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 previous analysis “Jealousy and trust” I demonstrated the importance of jealousy in the different relationships. In chapter 69, we see Heena noona getting resentful towards Yoon Seungho, for the latter has affected her bond with Baek Na-Kyum. The latter is refusing to listen to her advice. At the same time, the manhwaphiles could see the change in Yoon Seungho’s behavior concerning the painter. He chose to trust the artist, and ignore his own feelings (insecurities). But the powerful noble is not the only one to make a resolution in that chapter. The artist makes the choice to stay, while the kisaeng decides to ignore her brother’s decision. Therefore we can say that the chapter 69 stands under the sign of “decision”. That’s why I will examine the episode 69 under this aspect.
What caught my attention is the lord’s behavior in the beginning. He stands in front of the door, but doesn’t open it. This contrasts so much to his attitude towards Jihwa, when he barged in his mansion. Note the disparity between these two pictures. On the one hand, the manhwaphiles only get to see his feet, on the other he is shown as a whole person in the second picture. From my point of view, these images reflect the main lead’s mental disposition. He feels strong and confident in front of his former childhood friend, because the latter committed a huge misdeed towards him. But he feels so small and powerless in front of the painter, because he knows that he was the one in the wrong here. He mistrusted Baek Na-Kyum’s words, as a result he treated him as a sex toy, while he had claimed that he would adore him. And this panel announces the noble’s gradual transformation. For the first time, he is not following his desire to approach the artist, he is now listening to his conscious. It is possible that he heard Heena noona’s words and the artist’s confession, but from my point of view, it doesn’t truly matter. The most important aspect is that for the first time, Yoon Seungho didn’t allow his hand and feet to act on impulse. He always listened to his emotions, when it came to Baek Na-Kyum, which led him to make wrong decisions: he used his feet and hands to approach the artist and hurt him. In my opinion, he must have been reminded of his own words, when he punished the vicious servant in chapter 53. : “Who do you think you are to put hands on him?” Who was he really to Baek Na-Kyum? If he had to be judged by the way he had treated the painter the day and the night before, then he was definitely abusing his power. Hence he had no right to decide about the painter’s future. That’s why he retreats and returns to his bedchamber. Although he desires to be by the artist’s side, he is well aware that he can no longer force himself onto the artist. And if he truly heard their conversation, then this signifies, he realized that there was hope for him, as the painter had developed an affection for him. Imagine that if he did listen to their discussion, this signifies that Yoon Seungho decided to overlook Heena noona’s metaphor: a symbol of misfortune. Anyway, in front of the door, he was not thinking about himself and his pain, rather about the painter. This mirrors Baek Na-Kyum’s words: he keeps thinking about the master. But Yoon Seungho is one step ahead of him: he is no longer in denial about his love for the painter. That’s why I already perceive a change in the lord’s behavior in that panel. He is retreating, because he wants to let the painter make his own choice. He doesn’t want to put pressure on him, because if he does, he will always feel insecure. After hearing that Baek Na-Kyum had remained by his side, because the scholar had hurt him, Yoon Seungho’s heart had not only been wounded, but also poisoned. The butler’s revelation in chapter 50 gave him the impression that he had never been selected. That’s why he couldn’t trust the artist in the end. And now, you comprehend why I perceive Kim as really dangerous and evil. Kim fueled Yoon Seungho’s self-hatred and insecurities in order to tame and use the lord. Since the main lead’s biggest wish is to be picked by Baek Na-Kyum, he realized that he needed to give the painter some space and time to decide his own fate. There is no ambiguity that Kim’s words played a huge part in his resolution to give the painter the freedom to determine his future. When the butler mentioned the father, his intention was to remind the main lead of his own suffering. Father Yoon was an abusive and controlling father who kept imposing his will onto the main character. The latter was pressured to obey. Yet, what Kim didn’t expect was Baek Na-Kyum’s resolution to remain by the lord’s side. The butler had imagined that after that treatment in the barn (he kept hearing refusal from the artist), the latter was resenting the main lead and would run away, if he had the opportunity. Simultaneously, he also envisaged that by comparing him to father Yoon, the noble would choose to send away the painter, do the opposite of his father: releasing from his prison. Kim made a huge miscalculation: he never anticipated the real depth of the master’s affection for the painter. He wouldn’t give up on him. The main character took the advice differently. And by giving the painter the freedom to determine his destiny, Yoon Seungho will be able to perceive himself the truth.
