Painter Of The Night: Love and trust

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  1. “You may not always trust the people you love, but you can always love the people you trust.”
  2. “The best proof of love is TRUST.”
  3. “When mistrust comes in, loves goes out. -Irish proverb”

What do these quotes have in common? They all underline that trust is more valuable than love, and trust is a condition for true love. Without this virtue, love is unstable, and can even vanish. Striking is that chapter 69 was centered on faith and confidence. Baek Na-Kyum chose to remain by Yoon Seungho’s side despite his fear and doubts. Although he had to listen to many arguments from his sister, he decided to believe in the lord’s love confession. Yoon Seungho did exactly the same: he chose to wait for the painter’s resolution. Therefore this signifies that he decided to trust the artist’s will. In other words, both protagonists took a leap of faith, although they were scared and full of doubts.

That’s why when the lord put the scarf around the painter’s neck and added that he believed in the artist’s words, Baek Na-Kyum could only be moved. With these words, Yoon Seungho was not only showing his care and gentleness, but he was expressing his confidence in the low-born. The latter could feel it through his eyes and ears. Simultaneously, Baek Na-Kyum reciprocated this mark of faith. First, he obeyed to the noble’s order. Secondly, he allowed the main lead to touch him with the scarf. This submission was different from the past, because the painter was totally honest here and not wounded. Then after covering the artist’s throat, the lord pays attention to the low-born’s reaction. He sees with his own eyes that this simple but tender gesture has already affected Baek Na-Kyum. The latter keeps blushing and if the manhwaphiles look carefully at the commoner’s gaze, they will detect a glimpse of hope due to the light in the eyes. This explicates why Yoon Seungho allows his loved one to follow his noona to the gate in order to bid farewell properly. As you can observe, both main characters are starting trusting each other despite the wounds and fear. They are actually applying what the famous author Ernest Hemingway once wrote:

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.

However, the improvement of their relationship coincides with the deterioration of Baek Na-Kyum’s bond with Heena noona. This is not surprising that the kisaeng is already jealous of Yoon Seungho. She blames him for affecting her relationship to her “brother and son”. That’s why she glares at the protagonist. Their mistrust is actually mutual. In her eyes, the main lead can be the only reason why Baek Na-Kyum is no longer listening to her advices and requests. In the past, he used to be so obedient and never talk back to her. He rejected not only her suggestions, but also her hand. For the first time, she was pushed away, that’s why she got so shocked. In that moment, she could no longer be blind, hence the author zoomed on her gaze. And now, you are wondering why I am talking about chapter 68, when my main focus was chapter 69. The reason is simple: Heena noona is actually becoming more daring and defiant, because she feels legitimated in her actions. She has the impression, Baek Na-Kyum has become submissive due to the noble’s abuse. Let’s not forget that the artist also portrayed Yoon Seungho in a rather negative light before and he even added that he didn’t want to love him. With such words, the kisaeng’s prejudices about Yoon Seungho could only get reinforced. No wonder that she can’t trust the painter’s decision. Since Baek Na-Kyum was not brave enough to become responsible for his feelings and let the aristocrat take the “blame”, the noona could only take his words as face-value. Yoon Seungho was accountable for this situation, and the painter’s affection for him was not real, just an illusion. Since the painter didn’t trust himself, Heena noona couldn’t trust him as well. This explicates why she remains blind and deaf in chapter 69 and why Byeonduck drew her without eyes in this panel.

When the painter gave her the scarf, she is not capable of recognizing the signification of the gesture, because she doesn’t trust Baek Na-Kyum’s judgement. In her eyes, her son and brother has the impression, he is mature enough to take care of her, but the reality is different. She is sure that Baek Na-Kyum is making a huge mistake, he is trusting the wrong person. That’s why I judge the last panel as a contradiction to the following picture: Mistrust versus trust. If you compare both images, you’ll notice the difference in the attitude. Baek Na-Kyum is lowering his head, putting his faith in the lord’s hands, while Heena noona is looking straight, exuding a certain confidence and defiance. She is definitely not trusting her adoptive son and brother. It was, as though she was closing her eyes to reality. She can’t come to terms with the new situation and her son’s decision. That’s why her eyes are missing, whereas in the panel with Baek Na-Kyum, the perspective is the reason why the readers can’t see the painter’s gaze. However, due to the slight bow, the artist shows trust and respect.

