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. 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/
In the first two parts, I described how all the main characters had a special relationship to time. Baek Na-Kyum is a Carpe diem person, while Jihwa and Seungho were more living in the past and couldn’t escape from it, until they met the painter. Hence the latter affects the protagonist so much that at the end, he adopts the artist’s mentality and lives in the present. Finally, Nameless was portrayed as someone symbolizing the future, but who would confront Jihwa with the present so that the latter would stop dreaming about an unrealistic future. While composing the second part, I realized that all the other characters have a special rapport to time as well. Therefore in this third part, I’ll focus on the remaining characters and examine which part of the time (past, present or future) represents them the best. However, I would like to remind my readers that this is my own perception. Naturally, I will elaborate it with evidence, but people can disagree with my interpretation. Like always, this essay is to trigger a discussion and at the same time, it helps the manhwalovers to judge the characters better and discover them under a divergent aspect. In this essay, I’ll focus on two characters: Valet Kim and Min.
I’ll start with valet Kim, who was one of the favorite figures after Baek Na-Kyum and Yoon Seungho. However, I have to admit that after chapter 63 and 64, I could no longer perceive him as a genuine gentle and caring butler. In my eyes, he embodies the epitome of cowardice and selfishness due this panel: He doesn’t care about his lord or the painter, for only his interests matter. Since Kim has been following his master for a long time, he is well aware that the former is suffering and still living in the past. Striking is that when the butler portrays his lord to the painter in chapter 12, he talks about Yoon Seungho’s past and present: But before, he elaborates that he still fears his lord after living with him for so many years. Hence it looks like the assistant is more linked to the present. However, this is only partially true. In reality, valet Kim has a strong connection to the future too. Why? First, if you contextualize his words, you’ll notice the existence of a purpose behind his comment. On the surface, the readers have the impression that the butler wants the painter to accept his new situation and perceive his master in a different light. Nevertheless, the order of the lord’s description is important. First, he explains his master’s terrible past, only to underline the consequence. Yoon Seungho has a terrible temper. Note that the lexical field employed by the valet is revolving around fear. This is especially perceptible, if you pay attention to the following picture: Note the painter’s reaction. He is scared, because the treatment with the ointment is presented like a threat and an order. The reality is that Yoon Seungho showed great care by sending his own valet, but due to the valet’s expressions, the lord appears more overbearing and threatening. That’s why I come to the conclusion that Kim is instilling fear in the painter, and if you pay attention to the protagonist’s attitude later, you’ll notice that he is indeed afraid. Hence he bows to the owner of the mansion, not out of respect but out of scare. Kim’s words were pretty effective, yet when he suggests to Baek Na-Kyum to go out for a walk, he is actually hoping that the artist will run away. How is it possible? Kim was present, when Baek Na-Kyum somehow defied his lord and even refused to obey him. (chapter 11). He will do anything for the noble except painting, and this even after getting slapped and insulted. Kim had observed the rebellious side from the artist. From my perspective, Kim hoped that by saying that the lord had mood swings and Baek Na-Kyum should accept his fate, the latter would make the opposite decision. While the first impression is to think that Kim desires to reconcile Baek Na-Kyum with the lord so that their relationship can improve, the reality is totally different from my perspective. Let’s not forget that Kim is someone from Yoon Seungho’s past, who knows his traumas very well, but doesn’t do anything to change his master. Since the latter is living in the past, Kim has been focused more on the present. Yoon Seungho should never change and behave like a child, so that he needs to relying on his butler, who became his eyes and ears.
