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 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/
Thanks to my reader @nakyuhm, I could definitely improve this version.
I guess, you are surprised by the choice of the picture for the illustration, but as you can guess, there’s reason for this. While reading the second episode from Alternative Universe, two elements caught my attention: the role played by the servant Jung In-Hun and the words said by the main lead Yoon Seungho to the noble Baek Na-Kyum.
First, the domestic shows kindness and care to his young master reminding me of the butler Kim in the original, implying that we have a fake affection. But if Jung In-Hun replaces Kim, it signifies that Baek Na-Kyum is now living the life of the noble Yoon Seungho in the original story. From that moment, I tried to verify this theory: We have an older sister who seems to be jealous of her younger brother, because she mocks him by calling him a baby. The source of her resent is simple: since Baek Na-Kyum is the only son of their family, he always gets the attention and admiration from the father, while she, as an older sister, is overlooked due to her gender. Hence I connected her to Yoon Seung-Won, the younger brother, for I had already pointed out in one of my former analyses that there existed a certain jealousy between them due to their father. This was truly palpable in this incident. Back then, I had imagined that it was related to the topknot incident. However, I think now that what we are witnessing is a straw mat beating. The younger master, who betrayed his older brother out of jealousy, never imagined that his father would retaliate like that. He had envisioned that his brother would get into trouble and loses the father’s admiration, yet not to this extent. Another allusion to jealousy was the words expressed by the main lead, when he confessed to his lover: (chapter 55) From my point of view, he was reliving his past, when he saw his brother getting the father’s attention. Let’s not forget that this story is based on the principle: history keeps repeating itself, therefore the jealousy resented towards the low noble was the present, while in the past, Yoon Seungho resented his brother in the past, it was the moment where jealousy reached his peak. That’s why I saw the roles played by the sister and Jung In-Hun as a confirmation that Byeonduck had chosen to reveal the protagonist’s past in the Alternative Universe by switching their places. Yet, this means that the readers will always see the uke suffering. She desires the readers to imagine the main lead’s traumatic past. While many readers are liking the Alternative Universe because of the humor and the lightness, I am convinced that we are actually headed to a huge tragedy, a repetition of the original story… as it represents Yoon Seungho’s past. On the other hand, it is important to remember that although this is just a repetition of the story, we shouldn’t forget that the story is not simply a pure repetition, as the elements and the chronology are changed. As a conclusion, Baek Na-Kyum will suffer a similar tragedy than the protagonist in the main story, yet it will also be a little different, maybe less painful.
But if Baek Na-Kyum represents the powerful noble Yoon Seungho from the original story, this means that the latter was a painter too. What caught my attention is the following panel: He showed the picture, while saying that it was signed Na-Min. However, if the readers pay attention to the painting, there’s no signature on it. Besides, I doubt that as a commoner, he is able to read, remember that the artist in the original story can’t read either. One might argue that the shopkeeper told him the name of the creator, when he showed him the painting. Yet, this argument is incorrect for three reasons. First, the merchant had no reason to mention him, because the former knows that Baek Na-Kyum is selling his pictures directly in order to keep his hobby a secret. Moreover, imagine, Baek Na-Kyum portrayed the famous sodomite Yoon Seungho who is a commoner. The merchant would have questioned him about the circumstances, how he got a painting from the noble. How could the innocent noble have painted the commoner as model? This would have shocked the merchant. From my point of view, the shopkeeper didn’t recognize the artist’s work at all, but he proposed him 5 coins due to his greed. He must have repeated the following remarks: In my perspective, the trader was just repeating the criticisms heard from someone else. Compare the two reviews, you will notice that the commoner is much more accurate in his review. And he is able to discern the origin of the flaws for such a drawing. That’s why I came to the conclusion that Yoon Seungho was a painter himself. In order to become an arts critic, you need to understand the subject, therefore many painting critics are artists themselves. My explanation is that he discovered the noble’s work by sleeping with nobles. His clients would buy the pictures, which the commoner couldn’t afford himself. What caught my attention is the following panel: Baek Na-Kyum questions his competence with his rhetorical question. In the main lead’s eyes, Yoon Seungho doesn’t have the eye to know… and to judge his paintings. But this question made me think the exact opposite. From my point of view, Yoon Seungho recognized the artist’s style, hence he could name it. And there’s no doubt that he is familiar with his paintings. But unlike Baek Na-Kyum, the commoner is not famous due to his social status. And you understand why I came to this idea that the powerful noble Yoon Seungho in the original story could have been an artist in his youth, a painter and even a poet. From that moment, I started to search for clues in order to corroborate my theory.
