Painter Of The Night: Past, present and future – part 1

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.

Chapter 59 marks a turning point in Baek Na-Kyum and Jihwa’s life and both are linked to Yoon Seungho. Since this night represents a pivotal moment in their life, it means that their past will play a huge role in their decision and these made during that night will affect their future for good. This explains why we get many glimpses from the past, like Jihwa’s relationship with Yoon Seungho contrasting to the painter’s with the powerful noble. Due to their memories, the painter and the red-haired noble reflect about their actual situation, the present. As the manhwalovers can imagine, I chose the following illustration for this essay for a certain reason: we have three people and each of them represents time. Jihwa embodies the past, the painter the present and Nameless is the future. The latter will play a huge role in both characters’ life because he is the one who will eliminate the painter, if Jihwa desires it. We could say, the criminal symbolizes not only Jihwa’s future but also his bloody hands. Let’s not forget that Jihwa is already responsible for Deok Jae’s death, although he has no idea about it. Furthermore, the big commoner will also affect Yoon Seungho’s life, since the latter has a special relationship with Jihwa and Baek Na-Kyum. Because Yoon Seungho has a similar function than Jung In-Hun (unfulfilled Jihwa’s love interest mirroring Baek Na-Kyum’s adoration for the scholar), I can imagine that the criminal will first perceive Yoon Seungho as an enemy, in particular since he plans to protect Jihwa. And now, you understand why I selected this title. I’ll examine this chapter under the aspect of past, present and future.

Let’s start with the present where Baek Na-Kyum and Jihwa are in denial about Yoon Seungho’s feelings. Whereas the one was confessed, the other was rejected. Yet both characters have the same reaction, they are struggling to accept it. Nonetheless there’s a huge contrast between both dismissals. While the artist is using the present “It can not be”, the red-haired aristocrat utilizes the past (“wasn’t”) and indirectly the conditional, since he expresses a wish. As you can observe, Jihwa is not living in the present, either in the past or in the future. This is not surprising because Jihwa has always used the past to hurt Yoon Seungho in order to stay by his side, hoping to become his official lover one day (future). We have three evidences for this statement. First, the manhwalovers will recall the letter Jihwa sent to his friend in the name of lord Song. Here, the aristocrat claims that he has been forced to use the past (“bygones”) for he had no other choice. It was the only way to reconnect with his former sex partner as he had been the one pushing away his friend. Because of his belief that commoner are vermins, he couldn’t bear the idea to share his lover with a low-born. Secondly, there is the incident with the cut of a topknot. Jihwa’s hair was cut off by Yoon Seungho, when the former said something terrible so that the main lead recreated the incident with the topknot unconsciously, unable to control his rage and pain. Now, we know for sure that Jihwa must have triggered the lord’s following bad memory . When the protagonist explained in chapter 55 how he felt to the painter, he was actually referring to the rape. When he got rejected by the painter at the pavilion, the painter’s reactions and gaze triggered such negative emotions in Yoon Seungho. He was reminded of his past and the incident with the topknot. Like I had explicated in another analysis, this scene from the protagonist’s past is deeply intertwined with jealousy, rejection, fear of abandonment and his self-hatred due to the negative reflection perceived in the father’s gaze. Hence we have to imagine that Jihwa must have said something about father Yoon, abandonment and Yoon Seungho’s negative image which could only trigger the lord’s fury. The negative reflection is already implied with the idiom “common brute”. As you can observe, the red-haired aristocrat utilizes his knowledge of the past in order to hurt his lover and in my opinion, it was related to Seungho’s abandonment issues. The third evidence for Jihwa’s preference to use the past is visible in the following panel. But why is Jihwa always referring to the past and utilizes it to wound his so-called loved one? In my opinion, Jihwa is well aware that Seungho is suffering from abandonment issues and uses his fear and wounds to maintain his relationship with him. Notice in the last panel the expression “similar things”, this signifies that Jihwa must have intervened much more than the readers have ever witnessed so far. My explication is that each time the red-haired noble feared Seungho had a preference for a certain sex partner, he would get so jealous that he would make sure to get rid of the rival and would torment Yoon Seungho, even threaten to abandon him too. This would explain why Yoon Seungho always forgave Jihwa in the end, as he was the only one who had remained by his side so far. Imagine, Jihwa was even willing to get humiliated if in the end, the friend would maintain his relationship with him. At least, Seungho showed reactions towards him and not indifference. And now, it makes sense why Jihwa was never present at sex sessions with other nobles. He wouldn’t have been able to handle the situation, he would have suffered from immense jealousy. I guess, Yoon Seungho must have conceded to be his exclusive sex partner, when they met that’s why they were always alone. This observation leads me to the following deduction: Jihwa and Seungho had both abandonment issues and the red-haired character used the friend’s weakness in order to hide his own anxieties and abandonment problems. And since the red-haired aristocrat kept backstabbing Seungho (see the incident with the topknot and his insult “common brute”, the letter), it becomes clear why the main lead didn’t distinguish his childhood friend from all the other nobles in chapter 57. One might argue that he was just referring to the letter and Black Heart’s insult here. Yet, now we know for sure that the former sex partner wounded his friend even before the appearance of the painter in their life. Because of his friend’s bad actions, the main lead could never reveal his vulnerabilities out of fear that his loved one would use it as a weapon to hurt him, something he had even experienced with his childhood friend. Jihwa did contribute to his loneliness as the former wanted him to rely on him, to look at him. This also explains why Seungho could never sense Jihwa’s attachment for him.

