Painter Of The Night: The Joker (part 1)

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.

After reading the title, I am quite certain that the manhwaphiles have already guessed the identity of The Joker in Painter Of The Night: Lord Min. I have to admit that I connected Min to The Joker the moment I saw this panel: In this picture, the character’s facial expression stands in opposition to his words. First, he expresses his surprise and shock with his face, while in reality he is just asking for a confirmation. Therefore the contradiction indicates that he knows something and he is expecting a certain outcome. Secondly, his open mouth and big eyes oozes a certain lightness and ease, whereas he is talking about a serious topic: the death of the painter. Because of the discrepancy, the manhwalovers can detect Min’s fakeness and as such hypocrisy. He is neither shocked nor moved by the low-born’s death. And this important panel made me think of The Joker, the villain from Batman. [https://shiftermagazine.com/film/evolution-of-the-joker-1966-2019] Why? It is related to the contrast between seriousness and comedy, intelligence and stupidity, genuineness and fakeness represented by the character’s face and behavior. The famous antagonist is often portrayed with a huge smile and a hysterical laugh, very similar to Min. (chapter 54) Furthermore, The Joker’s eyebrows are quite distinguished due to the make up and Min is recognizable with the special form of his eyebrows too. Besides, the Joker’s make up outlines the importance of his eyes too. Observe that Min opens his eyes so much, reminding us of The Joker’s from 1966. (the actor on the left). Although The Joker is dressed like a clown due to his make-up, his actions have nothing to do with comedy at all. He actually embodies destruction, chaos and death, therefore his disguise contradicts his behavior, explicating why I came to associate Min to The Joker. Due to this connection, I came to realize the character’s true role and personality. This explicates why I will divide “The Joker” in two parts. In this essay, I will only focus on Min’s function in the story as a joker, while in the second part, I’ll study his personality.

First, it is necessary to take a look at the definition of a joker, because it explains why the authors Bill Finger, Bob Kane, and Jerry Robinson came to give the name to their supervillain:

  1. a special playing card that can be given any value and is used in some card games instead of any other card
  2. someone who likes telling funny stories or doing stupid things in order to make people laugh
  3. a person who has done something that annoys you https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/joker

These different significations explain why joker has a lot of diverse synonyms: card, actor, clown, buffon, jester, trickster, prankster etc. That’s why I would like to study Min’s behavior under the aspect of a joker first. What kind of joker is he?

First, Min could be considered as a special playing card. The joker doesn’t abide to the card rules. This signifies, the joker represents an exception to norms and conventions corresponding to Black Heart’s behavior. First, Min shows no respect social norms and traditions. That’s why he doesn’t feel bothered smoking opium so openly on the street. He has no problem to have sex with a low-born, hence he asks his host to bring the painter to him twice (chapter 33, 52) (chapter 52) And notice that his desire to taste the painter contrasts so much to Jihwa’s words in chapter 18. The joker in chapter 52 even insulted Jihwa as sodomite, showing that he doesn’t consider himself as a homosexual per se. His sex with other men has nothing to do with love. Unlike the main lead, Min associates sex with fun. Since sleeping with a commoner is considered as a taboo, Min can only get curious and feels the desire to experience sex with Baek Na-Kyum. And now, you understand why I associated Min to The Joker from Batman. Both show no respect laws and social norms, they are breaking them, bringing uproar, chaos and destruction in the end. (chapter 53) Here, the readers can observe that Min is criticized for creating a ruckus contrasting to “discreet fun”. Hence we can describe Min as an extremist. He loves scandal so much that he takes pleasure in ruining friendship and relationships. And since for Min and The Joker, laws, social norms and true values (love, friendship, family) should be eliminated, then we can describe them as nihilists.

“In philosophy, nihilism is the complete rejection of moral values and religious beliefs. It is such a negative outlook that it denies any meaning or purpose in life.” https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/nihilism#:~:text=In%20philosophy%2C%20nihilism%20is%20the,existing%20political%20and%20social%20institutions.

However, both characters are not advocating destruction of the social system for its own sake. They commit crimes and violate social norms due to their selfishness and their own pleasure. There exists no real plan behind their actions. Since Min is associates to extremism and annihilation, you can comprehend why Min’s actions lead to the destruction of the door in chapter 53 and to his bloody face . He literally ignores manners, even risking his own safety. He knew Yoon Seungho’s anger and rage, as he was a witness of the topknot incident concerning Jihwa. (chapter 59) Even if it is Jihwa’s friend who is speaking here, we have to imagine that Min was also there due to his words in chapter 53: He must have seen how Jihwa was powerless and couldn’t stop his childhood friend to humiliate him. Besides, Min had even seen what the host had done to Deok-Jae, therefore he was well aware of the repercussions, if he kept provoking the protagonist with his mockery. And now, the readers can understand why the joker is a synonym for trickster or prankster in the end. Because the joker is not attached to rules and laws, he can play tricks and fool people around him.

