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.
I am well aware that some readers will be upset, if they read this essay, especially Kim’s stans. However, I can no longer postpone this topic, a real portray of the so-called “loyal valet”. I have to admit that Byeonduck even deceived me, as I let my first impressions about the butler misinterpret his past actions. For example, I had determined that Kim had helped the painter to escape in chapter 29. I had explained his behavior by writing that he felt sorry for him or he gave the artist the aphrodisiac in order to make his lord happy. He had realized the master’s affection for the painter. Yet, this was my wishful thinking in truth. Kim had other reasons to act like that, which I only recognized around chapter 62. This made me realize that I had been blind to the truth for a long time, because I had paid too much attention to the pictures concerning him and his words. It signifies that I trusted too much my eyes. From my point of view, the author of Painter Of The Night desires us to see the story with our mind and not only our eyes. The Greek philosopher Plato wrote that “noesis”, the Greek expression for insight, was the highest kind of knowing. With this description, he meant that the mind saw what was true. And we have a scene referring to this type of knowledge: As you can detect, knowledge is linked to sight. That’s why when a person employs the following idiom “I see”, she or he indicates that the person knows and understands. However, we need to see the butler’s behavior with our mind’s eyes and not only our eyes. With this new perspective, it becomes important to examine the valet’s actions beyond the pictures Byeonduck presented to the readers in order to have a real insight about Kim. What is his true personality in reality? He appears kind and gentle, therefore the readers judged him as such. However, this is not the truth and the topic of this essay will be to destroy the myth about Kim as a hero. And in order to achieve this goal, it is important to review all his actions and words from the start.
If we consider the formal aspects, we will notice that Kim is introduced in the same chapter than Jung In-Hun’s arrival at the mansion. That’s his first introduction. I doubt that this is a coincidence. As I have already described the scholar as a villain, this can be viewed a first evidence for this theory. Secondly, if we count the number of chapters (2, 6, 7, 10, 11, 17, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 29, 30, 35, 37, 38, 40, 41, 44) where Jung In-Hun appears, you’ll notice that Kim has the exact same number: 20 (7, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 19, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 30, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 39, 44). One might argue that Kim has been developed to contrast to Jung In-Hun, yet this is not possible, as the valet often lies (f. ex. episode 11, 12, 29, 34, 35, 44, 67, 68), exactly like the teacher. Nevertheless, I am well aware that these exterior aspects might not be not convincing enough.
Let me elaborate why I believe that Kim isn’t only an antagonist in Painter Of The Night, but also a villain. But before bringing up all the points, I need to define the nature of an antagonist and a villain.
“In literature, an antagonist is a character, or a group of characters, which stands in opposition to the Protagonist, which is the main character. […] ” quoted from https://literarydevices.net/antagonist/
This definition points out that the antagonist hinders the protagonist to achieve his goal, hence he creates conflicts for the protagonist. He can be a villain, but not necessarily. He can be just a competitor and rival. And note that in my last analysis (“The slaps in the kaleidoscope”), I had described Kim as a rival to the painter. The latter was slowly taking away the power Kim had over the powerful noble. At the end of chapter 66, Yoon Seungho is submitting himself to the artist’s authority. But I could also use the confrontation Kim had with Yoon Seungho as illustration in chapter 68. The butler used his knowledge to literally destroy the lord’s confidence and power. He portrayed him as a bad and cruel person who made a false judgement and was even wayward in his youth. At no moment, he gave a real advice to the protagonist, contributing to his lord’s growth and improving his behavior. But one might argue that everything is linked to the valet’s position. He is just a domestic. Yet, he had disobeyed his master’s order showing a certain confidence. And his disregard for his master was already visible on different occasions, like in chapter 33 or chapter 56 . He brought the artist to the physician without his master’s permission. Back then, many like myself overlooked his infraction, because it seemed like it was for the artist’s sake. However, the readers should remember that the physician was called to the lord’s property in the past. So why bring the painter to the doctor’s office? And let’s remember that in the past Yoon Seungho visited the doctor’s office in order to get drugged. Back then, the main lead became a victim of drug. As you can observe, Kim’s actions should be judged with the mind’s eye and not with just with the heart or the eye. Besides, the butler’s attitude towards the main lead revealed a certain confidence to use knowledge and lies to manipulate Yoon Seungho. So maybe Kim represents a certain hindrance to the two protagonists, but to describe him as a villain, some readers will question this interpretation.
