This is where you can read the manhwa. https://www.lezhinus.com/en/comic/painter But be aware that this manhwa is 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 this analysis, I will focus on the main lead’s brother, Yoon Seung-Won, who has just appeared in three chapters since the beginning: 37, 44 and 55. On the surface, it looks like it is impossible to get much info about this character, yet this impression is incorrect for two reasons. First, I have already written two essays about this character, showing that by examining the panels and his words more closely, we could definitely analyze his personality and judge him. https://bebebisous33analyses.wordpress.com/2020/06/30/painter-of-the-night-an-accomplice-a-pawn-or-an-innocent/ and https://bebebisous33analyses.wordpress.com/2020/07/24/painter-of-the-night-the-animal-representing-yoon-seung-won/ (Unfortunately, these compositions are the lest read essays)
Yet, back then, I had only two chapters to examine and now, we have a new panel, where the younger master appears. Secondly, the more we get to know Yoon Seungho’s past, the more we discover his family and as such the brother as well. I have already determined that Yoon Seungho’s traumatic past is not related to one incident, but he was exposed to abuse over a long period. I have even developed the idea that his father abused him sexually. Therefore, with this new knowledge, the behavior of Seung-Won needs to be reexamined. In my first analysis, I had questioned his role in the protagonist’s suffering: Was he an accomplice, an innocent or a pawn? And once again, this question will be in the center of this composition.
Back then, I had the impression that in this panel, we were seeing Yoon Seung-Won as a teenager: (chapter 55) Many readers were able to recognize the younger master trying to walk into Yoon Seungho’s direction, while the latter was lying on the ground. Why? It was, because of the brother and father’s gestures. Father Yoon stopped his younger son to join his brother’s side with his hand, while Yoon Seung-Won’s foot is moving. Due to these actions, the manhwalovers saw it as a good sign from Yoon Seung-Won’s part. The latter desired to help his brother, yet their mean and strict father requested him not to. It looks like Yoon Seung-Won had some affection for his older brother in the past, yet the father ruined their bound. However, what the manhwaworms shouldn’t forget in this panel are the two following aspects:
- This incident marked the beginning of Yoon Seungho’s trauma, which caused all his disorders. We should keep in our mind that when the lord confessed that he was sent back to his past, each time he saw the painter’s face expressing rejection, he was reminded of the moment, when father Yoon chose his younger son over him. This incident is strongly associated to jealousy, and the love triangle between the scholar, the artist and the protagonist was the trigger. The rejection from Baek Na-Kyum in chapter 25 made him think of the moment, when father Yoon pushed him away and even showed a disgusted face, while he could observe the father favoring Yoon Seung-Won.
- Father Yoon was teaching the younger master a lesson: his brother should be treated like a commoner, a servant. He had no right, hence he was just a possession. Since I have already established that Yoon Seungho was exposed to coercive persuasion and to physical abuse, this scene can serve as a proof that the young boy witnessed the violence used on his brother. Besides, the young boy saw, how the older brother was kept captive in the mansion for a long time. Even with a certain age gap (6 – 7 years), Yoon Seung-Won was old enough to understand that the father imprisoned his brother, when the latter was a teenager. (chapter 57)
Hence I can definitely state that Yoon Seung-Won was not ignorant of the harsh treatment his brother was exposed to. I believe that this panel represents the moment, when the main character lost his topknot. (chapter 55) It is also possible that during that event, the young man was punished with a straw mat beating, while the cut of the topknot represented the climax of his public humiliation and abandonment. Yoon Seung-Won looks like a teenager, since he is dressed the same way than his older brother was. (chapter 57). It was, as though father Yoon had chosen to replace Yoon Seungho with his second son, and was determined to see Yoon Seung-Won as his future heir. However, I believe, the special treatment started before this. Anyway, the younger master was old enough to witness the public humiliation and to comprehend the implication. He might have not known the whole truth behind the incident with the topknot (the plot and the purge), yet since the lord’s suffering is not connected to one incident, but happened over a long period, I doubt that Yoon Seung-Won was totally oblivious of his brother’s misery. I believe the opposite in reality.
