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 I asked the manhwalovers about the number of flashbacks used in chapter 66, they would certainly reply that there were 2 flashbacks. The first one is, when Baek Na-Kyum remembers that night where he had a near-death experience and the second one would be, when he is lying in his study with Yoon Seungho next to his bed. They would give such an answer, because they would use the black frame as reference. The latter represents a memory or a dream in Painter Of The Night. In other words, the manhwaphiles would invoke a literary phenomenon:
“Flashback is a device that moves an audience from the present moment in a chronological narrative to a scene in the past. Often, flashbacks are abrupt interjections that further explain a story or character with background information and memories. […] Flashback can occur as a sudden thought sequence, a hazy dream, or a vivid memory. It can be announced or unannounced in the line of narrative.” https://literaryterms.net/flashback/
However, we have more than 2 in reality, as Byeonduck used a different type of flashback too: the psychological flashback linked to PTSD.
“Flashbacks are psychological phenomena during which a person relives a past event or fragments of a past experience. […] Conversely, some flashbacks may be devoid of visual and auditory memory and may lead a person to experience feelings of panic, helplessness, numbness, or entrapment. Many individuals report the onset of flashbacks after surviving a near-death experience or another traumatic situation.” https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/flashbacks#:~:text=Flashbacks%20are%20psychological%20phenomena%20during,fragments%20of%20a%20past%20experience.
Striking is that the author linked both phenomena together in order to explain the reason for Baek Na-Kyum’s behavior. He was having a panic attack in form of a flashback, which terrified him so much that he left the bed in his distress and walked randomly in the room. His survival instinct had kicked in. Because of the flashback, the protagonist had lost his sense of orientation and couldn’t see where he was going, as all his thoughts and emotions were revolving around the trauma. He had the feeling that he was reliving his past experience. This explains why the chapter 65 ended with the following panels:
The readers had here to fill the blank and explain, why the painter was first lying under the cover to finally end up in the room next to the cupboard on the floor. Yet, Byeonduck never showed us this. She just offered us the result requesting from the readers to imagine the whole scene. By doing so, she forced the manhwaphiles to put themselves into the artist’s shoes. That way, she let them feel what Baek Na-Kyum was experiencing.
But let’s return our attention to the flashbacks. When the episode 66 starts, the time of the narration has actually changed. We are already reading a flashback, although this time Byeonduck didn’t use the black frame. There’s a reason for that. She employed a time jump, but not in the future, like k-dramas often utilize it, but a time jump in the past. The first scene of chapter 66 happens right after Yoon Seungho says those words in chapter 65. And if you read the chapter again, you’ll notice a huge white space between the next following panel. Yoon Seungho is opening the door leaving the painter in his bedchamber (chapter 65). As a conclusion, the beginning of the episode 66 has to placed between the last words and the opening door. Hence we have a fourth flashback in episode 66.
