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.
Just like with the first special episode, the new chapter from Alternative Universe helps us to get new insight about the original story. Not only we discover the character’s true thoughts and emotions, but also Byeonduck gives us tips so that the readers can reconstruct the protagonists’ past in the original story. Nevertheless, it is only possible, if one pays attention to details. Hence I came to the following theory: Byeonduck will never reveal the whole past as a narration, but will unveil it as a puzzle and the manhwalovers need to put the pieces together. Exactly like in real life… we can never get the truth, because people involved in the past don’t possess all the information. Finally the witnesses’ memories are also influenced by their own thoughts, experiences and emotions so that the former don’t reflect reality. And now it is time to reveal the pieces I observed in the special episode.
In the Alternative Universe, Baek Na-Kyum belongs to the influential aristocracy and is the only son in his family, which means that his father must have high expectations for him. His duty is supposed to continue the family’s legacy, as he is the only heir. Moreover, he paints erotic pictures of sodomy in order to buy glasses for his surrogate father, the servant Jung In-Hun. And here, the readers should wonder why he feels the need to earn the money for the glasses. Technically, he could just go to the merchant and buy these with his family’s money. My answer is that it is related to social norms and the huge social gap between the domestic and the young master. I believe, Baek Na-Kyum’s family is rather traditional and as such makes a huge distinction between nobles and low-borns. This traditional mind-set is perceptible, when the shopkeeper threatens the artist. From my point of view, his father will never allow a noble to offer such an expensive present to a servant. That’s why the innocent man started painting. But does the personal domestic know about his master’s secret activities and true goal? Yes, he is aware of Baek Na-Kyum’s actions and intention, which is detectable in the following picture: Note that the noble gave him the order to wait at the door of the merchant’s shop, but the servant preferred disobeying him. This picture is relevant for two reasons. First, it outlines the true nature of the relationship between the lord and his servant. Jung In-hun can afford to disregard Baek Na-Kyum, as the latter doesn’t punish him at all. On the one hand, the young master underlines that his order was not respected, on the other hand nothing happens afterwards. This truly indicates that the domestic has the upper hand here. Secondly, he didn’t obey Baek Na-Kyum’s request, as he didn’t want to hear or to be seen with his master selling his last work. Note that, when the master leaves the shop, the trader speaks so loudly that the master can hear his explanations: And now imagine Jung In-Hun waiting at the door for the return of his master. If he had stood there as requested, he would have heard the merchant’s comment and would have become an accomplice. As a conclusion, we can definitely say that the domestic acts, as if he didn’t know about Baek Na-Kyum’s activities. He is applying Kim’s philosophy from the original story: However, let’s not forget that the servant has a real reason for his silence and his faked ignorance. He will get glasses, which he truly desires, therefore he can’t tattle this to lord Baek. On the surface, Jung In-Hun hates sodomy, nonetheless he benefits from it through the master’s paintings, exactly like in the original story. As you can imagine, I saw a new evidence for my theory that Kim is actually Yoon Seungho’s enemy, the surrogate father who betrayed and abandoned the aristocrat due to his selfishness. First, the servant has a similar mentality: silence and ignorance. Besides, observe that in the second special chapter, the domestic plays the role of the “adoptive” father, the one who is caring and giving some comfort. This clearly indicates that the scholar was never the painter’s true love, but the latter was more suffering from an oedipal complex:
“The Oedipal complex, also known as the Oedipus complex, is a term used by Sigmund Freud in his theory of psychosexual stages of development to describe a child’s feelings of desire for his or her opposite-sex parent and jealousy and anger toward his or her same-sex parent.” quoted from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-an-oedipal-complex-2795403#:~:text=The%20Oedipal%20complex%2C%20also%20known,or%20her%20same%2Dsex%20parent.
Since the artist is a homosexual, then he won’t be attracted to his mother, rather to the “father”. Striking is that in the last image, the domestic gives his master an advice, although Baek Na-Kyum never asked for this. This displays that Jung In-Hun is well aware of the young man’s affection and employs it to his advantage. For me, these two episodes not only explain how the relationship between the low-born and the teacher worked in the original story and as such in the past, but also seems to unveil Yoon Seungho’s bond to his butler Kim. And there’s another reason why I suspect the valet in the original story has a similar function than the scholar. Only recently, I realized that Kim’s first appearance coincides with Jung In-Hun’s arrival at the mansion. (chapter 7) Besides, it is Kim who takes care of the former teacher too, by bringing him to his room. As you can detect, the servant Jung In-Hun reinforced my negative perception about the “loyal and caring” butler.