But let’s return our attention to our second lead. The latter always feared to be abandoned as well. Since he has no family, I have the impression that Jihwa’s tragedy is also linked to father Yoon as the latter declared to the doctor that his son’s friend was also suffering from the same illness. This would explain why the protagonist would feel somehow responsible for him and always forgave him in the end. But by forgiving him, the master contributed to Jihwa’s childish and spoiled behavior. He never asked him once to take responsibilities for his wrongdoings. Jihwa knew, he would be forgiven.

For Jihwa, Seungho was his home therefore he wanted to become his partner. This explicates why he could never accept the thought to share him with others. Just like Seungho was trying to overcome his trauma with sex sessions (defeating the nobles, taking revenge on them), Jihwa was also attempting to cope with his trauma but in a different way: he wanted to be loved by Yoon Seungho. The latter was also hoping to see admiration, love and warmth in his friend’s eyes, dreaming he would see the same gaze Yoon Seungho had in the past but directed at him this time. And now you understand why Jihwa is so obsessed with the past. It was, as if he wanted to return to the past before the tragedy occurred but this was and is impossible. At the same time, his hopes made him project himself in the future. He would get loved by his friend as he was the only one constant lover in the main lead’s life. And now, it becomes more comprehensible why the aristocrat played with time. In his mind, time would help him: the past and the future were his motivations. The consequence of this mindset is that Jihwa was never satisfied with the present, the current situation where he saw Yoon Seungho fooling around with other men. But since his anxiety was his real motivation, he never tried to understand what motivated his friend to act the way he was. He couldn’t see beyond the image of the man obsessed with sex.

And now, you might wonder where the evidences that Jihwa has been traumatized. The first clue are the doctor’s words. Jihwa was declared sick, just like Seungho. In my opinion, with this statement, something bad must have happened to Jihwa, yet his suffering was different to Seungho’s therefore his insecurities are expressed differently. He was never exposed to gangrape and prostitution. The second proof appears when Jihwa declares to his friends this : The expression “the most wretched of states” is an indication that Jihwa must have been suffering as well and Seungho knew about this hence he was always willing to forgive his friend’s pranks and stabs. Even the noble with the mole points out that after such a humiliation and fight, the person would distance himself from the offender for good. But Jihwa justified his behavior by pointing out that he had a special position in Seungho’s life without revealing too much. He was connected to Yoon Seungho by their past and knew about his nightmares and his insomnia. Jihwa knew that lord Song was responsible for this and this made him superior and privileged. Besides, he could feel a certain empathy to his childhood friend, like the noble’s tears prove it. But because of his own trauma, he could never love the friend selflessly hence his empathy was limited in the end. In other words, they had a very toxic relationship. Seungho could never escape from his traumatic past as Jihwa kept reminding him.