Besides, if I examine the characters’ behavior more precisely, I detect a huge switch. While in chapter 65, Heena noona appeared fearless, confident and selfless, in episode 69, she is reckless, arrogant and selfish. Why do I perceive her like that? First, she ignores the fact that the lord treats her as a guest despite her status, because he appears the moment she leaves. It was, as if he wanted to pay her a certain respect, especially in the moment he answers her question and adds that one of his servants will accompany her to the kisaeng house. Secondly, she questions Yoon Seungho’s decision, ignoring the fact that she did violate laws by entering the mansion with her guards. The tone she speaks to Yoon Seungho is disrespectful, because her sentence is not even completed. But this doesn’t end here. When she starts arguing with him “What kind of…”, the lord replies while remaining calm. Sure, he is firm, when he justifies his resolution, yet simultaneously this indicates that Yoon Seungho is listening to her despite her rudeness. I have to admit that it took me some time to interpret the following image: My first impression was that the lord was approaching Heena, but after pondering for a while, I came to a different deduction. In fact, this is the opposite: Heena noona is the one approaching Yoon Seungho, although the words from the protagonist gives the impression, he is confident and determined. In other words, the kisaeng keeps defying the host. She is the one threatening the main lead, this explicates why Baek Na-Kyum intervenes and puts himself between them. However, unlike in chapter 30, the painter is here protecting Yoon Seungho. That’s why he yells at Heena: This displays that he is not protecting his sister here, he definitely disapproves her attitude. That’s why Baek Na-Kyum sides with the lord and is grateful for his behavior. Another evidence for the kisaeng’s threatening attitude is the master’s exhausted gaze. The return of “lord Seungho” exposes that the low-born is truly grateful with the lord’s decision and generosity. The commoner is able to recognize his honorable manners. Moreover, this shows either that the painter is trusting his words. This is not surprising that the noble is surprised and touched by the “thank you” , as it is a first for Yoon Seungho. No one has ever thanked him before, his guests took everything for granted, not even the painter. And with the return of respect, trust can only flourish and as such love. This new gaze from the aristocrat astonishes the painter as well. In my opinion, the painter witnesses a different gaze for the first time: his gaze is no longer impenetrable. He can see through him, and sense his true soul. That’s why Baek Na-Kyum is moved and feels awkward. And now, you understand why the author chose to draw Baek Na-Kyum’s chin, which is similar to the following panel: (chapter 35). Back then, the lord was exhausted and on the verge of giving up, until he saw the artist’s blush, which made him smile and gave him strength and hope again. In my opinion, the painter is in a similar situation, in the sense that he is already sensing that Heena noona is determined to reject Yoon Seungho. There’s a certain disappointment, that’s why he sends the kisaeng away. He realizes that Heena noona is not willing to show any compromise and respect towards Yoon Seungho. She has already made up her mind. Although he still loves her, the confrontation before has created a certain mistrust and riff between them.

Another important aspect is the hug between Baek Na-Kyum and his “adoptive mother”. Note that here the artist’s gaze is missing. From my perspective, the embrace is less affectionate and genuine, especially if you compare it to this hug: Don’t get me wrong: both characters still love each other, yet the disagreement from before and Heena noona’s behavior has already disturbed Baek Na-Kyum. Furthermore, observe that the kisaeng seizes the opportunity to influence her “son”. Therefore I judge the embrace as less honest and more selfish from her part. She keeps attempting to change his mind. She is refusing to accept his resolution, hence neither the hug nor the scarf let her forget her decision: Baek Na-Kyum should follow her and not remain by Yoon Seungho’s side. This explicates why the warning from the servant in front of the kisaeng house ignites her resistance to resign to her fate. It pushes her to fight back. She can not trust her “son’s” judgement, because in her mind the painter has been negatively influenced by the main lead.