“A villain is the bad guy, the one who comes up with diabolical plots to somehow cause harm or ruin. It is one of the archetype characters in many stories. The villain may truly believe that he/she is helping society, but causes harm in the process.” quoted from https://literaryterms.net/villain/
On the surface, it looks like a villain is a bad person. Yet this is not correct, it is not complete. The definition portrays the villain mainly as a scheming person who believes that his actions are right, because he has a good justification. However, his words and actions have a negative impact on the protagonists. “Schemes and causing harm” stand in the center of this definition and not if the villain acts badly so obviously. In other words, the villain is not necessarily an evil or brutal person, as long as the person legitimates his actions. Furthermore, there are different types of villains:
- Traitor: This villain betrays the ones who trusted him or her.
- Patriarch/Matriarch: These warped villains see themselves as the head of the family or group.
- Tyrant: This villainous leader takes no guff from anyone – do as you’re told or pay the price.
- Devil: True evil at its worst, the devil villain has no good side.
- Schemer: This villain loves making diabolical plans and carrying them out.
- Lunatic: Just plain crazy, this villain may not have any real motivation but the crazy conspiracies he or she “sees.” quoted from https://literaryterms.net/villain/ (I didn’t list all the different kind of villains)
After reading these different descriptions, the readers recognize that Min resembles to the Schemer and Devil, while father Yoon looks more like a patriarch. I would like to remind that Min justifies his schemes with his urges for the painter and his desire for entertainment. Nevertheless, the first type is often overlooked, the traitor. From my point of view, Kim represents the first type, because he has already backstabbed his master on multiple occasions. I could mention Kim’s betrayal towards Yoon Seungho in chapter 65. Here, he heard and saw something, but decided to turn a blind eye and abandoned the young boy. He allowed the young master to get assaulted and chose not to intervene, because he dislikes the idea of trouble so much. His real desire is to lead a peaceful life. Arguing that he feared for his life can also be refuted. If the butler had intervened immediately, then father Yoon would have believed him. Father Yoon trusts the valet so much that he followed Kim who recommended him the physician. So he had the valet’s trust. However, it became a different story, if Yoon Seungho had revealed the truth and accused the butler for abandoning him. In my opinion, he didn’t want to get in the way of a noble hurting the main lead, therefore he became an accomplice. He had to hide his wrongdoings. And in order to ease his conscience, he justifies his passivity and inaction with the following motto: Since it doesn’t concern his life, then he doesn’t need to care. But one might refute my argumentation that Kim only made a mistake once. However, let’s not forget that there’s another main lead in this manhwa: Baek Na-Kyum. Kim betrayed him in chapter 11, by letting take the fall for the damaged painting. Like I had already exposed in a previous analysis, Kim lied to his master in chapter 11: In fact, Baek Na-Kyum had left the room for a stroll. And with his two lies in chapter 11, he allowed the painter to get hurt and punished unfairly. In other words, he caused harm not only to Yoon Seungho, but also to Baek Na-Kyum. What caught my attention is the absence of the eye in the first picture. First, one might think that this aspect is an indication that the servant is trying to hide his true thoughts. However, I would even add another dimension. The absence of the valet’s eyes displays his leitmotiv: turning a blind eye. But there’s more to it. The absence of his eyes mirrors his desire to ignore the consequences of his actions. Therefore he keeps running away (chapter 64) (chapter 67) in order to avoid any confrontation. Furthermore he avoids peoples’ gaze and questions (see the picture from chapter 67) (chapter 63). Note that in this scene (last image), before leaving, he never answers to the maids’ question corresponding to the missing ears in the following picture: He is also turning a deaf ear. That’s other Kim’s MO. He is deliberately closing his eyes and ears to reality and truth, so that he doesn’t need to feel guilty. With this attitude, he doesn’t want to feel burdened and responsible for his actions. And he prefers letting others take the blame. Yet, this doesn’t mean that he doesn’t use his senses like Jihwa, it is quite the opposite. He utilizes his senses in order to get knowledge, as he has already recognized that insight can help him to live a quiet life. That’s why he is described as perceptive by Yoon Seungho in chapter 23.