First, I remembered this scene in chapter 36: Yoon Seungho used to punish his servants with paint. Note that he doesn’t say “write” but paint on their skin. This showed that the noble used to like painting. When I read chapter 36, I made the following mistake: Yoon Seungho was writing, hence I didn’t pay too much attention to his drawing on the painter’s body. However, I changed my mind, the moment I viewed his lines on Baek Na-Kyum’s body: It definitely looks like a plant and his lines show a certain confidence. Don’t forget that the artist was shivering due to the stroke of the brush, yet there’s no mishap or zigzag on his body. If I include the following panel from the Alternative Universe, then you’ll realize that it is a painting on Yoon Seungho’s body and the author is a painter. This could be judged as another evidence for my theory. A painter drew lines on the body of another artist. Therefore I come to the deduction that in chapter 36, Yoon Seungho started showing his passion to Baek Na-Kyum: he used to paint. The manhwaphiles should remember that in the previous chapter, the lord asked the commoner about his likes and dislikes. Such a conversation implies that the counterpart will also ask about the likes and dislikes of the partner. What does Yoon Seungho like in reality? My answer would be: he liked painting, but exactly like the low-born, he was forced to abandon his passion due to his father.
But this was not the first time that Yoon Seungho painted. First, in chapter 8, we have the following panel: someone attempted to draw a scene of men copulating. Since my hypothesis is Yoon Seungho was a painter in his youth, then it looks like he was the creator of his drawing. Then in chapter 23, the manhwaphiles certainly remember the book he showed to Baek Na-Kyum in order to revive his memory: Therefore Yoon Seungho could have been the author of this picture. Note the progression between the picture from chapter 8 and 23. This time, the artist included colors and the design is more precise, just like the lines are more firm. Then this would explain why Yoon Seungho knew what it meant, when an artist doesn’t practice for a long time. (chapter 2). In that same chapter, the artist noticed how well furnished his study was. He had such an expensive paper, and so many brushes revealing the aristocrat’s knowledge. And now it becomes comprehensible, why the lord could only laugh at the fake excuse given by Jung In-Hun in chapter 30: The low noble had brought the artist to the shop in order to buy him ink and brushes. The lord knew that the painter had everything he needed. In my opinion, Yoon Seungho was the one who took care of that room. That’s why the study is next to his bedchamber.
Another evidence for this theory is the picture Byeonduck chose as illustration for the first season of Painter Of The Night: Note that the drawing behind the noble is not only torn, but it was made on an expensive paper indicating that this work was made by someone rich. Secondly, Baek Na-Kyum never created such a painting in the first season for the protagonist, yet the main lead painted a similar picture in his youth: . However, there exist small divergences: the uke in the purple drawing is embracing his lover exposing such a passion and strong love. And since I explained that Baek Na-Kyum was making the same experiences than the main lead, it looks like the author of this painting in this picture could have been Yoon Seungho who saw two nobles making love and reproduced the scene. Furthermore, observe that the color of the drawing is purple, exactly like the color of the main lead’s robe. We know that Yoon Seungho likes purple very much, he put on a purple hanbok in order to impress the painter in chapter 23. So in my opinion, Yoon Seungho used to paint in secret, exactly like the noble Baek Na-Kyum, as he knew that his father would never allow such a hobby. He had many reasons for that. First, since Father Yoon is portrayed as a controlling father, it means that he was paying attention to the main lead’s every move. While the father might have described painting or poetry as too feminine, the real reason for this interdiction was different. Father Yoon couldn’t allow that Yoon Seungho’s reputation outshines his own. Note that no one remembers the protagonist’s previous reputation. He was intelligent and talented, until father Yoon started spreading the rumor that his son was ill. He needed to get treated. Then later he portrayed him as unruly and difficult in front of people, like the former servant explained in chapter 37. Yoon Seungho liked paintings and even poetry, a thorn in the eye for Father Yoon, as it represented