One might argue that Kim is just a domestic, and the lord is indeed brutal. Yet the former is considered as his right-hand, hence he occupies a high function at the mansion. Moreover, if the lord was such a terrible master, how is it possible that the maid talks behind her master’s back, not fearing to get betrayed? Even an outsider commented that there was no real control in that household. The servants could speak about Yoon Seungho behind his back and contribute to the gossips. The lord wasn’t even offended, when the door of his bedchamber was opened. He never investigated the matter. Finally the staff even didn’t take his order (keeping an eye on the painter) seriously, when asked. That’s why the painter could escape. Baek Na-Kyum’s appearance in the mansion revealed the master’s laxity. Note that so far, the staff has got punished only once, because they had obviously ignored his order. The gossips and the bad remark from the maid truly exposed that Yoon Seungho had no real authority and respect among his staff, and he was not such a terrifying master. Hence the butler’s words about the lord as a terrible master should be judged more critically.
Since I demonstrated that Kim was planning ahead by inciting the painter to react in a certain way, I come to the conclusion that the valet uses his knowledge from the past in order to anticipate the future. His true goal is that the present doesn’t change. His lord should act like he had been living so far, as a head-kisaeng. Kim’s mindset is that his master is not allowed to cause any scandal and trouble, he has to keep his horrible reputation as an infamous sodomite. That way, father Yoon’s reputation remains untouched, although he has been sent to exile. He excused his departure by using his eldest son as black sheep. But in my eyes, Kim has another reason for this. Anyway, that’s why the butler is somehow focused on the future as well. He needs to ensure that the “present” doesn’t change, yet what the valet fails to recognize is that it is already too late. The situation started changing the moment Yoon Seungho saw the erotic books. From that moment, the lord began relying on them, hence he needed to meet the painter. In other words, the real intention behind Kim’s actions is now to return to the past, as the present has already changed. Therefore he is looking into the future.
Kim as symbol for the future is illustrated the best with the following pictures: He is worried about the consequences of the painter’s escape. Let’s not forget that he helped Baek Na-Kyum to flee and the lord could definitely uncover his involvement. Hence he is worried. Nevertheless on the surface, it looks like he cares for the painter and the consequences of the sex marathon. As you can sense, in both interpretations he is already thinking about the future. And now, if you recall all the valet’s actions during the two seasons (until the chapter 68), you’ll realize that he has been working all this time for the future, while in truth he is determined to go back to the past. He wants to change the current situation, he would like the lord to behave like he used to. Consequently, I will try to list all his decisions showing that they are all related to the future.
After witnessing their first night together, valet Kim gives the following advice to the commoner. He should forget about the past. He is pushing away the commoner, making sure that this doesn’t happen again. The valet doesn’t desire that Baek Na-Kyum gets close to his master, because this would mean that he would lose his position. While in the past, I had imagined that Kim wished the protagonist to take over his role, I am thinking the opposite now. Only his life matters, and as such he was definitely benefitting from his position as butler. He could order medicine and buy items without being questioned. Since in chapter 39, the tailor requested a confirmation about the order, this truly exposes that Kim had a certain authority and power. Moreover, in chapter 45, with only one gaze, the butler is able to silence the tailor. The way he is dressed and acts shows a man behaving like a noble (the hat, the hanbok and the headband), hence the tailor follows his recommendation. For me, the advice from chapter 23 was actually a warning, the painter shouldn’t use the “wedding night” in order to get closer to Yoon Seungho and become powerful. Note that Kim was wondering why the painter was joining them during the hunt. The lord was showing Baek Na-Kyum such a great respect, treating him like a honorable guest to the point that the main lead stopped him from falling. The butler was definitely worried about his own future, the painter could decide that once he had won the lord’s favor and heart that he needed to get rid of his rival: Kim. As you can observe, Kim represents the present, but a different kind: the status quo… the immobility which stands in opposition to Baek Na-Kyum’s present. However, like I have already outlined, Kim’s “present” is in reality the past. Moreover, he has another reason to separate the main leads. If it was known that Yoon Seungho had a relationship with a low-born, this would create a scandal, which the valet abhors. He hates ruckus, because he has no control over this kind of incident. Kim, as a butler, has a legitimation to be close to his master, but for the painter it is different, for their relationship is sexual and affectionate. As the manhwaphiles can sense, Kim’s philosophy and time contrasts so much to Baek Na-Kyum’s, which becomes more obvious during the second season. The moment the main character reflects on himself, he begins to attempt to understand the noble, while Kim doesn’t truly ponder on his own actions. He sways them under the rug, he needs to forget them.