Then one might refute that he only hurt the protagonists once, he can’t be a villain. Besides, he never intended the main leads to get hurt, he just feared to get punished. However, this is just an illusion. In reality, if you pay attention to the butler’s actions, you can actually witness Kim’s true power which is based on manipulations and drugs. In my opinion, he is a puppet master hiding in the shadow and the pawns have no idea that they have been masterminded by a “kind” valet. Now, you are wondering how?
What caught my attention is the medication that Yoon Seungho has been fed since his teens. In chapter 57, even the doctor questioned the lord’s illness, yet he still gave him the medicine without a real diagnosis, because father Yoon would talk to him, until the latter gave in. Besides, Kim decided to continue feeding him after the abandonment, and it was never questioned by the doctor. The latter only heard through Kim that Yoon Seungho had started getting seriously sick. The readers should recall that the doctor only examined the lord twice, the second time it happened many years later. The doctor has never been able to define the illness the main lead was suffering. And note that the doctor pointed out that before the lord wasn’t known as hot-tempered. That’s why I believe that the drug is the cause for Yoon Seungho’s mood swings and impulsive behavior. Sure, there exist other causes, the different traumas the lord experienced. And from my perspective, the connection between the violence and the drug is visible, if you think carefully about the return of the lord’s violent and impulsive attitude from chapter 61 on. It coincides with his stay at the physician’s. For me, there’s no coincidence in this story. Since the story is repeating itself, the author revealed that after the visitation, Yoon Seungho as a teen started receiving the medication affecting his mood. For he went to the doctor’s in chapter 57, it means that the physician must have given him some medicine after the disappearance of the painter. And let’s not forget his words in chapter 55: The man recommended Kim to give him the tea. Now, due to the physician’s words, which Baek Na-Kyum clearly heard, Kim has a reason to feed him the drug again. He is just following the doctor’s prescription and note that Kim has the painter as a witness. This panel is relevant, as it exposes that the lord refused to take the tonic before. His reason was simple: he slept better. In my opinion, we have to envisage that Kim would use the doctor’s innocence to justify his action, if he was caught giving the drug. Furthermore, the master was at the doctor’s, hence the former would trust his recommendation and his tea. Hence I believe that the lord got drugged after that night explaining his relapse (violent temper). Since we know that this story is built as a kaleidoscope, it means that this medication was mentioned in season 1. It first appears in chapter 35, and the lord declined the “medicinal tea”, a reflection of chapter 55. But the readers have to envision that Yoon Seungho had already stopped drinking the potion even before chapter 35. Let’s not forget that the main lead was away for many days, hopping from one bedchamber to the next. Consequently, he couldn’t take the drug. And after Baek Na-Kyum became the lord’s lover, the latter had no reason to drink the medicinal tea. First, thanks to the low-born, the noble had been able to get some sleep. Observe how refreshed he looks the next morning after spending a night with the painter. Later he was busy having sex with Baek Na-Kyum and could sleep better, like Kim described it in chapter 55. One might argue that Kim is doing for the lord’s sake, but then the manhwaphiles should question truly his intentions, as he gave an aphrodisiac to the painter against his will in chapter 36. The purpose for his action was simple: he intended to use the artist as the new sex toy for the master, so that Yoon Seungho would be busy with sex and forget the outside world. And the artist didn’t want to take it either. There’s no real legitimation to drug someone, the goal doesn’t justify the means. Besides, giving the wrong medication to someone who is not sick can never be good. It can definitely make someone sick, and the manhwaworms should recognize that the doctor could never truly diagnose the lord’s illness. He created the medicine based on the father’s desires and suggestions. Yet, at no moment, Kim stopped the treatment, although he knows that father Yoon was a cruel man, like he revealed in chapter 68. Therefore I judge Kim as a real dangerous person, because he drugs people and uses people’s innocence. I doubt that the physician is aware that he has been used by father Yoon and later by Kim. The clue for his innocence is palpable because of his testimony to the painter. He is not hiding anything, he reveals the past to the artist, since he knows the relationship between the two protagonists. However, like I have already explained it, the doctor’s revelations will help to uncover the truth. One might still argue that Kim is just doing what father Yoon told him. He is still loyal to the eldest master. So he is not responsible for the drugs. I could just argue that father Yoon never gave him the permission to drug the painter, Kim made the decision on his own and no one asked him to do so. Besides, he works as Yoon Seungho’s butler and not father Yoon’s, therefore we can definitely describe him as a traitor, since he drugs the main lead and we have to imagine that Yoon Seungho must have refused it in the past as well. So once the father abandoned his son, Kim could have stopped with the medication.