First, she showed us the protagonist tying the painter on the bed, then covering his mouth and finally putting him under the cover so that he could get rid of noona Heena easily. He recreated the situation Baek Na-Kyum was exposed to, when he had been abducted. And if the beholder pays attention to the way the painter is lying in the bed, they will realize another important aspect: the cover that the painter used as protection and comfort has become a prison or a trap now. The cause for this heartbeat is not excitement or surprise but fear. And this panel is very important for two reasons. First, it is a new version of chapter 34, where the painter was crying that the scholar hadn’t asked for him and used the cover as solace. Besides, in this chapter, his heart started racing with the main lead’s appearance. In both chapters, the main lead was the cause for the heartbeat, yet the reasons for the racing heart are totally different. It is important, because it shows us that the kidnapping left a deep wound on the artist’s psyche. When the main character recreated the condition of the abduction, he triggered a flashback. Because Baek Na-Kyum couldn’t scream for help and his head was held under a bag , he had difficulties to breathe, therefore in Seungho’s room, he starts suffocating too: “HAA, HAA”. Furthermore, during the kidnapping, the threads and the knife in his mouth showed that Nameless knew how to scare the low-born. He triggered all the painter’s senses and aroused them to the maximum so that the artist wouldn’t be able to speak so easily. This explicates why the artist felt the abduction as a near-death experience. This is not surprising that when he woke up the next morning, he was trembling and felt scared. But if the manhwaworms looks at the criminal’s actions, they will conclude that Nameless was indeed ruthless. He knew how to terrify the painter. He tormented the painter psychologically. Nonetheless, since Nameless neither murdered nor atrophied the painter, in his eyes he was actually very kind and even merciful. He even felt pity for him, as he was well aware of the artist’s innocence. The latter was just a plaything caught in the middle of the fight between two nobles. Because of his words, I believe that Nameless stands in opposite to Kim’s philosophy. While the latter chose cowardice and indifference for his self-preservation, the “butcher” made the opposite choice. By becoming the dirty hands of the nobles, he was sure that the nobles would protect him, because if they didn’t, their crimes could threaten their position. He would always stand on the winning side. However, by acting like that, Nameless contributes to perpetuate injustice and reinforce the harsh treatment on commoners. As you can see, the flashbacks (memories of the painter) were used to explain why the low-born had a flashback (panik attack) at the end. By reproducing the condition of the entrapment, Yoon Seungho helped to unveil the truth unconsciously. The painter’s body revealed the terrible secret and the readers got a glimpse of Nameless’ true mindset too.
So when the lord opens the door and sees the artist on the ground, he looks angry, because his lover caused him some trouble. This impression seems to be confirmed, as the moment he removes the cloth from the painter’s mouth, the lord criticizes him. However, from my point of view, we need to differentiate between the actions made by Yoon Seungho’s mouth and hands again. While the latter are under the influence of his unconscious, the mouth represents the mind and as such conscious. Note that he removes the cloth, although he could have ignored it. By liberating Baek Na-Kyum’s mouth, he is actually endangering his situation. Let’s not forget that since that terrible night, the lord has returned to his older self, therefore he has the impression that he is no longer using his heart. But he noticed that the painter was in a terrible condition, therefore he couldn’t ignore his lover. From my point of view, the two panels reveal that Yoon Seungho’s affection for the painter hasn’t changed one bit in the end. He continues saying that he is restraining himself, since he is not even able to refuse Baek Na-Kyum’s resistance: “But you have your ways”. From my point of view, we have here a new version of the lord’s confession: (chapter 58). The irony is that in chapter 66, the painter is a wreck, yet the lord is admitting his defeat displaying Baek Na-Kyum’s real power. The other divergence is that this time, it is a conscious choice. This is not a dream or an illusion. Yoon Seungho states that he can’t win against the low-born’s will. In other words, their relationship is progressing again. Due to the resemblance of the chapter 58, the readers have the feeling to witness another flashback. Nonetheless here, the noble hears a reply to his confession, unlike in the past: The nature of the confession has changed: this is an admission for his silence. He lied and apologized in order to survive. These panels expose how deeply traumatized the painter is. He is still trapped in his flashback, reliving his near-death experience and doesn’t realize his lover’s presence. Therefore his gaze is directed elsewhere. I would even say, his gaze is lost in the flashback. What caught my attention is the protagonist’s reaction, when he hears the painter’s words and heavy breathing. He is not only surprised and shocked, he is also paralyzed. For me, the last panel shows the main lead’s realization. He must have recognized the painter’s real condition: he is traumatized. And in my opinion, the painter’s confession and behavior triggered a flashback in Yoon Seungho too, which we don’t really see, but can sense more or less. Observe his discomfort and his fixe stare. He seems lost as well, very similar to the commoner’s gaze. Besides, the aristocrat doesn’t move one moment, although some time has already passed. The sister has already left the house and Min is now standing at the door. The last picture even shows us Min’s perspective. He senses the lord’s worry and pangs of conscience too. From my point of view, the lord is reminded of his own bad past experience due to the artist’s behavior and words. The other clue for this interpretation is the lord’s phobia of the cover. (chapter 35) Therefore I come to the conclusion that we have another flashback here, but Yoon Seungho’s is not revealed, only through his gaze and the observations I made: the fear of the cover and the commoner’s past as a repetition of the main lead’s tragic past. Let’s not forget that this scene is also a new version of chapter 53: , back then, the main lead was the one who was in a dissociative state and the painter embraced him, when he sensed his fury and pain. However, this time the roles are switched. And this explains why the noble hugs the painter, attempting to give him some comfort. Yet, in my opinion, he has no idea about the real cause of the artist’s trauma in that moment, therefore he feels responsible and terrible. That’s the reason why he remains so passive and silent. He feels the need to console Baek Na-Kyum, but note that he doesn’t even attempt to dress the painter or to put him in a better position. He stays kneeling in an uncomfortable position, using his body and hands to protect Baek Na-Kyum from others. And now, the manhwaphiles can comprehend why I chose such a title. The flashbacks are not just memories, but also psychological phenomena due to PTSD.
