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 analysis called “A man consumed by lust”, I not only compared Yoon Seungho to a head-kisaeng, but also described that all the characters, including Baek Na-Kyum, would perceive the main lead as a man obsessed with sex. Striking is that with the entrance of Baek Na-Kyum in the main lead’s life, the lord got to discover this reflection about him which took him by surprise. Moreover, he realized gradually, how disrespectful the nobles and the servants were towards him. Therefore I came to the conclusion that the artist was not only associated to a mirror and love, but also to respect. And this observation led me to the following conclusion: Baek Na-Kyum is carrying in himself all the virtues which are necessary for a good social life:
- and peace.
That’s why I decided to examine the behavior of the characters under the aspect of respect and love, as all the other values like justice or tolerance are strongly linked to these two values.
But the problem is that although the commoner embodies these values, this doesn’t mean that he is truly tolerant, honest, just and respectful himself. If the manhwaphiles recall the first season, they will surely remember that Baek Na-Kyum wasn’t actually honest towards the main character, since his mind had been influenced by the scholar’s doctrines and Heena noona’s prejudices. Right from the start, he lied to the noble due to his preconceptions and his belief in rumors. What caught my attention is that in reality the painter’s honesty was only reflected in his body (his tears and his blushing) and in his unconscious. It was something that the low-born couldn’t control, but these honest facial expressions attracted the aristocrat so much to the point that he wanted the artist to see them in the paintings, therefore he utilized the mirror during the first sex marathon.
Right from the start, the artist was sexually attracted by the main lead, especially by his huge phallus, which was implied in this panel: and only displayed with the second episode from the Alternative Universe: . This explicates why he desired to have replaced the second lead (chapter 2) and got aroused during the threesome. The brush was focused on the lord’s hand touching the butt (chapter 9). He deeply desired to have sex with Yoon Seungho, but his conscious kept denying the obvious. And his lack of honesty is still present in the second season, hence he still perceives Yoon Seungho as man consumed by lust which is visible in the paintings. The artist legitimates his wish to stay at the mansion, because it is for the teacher’s sake, then later for the protagonist, who is in love with him. At no moment, he wants to become responsible for his feelings. He keeps resisting his affection and attraction towards the main lead. Why?
From my point of view, it is related to the painter’s huge libido. First, the readers shouldn’t forget that the low-born started erotic paintings of sodomy at a very young age, indicating that he discovered his sexual orientation very early on. Moreover, there’s no doubt that the commoner is quite kinky: his different wet dreams (chapter 2, chapter 6: sex with a stranger , chapter 56 ) expose his deepest sexual desires, the main lead should pleasure him. This explains why Baek Na-Kyum is never facing the lord and always passive in his wet dreams. This shows his reluctance to admit his kinky side. Imagine that he ejaculates, when he hears “you’ve made a wreck of me”, but not when the lover whispers “I adore you”. He even got erected again, when he saw the butler in front of the barn, which was noticed by the aristocrat, and he even had a climax in the courtyard. His reluctance to admit his affection is strongly intertwined with his strong sexuality. There’s this fear that he might get perceived as a man consumed by lust himself. If he accepts his love and as such his huge libido, he might get looked down and excluded. This is understandable, because he has abandonment issues. I believe, the readers should remember that the artist was scared of people’s opinion during the first season. From my perspective, although he has come to accept his homosexuality, he is still under the influence of the social norms: a man shouldn’t love another man. Besides, let’s not forget that Jihwa, as a reflection of the painter, has a similar mindset. He uses sex in order to disguise his emotions. As long as the painter is not honest to himself and as such doesn’t respect himself, he can’t be genuine with the noble. In my eyes, Baek Na-Kuym continued viewing the lord as a man obsessed with sex for many reasons. First he was too hurt by the teacher’s words. He never paid attention to the lord’s words and gestures. However, as time passed on, he never reviewed his perception out of convenience. With such an image, the noble was responsible for the sexual intercourses, and this attitude was even reinforced by the maid’s comments. But now, he is facing a dilemma, because his