So what did he do after his return to his bedchamber? Like my follower @Yaoon72898111 correctly pointed out, the main lead must have felt desperate and infuriated , because you can see shattered glass and the bed cover in front of the door. He was annoyed, not because he had been wounded by Heena noona’s words, but because he had realized that he had ruined everything for not trusting the artist. After giving some thought, I believe that this is a new version of chapter 48, when the lord drank first, before throwing the table. Yet the huge difference is that in chapter 69, he was mad at himself. However, as time passed on, he could calm down. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that he had forgiven himself. It was, as though he was punishing himself, when he sits on the terrace in the cold. Observe that he is sitting in the corner reinforcing the impression of contrition. He feels unworthy to be treated as a master, hence he didn’t ask his staff to clean the mess. We have to imagine how tormented the lord must have felt, while waiting for the kisaeng’s departure. He is still unsure about the artist’s choice. Will he leave him behind or not?
Striking is that Byeonduck focused a lot on the noble’s hand and gaze in this chapter again. On the surface, it looks like Yoon Seungho fell back into his bad habits. He destroys the room, then he drinks and smokes in order to numb his body and emotions. Let’s not forget that after the return of the painter in chapter 61, he was also smoking in front of the window, giving the impression that he was serene, while in reality he was literally boiling inside. However, I believe that this time, it is different. Note that the hand appears like frozen and emotionless in the panel, because the fingers are not moving. Besides, the gaze seems cold, yet clear. From my point of view, the aristocrat is here firm. He made the choice not to intervene and not to follow his emotions blindly. However, this doesn’t mean, he isn’t suffering internally, quite the opposite. The huge divergence from before is that he is willing to accept the outcome of the situation. Since he had been blinded by his own emotions, he is well aware that he has to ignore them. In other words, he is tormented, while waiting, but he doesn’t let it transpire. At the same time, we should remember that he is sitting in the cold as a sign of penitence.
That’s why when he hears the noise of the door opening, he looks immediately in that direction. He was waiting for a signal. This explicates why the author allowed the manhwalovers to zoom on the noble’s face. In a brief moment, Yoon Seungho’s gaze mirrors his true soul: he is scared, desperate and wounded. The sound of the door announces the final verdict, it could become the death knell for Yoon Seungho. If the painter decides to follow his sister, then he has to accept this. We have to imagine that in the main lead’s mind, the longer Heena noona remained by Baek Na-Kyum’s side, the higher the probability was that the painter would fulfil his sister’s wish, as it implied that she would increase the pressure on her brother. Yoon Seungho was well aware that if he entered the room, he could ruin everything. If he heard the conversation – I believe, he did -, he had sensed that he had not damaged his relationship with Baek Na-Kyum for good. But as time passed on, he became more and more uncertain. Hence he feared this moment. However, he was resigned to his fate. That’s why his mouth is closed. He has no saying in this, he is powerless. Like my follower @_tryxy_ observed correctly, this is the gaze the protagonist had after the low-born’s disappearance. Nonetheless, there exists a divergence. In chapter 60, the wounded and desperate gaze was focused on himself, hence he is felt betrayed. In chapter 69, all his thoughts are evolving around the painter. He is definitely prioritizing the commoner now, despite his agony.
And now Yoon Seungho’s attitude in episode 69 stands in opposition to chapter 30, when he threw a tantrum acting like a spoiled child, whose favorite toy had vanished. Here, he was surrounded by his staff and beating the domestics, whereas he sent them away in the last episode. He could no longer blame them for his misery. He was responsible for this scandal and his wrongdoing. Hence I come to the conclusion that Yoon Seungho pondered a lot, while he was sitting alone in the dark, but more calmly, unlike during the night of the low-born’s disappearance. He made preparations, in case the painter would select him. Therefore, he is definitely more mature and responsible. He is not only learning from his mistakes, but also feeling remorse, which I can only approve as a teacher. Finally, he starts using his mind more rationally.