And now it is time to focus on the last flashback. I have to admit, it took me some time to fully grasp what it really represents. The first confusion is the chronology of the episode. Before the appearance of the flashback, we have a zoom on Yoon Seungho’s face indicating that he heard Min’s confession: Lee Jihwa is behind the painter’s disappearance. And right after, the flashback starts so that it feels like a caesura. Therefore many readers felt confused. In order to comprehend its true nature, the manhwaphiles should remember the definition of the flashback in fiction. It is either a memory or a hazy dream. That’s why we need to question ourselves about the nature of this scene. Is it a dream or a memory? And who is the person having a flashback?
For me, there’s no doubt that this can’t represent the lord’s memory. First, the chronology shows that the flashback happens during the next night due to the way the lord and Baek Na-Kyum are dressed. The lord is still wearing the hanbok from the morning and this time, the painter has his own expensive clothes on. From my point of view, the lord took care of the artist personally. Unlike in chapter 33, Yoon Seungho took his responsibilities for his wrongdoings and didn’t delegate it to the doctor or his assistant. It was his way to show repentance. Secondly, I believe that the owner of this flashback is Baek Na-Kyum due to the ending and the two following drawings: The images are almost identical, yet in the second picture, there’s no black frame, therefore this means that it represents reality. And now, you can better grasp the nature of Baek Na-Kyum’s flashback. It is a mixture of dream and memory. The lord stayed by his side the whole night (a new version of chapter 55) and at some point, the artist opened his eyes briefly, just like the lord nodded to Baek Na-Kyum’s question unconsciously , as he felt his presence, but never realized it in the end. In other words, the painter also detected the lord’s presence by his side, even opened his eyes for a second, heard him even calling his name . The tragedy is that exactly like during their Wedding Night, the painter won’t be sure, if what he sensed and saw was reality or a dream. Therefore I come to the conclusion that this is a new version of chapter 58, where the roles are reversed. Back then, the lord thought that this night with Baek Na-Kyum was too beautiful to be true and it is the artist’s turn to feel the same way. This flashback shows his wish mixed with a memory. And now, during this night, the lord expressed his regrets and showed his tenderness, just like in chapter 58. He took the hand with delicacy and touched the wrist and the wound with his finger carefully, ,as though he wanted to heal himself the bruise. For me, this scene was so beautiful and moving, as it reflects the noble’s growth. He doesn’t just feel huge pangs of conscience, but he is determined to redeem himself in the end. When he touches the scar, he feel sorry for Baek Na-Kyum’s wounds which he hadn’t seen due to his self-hatred. At the end, he treats Baek Na-Kyum’s hand like a treasure. Yet, note that he is not kissing it. First, I interpret his gesture as a sign of regret. Secondly, a kiss is linked to sensuality and the noble is no longer for such a love, especially after that terrible sex marathon. Moreover, I believe that lord Seungho has the impression that he is not worthy of the painter, hence he puts a finger between his eyes and the low-born’s hand. The absence of his eyes is not necessarily referring to his blindness. For me, it points out that the lord has finally recognized the true value of his hands: the painter’s beautiful spirit and soul. Besides, they helped him to see the truth. Why? I have to confess that this scene made me remember their first meeting in chapter 1. Although the lord called them “talented hands”, he grabbed them in a rather rough way and put them on his loins. He only valued them, as they helped him to have a better libido. And now, his gesture has a different meaning. The hand made him recognize that the drawings had an effect on his heart and soul. At the same time, the artist made him realize his hypersexuality. As you can observe, by contrasting