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.
Like I explained it in the first essay about the alternative universe of Painter Of The Night, the first special episode helped me to understand much better the original version. In this essay, I’ll explain my newly gained knowledge.
Everything starts with the following panel. Here, the noble Baek Na-Kyum is running away. His heart is making the sound “thump, thump” and his face is red. Why? He is leaving the market place in a hurry because his eyes saw Yoon Seungho for the first time. However, on the surface it looks like he is just avoiding an embarrassing situation. His escape seems to be caused by his shame. He has been caught in the act saying something nasty, since the commoner smirked to him after hearing his bad comment. However, remember that first impressions can be deceiving. For me, the moment their eyes meet, the innocent man’s faces blushes. Note that his reddening is actually stronger than when he was looking at his crush, his servant Jung In-Hun. Then you have to imagine that his heart starts racing, a sign that he is physically attracted to the infamous low-born but we don’t see it yet. In my opinion, his reactions are not just the results of shame, when the manhwalovers witness the aristocrat’s heartbeat and his blush while running. One might argue, this is related to his speed, as he rushes to his home. However, during the night in his bed, Baek Na-Kyum’s heart is still beating strongly, displaying excitement, just like the reddening has not vanished yet. He showed a similar reaction, when he was dealing with the merchant. He was enthusiastic too, imagining that he would get paid a lot. However, the sound of the heartbeat (“thump”) diverges in the escape scene. The explication is simple. The arousal was masked by the run therefore the “badum/badum” turned into a “thump”, yet we have to imagine, it was already present. Once back home, the racing of his heart and his blush never stopped. Even lying down, he is still agitated, aroused and can’t calm down. He can’t forget Seungho’s face, engraved in his memory so that he is able to create a masterpiece.
Consequently, I come to the following interpretation. Baek Na-Kyum’s body reacted immediately to the commoner. He blushed and his heart raced but everything was masked by his external behavior. This overlap explains why the noble won’t be able to distinguish his true feelings but he will link it to embarrassment and shame. Besides, it occurred twice.
Striking is that even the presence of blood running down from his nose didn’t repel the aristocrat. The latter overlooked the red cheek as well because he was so fascinated by Yoon Seungho’s sex appeal, especially his gaze. In other words, the bruises couldn’t diminish his charisma so that the noble’s sexuality was awakened in a second. His heart made noises which only Baek Na-Kyum could hear. Surprised by his own reactions which he can not control, he runs away to hide his emotions. He has no idea why his heart is racing like that which scares him. He has never been confronted with such a situation before.
And this scene made me realize that in the original, Baek Na-Kyum’s heartbeat was only witnessed in chapter 34 and 35 and not before. In this image, the manhwaworms hear the painter’s heartbeat for the first time which is actually triggered by Yoon Seungho’s return. He is so surprised by his physical reaction that he is left speechless first. Observe that the racing of his heart is accompanied with his blushing face, just like in the alternative universe. The painter gets agitated as he can not control his body and his heart. He would like to hide this from the noble and gives a good excuse for his departure. The lord needs his bed hence he has to return to his own room. As you can see, the desertion in chapter 34 resembles a lot to the one in the first episode from the alternative universe. Since he can’t control the racing of his heart, he wonders about its cause and nature. He associates it to fear because he has always trembled in front of his lord before, while his noble version will always link it to embarrassment. Yet he notices the difference as he feels some butterflies inside. As the scene at the market resembles a lot to the chapter 34 and the special episode introduces their first meeting, it gives us another dimension of their true relationship. The painter was attracted to him right away and through Yoon Seungho, his real sexual appetite was awakened. But why don’t we witness the racing of the painter’s heart before, when it was clear that he was attracted to him physically before? He had wet dreams, erections and felt the need to masturbate before.
In my opinion, it is related to the coercive persuasion and it consequences. Due to the abuse, Baek Na-Kyum’s body had been imprisoned. In other words, he was no longer the owner of his own body. Therefore I see in the return of the heartbeat a proof that the real target of Jung In-Hun’s violence was not truly homosexuality but sexuality in general. He made sure that the painter would no longer feel his body, this explicates why he became a drunk. We could say, he transformed the low-born into a zombie, a living corpse. Since Baek Na-Kyum could no longer feel his body, he needed to cover up the loss and the numbness with alcohol. And now, you understand why Baek Na-Kyum’s love for the low noble was so “pure” and spiritual, his mind was the only thing he could use, since he had been deprived of his own body and as such his heart. Hence when Byeonduck created this wonderful panel, she gave us a clue that the first day dream represented the first step of liberation of Baek Na-Kyum’s body. Nevertheless, this only happened during a dream, hence his body was only superficially liberated. The biggest hindrance was his mind because it was also poisoned by the scholar’s doctrines. The wet dreams were relevant as it announced the return of his senses. There, all his senses were triggered and awakened. Slowly, he was regaining control of his own body. And now imagine what the painter must have experienced that he decided to give up on his own body.