On the other hand, it becomes comprehensible why the younger master didn’t intervene back then. He was just a teenager and had no power to protest or contest his father’s decision. (chapter 55) He was weak and vulnerable, just like his elder brother had been at the same age. He had to follow his father. Yet, this panel is important in my opinion for two reasons. It shows that Yoon Seung-Won was taught the same principles than his brother’s: strict obedience to the father and treat people like pawns and possessions, in particular Yoon Seungho. Secondly, we have to imagine that in the past, the main lead must have followed blindly his father’s orders in order to get recognition and acceptance, till he was treated like a commoner and a monstrosity, hence the dimension of the father’s abandonment and betrayal becomes significant. Imagine, he did everything in order to please his father (even prostitution), only to be left behind and treated like dirt. No wonder, why Yoon Seungho became jealous of his brother and why he felt so hurt by his father. This explains his obsession with the question mark: “why?”. Why did his father make such a decision, why did he choose Yoon Seung-Won over him?
The younger master had done nothing like him, yet he was never treated like him: captivity, abuse and prostitution. Even if the theory of the incest is wrong, there is no doubt that Yoon Seungho was exposed to a huge amount of violence from his father, like the bruised face displays it in the following panel. (chapter 57) What the protagonist failed to understand is that his father must have blamed him for the loss of his big dream. There’s no doubt that the father resented his son deeply, because he explained the source of his failure in the plot with his son’s behavior, especially if the main character became the tool for his own survival.
Finally, since I have already assumed that the main lead tried to flee the mansion once, the younger master must have heard about it as well and seen his father’s reaction. That’s why I come to the conclusion that by living by his father’s side, the younger brother became an accomplice in the end. At the same time, his thinking must have been influenced by his father’s words and behavior. Since the older brother was conditioned, then the brother must have been taught as well. Yet the methods diverged. While the one was the object of coercive persuasion, the other was a witness of that teaching. Since the main lead was treated harshly by the father, Yoon Seung-Won learnt the following lesson: his older brother is just a tool, a possession used for the family’s power.
Consequently, the lord’s words in chapter 37 mirrors the truth: (chapter 37) The younger brother was taught his father’s principles too, but unlike Yoon Seungho, the younger brother is NOT living according to their father’s rules. This means that he is living differently. And now we have to question this: how is his life different?
The first reply would be that he is no homosexual. Yet now with the new knowledge, I perceive the master’s words under a different perspective. Here, he is not just talking about sodomy, but also about prostitution. One of the father’s rules I could determine was: sex is a battle and as such an exchange of favors. That’s the reason why Yoon Seungho became the infamous hell-raiser, the biggest sodomite of Joseon. In his mind, he is applying his father’s principles to the extreme in order to humiliate his father and to point out his hypocrisy. And now, I believe that the prostitution took place in the mansion, hence the doors were closed. That’s the reason why the protagonist became a prisoner, as he could expose what was happening in the domain. The huge mansion became a brothel in the end. Envision the irony of the situation: while Baek Na-Kyum was truly raised at a brothel, where he was loved and treated like a real son, the other had to experience the opposite. On the surface, he was a noble living in comfort and surrounded by servants, in reality his position was the opposite. He was just a whore for the father’s interest. Since the father despised sodomy, the latter had another reason to act in the shadow. Now, we know for sure that the sexual abuse occurred during the nights explaining the protagonist’s insomnia. This signifies that the father didn’t abuse his son sexually, but he allowed it for his own selfish interest. One thing is sure that the young man was sexually assaulted for a long time and the perpetrator was the mysterious lord Song. Nonetheless, I am certain that the main lead’s traumas are linked to constant sexual assaults, prostitution, physical violence, and since everything happened at the mansion, there’s no doubt that the younger master knew about the existence of sex sessions and the role played by his brother. That’s why we need to take another look at the picture:
Here, he is telling the brother that it is his turn to follow their father’s doctrines. This can only be right, as Yoon Seungho as the eldest son had to live according to these doctrines first. Now, Yoon Seung-Won should become a whore, if necessary. And notice the brother’s embarrassment. He avoids his brother’s gaze. He can not deny it, for if he did, he would have to reveal the true identity of the “pedophile”. Hence the younger master is humiliated. The younger master can not argue with this point. That’s the reason why I come to the conclusion that the brother has already internalized his father’s values: Yoon Seungho should keep working for the family, like he did in the past. He should use his connection. He is truly viewing his brother as an accessory for the family’s benefit. And it is time to examine the chapter 37 one more time. In the first composition, I had demonstrated that the brother was selfish, insensitive and quite arrogant, since he never asked his brother about his well-being. All his business mattered. But I can add more layers to his description and it starts with the way he was introduced.