these two scenes, you can detect the noble’s development. But since the painter only opened eyes shortly, the noble decided not to remain by his side, because he had the impression that the artist didn’t wish to see him after what he had put him through. That’s why he sent for noona Heena. He knew the importance of his sister, since the commoner had tried to protect her before. That’s why we see the sister by the painter’s side the next morning. She symbolizes reality. Consequently, I believe that the following picture from the flashback illustrates the artist’s true wish. He desired the lord by his side, but the reality was different. His noona was by his side. This didn’t upset the painter, because he received a warm embrace full of love and compassion, something really important in order to heal his wounds, contrasting to the hug in the barn symbolizing fakeness and coldness.
As you know, Baek Na-Kyum’s dreams were always connected to reality, as they often announced the future events. However, here I feel that the dream is connected to reality differently: it is connected to the past. The lord was indeed present in his study. The flashback is influenced by a memory mixed with a wish. Consequently this flashback stands in opposition to the first one, where the painter relived his trauma due to the memories linked to his terrible near-death experience. Both flashbacks were influenced by memories, yet in the last one, the painter will have the impression that it was too good to be true. There’s no ambiguity that Yoon Seungho will keep his distance from the artist. Just like during the first season after the chapter 35, he won’t ask for sex. The gesture with the hand was pretty clear for me. The aristocrat will be content, if he sees the artist by his side from afar. However, this doesn’t signify that Yoon Seungho will leave his mansion for sex orgies. No, it is impossible. Since he knows that Jihwa hurt his lover, he has to be by his side to ensure Baek Na-Kyum’s safety. Therefore I come to the conclusion that Yoon Seungho will start paying attention to his mansion and staff. He will ask for answers, like for example: How could the guardian let Min walk in the mansion so freely? He will give strict orders. From my point of view, the main lead will start acting like a real lord and pay attention to the behavior of his staff. At the same time, Yoon Seungho will also have a flashback of that night, where he beat Deok-Jae, who had hurt his lover. He will interrogate Kim about his whereabouts and investigate the circumstances of his disappearance.
Although the painter is now unsure, if the lord was by his side or not, it’s only a matter of time, until the painter approaches the noble again. I am expecting a new version of chapter 52. Why? Due to the analysis of the flashback, I think that despite the new sex marathon, the artist is not resenting Yoon Seungho. I explain his reaction the following: In the barn, the aristocrat’s words left a deeper impact than anything else. For the first time, someone was refusing to abandon him (even if it sounded so possessive and obsessive). Furthermore the same person even expressed that his smile and presence could be the source of his happiness , something he had never heard before. Finally, we shouldn’t forget that Baek Na-Kyum’s ears have always been very sensitive to words, explaining why the commoner was so devastated by Jung In-Hun’s last sentence. Finally, the lord’s confession revealed that he never considered him as a whore in the end, as his request was just a smile and not his body. Finally, I believe, noona Heena’s presence will also have an influence in the painter’s thoughts and emotions. Baek Na-Kyum will be able to appreciate that Yoon Seungho allowed her companionship, willing to accept a gisaeng in his house, although the low-born heard him calling her a wench or harlot before. Unlike the past, the artist is no longer blind or deaf to the noble’s gestures. There’s no doubt that they will rekindle, but their relationship will mature. The lord will try to find a different connection and I am already imagining him asking again: Another flashback from the past…
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