And let’s turn our attention to my second point: the butler’s manipulations, symbolizing that Kim is indeed a villain. In order to validate my theory, it is necessary to examine all the butler’s words and actions. Like I had already mentioned in a previous chapter, Kim lied in chapter 11 with a certain intention. My first reaction was to say that he didn’t want to take the blame for the second lead’s misdeed. However, I believe that there’s more to it. Observe the way he lies. He notices the lord’s good mood, and he suggests the noble to visit the painter in his study by saying that the painter spent the whole day. With his words, he implies that the painter has been dedicated towards Yoon Seungho and he must be tired, the first version of the following panel from chapter 41. That way, the noble would discover the ruined painting. He anticipated that the noble would like to go to the painter with his suggestion, since he knows that the lord is a goodhearted man in reality. He orchestrated the whole situation, he knew that the lord would have a mood swing and his rage would target the painter. That’s why he hid behind the door , so that he wouldn’t be confronted with the consequences of his lie and manipulations. Like I demonstrated it before, there’s no doubt that Kim had seen Jihwa’s arrival and had chosen to close his eyes. From my point of view, the butler had already judged the painter as a source of trouble and desired to get rid of him. Why?
My theory is the following: Kim is actually working as a spy. Since he has only been loyal to himself, I suspect that Kim has been working behind Yoon Seungho’s back for several people. His motivation was never money or power, rather leading a tranquil life without any trouble and struggle. However, this mentality led him to the dark side. I believe that the starting point was the protagonist’s abuse in the storage room. After his silence and passivity, he was bound by secrecy. It is definitely possible that he has been blackmailed too, the older version Deok-Jae’s thread. In my opinion, it is lord Song, but this is now only a supposition. First, I discovered that Kim was able to read and as such write. If I complete Kim’s sentence, we have this: Lord Song is not one to write to my master. Then to whom is lord Song supposed to write? I doubt that Kim is aware of lord Song’s mail contacts, since the valet lives in that mansion the whole time. The logical deduction is to say that the valet has been in touch with lord Song. Besides, another evidence for Kim’s hidden abilities is the painter. Remember how I described the artist as the positive reflection of Kim. Since Baek Na-Kyum was supposed to be literate and the lord discovered that it was not true, Kim as the low-born’s negative reflection is supposed to be illiterate, while in reality he can read and write. Moreover, if you pay attention to Kim’s reaction in chapter 56, when he hears that lord Song desires to meet the main lead at the tavern, Kim gets scared. Back then, many imagined that the butler’s fear was related to Yoon Seungho’s past and he felt concerned for the master. Yet, he got scared twice. The second time, the master was not present and Kim was definitely frightened. Finally, note how he tries to suggest to his master to postpone the meeting due to his illness. It sounds reasonable and legitimate, yet if you think that Kim is a spy, he has a motive to make sure that both don’t encounter. That’s why he abandoned Baek Na-Kyum at the physician’s and rushed to the lord’s side. He was scared that Yoon Seungho would discover the truth. Once he saw Jihwa there, he felt relieved and faked concern. That’s why he said this to the doctor: He definitely expressed relief here and notice, he hides his eyes again, a sign that he is hiding his true thoughts, but also avoiding to face the consequences of all his lies and manipulations. Besides, I couldn’t help myself thinking about Yoon Seungho’s comment in chapter 18: The amateur spy got discovered, because he showed true concern for Jihwa. So what if we had a professional spy, the reflection of the amateur spy? As such he is a puppet master who can deceive people due to his acting skills. Now, you can comprehend why for me, Kim is a villain, a traitor. He is always perceived as kind, gentle and genuine, yet the truth is different. His thoughts exposed his selfishness and dishonesty towards the painter and the master.