But let’s return our attention to the circumstances of the selling of paintings in the special episodes. Baek Na-Kyum is not doing it in order to survive, but to make his domestic happy. But the problem is that he is not earning a lot of money. The reasons are quite simple: the lord can only sell it in secret and the merchant uses the master’s precarious situation (his high social status) in order to buy the creations for a cheap price. He gives false excuses , while in reality his works are so appreciated that he has already made a name himself. Striking is that the merchant contradicts himself exposing his greed and hypocrisy, because first he compliments the artist: before criticizing his last work so that the main lead ends up with just 3 coins! And the trader reminds the painter that he can’t complain, as he can’t reveal this to his father. So we have a greedy merchant, who takes advantage of the artist due to his social status. On the other hand, Baek Na-Kyum has no other solution to accept his fate. In the second episode, Yoon Seungho reveals once again the artist’s popularity. And this situation with the painting made me think about the original story. How did the selling occur? Since the Alternative Universe is similar to the original, although the social status of the characters have been switched, we have to imagine that Baek Na-Kyum must have made a similar experience. As a low-born, the shopkeeper could use the lower social status to buy his paintings for a cheap price. I have to admit that when the first special episode appeared, I wondered if the glasses were not financed by the artist too. However, I rejected the idea, because when he left the brothel, the low noble already possessed glasses. (chapter 46) But the chapter 64 finally gave me the answer: the snake in the original story who took advantage of Baek Na-Kyum’s low social status is the tailor. This picture is relevant because it shows that the tailor knew the painter’s identity right from the start. Let’s not forget that Yoon Seungho never showed any picture to outsiders. The merchant sold the publications behind the curtains and gave the info to Yoon Seungho’s servant, when the latter questioned the identity of the real painter. And now, you understand why Min knew about the incident at the tailor’s shop. Min is also a client who bought Baek Na-Kyum’s publications. (chapter 8). And now, it is important to revisit the chapter 39 and the romantic date: What caught my attention are the drops of sweat on both characters. Back then, I thought, like many readers, that the origin of the discomfort was related to the unusual order: the tailor was supposed to make expensive clothes for a low-born. However, since we know that the tailor recognized Baek Na-Kyum as the painter working under a pseudonym, I believe that they were awkward for a different reason. They had to act, as if they didn’t know each other. This explains why the drop of sweat appears on both faces, when they are facing each other while looking at Kim. That’s why the merchant had to call the commoner a servant, he couldn’t call him a painter. Notice that in that scene, the painter never says, he is a painter, although he could have mentioned it. No one is supposed to know the nature of his paintings, so Baek Na-Kyum had no reason to feel embarrassed, unless the merchant knew the content of his pictures and Baek Na-Kyum was well aware of that. And if you pay attention to the exchange between Kim and the merchant, you’ll notice how he tries to catch some info by questioning the true nature of the relationship between Yoon Seungho and Baek Na-Kyum. In my opinion, there’s more than curiosity. He needs to know his relationship with the lord Yoon Seungho, in case the artist decides to sell again his paintings. He could no longer act like before, buy paintings for a cheap price. That’s why he needed to get more insight. And now, with the artist’s disappearance creating chaos among the town folks, the tailor revealed his knowledge and in reality his secret. He saw no reason to hide it any longer. First, he was mad, because people would mock him. Secondly, since the painter hadn’t created any new publication, as he was taken care by the master, he could mention the low-born’s real job: a buggering painter! He had the impression that he had nothing to worry. Striking is that he mentions it in front of the sister And I am quite sure that you remember what I wrote: people with knowledge and secrets will get punished. In my opinion, Heena and Yoon Seungho will expose the merchant’s hypocrisy and greed, who benefited from Baek Na-Kyum’s talent.
And now, you are wondering about the scholar? How does he fit in this story? Due to the special episodes, I deduced that the painter used to sell his paintings to the merchant, because he wanted to buy glasses for his teacher Jung In-Hun. First, in the following picture, the manhwalovers can observe the absence of the gaze and eyes, indicating that his eyes and glasses played a huge role in the past. And now, if the readers look again at Yoon Seungho’s face during the Wedding night, they will notice the barely visible presence of glasses, the symbol for the teacher. And if Baek Na-Kyum did pay for the low noble’s glasses, then it is comprehensible why they mean so much to the low-born. The teacher could have voiced, he needed glasses. I can even imagine that he justified his actual situation, he is just a simple teacher due to the absence of glasses. In other words, he couldn’t do well at the exam, because he couldn’t afford the glasses. His true desire was to use the painter’s innocence and gentleness to obtain a favor without doing anything: just smile and compliment. And Baek Na-Kyum had to wait for a long time before being able to buy the present. The scholar was well aware how Baek Na-Kyum achieved his goal by selling erotic pictures, but the teacher feigned ignorance. However, the sister realized that the shopkeeper and publisher had abused the painter due to his humble origins, therefore Heena imagined that if the teacher was to take care of Baek Na-Kyum, the former would help him to get better paid. However, what happened was that the scholar realized that despite his popularity, Baek Na-Kyum wouldn’t earn that much, unless the former had to intervene. For him, it was unbearable to be linked to homosexuality. Therefore he could only see the artist as a burden. That’s why he decided to cut ties with the artist by no longer feigning ignorance. On the surface, he discovered the erotic painting and coerced the artist, until the latter vowed to never paint anything. It is also possible that Jung In-Hun tried to use the artist’s popularity in order to sell his own book, but was rejected. Anyway, there’s no doubt that the scholar in the past took advantage of Baek Na-Kyum, until he had the impression that the painter had become a burden and he refused to be responsible for him. Let’s not forget that history is repeating itself in Painter Of The Night. And now, you can understand that I am expecting another scandal: the tailor’s enrichment through the publications . There’s no doubt that we will hear this sentence in the original story. However, I have the feeling that Heena will play a major role in this, as the shopkeeper revealed it in front of her. At the same time, this incident will lead to the scholar’s involvement as well. Why did the artist stop painting for a while? Why did Baek Na-Kyum become drunk? Why did he abandon the painter twice after receiving the glasses?
As you can see, I perceive the merchant as a hypocrite, who took advantage of the painter’s innocence and social status. This became truly visible thanks to the new episode. And it becomes understandable why he resents Kim in the end. He remained quiet, but he didn’t get any benefit. That’s why he revealed his knowledge. He imagined that with the new revelation, he would no longer be looked down. He didn’t realize that he just opened Pandora’s box.
[In the second part, I will focus more on the two protagonists.]
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