However, the dynamic changed the moment Yoon Seungho met the painter. The master felt first a connection with the artist through his art and when he saw him for the first time, he fell in love with him, unaware of his own feelings. From my perspective, Jihwa saw in Baek Na-Kyum a potential thread very early on, therefore he examined the painter in chapter 5and was pleased to discover that the low-born was a virgin, thinking that the main lead was only interested in experienced lovers. Consequently he felt reassured first. However, due to Seungho’s rejection in the same night and his friend’s comment, Jihwa realized his mistake. Besides, he was upset that the lord had organized a sex session again and decided to ruin the painting. He knew that Yoon Seungho would get very angry and had already envisioned that Baek Na-Kyum would get punished. And this shows that Jihwa’s prank was not the only plot he did behind his friend’s back. He knew exactly which trigger he could pull in order to infuriate and wound his lover. Observe that Jihwa is comparing the painter to a toy. These words are relevant for two reasons. First Jihwa tries to diminish the importance of the protagonist’s sex partners. They are just toys, while in reality he considers them as rivals. Consequently, he needs to make sure that they are just toys for his lover and nothing more. In his mind, they are no humans, just pawns for the friend’s distraction, he is trying to reassure himself in the end. But in my opinion, his mouth is actually contradicting his own heart, as he was never satisfied with the situation that Seungho had many lovers. He felt really upset and betrayed hence in his heart, he always resented his childhood friend which he finally admitted in his love confession.

Now if you pay attention to Jihwa’s actions, you will notice a certain pattern: insecurities, jealousy, afflicting pain to the so-called loved one, entering Seungho’s house without any invitation (chapter 10, 12, 17, 43), planting and using a spy (chapter 10, 13,17, 18), sending his own servant in order to dig for more info (chapter 41), trying to isolate Seungho from others perceived as rivals. In one of my former analyses about Jihwa, I described his love as superficial and selfish. But now, with this new chapter, I have come to the following judgement. The red-haired noble is suffering from obsessive love disorder which actually fits my interpretation about this character. The latter has a corrupted heart hence his love for his childhood friend is selfish and impure. [read my analysis called White versus Black] This is what I found about this disorder and its symptoms:

  1. Low self-esteem/a tendency of needing excessive reassurance
  2. Obsessively talking about their loved object: observe how Seungho is always the topic of Jihwa’s conversation (chapter 3, 8, 12, 17, 37, 41,43, 51, 57, 59). Even alone, his thoughts are all focused on his friend. He buys an erotic painting, although you sense his lack of interest for that picture. He looks at it rather bored.
  3. Making repeated calls, texts, and/or faxes to the love object (unannounced visit, like in the chapter 12; the sudden visit in chapter 43, the letter in chapter 56)
  4. Unwanted intensive attention to the love object
  5. A tendency to have extremely good or bad (not balanced) feelings about someone (see his hatred for the painter and his love for Seungho justifying all the wrongdoings)
  6. A tendency to focus on only the positive or the negative aspects of their loved one: Jihwa keeps pointing out his flaws (“common brute”,
  7. Trouble focusing on work, recreation, socializing, or other aspects of their lives outside of the object of their affection: notice, his interactions with Min and the noble with the mole are all evolving around his loved one. He keeps drinking (chapter 12, 37, 41, 51, 57, 59)
  8. Attempts to monitor or otherwise control their love object’s life and activities: hired spy, asking his servants to dig info about Seungho’s movements through the servants
  9. Excessive joy, to the point of relief, when able to get in touch with or be with their love object: (we never saw his face on the way to the mansion here but based on his robes, we can definitely assume that he was happy. He imagined that because of the brother’s visit, he had a reason to pay him a visit and they would reconcile) quoted from