And now, it is time to return our attention to the reasons for Kim’s manipulation in chapter 11. Let’s not forget the circumstances that led to Jihwa’s revenge. In chapter 8, Yoon Seungho had humiliated a noble and even grabbed him by the topknot creating a scandal, something Kim abhors the most. And this was caused by the low-born’s presence. And we have to imagine that Kim must have been staying in the background and saw the scene, a repetition from chapter 33. So with such a humiliation, Kim could only object to the lord’s attitude and consider the painter as the source of trouble and danger. However, if my theory about Kim as a spy is correct, we shouldn’t forget that Jung In-Hun had just arrived at the mansion, and the scholar must have told Kim about the reasons for his stay here: the lord desires to sponsor him and give him a high position. Since Jung In-Hun is arrogant and likes admiration, I doubt that he hid it from the butler. So Kim has a bigger cause to get rid of the painter. If Yoon Seungho has connections to the government, he can become dangerous. Since the latter has an affection to the teacher, which Kim witnessed, he must have recognized that his sponsorship is related Baek Na-Kyum. So when he viewed Jihwa’s arrival in chapter 10, he knew what would happen, and saw it as an opportunity to get rid of the painter and indirectly the teacher. That’s why he tricked the main lead to pay a visit to the artist, by portraying the low-born as a hardworking painter. Besides, we also have to envision that he knew that Jihwa had hired one of the servants from his staff. Since his policy is to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear in the sake of his “peace”, he had no reason to intervene. At the same time, since he knew that the teacher was the artist’s alibi, the other possible outcome was that Jung In-Hun intervenes so that a quarrel between the two nobles begins leading to the end of the sponsorship. However, the artist chose to remain silent and the scholar didn’t show any interest for Baek Na-Kyum. Anyway, Kim could only win with such an action: either Jung In-Hun chose to cut ties with the main lead for mistreating the commoner or Baek Na-Kyum decides to leave the mansion after such a punishment. That’s why Kim allowed the amateur spy to leave the mansion and announced that the lord had chosen the straw mat beating as punishment. However, the manhwalovers have to envision that Kim never revealed his knowledge. He must have just given the servant the permission to leave the property without his master’s knowledge. Consequently, the hired spy had no idea that he had been used as a pawn by Kim. For the latter, it was important that no one would notice his manipulation. He only had to fake ignorance and kindness, while in reality he was utilizing his eyes and ears. By using the amateur spy, Jihwa had no idea about the butler’s involvement. That way, no one would realize that there was a puppet master behind them. At the same time, I also believe that the butler anticipated the childhood friend’s intervention. And let’s not forget that Kim is the only one who knows Jihwa since his childhood. He witnessed their separation, therefore he already envisaged that the red-haired noble would target the artist, like he did in the past. In other words, Kim has always utilized Jihwa in order to isolate the lord and hinder him to focus on someone else for too long. Kim had already imagined that the painter would get punished severely and the scholar who seemed so affectionate towards the artist, would decide to cut ties with the lord. Who would like to be seen with such a violent sodomite? From my perspective, that’s the reason why Byeonduck chose to introduce the butler in chapter 7. The teacher’s goal stands in opposition to Kim’s. As long as the lord is busy with sex and debauchery, Kim can lead a peaceful life and his misdeeds can never get discovered. And all the persons responsible for his misery in his youth, like lord Song, don’t need to fear any revenge. However, nothing worked like the valet had envisioned, because neither the painter nor the master reacted like he had anticipated.