noona offers him the possibility to leave the mansion, but he refuses her proposition for futile different reasons: the scholar, his living conditions, the painting, the lord’s love… Only once cornered, he finally admits his love, but he describes it as something negative (he is scared, it is against his will). And this interpretation made me wonder about its origin. I have the impression that it is not only related to the brainwashing perpetrated by the scholar. I think that Heena noona could be the other explanation. Since sexuality played a huge role in the head-kisaeng’s life, it is possible that she has a negative perception of sex. Since she wanted the painter to remain quite innocent and pure, she sent him away. Her desire was to protect him too, but deep down she hoped that he wouldn’t outlive truly his homosexuality. If he was painting erotic pictures by the scholar’s side, she imagined that he would get happy. She had the impression that this would be sufficient for the artist’s life, because he would get “loved” and supported by the man the artist admired. Since Jung In-Hun gave her the impression, he was caring and selfless, she imagined that the learned sir would take care of the artist. And this leads me to the conclusion that she has a very romantic and pure image of love, because in her world there is a strong connection between sexuality, power and violence. However, she never asked for the painter’s opinion, she just sent him away, thinking that she was doing it for the boy’s best interest. For her, the boy would keep outliving his sexuality through art. On the one hand, this would explicate why Baek Na-Kyum is scared to accept his sexual appetite, on the other hand it also shows that love is strongly connected to respect. And for the first time, the artist is not blindly following Heena noona’s actions and decisions. So this scene exposes Baek Na-Kyum’s growth, he is transforming slowly into an adult, making his own decision, although his words ooze a certain fear and hesitation.
That’s exactly when Yoon Seungho comes into the picture. He will continue playing the role of the painter’s liberator. The aristocrat forced Baek Na-Kyum not only to admit his sexuality, but also his homosexuality. But now, it is time for the painter to accept his love and as such his strong libido. That’s why the moment the lord tells him that he can leave the mansion, the former will set the commoner entirely free. That way, the low-born can no longer use the excuse that the main character was living together with a man obsessed with sex. Let’s not forget that during season one, the main lead helped the commoner to not only recognize his own sexual orientation, but also to use his own mind. Therefore I predict that the aristocrat will be the cause for the painter to eliminate all the prejudices he had about people, to no longer care about people’s impression. As you can see, Yoon Seungho also embodies honesty, but a different kind: a free spirit. And this comes from his education, the main lead reads a lot and ponders a lot (chapter 61) (chapter 62). He questions things and people’s behavior , that’s why he is so obsessed with the “why”. He desires to understand the motivation behind the painter’s words and actions. In other words, he is looking beyond the appearance and surface. However, Baek Na-Kyum was surrounded by Heena noona and Jung In-Hun, people who value appearances very much. That’s why the head-kisaeng said that she saw everything. But what did she see and hear? She discovered through the town gossips that the painter had caused a commotion by running away. Then she saw the artist tied up and breathing heavily, and the noble’s lie could only contribute to reinforce her negative perception she had about Yoon Seungho. Besides, when she claimed that she recognized the artist’s painting, we have to wonder which drawing she saw. So far, when she opened the door, she only viewed a blank sheet of paper. And thanks to @shoei’s comment, I realized that the butler could have played a role here. Remember that the butler was asked in chapter 44 to throw away the picture of Jung In-Hun’s inauguration. And since we have a scene where Kim gave the ruined painting to Yoon Seungwon, I believe that in chapter 65, we had a repetition of this scene, but the readers were not able to witness it. The valet showed her the painting in order to confirm the painter’s identity. The other evidence for this theory is the absence of Kim’s eyes, when the head-kisaeng states that she recognized the artist’s painting. Therefore Heena noona jumped to the wrong conclusions. She had the impression that Baek Na-Kyum was still in love with his learned sir, and the hell-raiser was just abusing his power and position. But like I have already written many times, reality is far more complex and appearances should always be queried. From my point of view, the noble will help him to get stronger to the point that he won’t care about people’s gaze and gossip.