Remember what I wrote about this jealous and impulsive character: he is the noble version of the painter, yet the difference is that his heart has been corrupted. However, just like Baek Na-Kyum, he has been brainwashed but his doctrine diverges from the painter’s. Jihwa was forced to look down on commoners in my opinion, just like the artist was coerced to disdain homosexuality. And like I mentioned above, his fear to be abandoned and isolated are the reason why he holds onto Seungho. In other words, he wanted Seungho to be responsible for him, hence he kept his childish side. However, the rich protagonist could never become responsible for him as he was himself immature and selfish due to his own trauma. And the lord’s forgiveness never helped Jihwa to change, even reinforced his bad habits. And imagine his feelings, when Seungho described him as very similar to Min, Jihwa saw himself cornered. He needed to use his love for him as a justification for his wrongdoings. By confessing in public, he hoped, the lord would finally become responsible and accept his feelings. Besides, observe that in his confession, he even utilized the past again as legitimation.

As you can observe, Jihwa had abandonment issues, felt immense jealousy and obsession to the point to hurt Seungho in order to remain by his side. Therefore I come to the following explication that Jihwa is not really in love with his friend. The second lead doesn’t really know and understand him that well in the end, which Seungho outlines, when he rejects his ex-lover. The red-haired aristocrat just knows a little bit of his past but doesn’t truly comprehend Seungho’s suffering. He just saw the symptoms but is not aware of the real source of his nightmares (the true events). His obsessive love disorder stands in opposition to the painter’s pure adoration. While Jihwa only saw his friend’s flaws, the artist was doing the opposite. He idealized his learned sir to the point that he was used. With these two examples, Byeonduck clearly illustrates what true love really means: accept a person with his qualities and flaws and being selfless. Real love shouldn’t make someone blind as it can only lead to disappointment.

And now, the manhwalovers understand why the painter disrupted their toxic relationship and forced the protagonist to cut ties with Jihwa for good. Both were somehow abandoned hence they clinched to each other. But Jihwa is still blind, he has never learnt to take responsibility for any wrong action, since he always blames his childhood friend or the painter which is repeated in this chapter again. If the painter was removed from his childhood friend’s side, then everything would return to normality. For the red-haired aristocrat, there’s only one explication why he has been rejected and the protagonist has definitely cut ties with him for good. For Jihwa, Baek Na-Kyum is responsible for his failure. And without him, a future with the childhood friend would become possible again. However, Jihwa is not only blind to his own shortcomings, he is also definitely deaf, just like the painter was, when he lost his surrogate father. Note that Seungho made it clear that he would never love him and he should give up on this illusion. The lord declared that they had no future together but Jihwa is unable to accept and represses these words. He prefers blaming someone like he has always done in the past. And in my opinion, the past is the reason why Jihwa never reflected on himself and questioned people’s actions, words and intentions. It served as justification for his actions, overlooking that he is neglecting the present. Therefore he couldn’t see that he is being used by Min, when the latter suggested to hire an assassin in order to get rid of the artist.