What caught my attention is that in chapter 12, the amateur spy appears twice. Not only he goes to the tavern to tip off Jihwa, but also he is the one who announces the red-haired noble’s arrival. This is no coincidence. Since Kim knew about his true relationship with Jihwa, he knew that the red-aristocrat would question the domestic and vent his anger at him. Furthermore, Kim suggests the painter to make a walk which led the second lead to notice that his plan had failed. This also indicates that Kim witnessed the painter taking a walk with the teacher. And striking is that when Yoon Seungho saw the painter, he asked him, if he was trying to run away. We can definitely question if this was not the butler’s original plan, especially when the readers recall that Kim witnessed the painter’s behavior in chapter 11. He talked back to Yoon Seungho and even refused to submit to Yoon Seungho’s authority first. So maybe when Kim took care of the painter, Kim hoped that if he said that he would have to resign and accept his fate, these words would have the opposite effect, the artist would choose to leave the mansion after witnessing his mentality. One thing is sure: Kim was in the background all the time and knew what was going on. And this is reflected in chapter 17. The valet refuses to intervene and has even allowed Jihwa to enter the mansion without any invitation. Let’s not forget that in chapter 17, we have the same constellation of characters than in chapter 12: the amateur spy following the second lead, Yoon Seungho in his bed, valet Kim in the background and the painter. The only change is the apparition of the head-maid of the kitchen. For me, he was definitely an silent accomplice, who tried to stop Yoon Seungho from intervening and causing another trouble. With this new perception, it would explain why Yoon Seungho and Jihwa maintained their relationship despite its toxicity. Kim could use the noble to get rid of any thread, without causing any big trouble. And if there was a huge incident (like Jihwa’s topknot incident), then this would be swayed under the rug, because Jihwa was always willing to overlook Yoon Seungho’s retaliation.
Furthermore I think, Kim expected Jihwa’s return after his success and if he met the painter, he would see that his plan had failed. Note that in that moment, the childhood friend tried to suggest his friend to get rid of the artist by hiring a painter from the Royal Academy. Observe that despite the sex session with Jihwa, the latter had lost the fight against the painter. He was even sent away and the host didn’t pay attention to him at the end. However, during that same night, Kim got himself tricked by Deok-Jae, something he hadn’t expected. And that’s the moment the butler realized that he could use the guardian as his second pawn. That’s how Deok-Jae took over the role from the amateur spy and helped Kim in his attempt to separate the artist from the noble: chapter 29/30. But since the vicious servant got betrayed, because Kim abandoned him and let him suffer the most, Deok-Jae could only act on his own. He tried to steal the red dresser, he sabotaged the rice, and finally he even ransacked the study and hurt the artist causing so much trouble to Kim that he could only ask him to disappear. Nevertheless, I would like to remind that the moment when the amateur spy reveals his complicity in chapter 18, he doesn’t even deny or try to put the blame on the valet. This shows that he has no idea that Kim knew about his role. Kim has always been able to survive thanks to this philosophy: IGNORANCE IS A BLESSING.
Then in chapter 19, there is another crime committed: the theft of the expensive wine. Back then, everyone was convinced that the painter was the thief, because we saw him with the bottle. However, Baek Na-Kyum is supposed to be a pure person who wouldn’t commit a crime. So the protagonist is not only a liar but also a theft, no one was upset. But now, if you perceive this incident in a different perspective, Kim is a manipulator, he created the incident so that Baek Na-Kyum would get caught. This time, no one would speak for him. Surprising is that Kim is again portrayed eyeless. For me, a sign that he saw what happened: the painter was the criminal. People would think that he was covering up for the painter, yet if you look at Min’s reaction after hearing the butler’s words, you’ll realize that Min is asking for blood. Striking is that in chapter 19, we have elements from chapter 11:
- Kim without eyes and who feigns ignorance
- Kim is also asked as witness
- A lord in a good mood. That’s why he went to the brothel to eat with Min and two other nobles, the first version of chapter 52-53-54.
