This is where you can read the manhwa. https://www.lezhinus.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/
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I would like thank Luzy again for her observations, because her comments inspired me a lot.
What caught my attention is the idiom employed by the painter to describe the wealthy main lead: a man consumed by lust. These words were pronounced, when the commoner criticized the main lead for mocking the poor quality of the poem. Since he was just a man obsessed with sex, he had no right to make fun of the poetry and author. He was worse than Jung In-Hun in his eyes, as he lived in debauchery. Striking is that the low-born kept seeing the lord that way until chapter 47: (chapter 48) But strangely, the main lead never realized it, until each time the commoner had to externalize it. How did he not see it before, and how didn’t the noble recognize that the artist hadn’t changed his perception about him in the second season? Thus I will try to answer these two questions in this essay.
I had exposed that Yoon Seungho feared his own image due to his self-hatred. Consequently, it meant that he had to rely on others to get a reflection about himself. However, we have to imagine that neither Kim nor Jihwa nor the other nobles gave him a honest portrait. They had no interest to reveal that he was a man obsessed with sex. Why? It is quite simple. Yoon Seungho’s mansion had become the kisaeng house for sodomy, and Yoon Seungho was the head-kisaeng. If you read the story from the start again, you’ll detect how the main lead is actually disrespected by his peers the whole time. Jihwa enters the lord’s mansion unannounced on multiple occasions (chapter 5here, no servant is sent to announce the noble’s arrival, which is quite rude; chapter 10, chapter 12, 17, 43). He acts, as if he owns the place. Moreover, the noble with the mole requests from the host to send away the artist (chapter 8). He acts, as if he had a saying in this, nevertheless he is just a guest and not the owner of the house. Moreover, he requests the whole attention from the main lead, as though the latter had to follow the guest’s desire. . No wonder, Yoon Seungho got infuriated and ejected the man. The painter’s presence revealed the disregard the noble had for the host. Striking is that even after getting dragged by the topknot, the aristocrat demanded an explanation for this humiliation. He didn’t realize his wrongdoing. This is not surprising that the Joker’s friend noticed the change in the protagonist. (Chapter 8) For the first time, the protagonist didn’t allow his peers to look down on him and requested more respect.
In chapter 19, Min invited himself at Yoon Seungho’s house in order to taste the expensive wine. (Chapter 19) He imposed himself upon the main character, yet Yoon Seungho didn’t feel upset. In fact, he just accepted the suggestion by a silence. It was, as if the protagonist was not allowed to refuse the invitation. More surprising is the place where The Joker suggested this: the brothel, an indication that the Yoon residence is considered as the noble kisaeng-house. I would even say, his mansion is the real place for pleasure and vices. And now, you comprehend why Yoon Seungho was pressured by the nobles in chapter 33. In the past, he would have given in, yet this time he showed them that there was a line not to cross. (Chapter 33) Imagine what would have happened, if the noble had followed their suggestion. The artist would have indeed turned into a prostitute.
From my point of view, the young nobles considered the protagonist as their head-kisaeng, he entertained them and allowed them to do immoral things (sodomy, wine and opium), while they could maintain their respectability and honor. Yet, since a kisaeng belongs to the lowest cast, it signified that the lord could get mistreated, exactly like a kisaeng. Besides, only the lord got the bad notoriety, he was a hell-raiser, because the aristocrats desired to hide behind him. He was their scapegoat and shield for their debauchery. He actually embodied all the vices the aristocrats were doing in secret. And now, you understand why the guest in chapter 53 told Min, he wanted to having fun without ruckus. (Chapter 52) In Yoon’s residence, there was no parent or authority to interfere. This explicates why father Lee blames the main lead for his son’s sodomy. He corrupted Jihwa, while in reality Jihwa treated Yoon Seungho like his possession and his personal concubine. He was the one visiting his place and not the other way around, like a husband visiting his “wife” (chapter 67) explicating why Jihwa could only get infuriated and jealous. The “husband”, treated like a concubine, was unfaithful. The second lead was even perceived by the town folks as the mistress (chapter 45), in other words the mistress of the house (the second definition: a mistress is a person of authority and power). This explains why he could trespass the mansion, like he desired. He considered Yoon Seungho’s mansion as his property, where he could enter at any time.
