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.
In the first part, I exposed why Kim should be perceived as a villain and not as hero. Many readers believed that the butler’s words would always reflect the truth, while in reality it wasn’t the case. I have already unveiled, how the valet lied in chapter 11, 29, 35, 67 and 68. Nevertheless, with just a few examples, I don’t think that many readers are willing to change their opinion about the valet, and even question the genuineness of his concerns and advices. That’s why I desire to continue deconstructing the myth about Kim as hero.
Therefore I will add another lie, which my reader Luzy noticed. In chapter 17, Kim is asked why he brought back the lord’s meal. He justifies his return that the master was fast asleep , so he decided to let him rest. However, the readers see that the lord looks rested and seems to be waiting for the butler. He sits in his bed, he has no dark circle. If he had been suffering from insomnia, then he would have looked like in chapter 35. And since chapter 35 contrasts so much to the episode 17, it means that chapter 35 is a reflection of this incident. This leads me to the following observation. First, Kim never opened the door. Secondly, he wanted his master to remain in his room, so that he wouldn’t know what was happening in his mansion. This would stand in opposition to chapter 35, where Kim led the lord on purpose to the opened window so that he would get jealous. With this comparison, it becomes palpable that Kim knew about Jihwa’s presence, hence he advised the maids not to approach the study. Kim was determined to protect Jihwa’s intervention. The final evidence for his lie and complicity is the absence of Kim’s eyes, a signal that the valet is closing a blind eye and a deaf ear to the incident. But more striking in this scene is the valet’s disrespect and disobedience towards Yoon Seungho. He made the decision on his own that the lord shouldn’t eat the meal. It was truly an outrage, yet due to his “concern”, I fell for his lie myself. Notice that the maid questions him, if he asked the noble. He denies it and uses concern for his action. Striking is that when Kim manipulates, the author is not showing us the butler’s face, but the door or the rooftop. (chapter 35) This indicates that Kim’s worries are truly fake, they just serve one purpose: to protect his interests. He would like to have his peace and if my theory about him being a spy, then he has every reason to remove the artist from the lord’s side. Anyway, Kim makes decisions for others (Baek Na-Kyum and Yoon Seungho) without asking them. It was, as if he knew what was the best for them, whereas in truth, he is doing it for his own benefit. Moreover note that he is just a servant, yet he acts, as though he stood above the lord by disrespecting his lord. For him, worry and kindness are tools serving him to justify his passivity or his disobedience. And the scene in chapter 17 is important, because it reflects the chapter 68, where Kim had also disrespected the master’s order. However, in chapter 68, he was caught in the act. For me, the incident with Jihwa clearly revealed Kim’s silent complicity. If the main lead hadn’t been awaken, then he wouldn’t have been able to protect Baek Na-Kyum from Jihwa’s violence. In chapter 17, the butler attempted to keep his lord in the ignorance by stopping the head-maid of the kitchen from warning the master. Yet, the servant failed, therefore in chapter 18 he stood behind the maid. That’s Kim’s other MO. If someone has to be blamed for this ruckus, then it should be the head-maid, explicating why Kim always hides behind others (chapter 29, chapter 50, chapter 65). In chapter 18, once he realized that Yoon Seungho was not angry, then he could act as a docile, but strong servant, hence his position was switched again. Later he stood in front of the maid. With this new interpretation, Kim’s visit to the doctor in chapter 65 appears in a different light as well. Here, he is actually threatening the physician, (“are you trying to have me killed?”), saying that he will reveal the doctor’s passivity and silence to Yoon Seungho in order to scare the poor man. With this attitude, he can ensure that the doctor won’t testify and at the same time, if his secret is leaked, then Kim can make sure that the physician takes the whole blame. He hides behind him to take the responsibility for the abduction. That’s why the man begs for his mercy. And this incident clearly exposes Kim’s scheme and manipulation. In this scene, the butler acts like a lord, therefore we have the following expressions “I beg you”, “spare me”, which are usually addressed to a noble. Yet, since Kim is just a servant, he can’t become violent himself. He just needs to employ the lord as his weapon. As a conclusion, the main lead is definitely his puppet, who will help him to get rid of any source of trouble. However, we shouldn’t forget that in this chapter 65, the valet reveals his complicity, as he realized that the physician had noticed something. He had no idea if the poor man had noticed his involvement. He needed to make sure that the doctor didn’t talk, because if he did, then the noble might also come to question the domestic’s whereabouts.