And now, it is time to focus on the painter who is also struggling with his current position. While Baek Na-Kyum’s conscious has problem to accept the obvious as he repeats the same expression, we shouldn’t forget that he states this after recalling all the things the lord did for him: he gave up his room for him, he sent the doctor for him, gave him expensive medicine but he even cleaned himself the painter after each sex session. And this picture is actually revealing what happened after their first night, as we see the painter’s swollen eyes, while he is asleep. Striking is that when the head maid of the kitchen announced him that the lord would care for him very much, he couldn’t believe his own ears so that he had to ask her for a confirmation. this displays how his mind was refusing to see and hear what his heart and unconscious was already sensing. There’s a reason for his resistance. The manhwaphiles should remember that the painter’s conscious has always represented his strength but also his last wall of protection. This explains why it took the noble a very long time to be able to remove the doctrines imposed by Jung In-Hun on the low-born. At the same time, his unconscious was always the one telling the painter what he truly wished deep down. Consequently, we witness how Baek Na-Kyum dreams of Yoon Seungho’s love confession first but when it happens, his mind can’t process it. It’s too crazy to accept this truth. But if you pay attention, despite his reluctance to accept the obvious, his face is red showing how much these memories and this reality affect him. He is definitely moved. This reminds us of the lord’s attitude who denied his feelings for the low-born. We could say that Baek Na-Kyum is experiencing a similar situation. And the flashbacks reveal the disappearance of the scholar’s influence in Baek Na-Kyum’s life. He only appears once and just as a reminder. Back then, the low-born felt a little hurt by Jung In-Hun’s comment and now, he feels nothing. He just remembers his words and nothing more. Slowly, the painter is accepting the reality that Seungho loves him and has cared for him for a long time.

And now, if we compare these three panels, you’ll observe the huge contrast in the way the ukes are affecting the main lead. Observe in the first picture how Seungho has already removed the cover, while he keeps Jihwa at a certain distance. Sure, he is not pushing him away, yet he is not allowing him to embrace him. His hand and arm stand between them, as if there existed a wall between them. This is not the case with the painter. First, the lord is hugging Baek Na-Kyum very tightly, he is still refusing the cover, yet he is able to lie down. I am quite sure that after that night, he felt more refreshed and relaxed as he had been able to sleep a little, even if he had a nightmare. And now, in chapter 59, there’s another huge progression. He is lying next to the painter, accepting the cover and he doesn’t sense his lover’s caress on the cheek. For the first time, he is deeply sleeping. Sure, one might argue that he is sick, yet I doubt that the illness explains everything. In my opinion, the fact that Baek Na-Kyum accepted his confession and made love in that room could only make him happy. For the first time, someone accepted him without criticizing or blaming him. He was allowed to be himself and to show his vulnerabilities without getting hurt. Jihwa never saw the real signification of Seungho’s gestures, when he spent the night with him. Since he is overlooking the present, he had the impression that this night together had brought them closer, while it was not the case. Seungho had sensed that Jihwa couldn’t give him the comfort needed. But since Jihwa had spent one night with him, it became a memory and a justification to claim that he knew his friend better than everyone else.

As a conclusion, in chapter 59, Jihwa’s past with Seungho reveal a lot about the nature of their relationship and Jihwa’s personality. This is very important because I was able to understand why Yoon Seungho could never open up to Jihwa and why the latter would hurt his childhood friend. In my opinion, the chapter 59 marks a turning point in the main characters’ life. This is not just about Jihwa but also Seungho and Baek Na-Kyum.

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.

8 thoughts on “Painter Of The Night: Past, present and future – part 1

  1. I literally went from loving Jihwa’s character ( bc of the drama lol), to simply empathizing with him to completely hating him xD THANK YOU FOR THIS I READ IT TWO TIMES IT WAS TOO GOOD.

    I feel bad for Seungho even more, having to deal with him as he has no other choice! Because if Nakyum or someone else loved him wholeheartedly and had the guts to confront Jihwa about it, I doubt he’d still be in his current position in Seungho’s life. If he did ‘similar things in the past’ then it gives me the impression that Min’s gaslighting just added to his broken heart and rash decisions, but he was already spoiled and never innocent in the first place.