(chapter 37) The younger master sent many letters to Yoon Seungho, while using his father’s name. While the loyal valet had the impression that these letters were written by the elder master, the protagonist was well aware of the subterfuge. He could recognize his brother’s writing. That’s why he burnt the letter without reading the content. And this interpretation can be confirmed with the character’s confession in chapter 37. (chapter 37) However, I can bring up another evidence for this conclusion: the fake letter from lord Song. (chapter 56) The forged message was a new version of the letter in chapter 35. And under this light, we can judge the character in a rather negative way. He is acting like Jihwa, using his knowledge of the past to his advantage. He desires to use his father’s power over his elder brother to achieve his goal: getting the support from his older brother so that he can please his father.
From my point of view, Yoon Seung-Won attempted to get in contact with his brother in order to get connections, and as such to obtain a high position as an official, he wanted to take the easy way. Since the family’s power was declining(chapter 13), Yoon Seung-Won was asked by the father to restore the family’s influence. But since he had witnessed how his father obtained his support, he thought, he could employ the same method: using Yoon Seungho. One might argue that the poor boy is pressured now by father Yoon and the weight of the expectations can be extremely burdensome. However, here I would like to point out that unlike the main lead, Yoon Seung-Won was never trapped in the mansion and not hindered to participate in the service civil examination. Furthermore, he was never exposed to any kind of violence. He was allowed to roam freely, yet in my opinion, all this time the younger master relied on his father’s power and influence. Seeing that the letters didn’t provoke any reaction, the young noble paid the lord a visit, as he was pressured by the time. And what caught my attention is that once asked about the motive of his visit, he replied to the main character: (chapter 37) He mentioned his father directly, but he never answered to the question properly, since he didn’t announce the true reason for his visit. Why? Since he used the name of his father in the letters and in the conversation, I can only deduce that the brother knows the true power of father Yoon over the main character. He is actually playing with the protagonist’s fear and he knows it too well. Notice his hands: they show a certain discomfort, indicating that he is well aware of the signification of his words. One might argue that he has been pressured by the father and he is just a pawn. To this, I can only retort that he is doing the same to his brother. By asking him to visit their father, he is not just requesting from his brother to reconnect with their family, but also to submit himself to father Yoon. In other words, the elder master could utilize Yoon Seungho’s connections and wealth for their family’s interest. Besides, this would signify that the father would become the main lead’s pimp again. As the new head of the family, father Yoon could decide to treat his eldest son like in the past. And if my theory of the incest is correct, then this means that Yoon Seung-Won is asking his brother to relive a hell again. This is not surprising that the lord gets upset and becomes cynical: (chapter 37) Who would accept such a suggestion after getting treated like an sex toy, a prisoner and as a pariah at the end? And now envision that Yoon Seungho has been exposed to physical and sexual abuse because of his father. This scene reveals the selfishness and cowardice of the brother. This is not surprising that the lord clenches his fist, and his hand is shaking: there’s definitely fear due to the father and anger towards his brother. Yoon Seung-Won knows his father’s rules, but he doesn’t desire to apply them, as he is well aware of the meaning. And now the following panel gets another significance: He desires to have a private conversation and suggests his brother to send away the painter. His reason is simple: he would like to appeal to his brother’s compassion, he must be in a rather difficult situation. His father is now relying on him. But since the master of the mansion is not following this suggestion, the brother chooses to mention the father. The illness is an excuse, but Yoon Seung-Won is determined to maintain his image as a loyal and honorable son. Yet, like I pointed out earlier, the true intention with the father’s evocation is to put Yoon Seungho under pressure. And now, I would like to bring another evidence that the younger master is well aware of his brother’s fear in front of their father. He witnessed the constant abuse, and as such he noticed and internalized the brother’s anxieties. Remember that the moment Jihwa heard that the brother had visited Yoon Seungho, Jihwa chose to rush to his childhood friend’s mansion. Why? He knew that Yoon Seung-Won’s visitation would torment the main lead and provoke nightmares, indicating that this must have happened in the past well. And since the main lead is connecting his brother to his past trauma, then this reveals that the younger master is related to the protagonist’s suffering. Why? In my opinion, Yoon Seung-Won must have been favored all this time, whereas the powerful noble was just treated like a servant. In other words, even if the younger brother was weak as well, he never tried to help his brother behind his father’s back. This explains the resent from the protagonist. He can never consider him as a relative. Let’s not forget that when the elder master moved from the house, only valet Kim remained by the main lead’s side, showing that all the other servants sided with Yoon Seung-Won and the father.