And now, if the manhwaphiles behold the Joker as card, they all will notice that the joker is dressed like a jester or buffon. https://depositphotos.com/vector-images/joker-card.html

During the Middle-Age and Renaissance, the jester or also called fool, was a member of a household of a nobleman or a king hired to entertain his guests. And the manhwaphiles can understand why a joker is “someone likes telling funny stories or doing stupid things in order to make people laugh” (definition 2). However, The jester’s role shouldn’t just be reduced to an entertainer, as he could also use insolence to make critical comments. That’s why in the Korean movie “The king and the clown”, the clowns put on a performance ridiculing the council members by implying that they receive expensive gifts for favors. In this movie, it becomes visible that a clown is walking on a thin line between success and failure. His closeness to the king can lead to fame, but also to loss of freedom and tragedy. And now, if you remember the role played by Min, you’ll observe that in chapter 52, he was indeed acting like a jester, mocking the host dressed like a king. He kept asking rhetorical questions, making comments without waiting for Yoon Seungho’s answer. It was, as if Min was acting like an entertainer. However, we should remember that despite his role as jester, his true goal is not to entertain his host or his friends. He is behaving like that out of selfishness. He is the one who desires to have fun. (chapter 66) With his mockeries, he expressed his wish to taste the painter and Yoon Seungho understood his insinuations, therefore the main lead voiced Black Heart’s wish and even accepted his request, because he was terribly annoyed by Min’s interrogation. That’s why we can say, Min was in that scene not only a jester, but also a trickster (referring to the third definition). He manipulated the main character to achieve his goal.

At the same time, the joker can be in different card games an extremely beneficial or an extremely harmful card because of his special function. And this fits Min’s role concerning our main couple. While bringing misery to Baek Na-Kyum (the idea of the murder and a gangrape), he actually forced Baek Na-Kyum and Yoon Seungho to realize their true feelings for each other. When Yoon Seungho imagined that the artist would never love him, because he considered himself as a prostitute, the lord never questioned his own emotions. This illustrates that Yoon Seungho had deeply internalized social values and father Yoon’s doctrines in the end: a noble is superior to a low-born, and no aristocrat would lower himself to admit his affection to a commoner. An abnormity in this historical period and since Min shows no respect to social values, he could only question the lord’s behavior and actions. And now, you understand his role as jester in chapter 52. First, he cornered the protagonist and forced him to be in denial. This reminds us of a fool who makes critical comments leading the monarch to question himself and his politics. In Yoon Seungho’s eyes, since he was the noble, only the commoner should confess his affection. However, when the mischievous aristocrat kissed the low-born, the main lead could only react instinctively. He had to push away Black Heart. For Yoon Seungho, Baek Na-Kyum was his lover, even if he was in denial. But observe that the main lead wasn’t the only one who had internalized certain values. The artist had a similar mind-set. For him, it was impossible that such a powerful and rich aristocrat could love him, who comes from the brothel and has unknown origins. That’s why he denied the aristocrat’s feelings. And due to Min’s trick, Yoon Seungho was hurt, as he considered it as a rejection. Note that in that scene, social norms played a huge part in the denial of both protagonists, although they were never directly mentioned. Min as the joker was a reminder of scandal and as such of standard norms.