- A crime: the disappearance of the bottle
Since it is a new version of chapter 11 and I had explained that Kim had orchestrated the first punishment, so the logical consequence would be that Kim tried to recreate a similar situation. Besides, just before, the lord had cut ties with Jihwa, hence Kim could no longer use him like in the past. But what if Kim left the bottle on purpose so that the artist would take it? Let’s not forget that during that night, Yoon Seungho witnessed the quarrel between Jung In-Hun and Baek Na-Kyum, therefore it is definitely possible that Kim could have witnessed it as well. Just because we didn’t see it, this doesn’t signify that this didn’t exist. Realizing the painter’s sadness, the butler could have anticipated the painter’s next move. And when he revealed the crime to the guests, he desired to use Min’s anger and request to have the painter punished, even killed. This time, the lord wouldn’t be able to change his mind and show remorse. However, once again his plan didn’t work out, because the lord covered up himself the misdeed of the painter. For me, there’s no doubt that the absence of Kim’s eyes are a signal that Kim is up to something. With this new interpretation, I come to the following conclusion that chapter 67-68 are the new version of chapter 19. Kim and Min are already working together and both are determined to use Jihwa once again, like they did in the first season. Yet back then, Min had no idea that he was used by the humble valet.
But if Kim has already planned the painter’s rape and murder in the second season, then this signifies that he must have done in the first season, as history repeats itself. And he actually did it, which no one noticed before, including me. However, his plan didn’t work out so that we can definitely predict the butler’s failure.
Thanks to Luzy’s observation, I came to this realization. It all started with her notice that Kim lied in chapter 34. When Baek Na-Kyum gets sick after the sex marathon, he brings himself the painter back to the study, even clean him. Observe that the doctor is in the painter’s room, when he examines the low-born. Then in chapter 34, the head-maid declares that the painter has been sick for 4 days and observe that the painter is still lying in his bed. Then, when the artist wakes up, he discovers that he is in the lord’s bed. He assumes that the lord left him behind after the sex session, that’s why he remembers the sex marathon. However, Kim deceives the artist by portraying the lord in a good light: He brought himself to his bed, because it is the warmest room. However, Kim announces him that the painter has been sick for 10 days and the lord has been hopping from one bedchamber to the next. So how can he have brought the painter to his bedchamber during these 10 days, if he was away? Besides, how is he supposed to have brought the painter to his bed, if he was already in the bed after the sex marathon? In my opinion, the valet had chosen to turn Baek Na-Kyum into a favored servant and placed the painter in the master’s bed. If the latter chose to become the master’s lover, then the lord would have no interest in keeping sponsoring Jung In-Hun. Now, he needed to separate the two. Besides, he knew that at some point, the lord would return. That’s why Yoon Seungho was surprised, when he arrived in his room. He tried to hide it by showing a rather indifferent expression. Yet, Kim’s machination failed. The butler never imagined that Baek Na-Kyum would leave the room and Yoon Seungho would agree to it. We have to imagine that the poor boy had just recovered, so if the main lead had ignored the painter’s condition, the new sex session could have led to the painter’s exhaustion and death. That’s why I can’t perceive Kim’s trick as a favor for the main lead. Yet, both protagonists in their innocence defeated the butler’s plan. And note that the valet lies again the next morning. He announces his arrival with the excuse, he is bringing his meal: But where is the meal? Read the chapter 35 again, you don’t see anything like that at all. Besides, pay attention to the valet’s reaction, when he opens the door: he is feeling uncomfortable, as if he was expecting something. He imagined to see the painter there with the lord, maybe dead… But no, his master is alone and didn’t sleep the whole night. He had reasons for that. He must have wondered why the painter was in his bed, but then he left him in order to let him rest. Then what caught my attention is that the valet opens the two windows, although the lord is not even dressed. He doesn’t even hurry to bring him the hanbok and later he even comments, it is cold. Note that here again, the domestic is without eyes again. From my point of view, he saw the painter strolling in the courtyard and meeting the scholar, therefore he opened the two windows so that the lord would feel the need to come closer to the window and witness the scene. Since there’s no ambiguity that Kim witnessed how the lord took the sword during the night of the rape, and tried to kill the teacher, he recognized the lord’s jealousy. Therefore, he imagined if he saw the painter with the scholar, he would get so resentful that he would grab his sword and kill the painter in affect. Notice that at no moment Kim intervened, although he was by the lord’s side, when he saw this. He literally vanished and only reappeared, after the situation had called down. The lord had not killed the artist. He even brought the fake letter from father Yoon, an excuse for his disappearance and at the same time a diversion. That’s why the artist was given the aphrodisiac right after. The painter needed to become the lord’s favored servant. If he remained loyal to Yoon Seungho, the latter would have no longer any interest in the teacher’s support. And since I judged the incident with the sword in chapter 35 as an attempt on the painter’s life masterminded by Kim, there’s no ambiguity that his participation in the second murder attempt will surface. However, this time it will become visible, because the puppet master lost his pawns one by one (the amateur spy, Jihwa, Deok-Jae). He can only use the second lead through Min that’s why he was included. Under this different approach, Jihwa’s crimes are relativized and it becomes obvious that Nameless is not only Min’s nemesis, but also Kim’s. Nameless contrasts so much to the butler, if you compare their attitude. Nameless might be ruthless, yet he is compassionate and genuine. And he is not running away from any responsibility and from reality, he is not putting the blame on others.