For me, the painter serves as a carthasis to bring out the virtues hidden in both protagonists due to the reflection. In other words, while the aristocrat purifies the painter by emancipating him from any prejudice and social norms, the artist cleans the lord by unveiling his caring and sensitive side so that the latter is forced to accept the existence of his heart and drop his fathers’ principles. The master of deception is in reality a person who treasures love and honesty above anything, but since he was surrounded by selfish and hypocrite people, he had no occasion to show his true self. We shouldn’t forget that Jihwa never showed his true emotions: his smile and cheerful gaze were masking his own insecurities. From my point, the second lead never allowed Yoon Seungho to see his blushing and, when he cried in front of his childhood friend for the first time(chapte 18), Yoon Seungho had already been moved by the painter’s tears.
What caught my attention is that although Baek Na-Kyum helped the aristocrat to see how disregarded he was by his peers and even Jihwa, the artist didn’t show any respect towards the main lead either. One might argue that Yoon Seungho treated the painter poorly, and even described him as plaything. Therefore the painter was not obliged to respect Yoon Seungho. However, the truth is that the main lead had other intentions in the beginning, if you examine the first two chapters carefully.
First, we shouldn’t forget that the story doesn’t start with Yoon Seungho speaking with the domestic investigating the creator’s identity. The real story begins with the main lead getting fascinated by the publications. Furthermore, the painter hadn’t worked for almost one year after vowing to never paint again. Hence it took Yoon Seungho some time, until the absence of new works made the lord realize that he could no longer live without them. He needed new erotic drawings. Besides, in the first chapter, we shouldn’t forget that Yoon Seungho even visits the painter to the tavern, which is really unusual for him. Let’s not forget that the noble only went to the tavern in chapter 57 after receiving the fake letter from lord Song. This is not a place the lord usually visits, rather Jihwa. This outlines the huge respect the lord showed towards the low-born. A high noble goes to a tavern, even talks directly to Baek Na-Kyum. In the lord’s mind, the artist should have felt flattered. And then we shouldn’t forget that when the artist was sitting in the study, he noticed the expensive paper and the different brushes at his disposal. This shows that the protagonist had made preparations for his arrival. Therefore I come to the conclusion that the noble had intended to invite the artist to work for him. He was his admirer and fan, hence he treasured the artist’s hands so much. However, the painter couldn’t recognize the respect and admiration the main lead was showing, because it was directly connected to sex. Since the lord had been brainwashed to accept sex as a normality (he lets the low-born touch his loins!!), the artist could only feel repulsed and scared due to the scholar’s indoctrination. Sex and physical touch are dirty, that’s why Baek Na-Kyum lied to the noble in the end. He disregarded the noble’s genuine compliments and effort. Since the noble had been hurt and disrespected, he retaliated and showed his anger. Striking is that the lord stopped talking after the second lie, though he was very talkative before. He is left speechless.
In my eyes, there’s a strong connection between the master’s violence and his silence. Studies indicate that persons in jail with a violent temper have often less vocabulary, which exposes the importance of words and voicing his emotions. It is also proven that the less you are allowed to express yourself, the higher the risk you get violent. I could add another example. It is well known, that a baby will scream and become agitated, when he is frustrated. Since he can’t express his thoughts and emotions, the only way to show his discomfort and anger is to scream. Since the painter denied his identity, the lord had no other possibility to continue a conversation. On the surface, in that scene, the aristocrat looked like a violent child killing the domestic, the truth was different. The situation triggered a flashback. And that’s the moment, Yoon Seungho started treating the commoner as a plaything. He dragged him to his mansion and kept him in the barn, until he achieved his goal. During the second season, I pointed out the ambiguity about Baek Na-Kyum’s status at the mansion: who was he really? A wife, a concubine, a fiance, a favored servant or a prostitute? Since there’s a reflection in this story, it came to my mind that the painter’s status was also ambiguous in the first season. However, back then it was different: was he a guest, a servant, a plaything or a prostitute? We have diverse clues showing that Baek Na-Kyum was truly treated like a honored guest:
- Yoon Seungho goes to the tavern like mentioned above in order to invite the low-born personally.