However, because Kim is too focused on his own interest, he definitely misjudges the situation. He envisioned that if the painter ran away, the problem would be solved, because just like Jihwa, he imagined that Baek Na-Kyum was just a toy in his master’s eyes. Yet after witnessing his lord’s uncontrollable rage in chapter 30, he has to face reality. It’s too late. The lord couldn’t bear to be separated from Baek Na-Kyum, hence he chooses to change his strategy. Since Seungho is so determined to keep Baek Na-Kyum by his side, he has now to turn the painter into a favored servant, a prostitute who is only there to please his master. That’s why the moment the commoner wakes up, the butler communicates what the lord has done for him and complains that Yoon Seungho has not returned home for a while. While he fakes concern for his master, his true goal is that the artist remains in the lord’s bed. In his mind, the moment Yoon Seungho returns, he will see the painter and will desire to have sex with the artist. Note that the painter has barely recovered. This shows that the valet is hoping that his master will be like in chapter 30: selfish and greedy… so consumed by lust that the artist will pay the price. Note the huge contrast between the chapter 12 and 34. In the previous episode, the master was portrayed as a terrible man with mood swings, now Kim’s words imply the opposite. His master has been feeling guilty and he remained away, as he couldn’t face the painter, which is actually true. With these words, his intention is quite clear: he is attempting to put his lord in a good light, the latter feels remorse and he did everything he could in order to help the painter to recover from the illness. First, he underlines all the good deeds he did, then he speaks for his lord’s regrets hoping that this would move the low-born’s heart. Why? Kim desires to ensure that the low-born is no longer pushing away Seungho, and it really worked even in a short term. But more importantly, it looks like he is working for his master’s interest, which explains why initially I misjudged the butler’s true intentions. However, here the butler is actually forcing the artist to accept his new situation: a servant whose role is to please this master and nothing more. He has no right and he just needs to listen to Kim’s words. This explicates why the valet let the painter drink an aphrodisiac in chapter 36. The butler is well aware that if his master sees the erection, he will act upon it. Therefore I deduce that in the valet’s mind, Yoon Seungho is indeed a man obsessed with sex, but he will make sure that he remains that way. He has an interest for this situation, the noble doesn’t pay attention to his surroundings and what the staff and Kim are doing behind his back. And this interpretation that Kim is only accepting the painter as a favored servant is confirmed in chapter 52: He is just a servant, and not a spoiled child, therefore he needs to do everything in order to please Yoon Seungho. This explicates why the painter puts on the white headband again. However, if you pay closer attention to the valet’s words, you’ll notice a contradiction. How can Baek Na-Kyum be a spoiled child, if he waits for the master to call? A spoiled child would refuse to follow a request… and would do whatever he pleases which is not the painter’s case. He was even so submissive to the point that Yoon Seungho complained about it.