a source of threat for father Yoon. There’s no ambiguity that such an ambitious and greedy man would reject arts. Why? According to my theory, the main lead is the illegitimate son of a kisaeng and the grandfather, so seeing his half-brother getting more famous would definitely infuriate him. Moreover, it would be a constant reminder of Yoon Seungho’s true origins. Finally, if Yoon Seungho became famous as an artist, he could get close to power, like for example he becomes the personal painter of the king. However, when father Yoon discovered that his son had caught the king’s attention, he realized that he could use the protagonist differently. As the king’s courtesan or prostitute, Yoon Seungho would lose all his rights. He would never get recognition and power as well, while father Yoon as his pimp would benefit from it. That’s why when the father mentions “illness”, he could definitely be referring to painting. Yoon Seungho learnt that he had to paint during the night to outlive his passion, and now you understand why I saw the combination of this illustration with the title Painter Of The Night as another possible evidence for my theory: Yoon Seungho was also a painter of the night, just like the noble Baek Na-Kyum in the Alternative Universe.
Another point supporting this theory would the appearance of designs on the main lead’s hanboks. This clearly reveals his passion for drawings and he has such a fine eye for designs: (chapter 45) (chapter 50) (chapter 53) and (chapter 67) Even when he died in a figurative sense, the last hanbok indicates that his liking for drawings has not died yet. Nevertheless, all the pattern have something in common: the presence of nature. There are always animals or plants. And this observation led me to the next conclusion, Yoon Seungho was a painter, but unlike his lover, he loved painting nature. This explains why the main lead painted a plant on the low-born’s body in chapter 36. And we have a clue that Yoon Seungho loves plants and animals, if we use the story from Alternative Universe: Remember how the cat caught the noble’s attention and the latter used a plant to play with the animal.
But how come that he created an erotic painting, if according to my hypothesis, the main lead was preferring nature and animals? In my opinion, Jihwa was responsible for this. Since no one in his mansion paid attention to his whereabouts, he witnessed sodomy and that’s how he discovered his sexual orientation. Then one night, he led his childhood friend to the place where the couple was having sex and Jihwa begged his friend to paint for him what they had seen. The drawing in the illustration for the first season was discovered by the father who destroyed it, because someone tattled on Yoon Seungho. Let’s not forget that in the Alternative Universe we have a lord peeping tom: Moreover, the painter’s sexuality resurfaces the moment he witnesses sex between Jihwa and Yoon Seungho, a new version of voyeurism. Why do I think that Jihwa was the one who led the innocent noble to become a voyeur? Note that in the Alternative Universe, the cat is the one leading Baek Na-Kyum to the cabin and even strokes the artist’s butt, while the latter is beholding the scene: So the main lead was not alone, when he saw the commoner having a fellatio. Besides, the manhwalovers should recall how Baek Na-Kyum saw two nobles having sex at the gisaeng house. The aristocrats hid their sexual orientation behind the gisaengs. On the surface, they would behave like normal men, while in reality they loved another man. I doubt that Yoon Seungho could leave his mansion like that, especially if he was monitored by the staff and especially by his butler and his brother. From my point of view, Jihwa and his friend must have witnessed it at the pavilion. Note that the pavilion played a huge role in the first season: emancipation for Yoon Seungho in chapter 3 and the same for Baek Na-Kyum, as the latter was forced to admit that he loved his teacher in chapter 25. Furthermore, I would like to outline that each scene at the pavilion was linked to painting. After witnessing how two nobles made love, Jihwa begged his friend to paint for him (new version of chapter 8). Simultaneously, the red-haired friend decided to make some advances, as he had always felt attracted to him: That’s why Jihwa decided to visit him during the night, since no one noticed his absence from home. So while the innocent man, Yoon Seungho, was focused on the drawing requested by his friend, Jihwa said this: This interpretation would explain why Yoon Seungho couldn’t perceive Baek Na-Kyum’s preference and why Jihwa was an expert for recognizing