But let’s go back to our initial observation. Min as the joker can be an extremely beneficial or an extremely harmful card to our main couple. We have another incident, when this is palpable: The abduction and the murder. When the painter was fearing for his life, he recalled the noble’s gentle smile and screamed for his help. Yoon Seungho was the last person he was thinking of, when he imagined that he could die. And let’s not forget that the artist was still in denial after the second confession and their second love session. He kept denying the obvious and recognize the noble’s feelings. For him, it was also too beautiful and incredible to be true. At the same time, his denial stopped him from realizing his true feelings. Yet in front of death, Baek Na-Kyum couldn’t control his emotions and thoughts pressuring him to voice his deepest desires. And the artist’s disappearance had a similar effect on the main lead in the end. First, in the storage room, he confided his real wish before “destroying” the painter with sex. That’s why I view this panel as a parallel to the one where the painter was screaming Yoon Seungho’s name. Remember how I described this night (chapter 62-63-64): it symbolized the death of the phoenix. In chapter 66, the noble is finally admitting his complete defeat, he lost the war against Baek Na-Kyum. First, he admits that he can’t resist against the painter’s protest. Then he is not even trying to hide the painter in front of Min. He is indeed carrying him like a treasure, while feeling no embarrassment. And this explains why Min has to provoke Yoon Seungho again, by revealing Jihwa’s involvement. Since Min has realized that the main lead is no longer in denial and doesn’t consider it as a scandal and secret, then Min has to use another secret in order to annoy the main character. Since he couldn’t ruin the relationship between the painter and the noble, he needs to destroy the friendship between the red-haired aristocrat and the main lead. Note that in that scene, Min even recommends the main lead to be lenient and not become angry at Jihwa. Here, Black Heart is actually using an antiphrasis. He is actually hoping that with his words, the main lead will become angry at his former friend and retaliate against him. This scene is important as it exposes Min’s nihilistic mentality. He feels the need to annihilate something, if it is not the painter, then it must be Jihwa.

And the joker doesn’t realize that his actions have the opposite effect. This new revelation is the reason why Yoon Seungho surrenders during the next night. Like my follower @seunghosimp observed it correctly, this gesture symbolizes his capitulation and submission. Due to Min’s intervention, all the secrets were removed so that the relationship between the two protagonists can be rebuilt on a new and real foundation. The noble has no longer the upper hand in their relationship and will always listen Baek Na-Kyum’s words. Now, Yoon Seungho can trust the painter and will never question his behavior and words. What the main lead fails to recognize is the painter will never see himself as superior and as the lord. For him, love is not a synonym for war or defeat. Baek Na-Kyum will teach him the true nature of love.

But the irony is that Min is not realizing that he is helping the main couple.

For him, commotion and annihilation are a synonym for fun. That’s why he is a joker and as such The Joker. He is trying to tell funny stories or make stupid things in order to make himself laugh. He is the actor and the spectator at the same time, which is quite similar to The Joker from Batman. From my perspective, they both are trapped in their own world, therefore they can ruin relationships and kill people. This explicates why Min could even laugh, though he was getting punched. It was, as if he couldn’t feel any pain, as his “joke” had provoked such a reaction. And now, you understand why The Joker is wearing a make-up as a clown in the end. He isn’t only the joker from the cards, but also the jester from the Middle-Age. At the same time, he embodies selfishness and destruction contrasting to the real function of a clown. But his role is not just to bring chaos and ruin Gotham, but also to question the society and its values.

Let’s return our attention to Black Heart. Since he failed to hurt Yoon Seungho and even separate the main couple, we have to envisage that the more the scandalous relationship will get support, the more this vicious man will get bothered. The reason is simple: normality stands in opposition to uproar and ruckus. At some point, their relationship will be accepted signifying that he won’t be able to taste Baek Na-Kyum. Note that each time, the noble asked the main lead to bring the painter to their sex session, he used the other nobles as an excuse. That way, he could hide his own desire and weakness. This shows his own hypocrisy. He will never reveal his attraction to the painter. He will use “fun” or “the other nobles” to hide his own secret. The irony is that the more he meddled, the further he got from the painter. Consequently, his urge to taste the painter will increase more and more, while he has to witness how the main lead gets closer to Baek Na-Kyum. This can only annoy the jester. His interest for the artist can be explained by the following:

  • his jealousy towards the main lead
  • his attraction towards the painter
  • Baek Na-Kyum represents the opposite of Min: sincerity, genuineness and selflessness. Don’t forget that Min witnessed how the artist reacted to Yoon Seungho’s charisma and deep down, Min wished to provoke such reactions as well.

After describing Min’s role, the manhwaphiles can grasp why this character is liked by many readers. He reminds us of the supervillain from Batman. Min’s weapons are secrets, that’s why he could manipulate Jihwa and the main lead in the end. And now, it is important to ask ourselves: who will stop Min and destroy him? Where is the Batman in Painter Of The Night? With this, I would like to incite my readers to find an answer to this question, but I have to admit that I have already found the answer (or better said, a possible answer).

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.