As you could see, Kim is not just a liar, but also an excellent manipulator, because he uses his knowledge to his advantage, like in chapter 19. Here, he feigns ignorance concerning the culprit’s identity for the disappearance of the expensive wine. There’s no ambiguity that he knew, since he had no eyes in the picture. Yet he hoped that this incident would cause a riff between his master and the painter. Imagine in this scene, Min even asked for the thief’s death. Yet, nothing happened, because the lord covered up his “crime”. In other words, Yoon Seungho saved his life. However, the lord was not celebrated as a hero in this scene. And like I explained it before, I am even suspecting that Kim left the bottle on purpose, expecting that the artist would take it. And now, I have found a proof for this theory. If Baek Na-Kyum had truly stolen the wine, then he wouldn’t have drunk it in the open. Note that he is not hiding at all. From my point of view, Kim used the painter’s ignorance to his advantage (“ignorance is a blessing for the perpetrator”), and he just didn’t expect his master’s reaction. Finally, when Yoon Seungho reveals the incident to Baek Na-Kyum the next morning, the low-born is embarrassed and gives quickly a fake excuse, because he realizes that he was the cause for the ruckus. From my point of view, the commoner had no idea about the true value of the alcohol, and only discovered it with Yoon Seungho’s revelation. That’s why his lie was easily discovered, the artist was only reacting to the lord’s words and indirect questioning. He had to give himself an alibi so quickly. Note that he didn’t feel guilty, until he heard the truth. In other words, Kim applied his philosophy in Baek Na-Kyum’s case. For the butler, the painter’s ignorance and innocence was a blessing, because this could help the domestic to get rid of him. For me, the chapter 19 and 23 are strongly intertwined, therefore we should see the valet’s leitmotiv in a different approach. With only these two examples (17-19), it becomes visible that the valet Kim has already targeted the artist. However, the lord was capable to protect him twice. That’s why I would like to revisit the circumstances of the rape at the pavilion. But for that, we need to examine the previous chapters (23 and 24) closer.
What caught my attention is the conversation between Kim and Baek Na-Kyum. The butler kept using the question word “why” which can not be a coincidence. In other words, Kim was digging for information, as he is well aware that knowledge is power. At the same time, it indicates that Yoon Seungho’s obsession for the “why” is related to the valet. From my point of view, the servant must have asked the main lead the same questions in the past. Yet, since Yoon Seungho’s affection was genuine, the latter never suspected the true intentions behind the interrogation. Therefore, this scene exposes that Kim is already working as a spy, as he is invading the painter’s privacy, trying to figure out the true nature of the relationship between the master and his “guest”.
Let’s not forget that we could see how he utilizes his knowledge to his advantage (chapter 11, 12, 17, 19, 35, 65, 67, 68). Due to the artist’s innocence, the butler discovered that Baek Na-Kyum had not only forgotten his love confession addressed to the wrong person, but also he had been tasked to paint a new drawing for the lord. That’s how Kim realized that Baek Na-Kyum’s privileges were related to their first night: the lord’s visit in his study the next morning, he even lets deliver a potion for the hangover, the absence of new sex sessions, the invitation to the hunt and his protectiveness. Since Yoon Seungho was expecting a picture of their Wedding night, the valet could only deduce the importance of the sexual encounter. He recognized that Yoon Seungho was already in love with the painter and he desired to get a picture of their night together. Nevertheless, we should recall that the butler was also present, when he heard the artist’s confession. (chapter 19) So he knew that the artist was in love with his teacher. As a conclusion, he was aware of the existence of the love triangle. And through the interrogation, he could fill all the blanks. He thought that he was the only one owning the truth, yet he was wrong. He could only judge Jung In-Hun, from what he saw. But more importantly, with this conversation, the valet got aware that the new painting Baek Na-Kyum had created was not representing their first night. That’s why I judge his advice to the painter in a new light. He refused to give any clue to Baek Na-Kyum, while the latter complained about his lack of insight. The butler was deliberately misleading the commoner. On the surface, it looks like he is saying that what happened that night, should be forgotten… Yet in truth, he means something else. He is speaking about himself. For Kim, it is a blessing that Baek Na-Kyum doesn’t remember and doesn’t know what happened, because he couldn’t profit of his “power” over the main lead. If he had remembered their night and had accepted the invitation, this meant that he was acknowledging the lord as his lover. This would signify that Kim’s position as the lord’s right-hand was threatened. The readers should remember that Kim’s power comes from the master’s genuine affection and closeness.
On the other hand, the butler can take advantage of the situation, a repetition of chapter 19. For the butler, ignorance is a blessing, because he still can change the actual situation. That’s why these words are exposing the valet’s hypocrisy. If the artist is left in the ignorance, then he can’t take Kim’s position or influence the main lead. Besides, his words could be judged as a warning: “lie low”, “remain out of his sight” signifies that Baek Na-Kyum is not allowed to get close to Yoon Seungho, because the butler will aim at him, making sure that he loses the master’s favor. As you can detect, Kim’s best advice contains so many layers, and shouldn’t be treated so lightly.