virgins. However, during that night, the door opened and Jihwa, too scared to get caught, left his friend behind. What followed, you can imagine: Father Yoon believed to see in his son a homosexual due to the painting and punished him. He beat him and asked for some medication from the doctor. Since there was an erotic painting in his son’s room, the father went to father Lee and told him about the painting. However, father Yoon blamed his son for the incident. That’s how Jihwa was separated from his friend, yet the latter chose to remain silent and let Yoon Seungho suffer the consequences from his request. Then he must have heard from the staff that a teacher was hired for a conversion therapy. This would explain why Yoon Seungho relived his second abandonment during that night of revelations: first, the friend who ran away because he had been able to escape and later the rape with Kim at the door: Besides, the manhwaphiles will certainly recall how worried Baek Na-Kyum was in chapter 16 and 17, after leaving the lord’s bedchamber in a hurry. He couldn’t eat and kept wondering if someone had seen him or not, a new version of what the red-haired noble had experienced. In my opinion, there were two incidents occurring with the painting:
- The first one was Yoon Seung-Won who gave a painting to his father, so that his admired brother would lose all his credibility by his father… and I believe that Kim played a role in it, as he could be the one who gave the painting (chapter 37) to the younger master. This led to the straw mat beating. The scholar Jung In-Hun told his future sponsor this: We have to envision that the powerful main lead experienced a similar incident.
- The incident with the door: my idea is that his father was tipped off by Kim so that the latter wouldn’t be blamed for this. Remember what I wrote once: in chapter 16, Kim was the one who opened the door, yet he had been manipulated by the vicious and envious Deok-Jae.
I have to admit that I have no idea about the identity of the persons involved in the love session at the pavilion. One thing is sure: One of the fathers was caught making love to another man. And now, you can comprehend why I got more and more convinced that Yoon Seungho was a painter.
I sense that Jihwa’s spirit and love for nature inspired Yoon Seungho in his drawings. Note that the windscreens in Jihwa and Yoon Seungho’s chamber have a pattern containing trees and plants. I believe, Yoon Seungho could sense free spirit in his childhood friend, reminding him of nature and freedom. That’s why I believe that the cat in Alternative Universe represents Jihwa. First, we have the presence of red . Moreover, Jihwa is represented by an animal in the original story, the monkey. Furthermore, the behavior of Baek Na-Kyum in Alternative Universe reminds us of a cat’s… Furthermore, like my reader @Peperon21428670 pointed out, I had already associated the painter to nature. This explicates why Yoon Seungho chose to paint a plant on the artist’s body that night. He sensed the connection between nature and the artist. And since Jihwa and Baek Na-Kyum are similar, then the cat embodying free spirit and longing for affection can only represent the second lead. This would stand in opposition to Yoon Seungho’s mansion, which the eldest son felt like a cage and prison. This explicates why Yoon Seungho was painting nature and liked his childhood friend so much. He embodied everything what the main lead couldn’t have. Furthermore, with this new approach, it would confirm that there were two people watching the nobles making love at the pavilion, as Baek Na-Kyum peeped at Yoon Seungho with the cat by his side. With this new interpretation, the manhwalovers can better grasp why Jihwa was waiting for Yoon Seungho’s love, as he hoped that he would see the same gaze than in the past. However, from my point of view, Yoon Seungho could never feel like before due to the abandonment he experienced, when Jihwa left him. Furthermore, since Yoon Seungho’s passion for painting was killed by the coercive persuasion and sexual assaults, he could never gaze at his childhood friend the same way. This would explicate why Jihwa is so convinced that he knows Yoon Seungho’s true past (chapter 57), whereas he is only aware of the peak of the iceberg.
So if Yoon Seungho was a painter forced to vow to never paint, it becomes understandable why Baek Na-Kyum’s paintings affected the main lead so much. They healed his eyes which had been ruined by his traumatic experiences. (chapter 57) His keen eyes were revived and the light in them returned. Slowly the lord rediscovered his love for arts and paintings… inciting him to draw again.