More importantly, why does the valet say this, when he is well aware that Yoon Seungho has guests each day? One might say that he is infuriated, because his master had a relapse and he blames the artist for this situation. However, we shouldn’t forget that the butler was the one who separated the couple by revealing the incident at the library. Moreover, what triggered the lord to become so infuriate that he visited the scholar’s room? Like I had explained in a different analysis, my theory is that Kim used the painting with Jung In-Hun in order to arouse jealousy in Yoon Seungho. We know for sure that the butler has the painting. And we never saw him destroying it. Striking is that in chapter 52, the butler’s words make an allusion to the future. The painter has to take the initiative, he has to approach the noble on his own. And this shows that behind this reproach, the butler has definitely an intention, he would like to change the situation. But it is in order to improve their relationship or to separate the couple? Note that in chapter 50, the butler seems to speak for the artist’s interest. The poor boy has been insulted, hence the lord should distance himself from him. But in chapter 52, he defends the lord’s interests. Baek Na-Kyum has been ignoring Yoon Seungho’s feelings. As you can see, Kim’s MO is to play the protagonists’ interests against each other. This explicates why his true nature is difficult to perceive. He always made sure that the couple would never get closer by defending the interest of the partner over the other’s. And each time, he switched sides. Thus for me, in chapter 52 Kim is attempting again to make the artist leave, a new version of chapter 12, but this time with a different approach. Yoon Seungho has already forgotten him, he doesn’t see him as a special treasure, just a plaything. When he sees the main lead with other men, then he will realize that he means nothing.
Let’s not forget that the moment he saw his lover kissing Min, he got upset. From my point of view, Kim imagined that after witnessing such a scene, he would get upset and leave the mansion. However, this didn’t turn out, like he had expected. Why? Because of his strong will… once he makes a decision, he won’t change his mind at all. I would even say that Baek Na-Kyum embodies true loyalty, contrary to the butler who fakes loyalty, whereas he is only working for his own interests. With this new interpretation, it explains why Deok-Jae was in the painter’s room. He had seen the painter approaching the master’s room, hence Kim and Deok-Jae imagined that he would run away due to his wounded heart, especially if the lords would treat the boy as their prostitute.
I could add many other examples that the valet is using his knowledge from the past in order to plan for the future, so that the painter embodying the present would disappear from the lord’s side. Note that he buys the medicine even before the painter has already recovered. He plans it right away which shows that valet Kim always thinks about the future. And notice, the moment the commoner is feeling better and sleeps in his own bed again, the latter has to drink that potion under the pretense that it is for his health (chapter 36). Then the assistant gives the painter advices on how to behave in front of the lord indicating that he expects from him that he won’t talk to his master under the pretense that his master is not in a good mood, whereas it was the opposite. The noble had happily discovered that the painter was no longer rejecting him, because he was planning to paint their last session. The truth was that Yoon Seungho was just tired. By telling him how the protagonist is feeling, he is definitely hoping that their time spent together will end up in a sex session, so that the noble still remains oblivious to his surroundings.
Then in chapter 45, he signalizes to the tailor not to reveal the lover’s identity illustrating again that he is always thinking about the future. He doesn’t want his master to become involved in another scandal, just like he doesn’t desire the painter’s true position to become known. The moment the lover’s identity is revealed, then it signifies that Baek Na-Kyum has become the official partner, hence his disappearance would definitely lead to an investigation and cause real trouble. As long as Baek Na-Kyum remains just a favored servant, this signifies that his social status is very fragile and he can lose his position at any time. Simultaneously, when he brings the paintbrushes and the ink stone, he is not in reality showing true care for the painter, he is just forcing Deok-Jae to see the painter’s privileges so that his jealousy will be triggered. Note that he keeps asking Deok-Jae to bring the materials… Consequently, this is no coincidence that he acts on his own without asking his master. The latter is now more focusing on the painter and as such the present, hence he is unable to predict people’s actions.