But if he was the real mistress of the house, why didn’t he stop Yoon Seungho from fooling around with men? Why didn’t he act more responsibly? First, the young man was blind and deaf, hence he couldn’t truly grasp what was going on. Secondly, he was too afraid to confront the friend. Remember that he always played tricks behind the lord’s back. Besides, we shouldn’t forget that Jihwa was himself treated like a servant by Min. If the mistress is disregarded, then the head-kisaeng can only get mistreated. Moreover, the second lead never realized that the nobles’ behavior contributed to the lord’s bad sexual habits. The manhwaphiles should remember that the second lead blamed the main character for fooling around (chapter 57), yet his friend was the one participating to the sex session. At no moment, he reproached him his behavior. In Jihwa’s eyes, only Yoon Seungho was responsible for this due to his past. Yet, he never tried to change the situation. I would like to remind the readers that the origins of Yoon Seungho’s bad notoriety are quite complex. Many people had an interest that Yoon Seungho focused on sex and nothing more: Yoon Seungho (he wanted to hurt his father), father Yoon (covering up his cowardice and own misdeeds), lord Song (making sure that the main lead doesn’t retaliate), Kim (leading a peaceful life and covering up his own wrongdoings), the nobles… and in the end Jihwa. The latter always wounded the main lead by using the past in order to attach the protagonist to him due to his neglecting father. Since the second lead had obtained a certain control over Yoon Seungho, he saw no reason to change. He could outlive his sexuality and have sex any time he wanted. Sure, his dream was to obtain the childhood friend’s love, yet he never saw the urgency, because he believed that time would help him. For him, there was this hope that at some point, the main character would confess. Yet, with Baek Na-Kyum’s appearance in Yoon Seungho’s life, the fragile balance was destroyed due the sex at the pavilion. For the first time, Yoon Seungho felt true desires and pleasure. This detail is important, because it truly outlines that Yoon Seungho was living like a head-kisaeng. He had sex without feeling any pleasure, just to serve others.
And now, it becomes understandable why the noble claimed the artist as his possession in two occasions (chapter 8 and 33). First, he voiced that the low-born would only paint for him. (Chapter 8) He was clearly demonstrating that he would never accept to give up on the painter. Slowly Yoon Seungho started asking respect for himself from others. In reality, he is a noble and he is quite rich through trade. This explicates why lord Min used the wine as an excuse to come to Yoon’s residence. He couldn’t ask the main lead, if he could borrow the painter. Furthermore, this statement and the humiliation revealed that Yoon Seungho was no longer a pushover. Hence Black Heart was more careful around the main lead. From my perspective, The Joker imagined that if the lord got drunk with the expensive bottle, he wouldn’t notice the artist’s disappearance. However, because the wine was stolen, Black Heart couldn’t achieve his goal that’s why he asked for a harsh punishment for the theft. Besides, Yoon Seungho showed no interest to organize a sex session any longer. His eyes were already set on Baek Na-Kyum. Since his initial plan failed, and the lord was no longer organizing parties, then he could only use the sex sessions as an excuse to see the painter. (chapter 33) (chapter 52) Everyone among the aristocrats did see the main lead as a head-kisaeng, who had to please her guests. Thus Byeonduck created such panels indicating that the nobles had always taken advantage of Yoon Seungho. (Chapter 54) They look like conniving creatures. Their wish would get granted in the detriment of the host. And now you comprehend why the lord got so angry, when he saw this. (Chapter 54) It was not just a reflection of his own past as an uke, but he saw his actual reflection. His house was a brothel and nothing more, and his guests were taking advantage of him. That’s why he got so infuriated and evicted the aristocrats. They truly showed no respect to him. It took many months for the lord to recognize this. And now you comprehend why he abhorred the idea of prostitution. He wasn’t even realizing that he was still doing it. Therefore Yoon Seungho could only come to the conclusion in chapter 55 that he needed to confess. First, this night made him realize that all this attempts in the past were to win the painter’s heart. Yet he was well aware that with his last action, he had almost sold his loved one to nobles, thereby the painter could only reject him. Besides, he had another reason to expect this outcome: his self-hatred.