Therefore I come to the deduction that the younger master has been negatively influenced by his father. He definitely treats his brother like a possession, acts as a righteous person (chapter 37), while in reality he is just a hypocrite. I would even add, he is quite immoral. He lies about the illness, fakes letters in the sense that he uses his father’s name and authority. Then he utilizes social norms (“the right thing”), though he is well aware what the visit would mean for his brother. I also perceive an evidence of father Yoon’s influence in the younger master’s behavior: his words and behavior. Remember that I connected the lies to the protagonist’s dissociative episodes, indicating that the elder master must have punished his eldest son, when he imagined that he had been lied to. Observe the reaction Yoon Seung-Won has, when he realizes that Kim has been lying to him: (chapter 37)He gets outraged and yelled to the butler, although he is not the lord of the mansion. Striking is that he would have opened the door(chapter 37), if the painter hadn’t screamed through the door. Not recognizing the voice from the inside, the young man got surprised and stopped. And this single gesture outlines his disrespect towards his elder brother in reality. I had already observed his selfishness and lack of sensitivity, but with the new elements, I can definitely determine that the younger brother has indeed internalized father Yoon’s values. He treats servants and commoners like people with no right. His tone is quite strict, authoritative and rude. (chapter 37) This is not surprising that he requests his brother’s assistance in the end. He has experienced it first hand, has envisioned that through his father’s influence, he could manipulate the brother and get benefit from his increased fortune and influence. However, this time the lord didn’t follow his suggestion, since he has already started moving on. In fact, the younger lord was mocked through the main character’s following suggestion: Yoon Seung-Won should also live according to their father’s principles.
And now it is time to pay attention to the letter given by the valet Kim. In the first analysis, I had perceived his smile as a sign of his naivety. (chapter 37) But now, I would add another layer to this description. This picture could be judged as an evidence of his ruthlessness too, like my follower @nonoboy-oops suggested it. He exposes a certain satisfaction, although he used the lord’s fear of father Yoon for his own benefit. In his mind, he has achieved his goal and it doesn’t matter the way he obtained it. The manhwaphiles should remember that the lord had even difficulties to breathe and speak properly after the visitation, indicating how much the main character suffered during that conversation. (chapter 38) This reinforces the immorality and ruthlessness of the brother’s suggestion. With the letter, Yoon Seung-Won has the impression that in the end, the main lead bent to his will. This means that he is ignoring his brother’s reproach and rejection. But since the brother used their father’s name in order to approach his brother, it looks like, it was Yoon Seung-Won’s decision to utilize the brother. Even if this idea is not correct, and the father did use the younger son as a pawn to approach Yoon Seungho, this doesn’t diminish the atrocity of the younger master’s gesture. He is not just a pawn, but a real accomplice, because he knows his past but prefers his own comfort over his brother’s life. However, let’s not forget that during their conversation, the younger brother never spoke in the father’s name, like for example: “Father Yoon desires to reconnect with you and asks for a visit from you”. Even that way, the father’s honor would have been maintained, since the main lead was asked to pay a visit to their father unofficially. My final point for this interpretation is the importance of reputation in father Yoon’s eyes. The latter chose to act behind closed doors and maintain his image as a respectable aristocrat. By sending letters to his eldest son who is well-known in the mansion as an infamous sodomite, his image as strong lord is kind of tarnished. He is the one asking for help from his son… a humiliation in his eyes. Now, you can better comprehend why I believe that Yoon Seung-Won is not just a pawn in reality.