Striking is that after the painter’s admission, he leaves him. And there’s a reason for that. He has achieved his goal, he has gained a new insight about the actual situation. Baek Na-Kyum is now favored, because their night together left a deep impression on the noble, nonetheless he is clueless about the change. Furthermore, if the love triangle was revealed, and as such Yoon Seungho would get rejected, this would push the main character to cut ties with Baek Na-Kyum and the teacher. The servant definitely knew about the lord’s past tragedy: his suffering due to abandonment, rejection and jealousy. From my perspective, he decided to use the lord’s jealousy and insecurities to his benefit. That’s why he ensured to keep them alive. With his self-hatred, the lord would come to rely more on him.
And now, if you pay attention to the chapter 24, you’ll notice two important elements: the role played by valet Kim and the chronology is disrupted. Striking is that the butler announces that the lord desires to meet the painter at the pavilion in front of Jung In-Hun. This is relevant, since the latter was already very jealous of the artist. He had observed the lord and the commoner at the end of chapter 23 and felt unhappy. So Kim ensured that the scholar would hear this. Secondly, the manhwalovers can observe the absence of the butler’s eyes, when he expresses his emotions. For me, this is a signal that the valet is deceiving the scholar and the painter. And if we think carefully, then we can only come to the conclusion that the butler is lying again, when he claims that the lord is waiting for him at the pavilion. And now, you might come to the belief that I am suspecting the butler too much… However, I have different reasons to view his declarations as deceptions. Why?
- How can the lord be waiting for the artist at the pavilion, when they were returning together? I doubt that the lord would leave the whole group behind. Secondly, the artist and the teacher didn’t disappear for hours, only for 10 minutes. The lord hasn’t even changed his hunting clothes.
- Finally, we have to question the reason for the disruption of the chronology. We see the painter leaving the scholar’s side and following the butler through town, then we have Baek Na-Kyum’s memories, where he is shown painting the scene with the masturbation, before witnessing Baek Na-Kyum on the ground trapped by Yoon Seungho. Why did Byeonduck utilize a time jump and a discontinuation of the chronology? Since there’s nothing random in her work, I believe that this disrupted chronology had a purpose. She never showed us the protagonists’ arrival at the pavilion. What caught my attention is the position of the bodies. If the lord had been waiting for the artist, then they should sit differently. Note that the noble is closer to the entrance of the pavilion than the painter. After the rape, the latter’s legs are facing the butler who stands at the entrance of the pavilion. This would explain why Baek Na-Kyum couldn’t flee at the pavilion, as the noble stood in the way. He could only just crawl away… A reversed situation of chapter 16. And this indicates that Yoon Seungho must have arrived after the low-born who was waiting for him at the pavilion. So this would indicate that Kim lied, when he invited the artist to follow him to the pavilion.
- One might argue that Yoon Seungho’s emancipation occurred at the pavilion, therefore Kim must have just been following the order to send the painter there. Yet, the manhwalovers should recall that Jihwa was the one who invited the lord to the pavilion and not the reverse. If Jihwa had allowed him to enter his chamber, then the sex emancipation would have happened there. Yet, Jihwa sent the noble to the pavilion for one reason. He never expected the noble to have an erection and wanted to maintain a certain respectability. That’s why I am convinced that the words Kim said were not true. Besides, let’s not forget that his declarations shouldn’t be taken by face-value. Besides, we have again the absence of the eyes in the previous panel and the following picture shows the valet’s wrist, when he announces the invitation to the pavilion (reminding us of the observation that Byeonduck would never show the valet’s face, when he tells lies or manipulates). That’s why I see these elements as a clue that Kim has been acting as a puppet master in the rape at the pavilion.
- Besides, the lord knew about the painter’s shyness concerning his painting. He knew that he had brought it with him during the hunt, because he felt embarrassed. And he had been protective and caring so far. He had no reason to become rude towards Baek Na-Kyum, who had even accepted his invitation for the hunt. He had also seen, how an opened door scared him so much that he fled from his embrace. A pavilion would never be the appropriate place for the painter to reveal his picture. Therefore I believe that Kim was the one who told the lord that Baek Na-Kyum was waiting for him at the pavilion. In the noble’s mind, it was a reasonable suggestion, because that way the low-born would protect himself from the lord’s advances, since it was in the open.