24 thoughts on “Painter Of The Night: The Joker (part 1)

  1. Superbe article ! I was always so curious about Min He’s such a complex character that it’s hard to question his motives, he always smile but say such harsh words ! He’s so interesting ! I could grasp his personality better with your explanation and about your question : who will stop Min and destroy him?
    -> For me the one who will destroy him is Baek Nakyum. As he is someone who isn’t attracted by wealth or beauty. As he is so selfless and pure which is all the contrary to nobles who are hypocrites and arrogants.
    As he is so pure hearted, that even those who will hurt him he’s willing to forgive.
    In that way he could teach a very good lesson to Min, like he already did to Seungho and will continue to.
    -> we all know that Min will still want to rape NK even more now after all that happened, so here I have a question: do you think Min could be able to taste the painter ?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Whoa!! No one can explain this story’s plot and characters personality as intriguing as you do since since am non literature student your theories really helps me a lot I admit that I started reading POTN due to its artstyle but it’s extremity made me to drop it, but I started re-reading after stumbling upon your first 4 analysis until since I wait for your analysis as much I wait for next chapter.. ahem So about Min character “He loves scandal so much that he takes pleasure in ruining friendship and relationships. ” And “his main weapon is ‘secrets'”.
    As you described him as a joker, can I say that he acts like a catalyst ( is a substance which increases or reduces the rate of a chemical reaction )
    but it alone can’t be of any value, So my point is if Min don’t have any more secrets he can’t use them to his own desires accordingly, and one thing more I understood is his probing nature, if Soengho/jihwa dont react or less react to him, will min can act the same ? I think NO. Ultimately he will have no value of his own then…
    I was thinking that BNK can make him realise his place, but after reading your analysis, a question came to my mind, can min be
    truly of anyone’s ?my answer is no because he don’t accept his true self ,he hides his desires and jealousy..
    Feel free to correct me I will appreciate it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great approach 😍😍😍 You made me realize something else. He needs someone’s pain in order to feel alive. For him, fun is a synonym for life. And it becomes understandable why he’s attracted to the painter. Remember that he saw Baek Na-Kyum’s reaction to YSH and he wished to be gazed like that.

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      1. Ohh Thank you very much !!
        A question ma’am If fun is a synonym for life than bored(loneliness) is death for him? then Why he needs someone else pain to be alive ? Why not his own pain?
        You once replied me that his weakness is arrogance and stupidity… Even if he is jealous of YSH, and desire BNK even if he succeeds then what next ? Also he is looking forward to BNK death.. It won’t change anything in him only others will be affected… Then why someone’s pain is needed ?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. For that answer, you’ll have to wait! This is related to the second part of the essay. I have to describe Min’s personality and you’ll understand why I couldn’t answer to your question.

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  3. Is there a Batman in POTN? There are some rich playboys to be sure. However, all of the characters so far appears to care about their own interests. Even the ‘low born’. Sure, we can say that BNK isn’t this way, but he is as well. Do not get me wrong, I am not saying this as a bad thing, but he is a victim of the times he is living. He really do not have the luxuries of worrying about anyone else.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You don’t have to be a rich playboy to be Batman, it’s more of a symbol.
        In the Dark Knight trilogy, Nolan show you a human hero. Batman wants good, yes, but not all the ways to achieve that good are correct. There is a thin line between doing the right thing, between asking for justice, and at the same time becoming a villain. Batman is not superman, for example, because his path to good is tainted with self-hatred, revenge, and brutality. Batman is good, but his actions are no different than the bullies he faces. That’s why he’s a dark knight, he gets his hands dirty, he’s always on the edge of living long enough to become a villain.
        Hans Zimmer’s music reflects that very well. If you listen to the song he wrote for batman (it’s called “Like a dog chasing cars”), you realize that the wind and string instruments go up, up, but, at the end of the song, they fall, they collapse. It is a very beautiful and somewhat melancholic melody that reflects the character very well. Batman wants to go up, escape from his reality, become in a white knight, but he always fails; that’s why the note falls. You can almost imagine the character trying to climb up a hole, and be dragged into the shadows for his past anyway.
        I really liked your comparison with Batman Bebe! 💜💜💜💜, and for the same reason, Batman in POTN for me is Seungho.

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      2. But there’s another one in my opinion 😉 and your description about Batman somehow confirmed it. He is a rather pessimistic person who doesn’t trust authorities and laws

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      3. Really!?
        Right now I can’t think of who it might be.
        Min, as an agent of chaos, who would say… Although I still think that Min is not as smart as he thinks he is. That’s why he reminds me more of a Cercei Lannister than a Joker, who I consider to be quite intelligent (which is the terrifying thing about the character).