What caught my attention is that the butler gives his lord’s advices revealing that he has indeed a privileged position. Furthermore, it indicates that the domestic is actually confident and doesn’t fear his master, far from it. He only becomes livid, when he hears that lord Song would like to meet his lord. Note the contrast between the previous panel and this one: As you can detect, the butler is showing no fear at all. He even gives the impression that everything is done for his master’s well-being and future. He is determined to make him happy. But in that moment, we have to question: what about the painter’s interest then, which he defended in chapter 50? Notice that in the last two panels, he uses the future tense twice (will, shall), another sign that he is linked to the future. However, he is not working for his master’s future, in reality he would like to go back to the past, which reminds us a lot of Jihwa’s mentality. However, there’s a huge difference between them. Jihwa wanted to go to the time, when both were quite cheerful and innocent, while Kim prefers the recent past, the time before the painter’s appearance. The other difference is that he doesn’t wait, just like the second lead. He makes plan and anticipates people’s movements. He observes his surroundings in order to judge their personality so that he can take advantage from this knowledge. Striking is that when the loyal butler converses with the doctor, he can’t help mentioning elder master Yoon and his reaction While it looks like he feels concern, the fact that he covers his mouth is a strong clue that he is actually not expressing his real thoughts. He really hopes for the eldest master’s intervention. Observe that he employs the idiom ” hope” and the latter is strongly connected to prospect. And the final proof is visible in chapter 58 where his presence is only revealed through the bucket of water. He left it outside, when he heard what was happening in the room. My initial impression was that he didn’t want to disturb Yoon Seungho, well aware that the latter would overlook his illness and exhaustion out of love for Baek Na-Kyum. The butler knew something important was happening between his lord and the painter, since he had witnessed Jihwa’s confession during the same day. He sensed that this could trigger his master to make a similar move. But since I judge Kim as an enemy of Seung-Kyum, he had even more reason for not disturbing them. He would give them the impression that they were safe and nothing would happen. However, for Kim, this love session represented a threat to his position. He would no longer be able to act as Yoon Seungho’s advisor and confident.
And after bringing so many evidences, we have to ask why the valet Kim is so strongly connected to the future. The answer is quite simple: he is Yoon Seungho’s surrogate father. However, he represents a certain type of parents, the ones who refuse to accept that their children are growing up and trying to find their own way. Kim has to make sure that his “son” fails, so that he will return to his side, blaming the whole world for his bad experiences, while in reality the father made sure that the son wouldn’t succeed and would get wounded. Moreover, since both protagonists are now both living in the present and are not even thinking about their common future, he takes advantage of that situation. And this observation leads me to the following deduction. Therefore I feel that Kim’s death will be necessary for Yoon Seungho so that the latter can start thinking about his future and his lover’s. As long as Kim is by their side, the noble will never focus on the future.
The manhwaphiles should recall that we have another person embodying the future and it’s Nameless. Yet the criminal and the butler are representing two different kind of futures: responsibility versus dependency and irresponsibility. Nameless forces Jihwa to leave behind the past and move on, whereas the servant stands for Yoon Seungho’s past, hence he can only reject the present: Baek Na-Kyum. The valet would like his master to remain dependent on him, which stands in opposition to the lord’s wish. The latter would like to become responsible for his lover, the painter, indicating that Yoon Seungho had already started thinking about the future in chapter 40.
And now, it’s time to examine the second character, lord Min. As many of my followers have already predicted, Black Heart is living in the moment. And this mentality is really palpable in the following: This picture illustrates that he prioritizes pleasure over anything else. I would even add that we have here a rather negative form of carpe diem as he takes pleasure at the detriment of others which is not the case with Baek Na-Kyum. Unlike the commoner, the aristocrat is full of jealousy, greed and envy. That’s why he keeps coping Yoon Seungho: his interests, his clothes and his lifestyle. He stands in opposition to the artist’s modesty and humbleness. If you look again at the image, you’ll note that the laughing aristocrat enjoys smoking opium and doesn’t even hide it. He shows no concern about people’s opinion or moral norms. Furthermore, he doesn’t even care who bought the drug. He takes it as it pleases him. And if the manhwaphiles recall the whole first season, they will remember