocent who did nothing to him. He is also tremendously cowardly, because he does not do things himself but prefers that others do it for him, the butcher and the spy in SH’s house. He knows that my lord is going to suffer a lot if the painter dies and despite how bad he feels, not only does he not put an end to his plan, but he is going to talk to the hitman so that he can hurry in the job).
    He is a character who is most interesting, but he is not made for us to identify with him and redeem himself from his crimes. Naivete is closer to ignorance than innocence. Jihwa could easily be influenced by Min because what matters most to him in this world is himself. He knows that he is not going to make SeungHo fall in love with him by murdering the painter, he seeks revenge for feeling humiliated, he is a terrible character, because he clearly distinguishes good from evil and makes the decision for himself to kill, spy, conspire and even use something of the SH’s past for god knows what.
    It is not the same with the Young Master, because unlike most of the characters in the story, SH does modify his behavior, we are shown that he does not enjoy hurting the painter, that he suffers when he hurts NK, that he does not seek profit of anyone and in fact he seems to have no greater ambition than to live his life in that eternal torture to which he is condemned.
    The detail of how SH is like is in the chapter after the rape of the painter in the pavilion, the Master brings his own clothes to the boy in person, he wants to know how he is, although he was angry, he really did not want to hurt him, this does not redeem of any of his acts (only a generous person like NK can be able to forgive so much pain inflicted by the same hand), but there is no doubt that SH does not make his decisions thinking about hurting the other person, what happens to him, Said by himself, it is that the mere vision of the painter makes him out of control, NK awakens all kinds of feelings and that makes him impulsive and inconsiderate, damaging the person he loves the most.
    Jihwa is the complete opposite of the protagonists, I don’t think he deserves our sympathy or redemption.
    If you read thanks! Please continue with your work because it is exceptional, this is just my perception of a character and it doesn’t really have to be that way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I like how you interpret Jihwa and I have to agree with you on this. He is the negative reflection of the painter but I do think, there’s redemption for him, however it will be very painful for him. I want him to get punished for all his misdeeds. I’ve always said that he was a spoiled child and he still is. For me, the best punishment would be that he loses his title. It would be a harsh lesson for him and would turn his world upside down, on the other hand, this would make him realize that he’s not different from the commoners. He’s just a man

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s