        Nolan’s Batman (of all the movies, his trilogy is one of the ones I liked the most) has a gigantic internal conflict when he has to face the Joker, and he loses that battle in the end. There is a phrase from this sinister Joker (Heath Ledger) … it came to mind while writing the previous comment and it reminded me a lot of Seungho “madness is like gravity, you know, all it takes is a little push ”
        Min knows how to push Seungho to the extreme. Hopefully we can see more of that in POTN. I’m being very mean to want this, but it would be so much fun to see Seungho cornered. Just as Batman was cornered in front of the Joker.

        You’re right, Seungho hits Min, and he laughs out loud. You can see the same scene in Dark Knight: Batman beats the Joker, he is desperate. And the Joker laughs and shouts “you have nothing, nothing to threaten me with! Nothing you can do to me … with all your might! …”. That scene is terrible, Batman’s desperation is such that he betrays everything that he believed to be right and just, and even so, he gets nothing. It’s awful! At least it caused me a lot of anguish.

        Thinking about that scene I can better understand how desperate Seungho must have felt. And like Batman, he lost to Min. Batman loses Rachel when she dies, I hope Nakyum doesn’t have the same fate.

        Another phrase for Seungho “what doesn’t kill you, makes you different”. I imagine that the abuses to which he was exposed in his youth, although that not kill him, but not make him stronger, that made him “different”: the eccentric and sodomite man we saw at the beginning of the story.

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      4. Yoon Seungho will never be able to defeat Min, as he doesn’t truly understand what motivates Min. You are right that Batman never defeated The Joker in the movie, but Batman in the Comic is more a hero than in the movie. Min desires something, unlike the American version, therefore he has a weakness and can definitely lose something. Furthermore, there’s someone in Painter Of The Night who represents the opposite of Min but has a very similar function than Min. There’s another Joker in Painter Of The Night!!! But I will say no more.

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  4. I think Batman never beat the Joker, nor did the Joker beat Batman. They are just two opposing forces. Nolan’s Joker tells Batman “you complete me”.
    Maybe Min and Seungho reflect that relationship. I’m not referring to the Seungho from now but the Seungho he will become from now on.
    Nakyum is more of a Rachel Dawes. Someone good, noble, fair, someone who represents a lighthouse in the stormy life of the protagonist. Seungho is full of fury, but until now he had no thirst for revenge. Who knows what Seungho is feeling now that he knows the truth, now that he knows the vulnerable position in which he himself put the painter.

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    1. I’m sure SH will seek revenge against the nobles! And he will blame himself deeply about what he did to the painter we can already witness his remorses when he take Nakyum hands

      Liked by 1 person

  5. So first….guess what I will be watching this weekend? And two, by your current description…it seems that Nameless is currently displayed as a possible Batman. I say currently because he and his role is the biggest secret of the all. Someone entangled with the nobles, but who isn’t a noble …..is my thoughts.

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  6. Hmm I first thought Nakyum to be the one reflecting Batman, but then I read you saying it’s someone pessimistic so I thought more about it and the one coming to mind next would be Nameless. Even though he isn’t “fighting for justice”, but just him saying that one line to Nakyum I roughly remember like that he feels sorry for him because of these nobles whims and therefore won’t leave him with any permanent wounds? It made me think that although he was ready to kill someone for money, he still pitied Nakyum in the end and let him go like that. And he also once said he pitied Jihwa and that is why he is doing it too, which means even if the deed itself is morally incorrect, in Jihwa’s eyes it was the only right solution in that moment so Nameless would in a sense do him “justice” if that makes sense.

    Anyway my head is too full of thoughts right now lol I’m curious about your 2nd part! I mentioned I only found this blog yesterday when I first commented and have been reading a lot of it since and now I’m already so immersed that I’m starting to make my own theories. 😂

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  7. Bonjour, je reste convaincue que Heena, la femme, qui a le courage de s’opposer aux hommes lâches, est faite pour être un “batman” qui protège les opprimés !
    Elle est la force vive honnête ! Elle saura combattre Min pour protéger bnk son petit frère.
    “Nameless” aurait pu mais finalement non, je le sens pas pour ça.
    Merci pour vos analyses

    Liked by 1 person

  8. je sais que je me répète car j’ai déjà écrit sur Heena dans un commentaire sur une analyse précédente.
    mais c’est un personnage résolument moderne et insoumis.
    je sais que c’est contradictoire par rapport a son statut de Gisaeng, mais justement, de part son statut, elle connait les hommes et leurs faiblesses.
    Elle affronte l’Alpha dominant et ne se laisse pas intimider! Elle est de taille a chasser Min .
    C’est le seul personnage féminin important en 66 chapitres, donc il y a une volonté de l’auteur pour cela.
    A suivre

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