Arts therapy is nowadays used as a method to heal people suffering from mental illnesses due to huge traumas. That’s why Yoon Seungho could only fall in love with the painter’s work. They were kindred spirits, and when the lord saw the painter for the first time, he fell in love at first sight, unaware of his emotions. Just like in the first special episode… Yoon Seungho’s face inspired the noble so much that he drew a threesome.
Therefore, with this new perception, the manhwaworms comprehend why Yoon Seungho wanted to scratch Jihwa’s face in the chapter 67. Since in the past his face was a source of inspiration, the symbol for innocence, youth, freedom, carefree, naturality, honesty, happiness for the painter Yoon Seungho, the latter can only associate his face to dishonesty, deception, pain and suffering now. Although Jihwa didn’t get scolded or caught with his lie, he felt guilty, but he never felt the courage to correct the truth. That’s how Jihwa started behaving like a coward and playing tricks. With this incident, he learnt a terrible lesson: he learnt how someone else could take responsibility for his actions and decisions. Since it was never revealed, the young aristocrat faked his smile and cheerfulness due to his guilt. However, with the separation from his friend, he got lost and found himself a new “friend”: The Joker who perverted his innocence and naturality in the end. That’s why when they reunited, Yoon Seungho sensed the transformation in his childhood friend. And once Jihwa discovered that his friend was interested again in painting, he looked for pictures hoping to catch Yoon Seungho’s interest. However, he was rather bored, when he looked at the picture (chapter 9). Then in chapter 12, he proposed to hire a painter from the Royal Academy , because he knew how much his friend liked painting. Yet he couldn’t encourage him to paint himself, for he would have been confronted with the past. The red-haired aristocrat thought, he could manage to get rid of the artist without reminding Yoon Seungho of the incident with the door. And if my theory is correct, this scene implies that the noble never apologized for his friend’s suffering.
Now, the noble is able to perceive his friend’s corrupted nature, hence he describes his friend’s face as vile. (chapter 67) The face is no longer a source of inspiration, rather of suffocation, and this picture contrasts so much to the main lead’s reaction, when he looked at the artist’s face in the following drawing. (chapter 25) He noticed the absence of facial expressions. Therefore he recommended him to use a mirror (chapter 28). As you can see, the muse’s face and facial expressions are very important for the powerful aristocrat. I believe that at some point, he will destroy the painting made with Jihwa so that there are no picture left with him, a new version of chapter 2. For me, the chapter 67 marks the beginning of Baek Na-Kyum’s influence as the lord’s muse. With him, he is learning what love and courage are and he will inspire the master to paint again. Finally, he will be able to discern between fake and genuine affection and concern leading Kim to lose his master’s trust.
And now it is important to remember the painting sent to father Yoon: Imagine how he must have felt. He tried so desperately to stop his son from being linked to arts and painting, and here he receives an erotic painting. He can only be reminded of the past incident. At the same time, he is also criticized for his hypocrisy. He forced his son to prostitution for his own goal, but acted as if he was proper and righteous. No wonder that he was so enraged and could barely contain his fury. He was confronted with his lies and wrongdoings, one could say that he was finally seeing his failure as father. Because of this new approach, I come to the conclusion that Kim was the one sending the painting, hoping that the eldest master would intervene, as he prefers father Yoon to his actual master who is always linked to scandal and uproar, which contrasts to Kim’s philosophy. The butler hoped for an intervention, but since father Yoon hates himself to be connected to sodomy and would like to keep his reputation intact, he chose not to intervene.
With this new theory, I believe that Baek Na-Kyum will become the lord’s muse, just like the main lead will become Baek Na-Kyum’s source of inspiration. At the same time, I imagine that Yoon Seungho becomes the painter’s teacher as well, in the sense that the aristocrat teaches him how to paint other topics: nature for example.
So the painter of the night is not only referring to Baek Na-Kyum, but also to Yoon Seungho. That’s why Byeonduck chose this illustration for the first season: the past and the present are visible in this panel.
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 instagram-tumblr-twitter account is: @bebebisous33. Thanks for reading and the support. Thanks for reading and for the support, particularly, I would like to thank all the new followers and people recommending my blog.