However, I believe that Heena noona is mistaken here. The origin of her argument with the artist is not the noble. In my opinion, she never trusted the artist from the start. Why? She feared that he would cause trouble. Let’s not forget that in the past, Baek Na-Kyum’s cry in front of her getting beaten was his way to protest and his desire to protect her. Because she wanted to keep him out of trouble, she relied on the scholar to take away Baek Na-Kyum from the kisaeng house. In her mind, she was actually making the best decision: she was protecting him. However, she never reflected on the impact of her choice. She let the painter consider himself as a burden. Why? He couldn’t help her, moreover he had the impression that he was a source of trouble. That’s why he was entrusted to the scholar. The more she relied on Jung In-Hun, the more Baek Na-Kyum’s self-esteem was affected. This explicates why Baek Na-Kyum couldn’t tell her that he was still illiterate. That’s why his low self-esteem is palpable in chapter 40. He feels very embarrassed, when he has to admit that he can only read a few characters. The worst is that the kisaeng still doesn’t know that he can’t write. If he revealed his illiteracy, he feared that she might get upset. Moreover, there is no ambiguity that the scholar made sure that Baek Na-Kyum would be blamed for his incapacities. Since Heena noona always viewed the teacher as a trustworthy person, but she didn’t trust the painter’s personality, the artist could only internalize the criticisms from Jung In-Hun. In his eyes, he must have been too stupid and was responsible for his inability, especially when Heena noona kept praising the low noble. Besides, since Baek Na-Kyum had been abandoned since his birth, he felt pressured to please Heena noona and never question her words and judgement. He followed her advices and prejudices blindly with the hope that he would get trusted by her. There’s no doubt that she loves him, yet love without real trust can only deteriorate the relationship in the long run. And now, imagine how the painter must have felt, when she entrusted him to Jung In-Hun. His insecurities must have increased. Moreover, due to her words, when she is justifying her resolution with the painter’s love and admiration, she gives the impression that she is trying to impose her own feelings onto her “adoptive son and brother”.

Furthermore, I would like to point out the following problem: Heena is called “noona” by Baek Na-Kyum and not mother. So strictly speaking, she is just an older sister, yet she acts like a mother. So why is she not called “mother”? It was, as if she didn’t want to assume her responsibility as a mother. If she is just a noona, she is less accountable. Then if we take into consideration that she kept using the low noble in order to protect the young boy, we have to question her intentions: did she feel too burdened by Baek Na-Kyum, hence she wanted to share her responsibility with the scholar? Or did she use the boy in order to get the scholar’s attention and love in order to create a bond with him? I do believe that calling her “Heena noona” must have reinforced Baek Na-Kyum’s insecurities in the end. On the other hand, in chapter 69, she definitely acts like a mother, who is unfortunately narrow-minded and selfish. She doesn’t trust her son.

Moreover, since his childhood Heena noona kept sending him away, hence he continued experiencing abandonment over and over again… That’s why his bound with the scholar was reinforced, he represented his last anchor. And now, the manhwaphiles can sense why Baek Na-Kyum’s critical thinking was never developed. His desire to be accepted led him to become submissive and silent. Furthermore, he was never allowed to express himself (anger, powerlessness, fear etc.) The hug was used to shut his mouth. Due to her overprotectiveness, the kisaeng affected the painter’s personality: she increased his insecurities so that he withdrew more and more, and found refuge in painting. At the same time, he tried to please Heena noona more and more, therefore he adopted her prejudices and her admiration for the scholar. From my perspective, the kisaeng’s biased vision is the result of her own seclusion. She lives in the kisaeng house, hence she doesn’t interact with commoners in general. Her judgement about people is based on her own experiences, therefore she generalizes: rich nobles are all bad. She doesn’t realize that commoners and poor nobles are also humans, hence they can also be selfish and ruthless. Remember what I wrote before: her perception is influenced by appearances. What she sees leads her to judge people. Servants are humbly dressed, then she thinks, they are modest and not sneaky.

What bothers me the most is that she has never wondered why Baek Na-Kyum didn’t write her all this time. Moreover, it looks like she never wrote to him, because she doesn’t say “reply”, but write. Why doesn’t she write to him too? It was, as if she didn’t want to keep in touch with him. And the way she deals with the new situation is quite telling: she is again forcing her perception without showing any respect towards the artist. Since neither her words, nor the caress nor the hug helped her, she has to find another way. That’s why I believe that she will hurt the painter in the end.