- He has already prepared the room for the painter and his study is next to the lord’s chamber, a huge sign of respect. The manhwaphiles should remember that the teacher’s room was further away.
- Furthermore, I believe that he is the one who took care of the painter, when the latter was sleeping on the floor. Remember that in my analysis “Who is this Baek Na-Kyum?”, I had assumed that the servants had to clean up the mess left by the low-born. However, since we have two episodes in the season 2 indicating that the lord cleaned himself the painter (chapter 45 and 59) and brought him to the bed (chapter 62 and 65), I came to the realization that in episode 2, the noble already washed himself the artist, and even organized the bed. Imagine this: a noble is taking care of a commoner. Yet at no moment the painter wondered who took care of him.
- We have two invitations (chapter 8) and (chapter 23).
- When the painter arrives in the lord’s chamber in chapter 8, he is the last to enter the room. It gives the impression that he was the guest of honor. The lord kept waiting for him. He must have felt restless, because he started painting something. And observe how he welcomes the artist. He is full of joy and smiling. And when the noble with the mole requests from him to send away the artist, his guest of honor, he evicts the arrogant aristocrat.
- In chapter 11, the noble even desires to eat his lunch with the painter. If the butler had not mentioned the study, then we have to wonder if the noble in his good mood would have invited the painter to his bedchamber.
One thing is sure: the lord did care a lot for the artist right from the start, but he made two huge mistakes: he never anticipated a rejection from the low-born, because in his mind he had everything what people would like to have. Secondly, he never envisioned that he would expose Baek Na-Kyum to danger, because for him the latter didn’t represent a thread to anyone. He was just a commoner.
Striking is that despite his care, the painter refused to remain at his mansion, hence he tried to flee in chapter 4. And in order to convince him, Yoon Seungho proposed the deal: if he paints for him, then the lord will help his learned sir in his career. With this new approach, the lord thought that he had finally been able to achieve his goal. But note that with this proposition, the lord was actually selling himself. He was in fact the one asking for a favor, in exchange he would offer his connection. Sure, we shouldn’t forget that the noble had not truly promised anything to the scholar (just an empty promise), but Baek Na-Kyum was not aware of this. At the same time, it revealed the lord’s mentality. This was his way to achieve his goal: prostitution. Sure, sex was not directly involved first, but since the artist was supposed to create erotic pictures, the boundaries were already dilued. And this is not surprising that the moment Jung In-Hun realized that Yoon Seungho was not impressed by his skills, he decided to use the painter as prostitute. However, in my eyes, the lord had already become one, the moment he offered that deal to the painter. And this shows that the lord was showing himself disrespect in the end, just to get the painter working for him. As you can observe, both protagonists didn’t respect themselves in truth, consequently they were not able to respect each other.
And if you look at many drawings created by the painter, you’ll observe that they all show a main lead acting as a prostitute, trying to please the partner: each time he keeps looking at the lover, in order to confirm that he is pleasing his partner: Either Jihwa is moaning or the painter is blushing or moaning, but the lord is always focused, starring at this partner. That’s why the moment the lord had sex with the painter, it affected the artist’s status. The latter could only be judged as a prostitute, because he was also doing it for a favor, for the scholar’s sake. Therefore the following pictures mirrors the prostitution, both protagonists act as whores in the end. While in the drawings from the first season, the protagonists switched the role of the “whore”, in the following painting they are portrayed both as such. That’s why the painter was not paying attention to details. As a conclusion, the moment the noble proposed the deal, he not only lowered himself, but also affected the painter. That’s why the teacher’s words are so painful, because he is actually the one benefitting from this deal. The moment the painter has sex with the main lead, he is indeed a prostitute. Yet the irony is that he is not doing it for himself, but for the scholar: This is the height of hypocrisy. Simultaneously, with these words, he makes sure that the painter can’t even enjoy sex, making him feel terrible.