- One might question about the butler’s motive for such a suggestion? What would he gain by creating a encounter at the pavilion? He desired a witness, the teacher Jung In-Hun. For Kim, it didn’t truly matter what would happen there. Either the scholar would choose to intervene or he would remain silent… yet he would see the main lead’s in his rage, making him realize how dangerous and instable the protagonist was. First, he had seen the low aristocrat strolling with the artist at the pavilion (lie from chapter 11). So he knew that the scholar was aware of the location of the pavilion. Secondly, the pavilion allowed him to see the event, while in the lord’s bedchamber, the scholar would have never been able to see or to react to the situation. Kim had different reasons for assuming that the low noble would follow the invitation. He must have witnessed how Jung In-Hun would stare at Baek Na-Kyum during the hunt, which could have been perceived as sign of jealousy. For the butler, Jung In-Hun didn’t like the closeness between the noble and his “loved one”. Kim misinterpreted the root of the scholar’s resent. Since Kim was aware of the painter’s affection for Jung In-Hun, he imagined that the scholar would be disgusted and jealous, if he definitely witnessed the lord’s affection for the painter. As the noble had always been smiling and caring towards the artist, Kim assumed, exactly like Heena noona, that the teacher was infatuated with the low-born. From my point of view, Kim desired to recreate a similar situation from the past, where Yoon Seungho would experience rejection. Remember that we saw the lord’s memories in chapter 55, where he felt abandonment and huge jealousy making him feel enraged. In Kim’s mind, the noble would feel insecure with the rejection, therefore he would turn into a beast. Remember what I wrote before: the lord had been protecting the painter (from 12 to 22), so Kim’s last resort was to use the master himself as his pawn in order to get rid of the painter and the scholar. Besides, we shouldn’t forget that at the pavilion, Baek Na-Kyum was forced to confess his love for the scholar in front of Yoon Seungho. This is exactly what Kim had intended and even imagined that the teacher would react and protect the painter. With this incident, the painter would decide to leave the mansion with his “master”, Jung In-Hun. However, the butler never expected that the lord would still claim the painter as his and wouldn’t accept the situation. I even envisage that Kim had predicted the artist’s death. If it happened, the lord had no longer any reason to sponsor the teacher. In my opinion, Kim misjudged the low noble’s hypocrisy. Hence he didn’t anticipate that Jung In-Hun would remain passive and silent, because the man needed Baek Na-Kyum as the lord’s lover. He wanted the low-born to be a spy. I have always claimed that Jung In-Hun witnessed the rape (chapter 29), but chose to feign ignorance, since it didn’t serve his interests. Therefore I perceive the panel where Kim announces the invitation to the low-born in front of Jung In-Hun as an evidence for my theory. Kim let it transpire to incite the scholar to go to the pavilion.
And observe in chapter 25 that after faking his concern for Yoon Seungho by pointing out the scar, Kim asks his lord the painter’s whereabouts. Why? From my perspective, Kim was expecting something and by faking concern for the artist, he would like to know the outcome of the encounter at the pavilion. I have to admit that I can no longer sense genuineness in the butler’s words. Striking is the idiom he employs: “that … painter”. He doesn’t give him any name, a real identity. His words are quite similar to Min’s expression “low-born”. In my eyes, the innocent protagonist is perceived as a function and as such an object or subject. With the painter ‘s absence and the lord’s reaction, he gets aware that something happened, exactly what he desired. In my opinion, he is already envisioning that he has achieved his goal. The drop of sweat is just a sign of discomfort, because once again, there was a ruckus, but it was necessary for his own interest, his tranquil life. The only difference is that with his question, he infuriates the main character, which must have been totally new for the valet. Moreover, when he says this , the readers (including myself) thought, he expressed concern and felt pity. But who is talking to in reality? Baek Na-Kyum is still far away from him, hence I doubt that these words were addressed to him. Furthermore, the butler has again no eye. That’s why I have now the impression that “oh dear” could have been addressed to himself. Now, he needs to clean up the mess. In other words, he feels pity for himself. Since he stands far away, he must see the body on the ground, so for me it looks like he imagined that the artist was dead. But to his surprise, when he gets closer to Baek Na-Kyum, he recognizes that the artist is still alive. Striking is his next comment: Now, he knows why the noble brought the horse. The main lead felt concern for the artist, so he was considerate enough to spare Baek Na-Kyum from moving too much. After detecting the valet’s hypocrisy, I could only sense coldness and indifference in this picture. The gaze is cold and at no moment, he talks directly to Baek Na-Kyum. His words are only centered on him and the noble (“I”, “me”, “he”). Besides, even if his eyebrows indicate a certain concern, it doesn’t necessarily mean that his worries are related to the painter, rather to himself. And the scholar had not even fled