Thanks to his encounter with Yoon Seungho, his imprisoned body got released. His senses are gradually returning to life which explains why he masturbates for the first time in chapter 9. And the racing of his heart marks the pivotal moment in Baek Na-Kyum’s life. He is finally the owner of his own body and he can decide whom he can love. That’s why he can be disappointed in his teacher (chapter 35) and even lie to him in chapter 38. The reason for the return of his heartbeat is the sex marathon where he was confronted with his own image. There, he saw his own pleasure and felt it as well. However, the shock was too big hence he fell ill. With this new revelation it becomes understandable why Yoon Seungho met so much resistance in the end. He had to fight on two different levels: liberate the painter’s body and mind. It was not just about denial of his own sexual orientation, but sex in general. At the end of the first season, he had succeeded to free the painter’s body but that was it. The second “confrontation” in chapters 48/49 marked the last battle where the painter’s mind is finally freed. This was the new version of the sex marathon. Observe the parallels and divergences between the two pictures: Their positions are similar, the lord’s gaze is also directed towards the artist, yet there are two huge contrasts. First, in the second picture the readers witness Seungho’s gaze full of agony. Moreover, he can not truly see the artist’s facial expressions as there is no mirror during this night. So he is imagining that he is afflicting pain on the artist and feels remorse but he senses that this is necessary, whereas it is not true like the painting exposes it later. The noble pleasured the painter and his refusals were just the last wall of defense in his mind.
And now his confession in chapter 41 gets a new dimension. For the first time, he mentions his heart in front of the lord and voices his fear. Note that he is associating fear to his heart pounding illustrating that he hasn’t understood its signification. This was actually a love confession but the master couldn’t perceive it as such because it started with a reproach: “you scare me so much”. And now, if you look at the confession in chapter 49 where he speaks again about his heart , the connection between fear and heart racing has finally disappeared. On the other hand, the artist reduces it to a physical attraction. When their eye meet, he gets aroused, exactly like I had described with the scene from the alternative universe. This evolution exposes his lack of discernment. He is still unable to interpret the heartbeat “badum, badum” correctly. Therefore I don’t think, we can say that Baek Na-Kyum was denying his own feelings. It is just that he never understood what his heart pounding meant. And the source for his misinterpretation is the feelings he had for his teacher, just like in the alternative universe. Observe that this expression is only connected to his eye and not his body. Jung In-Hun is handsome but that’s it. He doesn’t feel the need to hug or touch him. He is already content with buying him glasses. This reminds me of Courtly love (Minne in German and Amour courtois in French) from European Middle Age. It is a literary conception of love that emphasized nobility and chivalry. Medieval literature is filled with examples of knights setting out on adventures and performing various deeds or services for ladies because of their “courtly love”. There is no sex, their act of loving is purely mental. As you can imagine, this was just fiction, just like in our manhwa. In both versions, Jung In-Hun is in fact associated to dream and not reality. The cat is the one that brings back the noble Baek Na-Kyum to reality. That’s why his courtly love for his learned sir is doomed to failure. It is just an illusion, a fiction because it doesn’t reflect people’s true personality. The characters in Medieval literature were portrayed as heroes, dedicated to their lady and people, while knights in reality were often the opposite. They were just soldiers and killed women and orphans for their lord. And notice that once the pure main lead recalls all the good deeds Yoon Seungho did for him, the heart pounding resurfaces accompanied with the blushing. He is still denying the lord’s feelings but since there was a confession, the painter will be able to connect his heart racing to love. The good deeds have nothing to do with sex, yet his body is still reacting therefore you can comprehend why in the next chapter 60, he screams Yoon Seungho’s name begging him to save him. The kidnapping was just the trigger for him to recognize that his lord had already entered his mind and his heart.
The tragedy is that Yoon Seungho has still no idea why the painter rejected him so many times before. He took it personally, whereas in reality the true cause was the brainwashing and trauma left by the abuse. Honestly, I am looking forward for the moment the powerful protagonist realizes the true nature of the relationship between the vicious teacher and his student. And the special chapter from the alternative universe revealed the importance of the painter’s heart beat in the original. If he had not been brainwashed and abused, the artist would have fallen immediately for the noble. However, his affection for him has always been destined not to come to realization right away. The character is always doomed to confuse love with fear or shame. On the other hand, it illustrates the complexity to discern emotions, when it comes to true love.
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