Striking is that when he asks the painter about his resolution, he doesn’t interrogate him directly. Here he is feigning ignorance, and for a reason. If he had asked if the painter was leaving him, his inquiry could have negatively influenced the painter’s resolution again, an indication that he had already planned how to react in face of the verdict. That’s why after hearing the artist’s statement: he is so relieved , because there’s a glimpse of a smile on his lip. Note that Baek Na-Kyum is calling him “my lord” or “sir”, displaying that despite the incident, the aristocrat is still respected. The commoner still views him as his master. In this scene, the manhwaworms can sense another contradiction with chapter 30. While the main lead literally flew towards Baek Na-Kyum in the first season, in chapter 69 Yoon Seungho walks slowly with dignity. He is even followed by a servant showing that he is here indeed acting a honorable host. The other huge contrast is that he has already removed his manggeon. Besides, there’s light in his room now. It was, as though the lord had been relaxing in his chamber, and not waiting for the guest’s departure. Therefore he is not properly dressed, when the sister and the painter leave the study. His hanbok is opened, and without the manggeon. He looks like he feels enough comfortable around Baek Na-Kyum to show himself like that. He desires to create the illusion, he was well aware of her presence and had allowed it. Yet he didn’t pay too much attention to the scandal from the morning. At the same time, he doesn’t want to reveal to Baek Na-Kyum that he has discovered the true reason for his recent desertion. He is truly applying the philosophy from his butler: feigning ignorance. He acts, as if nothing had happened. There’s a reason for that. By doing so, he hopes that the artist will overlook his harsh treatment. In my opinion, as long as he has no idea of the outcome, he has to keep the pretense. If he expresses his wish too obviously, in his mind this can still affect the artist’s decision. He can still leave at any moment. As a conclusion, he behaves in a totally opposite way from the previous night and from the morning. He is willing to heed his words. (here as contrast: chapter 66)
And then why is a servant following him? From my point of view, since the protagonist still had no idea about the low-born’s decision, in case of his departure, he wanted him to accept the clothes he had bought for him. He wished the painter not to get cold and simultaneously to see that he had offered them, because he wanted to please the artist, and not in exchange for sex. He couldn’t forget the clothes left behind during the night of the abduction.
Another difference from chapter 30 is the gesture of the aristocrat’s hand. While he grabbed the commoner by the throat and pushed him against the wall, this time he gives the artist’s neck with the scarf. He is tender and careful, making sure that his loved one doesn’t get cold. As you can observe: when the lord approaches the commoners, he is determined to treat Baek Na-Kyum as his honored guest, while in the past due to his tantrum, the artist’s status became affected. From that moment, he was perceived as a servant, especially after the lord had dragged him into his chamber. Not only he had pledged loyalty to him in front of Jung In-Hun, but also he had accepted to do anything for the powerful aristocrat. In chapter 30, Baek Na-Kyum had no real saying, he had even been forced to make an oath in order to protect the scholar. However, in chapter 69, the moment the painter calls him “my lord” and “sir”, he indeed acts more like a lord. Since the artist is considering him as his master, then he has to behave like one. That’s why he gives his permission to the painter. As you can sense, Yoon Seungho lets the artist determine the nature of their relationship. He has become a staff of his household, the moment he called Yoon Seungho “my lord”. In other words, the situation has returned to the beginning, with a huge difference. Baek Na-Kyum is doing everything on his own volition. Yet, there is no doubt that Yoon Seungho will ensure that Baek Na-Kyum’s status evolve. He will make sure to woo him properly so that he can accept him as his partner, now Baek Na-Kyum is just a favored domestic. Hence you understand why Byeonduck used elements from chapter 35 as well. The lord was on the verge on giving up, when he saw a glimpse of hope, because the painter was blushing. In chapter 69, there’s hope too. That’s why the lord’s gaze is much softer, and his face lets transpire relief. The other positive aspect is that they are truly listening to each other. Baek Na-Kyum realized that Yoon Seungho’s comment about his noona’s behavior was correct. She had indeed insulted him by barging with guards in his mansion, and the