At the same time, Yoon Seungho did treat the painter as a servant. First, he dragged him to the mansion and kept him captive, until the artist accepted the offer. Then the aristocrat punished him after the second drawing was ruined. The huge contrast between being a guest or a servant exposes that the lord did treat the artist as a plaything. Everything depended on his mood. On the one hand the lord acts like a happy child showing off to his other guests: (chapter 8), on the other hand, when he claims this in front of Min, he is hiding the truth as well. Yoon Seungho had to make a deal with the painter, hence the latter wasn’t truly a plaything… but a person who was using the noble’s wealth and power for his loved one, the teacher. And by praising the painter’s talents, he contributed to expose the artist to danger, to make him the target of envious or jealous aristocrats. In these moments, the main lead showed an immaturity. However, we shouldn’t underestimate the role played by Kim here. The latter ensured that the artist would lose his title “honored guest”, when he suggested to his lord to visit him in the study in chapter 11.
However, if you pay attention to the chronology of the lord’s wrongdoings (the poem, the punishment in chapter 11…), you’ll notice that the artist didn’t respect the lord either. Yet this is not obvious, because Baek Na-Kyum doesn’t get physically violent. Yoon Seungho took the poem without asking, so did the painter with the expensive wine. He never wondered about the origin of the wine. When the lord criticizes the poem, the painter says that he is not allowed to make fun of it, because he is just a man consumed by lust. Nonetheless, Baek Na-Kyum has also no right to say this to Yoon Seungho either, because he is just a commoner. That’s why the master reminds him of his own social status, he is just a peasant. And we have a new version of this situation in chapter 41, when Baek Na-Kyum yells at the main lead, although the latter was caring and showed concern. He desired to know the origin of the painter’s sadness. However, the artist was unwilling to explain the cause for this. That’s why the lord slapped the artist, reminding of his place. He was a lord and the host here.
When the lord gets angry with the painter in chapter 11 due to the ruined image, the painter apologizes to the noble, yet from my perspective his apology is not really genuine, especially if you contrast this to the one in chapter 62: Furthermore, when the painter begged for the lord’s mercy, he was willing to do anything else, except to paint, , he was forgetting one important aspect: he was actually breaking his promise to the main lead. He was actually taking advantage of the main lead, because this meant that the latter would be the only one who didn’t get what he truly wanted. Baek Na-Kyum was here only loyal to the scholar, he was willing to sell his service for the main lead in exchange for his sponsor of the teacher, yet he was still refusing to create erotic pictures. Simultaneously this showed that the commoner started mistrusting the teacher, as he was suspecting his involvement. In other words, he was trying to call off the deal, while the scholar would benefit the most from him. And now, you can understand why the lord got upset and felt betrayed, leading the lord to threaten the artist: the low-born was trying to change the content of the deal, while Yoon Seungho was selling his wealth and connections for the artist. And since this story is build like a kaleidoscope, the new version of this incident was in chapter 38, when the artist chose to lie to his learned sir in order to protect Yoon Seungho. As you can see, both protagonists were disrespecting each other… sure, the master was more brutal, when he felt disrespected and hurt, but this doesn’t mean that the artist was totally blameless.
Then in chapter 30, the painter feels the need to pledge allegiance to the master in order to protect Yoon Seungho. From that moment on, Baek Na-Kyum swears that he will do everything the lord wants. This marks the painter’s official start as Yoon Seungho’s servant. He is no longer perceived as an artist “Will do anything”, explicating why the pictures started losing their importance in the noble’s eyes. So the moment both had sex with each other, the painter became “prostitute”, as he was doing it for the learned sir.
As you can see, the lord always did himself a disservice with his actions and decisions. Each time, he had the impression, he came closer to his goal, only to discover that this was an illusion. He even complicated the situation so that everything was so confusing for the artist. He was an artist, a servant and at the end a prostitute. Let’s not forget that right after swearing to follow Yoon Seungho’s order, the master removed the head-band from the painter, showing his desire that he never wanted him to be a servant. As you can observe the painter’s status was never clear, the lord had no real idea what he truly desired, as his unconscious and conscious stood in conflict. For me, he was already in loved, his heart and gaze had been moved by the painter’s talents. But since he was always rejected, he tried to find ways to achieve his goal, to keep the artist by his side, nonetheless he complicated more and more the situation and created walls between him and the low-born.