that pleasure was in the center of lord’s life since his first appearance. He liked the erotic paintings but because he imagined, the author was an old man, he never showed more interest. This exposes that he has never tried to discover the real identity of the creator and let his prejudice make the decision. He enjoyed the erotic publications, but that was it. One might say that since Black Heart is determined to overthrow Yoon Seungho and he is very manipulative, he could be perceived as a person focused on the future. However, if you pay attention to his schemes, you’ll recognize that they are never planned in the long run, rather decided in the moment, because he felt like it. It starts with the chapter 33, where he challenges Seungho by asking him to bring the painter to them. He manipulates the crowd, yet he acts more in the moment, since he acts in such an ostentatious way. He doesn’t hide his intentions. The lord is no fool, he’s well aware of the significance of Min’s words and its outcome but he chooses to overlook it. And here it is again related to pleasure. He would like to taste the artist. Another clue for the lack of real planning appears in chapter 37. Here he lies so obviously and a careful person would have verified his saying. If Jihwa had really investigated, he would have realized that this was no longer true. But Jihwa, really naive, bought his lies and took his words as face-value. This explicates why Min is so amused, when Jihwa appears in tears in chapter 43 at his friend’s pavilion. He had imagined a different reaction, indicating that he wanted to play a prank and mock Jihwa. Notice that even if he incites the red-haired noble to have the painter killed, he never monitors Jihwa’s moves. He never ensures that his acquaintance has indeed hired the killer. He believes that his manipulations will work, underlining that he is not really planning carefully. I would even say that the lord is even overestimating his skills and power. And this becomes even more visible in chapter 52 and 53. First, he is not even capable to hide his involvement in the murder. He literally reveals the truth in front of the painter because he can’t control his emotions. He is definitely caught by surprise. If he was a real strategist, he would have hidden his cards much better. Fortunately for him, the lord was more focused on protecting Baek Na-Kyum in the moment that he didn’t hear the guest’s comments. This observation leads me to the following deductions. Min is strongly influenced by his emotions: either by his jealousy or his desire to enjoy or his pleasure to hurt others. This explicates why this character keeps provoking his host to the point he gets beaten. He doesn’t even care, for him it was fun to make Seungho angry, to humiliate him… but note that no one witnesses Seungho’s humiliation. In his eyes, he had won the game hence he smiled. Yet this is only partially correct because at the end, Seungho put an end to his manipulations. Min’s victories are only superficial, as his plans never truly succeed. He never got to taste the painter in chapter 54. Notice that in chapter 55, Min even reveals his intentions to Jihwa. His desire to taste the painter has grown so strong that he requires Jihwa’s assistance. The trigger for this change is the new erotic painting of Baek Na-Kyum he saw during that night. Note that he is not doing anything on his own. He has to use “hounds” in order to catch his prey, exactly like during the hunt. This displays how much Min values pleasure over caution therefore he should be just considered as a lazy mastermind who lets others do his dirty work.
Since Jihwa is now confronted with the present and forced to make the decision himself, his choice is already linked to Min. Exactly like I had anticipated it, the red-haired noble didn’t decide to eliminate the painter. Hence thanks to Nameless’ good heart, Jihwa chose to send back Baek Na-Kyum to Seungho, however this means that he had disobeyed his master and surrogate father Min. That’s why the latter is forced to become more proactive in the end, he needs to plan something in order to achieve his goal. He can no longer live in the present, he needs to develop new strategies so that he can taste the painter. That’s why in chapter 69, Black Heart is seen dressed like Jihwa. Due to his second failure, Min is forced to change his habits and become more directly involved in the schemes. And this will be his weakness, as he is not a good strategist in reality. Like I had pointed out above, his manipulations are more born in the moment, which we could observe in chapter 66 again. The Joker is still unaware that a servant disappeared and he just revealed Jihwa’s crime in order to punish his pupil. However, this means that if Baek Na-Kyum disappears or gets hurt again, the noble won’t believe that Baek Na-Kyum was trying to run away from him. There will be terrible consequences, and his friend warned him about this.
As a conclusion, Kim and Min’s relationship to time was changed. While the latter is more and more forced to focus on the future to achieve his goal, the other has to make plans so that Yoon Seungho can keep living trapped in the past.
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-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.