As a first conclusion, Kim has always manipulated people and he was never caught, because he often seems nice and humble. That’s how powerful the butler is. Yet, like I demonstrated, he lied on many occasions and worked in the shadow. That’s why I believe, it can only be recognized if people use their mind’s eye. Moreover, if the painter is a theft, then why shouldn’t the butler be a liar and manipulator? Under this new approach, we can say that Kim took advantage of people’s weaknesses (f. ex. the protagonists’ abandonment issues, Deok-Jae’s greed, Jihwa’s need for attention) explicating why the lord was so reluctant to open up. Besides, giving drugs to people is not right, especially when they are not aware of the real effects. Yoon Seungho is still unaware that he has been fed with the same drug from his youth. If he knew, he would definitely reject it, because he sees his father in a very negative light. As you can anticipate, there is so much more to say about this character, I didn’t even explain the incident with the rape, the missed farewell from the learned sir in chapter 44, the reason why Kim hid the painter’s identity etc… Just an advice, look at the panels where Kim is portrayed without eyes and question the reason for this. With Byeonduck, this is never random.
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6 thoughts on “Painter Of The night: Kim’s power (part 1)”
I find it curious how Seungho could recognize Jihwa’s handwriting and Kim could not.
Don’t all the letters go through him?
What did Jihwa write, if not letters, so often that Seungho could recognize his handwriting? Although it could all be because they spent their childhood together.
I am still amazed by Kim’s new vision. So much of what the man does is questionable.
If he really is the puppeteer, I wonder how much longer he can hide it.
Jihwa has his own faults and responsibilities in the affairs, of course, but it’s impressive to note that getting rid of him doesn’t solve any problems. The mind behind the crime will find another pawn.
I will really pay more attention to Kim from now on.
Thanks for your observations and essays!
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I doubt that Jihwa was allowed to send him letters, when they were separated. So after meeting each other again, I believe, they were more busy with sex than writing letters. Besides, we have to imagine that Kim didn’t open the letter. Yoon Seungho would have noticed it.
I will quote an author that I really like, Brandon Sanderson, and his book ‘The Way of the Kings’ to define Kim:
“… Well, I think respect is like compost. Use it where it’s needed, and the plants will flourish. Spread it too far, and things will start to smell.”
To me, Kim stinks of treason.
Now I think that during all these years working for Seungho, if the lord is really as bad as he is described, people would have gone mad with his misdeeds.
But the only one who always lost, the only one everyone talks about is Seungho. There are no mistreated servants, no fierce punishments every day, no blood, nothing. The only one who got his name dirty is Seungho … and that seems so … strange to me now. Why didn’t I see this before? Why doesn’t anyone see it?
Well, first of all the human eye, as an organ itself, is rubbish compared to the eye of other animals. The mind fills in the spaces. And the mind is left with what is most striking. Seungho’s violence, his debauchery, are sometimes even grotesque to watch, but we see them.
Kim’s actions make us lower our guard. Nobody expects a dagger from a deer. Nobody.
For this reason, his excessive respect, that kindness towards everyone, in any situation, is already beginning to smell.
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If I have time tomorrow, I will explain how I see his words in chapter 12 and the false perception we all had. I agree with you that Yoon Seungho’s reputation is actually the result of Kim.
He lies in chapter 17, to the women, when he says that Seungho fell asleep early, and that they did not go near the painter’s studio.
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Yes, thanks for the observation. This shows that he knew about Jihwa’s presence.