noble had been benevolent. He had truly kept his promise, hence he switches the way he is addressing to Yoon Seungho. It becomes again “lord Seungho”. That’s why I see a huge progression in this episode. Baek Na-Kyum is the one determining the evolution. At the same time, he recognizes the good intentions behind the main character’s words and actions. He has already asked to send a servant to accompany his sister to the kisaeng house. What moved me the most was the noble’s facial expression, when he heard the painter thanking him. For the first time, someone was noticing his kindness, and was even grateful. This explicates why Baek Na-Kyum was blushing the whole time. After hearing the lord’s confession, he was able to hear and feel the care and affection in his attitude. In other words, it was, as though the magical words “you’ve made a wreck of me”/”I adore you” had lifted a curse, and the artist was no longer blind and deaf any longer. However, despite everything Yoon Seungho’s biggest wish didn’t get fulfilled. The painter was still not looking at him the same way he was looking at his noona and the scholar. That’s why Baek Na-Kyum is represented without eyes. Nevertheless, unlike in the past, the aristocrat doesn’t get enraged and resent the painter. In fact, this reminds him that he always wanted the painter to smile. That’s why he grants him the wish to follow his sister to the door. And with this decision, he actually achieves his goal. For the first time, the painter is able to smile. Sure, there’s another reason here. The protagonist is happy, because he could see Heena noona, and he wasn’t truly abandoned, like he had imagined.
As the manhwaphiles could observe, the author combined the chapter 30 and 35 together to outline the huge change in the protagonists’ behavior. While the low-born is able to perceive Yoon Seungho’s attention, genuineness and selflessness, the latter has decided to trust the painter and show him his true self. Both have truly matured, they are making decisions for themselves for the first time. This explicates why the low-born’s bow represents the climax of chapter 69. This time, he is not doing out of convenience and fear, like in chapter 12, but out of true respect. He sees Yoon Seungho like a true master, who can be generous and affectionate. The image of a lord with mood swings is not longer existent in the painter’s eyes. And now, you grasp the impact of the butler’s manipulation. The latter created a fake bow in chapter 12, by telling the painter that Yoon Seungho was a terrible master due to his bad temper. He had disguised this negative perception by mentioning the lord’s traumatic past. However, by outlining that he had worked for him for a decade and he was still scared of him, he was insinuating that the time spent with him was the cause of his pity, and in reality, the lord was indeed true to his reputation. During this night (69), this negative notoriety has been removed, because in front of him, Baek Na-Kyum only sees a calm and gentle master, who treats him and his sister very well. So the words he told his sister, he treats me very well, have become a reality. His special treatment will no longer dependent on Yoon Seungho’s moods, which were triggered by Kim’s manipulations. In a single day, Baek Na-Kyum was able to regain his reputation and to perceive the lord’s true personality correctly. He is no longer relying on others, hence this signifies that Kim can no longer manipulate the low-born as well. And this is no surprise that the valet is absent here. He has to be out of his master’s sight. The lord had witnessed how Kim acted behind his back. Yet he is still unaware that the valet is still ruling behind his back, as the servants trust him. Without him, both main leads can breathe more properly, his words are no longer polluting their mind. That’s why the windows are all open, while the lord is waiting for the painter’s decision. The master is clearing his head, making his own decisions without listening to his butler’s info.
Although both protagonists are still awkward around each other, they are now observing each other , ensuring that the other won’t be hurt and they don’t misunderstand each other. Both are trying to use their own senses in order to interpret the partner’s reactions and thoughts correctly: the eyes, the touch, the hearing. Yoon Seungho has to do more than the painter. He needs to earn the painter’s trust again, hence he externalizes his thoughts: he trusts the honesty in the artist’s words. That’s why their relationship can improve very quickly, there’s no one who can interfere between them any longer. Even Heena noona was not able to convince her brother to leave the mansion. Baek Na-Kyum is trusting his own senses and instincts in the end.
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