But let’s return our attention to the letter given to the younger master. I can’t imagine that the second character didn’t take a look at the content of the paper handed over by servant Kim. Since his visit was connected to a request concerning him, the paper was concerning him too, even if it was possibly addressed to the father. That’s why I am now thinking that Yoon Seung-Won must have seen the damaged painting. There is no doubt that his visit is connected to sponsoring and only Yoon Seung-Won can request his brother’s help and support. That’s the reason why I believe now, he looked at the content of the message. And now, if we take this approach into consideration, then this means that when he gave the letter to his father, he knew how the former would feel. Father Yoon would get mad at Yoon Seungho for his defiance, insult and disobedience. The latter was violating his rules. That’s why he said this to the servant. By putting the blame on his older brother, he excuses his father’s behavior for not showing more concern for him. He didn’t leave the bedchamber in order to bid farewell, because the lord had been troubled due to Yoon Seungho. The latter serves again as an excuse to save the appearances. By giving the ruined painting, Yoon Seungho was indeed determined to provoke his father. He shows him his hypocrisy and the consequences of his principles. At the same time, the ruined painting illustrates his message: the Yoon family will never get a benefit from his sexual performances (“damaged image”).
But what about Yoon Seung-Won? Why did he deliver the letter? If the letter was addressed to his father, then he had to. But if he was acting on his own, it becomes a different story. However, in both cases, he must have known the content. And with this approach, we can imagine why the younger master chose to give it to his father. First, he acted as a loyal and obedient son, reinforcing the prejudices the father has about his eldest son. Besides, he could be hoping that the father gets so infuriated that the latter decides to take action and employ his impressive strength and aura to oblige the eldest son to bend to his will. Yoon Seung-Won can only benefit from this. Let’s not forget that the father is still paying attention to his son’s moves, like Kim mentioned it in chapter 57.
As a final conclusion, Yoon Seung-Won doesn’t appear as pure and innocent, as his handsome face suggests it. He was already paying attention the painter’s presence and curious about his identity, since he was sitting by the master’s side, as if he was his companion. (chapter 37) Here, he envisioned that the lord’s companion was a noble due to the green hanbok. He is definitely more than just a pawn, in my eyes he has become a willing helper of father Yoon’s dictatorship, since he could profit from his situation. He is like an indoctrinated child, since he behaves like his father in a certain way. On the other hand, he has not completely lost a certain sense of morality. Since he is showing a certain discomfort during the conversation in chapter 37, it displays that he recognizes the wrongness of his request. But his interests are prioritized over his brother’s well-being. Another aspect is that he is not so brutal compared to his model, Father Yoon. But he has a common denominator with the elder master. He is also quite naïve. Hence Yoon Seungho could see right through his brother and his lies, just like the father. The master of the domain was well aware of the true purpose of his younger brother’s visitation: sponsoring. In the end, the younger master is forced to take the exam, like the scholar Jung In-Hun. I had imagined that their paths would cross, unaware that the learned sir would die before. There’s no ambiguity that Yoon Seung-Won would get annoyed and humiliated to hear that his brother chose a scholar with no connection and wealth over him.
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 reddit-Instagram-tumblr-twitter account is: @bebebisous33. Thanks for reading and the support.