the mansion, which the valet must have noticed, since he was wandering around with the lamp. So in the end, Kim’s manipulation had failed once again. And if you consider that in chapter 35, he tries again to motivate Yoon Seungho to kill the painter out of jealousy, it becomes understandable why I believe that Kim had already envisaged his death before. Since the main lead had always been protective, he needed to trigger the lord’s rage caused by abandonment and rejection so that the main lead would turn into the weapon to hurt Baek Na-Kyum. Yet, it never happened like he desired. Each time, Yoon Seungho’s violent mood changed him into a sex monster, unwilling to get separated from the low-born. And now, you understand why I perceive the following butler’s words in a new light: Since each tentative to get rid of Baek Na-Kyum through the lord has always failed (chapter 11, 25, 34, 35, 36 and 61/62 – this one I will explain it later), Kim’s last remark gets a new signification. Here, he makes a statement, he is realizing that he can no longer utilize the main lead like in the past, the lord with his violent mood swings is no longer obeying him. Back then, many readers had the impression that the valet was telling a lie in order to diminish his guilt and responsibility (self-deception). But what if he was telling the truth in reality and was not trying to deceive himself? I would like to point out that in the previous picture, the butler is shown with his eyes and ears indicating that he is no longer closing his eyes to the truth and reality. Moreover, note in this scene, he is reminded of the past, when he abandoned the main lead to his misery, which leads him to the following conclusion. If the painter remains a favored servant, then everything is fine. The artist never abused his position or truly threatened him. So his privileged situation wouldn’t truly change, if Baek Na-Kyum was a “concubine”. However, while he is on the verge to abandon his plan to remove the artist from Yoon Seungho’s side, Heena noona causes a ruckus, which makes the valet change his mind once again. Observe the contrast: the closer he gets to reality and accept it, the closer the zooming on his face. So in the last panel, Kim is facing the truth and facts. Yet in the end, he is forced to correct his judgement, as there is another trouble. But what Kim fails to recognize is that there’s no life without worry and problems. As you can see, the chapter 65 is a new version of chapter 35… however this time, Kim is the one on the verge of giving up on his original plan: remove the artist from Yoon Seungho’s side.
Another point for this theory that Kim is a villain and a mastermind using people for his own happiness (leading a life without trouble) is that each time, Kim had to clean up the mess afterwards. The irony is that Yoon Seungho is unaware of this.
- the ruined painting: he has to put himself the ointment on the painter. Yoon Seungho forces him to see the consequences of his lies and silence.
- (chapter 17/18) Jihwa’s trespassing and mistreating Baek Na-Kyum: Yoon Seungho orders Kim to bring the second lead to the door and evict the amateur spy.
- chapter 19: Yoon Seungho gets to discover love in the painter, since the latter gets drunk and reveals his feelings. Kim has to hear that confession and he is left behind.
- Then when he asks the servant Kim to pick up the low-born at the pavilion. and later, when he takes care of Baek Na-Kyum, the latter confronts him with his lie. He knew about the sexual encounter and chose to remain silent. So he is once again forced to face reality and recognize his misdeed. However, the butler decides to run away.
- In chapter 30, the butler receives a punch for allowing the painter’s escape. And because of his intervention, Yoon Seungho felt even more insecure than before, which explains why he had a sex marathon. In his mind, the artist had to accept his sexuality and as such him as his lover thereby he would remain by his side. That’s why Kim had in the end to take care of the exhausted painter. The sex marathon was a direct consequence of the rape and desertion involving Kim.
- In chapter 36, Kim gave the painter’s aphrodisiac and this led Kim to lie to Yoon Seungwon. Therefore he got scolded.
I could add the list of the punishments Kim received for his lies and manipulations. It was definitely his karma, reflecting his own flaw. Kim is a person who is trying to escape from reality by closing his eyes and ears, with the belief that uproar and problems stands in opposition to a good and peaceful life. And the conclusion is that there’s no redemption for the valet. The latter chose to keep his original plan, as Baek Na-Kyum has become a synonym for worry and scandal in his eyes. That’s why I am more than ever convinced that he will participate in the next kidnapping and unlike in the past, he won’t just be a manipulator and mastermind, but a real perpetrator. And my final observation is the following: since Kim manipulated the situation in chapter 24/25, the readers have to question the butler’s responsibility in the rape. Kim could have revealed the truth to the main leads, but he chose not. This shows that Kim never acted like a father or a true advisor and allowed the situation to escalate. And it is the same for the teacher who witnessed the violence and decided to feign ignorance. As you can see, the whole situation is far more complex than it looks like.
I still have more to say about Kim… Therefore there will be a part 3.
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