    Using someone’s traumas and knowing which strings to pull to get the outcome that you want are not the signs of an innocent person who could be a victim. If there’s a victim between him and Seungho, it’s definitely Seungho ;-;

    side note: I love seeing Seungho sleep peacefully for the first time. Not like after his brother’s visit where he was always on guard or tensed. He literally had his guard down :’)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t really like Jihwa in the first place but now, I’ve come to understand him better. He’s traumatized but it’s nothing compared to Yoon Seungho. Nameless is the right person for him who will show him his true image. I also have the impression, Seungho wasn’t Jihwa’s first sex partner in the first place. The fact that he can recognize a virgin, whereas Seungho can not is quite telling.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just wonder what Nameless will do in the next chapter. Will he let Jihwa torment Nakyum or will he stop him from doing so? Since he knows Jihwa can’t take having blood in his hands.

        or will he play with Jihwa’s conscience? Since I doubt he brought Nakyum there for no reason. It might be to let Jihwa realize the consequences if he hurts/kill Nakyum.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. IMO NAmeless wants to confront Jihwa with his choice. He heard Jihwa talking about the past and future. So he knew that if he did nothing, Jihwa would him or BNK or Seungho. So now, he has to make the decision himself and can no longer put the blame on someone else. If Nameless hadn’t caught BNK, Jihwa would have blamed everyone except himself. IF he lets Nameless kill the painter, he has to be responsible for his own decision. Nameless confronts him with the present.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for that note. It helps to better understand Jihwa indeed.

    I can only agree that Jihwa is really toxic for Seungho, both in active and passive ways : as he always uses his knowledge about the lord to hurt SH, and as he is a constant reminder of SH’s traumatic past. I feel like SH will have to completely cut ties with Jihwa in order to heal… What do you think? Except maybe if Jihwa reflects on his behaviour and changes (mainly by moving the object of his affection to a healthy one).

    I didn’t like Jihwa very much already, but now I think he’s really despicable ! xD However, I still hope he would have a redemption arc in the story…

    Out of curiosity, do you plan to write a note about Nameless specifically ?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For me, Jihwa will find redemption but he has a long way to go. Remember BNK suffered very much in the first season, Jihwa will suffer in the second season too. However, I feel that BNK will be the model for Jihwa and Seungho, to learn what real forgiveness means.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. bonsoir,
    tout d’abord, je tenais a vous remercier pour vos analyses si pertinentes que j’ai toutes dévorées. je vous ai découvert grace a “theprocrastinatingredkitty” qui est mon “lexique ultra détaillé” me permettant de comprendre bon nombre de scènes liées aux coutumes et a l’histoire de la Corée.
    Vos références littéraires font écho aux miennes, vestiges de mes lectures et de mes années de lycée. La Princesse de Clèves persiste dans mon esprit cependant, chaque fois que j’étudie a nouveau la personnalité de NaKyum, son vœu de chasteté et l’entourage Noble….
    je ne peux résumer en un message, toutes les pensées qui se sont bousculées a chaque lecture d’une nouvelle analyse, donc je vais abréger.
    Parlons de Jihwa : cet amour obsessionnel qui est limite de la maladie mentale comme l’érotomanie, me donne a penser qu’il est une des sources des maux de Seungho.
    D’ailleurs, sa description aux nobles de la “complicité unique” qui les lient, Sngo et lui, a quand même un petit côté érotomane….
    Cette obsession dépourvue d’empathie quant a l’objet de son désir, ce besoin viscéral de possession a dû provoquer quelques malentendus, notamment dans les familles.
    l’enfer est pavé de bonnes intentions… mais l’attirance de Jihwa n’est pas bien intentionnée!
    Jihwa, repoussé dans la chambre de SNGO, pleure (encore!!!) parcequ’il est rejeté et non par inquiétude pour l’être qu’il aime.
    Je crains que nous découvrions au fil des chapitres, les autres “bêtises” que SNGO avait pardonné par amitié et qui n’ont fait que compliquer sa situation ….
    je vous remercie pour votre travail et pour votre attention

    Liked by 1 person

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