As you can observe, the disrespect is mutual affecting both. Yet, the one who is seeking desperately the artist’s attention and love is the noble, hence the painter has always had the upper hand, which he never realized. That’s why little by little, Yoon Seungho is always forced to give in. Therefore, the climax is reached in chapter 66: Yoon Seungho is unable to stop the artist so that he admits his submission and decides to choose the artist as his master: However, this time the commoner’s hand is not led to the loins, but to the master’s eyes and hand. That’s why I believe, the nature of their relationship will honestly change in the future. Now, they will start sharing what they have on their mind, the biggest wish Yoon Seungho ever had:
But Yoon Seungho was also treated as a plaything by the painter. If you pay attention, Baek Na-Kyum is actually the one using Yoon Seungho as sex toy. Note that the commoner only expresses his satisfaction (chapter 45) , but he never tries to please the lord… “he is always on the receiving end”, like Yoon Seungho observed in chapter 45. Finally, in chapter 49, the painter tells him that the noble is only there to procure pleasure to him: an affront and he shut his mouth with a kiss!! He is not allowed to protest, he has to accept his situation: he is there to procure pleasure. Yoon Seungho was definitely not pleased and even hurt, yet he let him have his ways, because he sensed the genuineness in the kiss. And now, the manhwaphiles can comprehend, why the lord treated the painter as a sex toy during the second marathon. He was following the words expressed by the painter to the letter, but he was switching the roles. Since he had been treated as a sex toy, then he was allowed to do the same. However, he refused to kiss the artist, because as a sex toy he is only there for a sexual intercourse and nothing more. And this was reflected in the last painting: this explicates that Min has the impression that Baek Na-Kyum is craving for sex, while in truth the latter was just longing for love. As a conclusion, both protagonists were treating each other as tools, explaining why they kept hurting each other with their lack of respect.
When Kim criticized the artist for acting as a spoiled princess, he was telling the truth, but here he had another intention: he wants the painter to accept his status as “servant”, in order to stop the artist from gaining more power over the master. Observe that the valet didn’t tell him, he should love the noble. He just asked the artist to act like a servant. And the return of the head-band marked a new turning point, because it showed that Baek Na-Kyum was now accepting Yoon Seungho as his master, and he was no longer a prostitute, but he couldn’t treat the main lead like a sex toy either.
As a conclusion, there was a reason why Baek Na-Kyum kept this image “a man consumed by lust”. That way, he could maintain a certain integrity: the master was the one with a huge sex appetite, while the dream revealed the low-born’s true nature: a man with a strong libido. Furthermore, the words expressed in chapter 68 gives the impression that the artist is indeed using the main lead: the latter provides him a roof and his material… he can paint. Then who is using whom here? That’s why I come to the conclusion: the moment the lord decides to free the painter so that he can decide about his own fate, he shows him respect. But at the same time, the deal with Jung In-Hun is cancelled. They can make a clean start. Yoon Seungho can no longer be used, he is actually starting showing respect to himself (although he doesn’t realize it). As you can see, both characters were actually acting like “prostitutes” or “servants” and were used as playthings. And since each action the powerful aristocrat makes is reflected in the painter’s words and action, I am anticipating that the painter will be the one who so that this rumor will become a reality: That’s why the moment the painter accepts his strong libido and his love for the rich main lead, this means he starts respecting himself. Consequently, when the master releases him and allows him to leave the mansion, he shows finally respect in its purest form. And with respect comes love! Thus, this will be reflected in the relationship between Yoon Seungho and Baek Na-Kyum.: both won’t be a prostitute, a servant, a noble or a sex toy any longer: they will be two men in love with each other.
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