Under this new interpretation, the manhwalovers comprehend why the household had a terrible reputation. (Chapter 29) Since a kisaeng belongs to the lowest class in Joseon society, the servants could look down on their master. Despite his title, he was living like a head-kisaeng, therefore the staff showed no respect towards their lord. (Chapter 32) This explicates why they didn’t follow his order, when he asked them to keep an eye on the artist. Nevertheless, as time passed on, the noble started acting more like a lord, hence the head-maid accepted his reprimand and decided to treat him differently. That’s why she bowed to Yoon Seungho in chapter 46. (chapter 46) And by comparing the two last pictures, the readers con detect the butler’s absence. the latter was responsible for the past situation, because he didn’t want to get into trouble. As long as the lord was acting like a head-kisaeng, providing entertainment for the local aristocracy, the valet could lead a peaceful life and definitely sway his misdeeds under the rug. Moreover, he could even use the master’s authority and act like a lord.
But let’s return our attention to The Joker. When the main lead stated this: (chapter 8), he was looking at Min, for he viewed the noble’s envy in his gaze. Since the artist was not allowed to paint for others, then the only possibility left for Black Heart was sex. If the painter joined their sex orgy, then he could achieve his goal: taste the commoner. Therefore you comprehend why The Joker is determined to kill Baek Na-Kyum. If he kills him, then Yoon Seungho is left with nothing. He is like in the past: he becomes again a “head-kisaeng” with no right. But as you can imagine, the Joker is deceiving himself. I doubt that he would be satisfied with just one session.
The problem was that Yoon Seungho never sensed that he was treated like a prostitute, because they created the illusion that he was the alpha among the sodomy community. (Chapter 33) The lord fell for this illusion, and he would have never realized it, if the painter had not entered his mansion. I also fell for this illusion myself for a while, calling him an alpha, while he was disrespected the whole time. However, this doesn’t mean that the main lead is powerless. He has indeed connections to the government (exactly like the kisaeng-house) and he is definitely rich, because he is a trendsetter. Min keeps copying his clothing and the master’s windscreen is the same at Min’s pavilion and the noble with the mole. That’s why Yoon Seungho never got to see his true reflection. In his mind, he was either busy reading or fighting with nobles, while in reality he was having sex for the most part of the time. Moreover, no one truly gave him a true reflection, since they had no interest to switch the situation.
And this negative reflection is also palpable in the paintings Baek Na-Kyum created, yet curiously the rich main lead never saw this image reflected in the pictures for many reasons. First, his unconscious noticed something else, the painter’s desire, so that the lord acted differently towards the artist. (Chapter 2) Therefore the main lead’s gaze in the picture mirrored the image of a man showing true interest, warmth and beauty. Later, he only got to see the ruined painting, which triggered a huge anger, hence he didn’t pay attention to the image. Then in the third picture, (chapter 16) he was no longer interested in the creation, since Yoon Seungho had already started wooing the commoner. (Chapter 16) Here the second lead was exploring an unusual position. Although the protagonist could have noticed this reflection “man consumed by lust”, because Black Heart commented it as lewd, he still didn’t observe it. His gaze and mind were all focused on the painter and his face. Then in chapter 41, he never saw the multitude pictures of him having sex with the low-born (chapter 41), because his gaze was only focused on the inauguration drawing with Jung In-Hun. (Chapter 41) And the moment the painter accepted him as his sex partner, he showed no interest in the paintings. However, he got annoyed, when he saw the first new creation. (Chapter 47) It was unfinished, and it gave the impression that both of them were acting like whores. That’s why the lord was indeed a little annoyed and made the following remark: (chapter 47) And it is in this chapter that he gets to discover his reflection… or better said, Baek Na-Kyum hadn’t changed his judgement about him, which provoked the next crisis. With the last painting, Baek Na-Kyum reproduced the situation, where the master was focused on provoking reactions in his partner in order to force him to abandon his torpor. (Chapter 52) Therefore the beholder couldn’t detect any love and affection in this drawing, only the attempt to incite pleasure. This explicates why Min described this as salacious, and had the feeling that the commoner was only interested in sex either.
Striking is that in the first painting, Baek Na-Kyum used a big wallpaper (chapter 2), while he only used small sheets of paper later. In my opinion, this is strongly connected to the return of the repressed sexual desires with the low-born. What also caught my attention is when he painted all the situation, when he had sex with Yoon Seungho having sex, the characters have no facial expression. It was, as though the lord was treating the commoner as his sex toy at his disposal. And that’s how the painter explained the rape. (Chapter 41) For him, every action from Yoon Seungho was caused by his obsession for sex, while the lord was trying to win his heart.
And while comparing all the creations, I recognized that they reflect not only his image as man consumed by lust, but also the disappearance of Yoon Seungho’s past life as sodomite and head-kisaeng. First, the huge painting with Jihwa is ruined, exposing that the latter is losing his control over his childhood friend. (Chapter 2) Simultaneously, Baek Na-Kyum destroyed it because of his jealousy (under the influence of his unconscious). The manhwalovers shouldn’t forget that in that wet dream, he wanted to take Jihwa’s place, attracted by the lord’s huge penis. Yet, he justified it with his doctrine. Furthermore, the second painting with Jihwa is created on a small sheet of paper reflecting the loss of the red-haired noble’s influence.
Later, when Jihwa ruined the painting with the threesome, the result was showing that Yoon Seungho’s life as head-kisaeng was starting vanishing. (Chapter 44) from that moment, the protagonist was no longer hosting any sex orgy which led Min to take over this role. Jihwa’s gesture symbolized that the childhood friend was not allowed to fool around with other men. However, he was quickly replaced by the painter. Let’s not forget that in the noble’s mind, Jihwa was just visiting him for his own sexual desires. He never recognized the childhood friend’s feelings. He had no reason to see otherwise, since the second lead treated him poorly. (Chapter 59) That’s why, after having sex with Jihwa, the “head-kisaeng” neglected his guest and went directly to Baek Na-Kyum for the painting in chapter 15, because the noble is already interested to taste the artist. At the same time, the low-born got his first sexual experience with the main lead. (Chapter 25) And here, the lord couldn’t perceive his own image as man consumed by lust, because his gaze was looking at the painter’s expression. This exposed the lord’s desire to see the attraction for Yoon Seungho in the painter’s eyes. His eyes were always focused on the painter the entire time, revealing that he was longing for more than sex. He wanted to see a mutual attraction… in reality, he wished to see a painting oozing warmth and love, exactly like in the publications he bought. And note that Yoon Seungho never got to see the last drawing, because his heart was too wounded by the distance. He hated so much the idea that the artist considered himself as a prostitute, while all this time, Yoon Seungho was just longing for love. Striking is that the ultimate picture is a blank sheet of paper mirroring the transition. (Chapter 65) Here, the lord has finally cut ties with his past. This marks the start of a new life and the painter will reflect his rebirth. But as you can see, the multitude of pictures (chapter 41) only mirrored the painter’s perspective about the main lead. For him, he was just a man obsessed with sex, while in truth he was just longing to get love. The problem was that the protagonist had never been taught how to show love. Furthermore, Kim made sure that the artist would only see this image. That’s why it took Yoon Seungho a long time, before he realized that he needed to recreate the Wedding night, so that the artist would be able to perceive his true feelings. For me, there’s no doubt that at some Baek Na-Kyum will create a huge painting with the main lead, and the low-born will be represented as well. Both will be portrayed with facial expressions exposing confidence and love. I am even predicting that Baek Na-Kyum will paint a new inauguration portrait with Yoon Seungho, which will contrast so much to the one with Jung In-Hun, where the commoner had no face and as such no identity.
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