For me, Heena noona is represented by the following quote: Love makes people blind. This explicates why she misjudged Jung In-Hun, and why she disliked seeing Baek Na-Kyum’s cry. On the one hand, she associated his tears and shouting to trouble, on the other hand she couldn’t bear the thought that her son was in pain. Hence she thought caress and love were the right answers for these terrible situations. At the same time, she must have felt uncomfortable too, hence she is called Heena noona. Sure, the kisaeng is a honest and loving “adoptive mother”, but love is not enough to raise a child, especially if you are really young. From my point of view, she was definitely too young, when she adopted him and got too overwhelmed by the huge weight of responsibility. Hence she relied on others to share her “burden”.

And in that chapter, Baek Na-Kyum is slowly distancing himself from her, indicating that he is maturing. As a son, he wants to become responsible for her. Hence he gives her the scarf. He would like her to trust him, something he never did in the past. That’s why he smiles at the end. He would like to reassure her. There is no ambiguity that if Heena noona participates in the kidnapping, because she has been misled, the painter will definitely confront her and even criticize her for her bad decisions, and reveal the truth about the scholar.

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9 thoughts on “Painter Of The Night: Love and trust

  1. I did not write to you yesterday because I was watching Dawson’s Creek, and the character of Pacey reminded me a lot of Nakyumie, a boy with low self-esteem due to an authoritarian father, who thinks that the way to protect his son is to decide for him and constantly criticize him. Pacey has to listen and act, not think, because he knows (the father) what is best and because he is preparing him for the world. Heena’s personality is strong, she is determined. A sweet child as Nakyum or Pacey, does not have enough strength to face his father / mother, it is not only fear, but the feeling of being absorbed by the strong personality of the other. The only time Pacey is honest with his father, and tells him how he feels, is when the older man is sleeping drunk on a beach while his younger son watches over him. And Pacey says to him “I am your son, you had to tell me that you were proud of me, that I had done something well, support me, because I am sixteen years old and I cannot do this alone”.
    And if you notice, nobody has told Nakyum this. True, he received love from his noona and scholar may have made him feel loved, but then they just criticized him. Heena noona reproaches her son for everything, for being a mess, for trusting Seungho, she even asks him if he is fool. It is violent in its concern. And that leads me to think that Nakyum was never complimented on his art, they made him feel like he was a burden.
    The only one who has contributed to Nakyum’s confidence is Seungho, when he praises his talented hands, when he tells him that his presence makes everything exciting, when he tells him that even though he is upset and hurt he will never let him go. This positively reinforces someone who has never listen before: well done! good work! that’s beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your observation made think again that she could have sent the painter away, because she even wanted control his love life as well. She accepted his homosexuality as long as he didn’t outlive it. That could explain why she rejects Yoon Seungho so much, because he is known for his huge libido.


  2. Also, Nakyum is supposed to have drawn these scenes as a child. Do you think Inhun didn’t comment on it? He must have made her feel guilty about it, and maybe even Heena helped the scholar to force Nakyum to give up art. If the loving scholar thought it was wrong, Heena could only agree.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. your analysis allows me to understand this chapter so much better. You put words on things that you feel but cannot explain. It makes the story feel even stronger.
    The question I’m curious about is, what is going to happen now, what is going to happen concretely? Since SH is waiting for NK to come back on his own, I don’t think he will ask him to come and sleep with him. Nor do I think that NK will join SH in the next chapter. And since NK now sees himself as SH’s servant, what is he going to do? Because if he now joins SH’s bed by acting as a servant it would be as if he were a prostitute. Could he join him as a lover? I would think it hard to believe, I would think it very quick. Especially knowing how uncomfortable NK was in chapter 69.
    I can’t imagine NK painting his last night with SH either. And by the way, can he? If it happens we’ll find out that he still has the after-effects of his sprain . Really, I can’t imagine the daily life that awaits them…
    I would like to have your opinion on this matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s possible that BNK visits his chamber to take care of it. Remember, it’s a mess and we know for sure that the head-maid saw this😉 We should not forget, Seungho had his meal and I doubt, Kim brought it to him. I believe, Yoon Seungho will visit him during the night, we have this dream from the painter in chapter 66


  4. So detailed and thorough! I loved reading it..🐳🐋🐳🐋 It is more detailed and thorough than what Korean reviewers wrote on their blogs. I think because you are a westerner you catch things that Koreans would usually mindlessly gloss over. Your viewpoint is very unique. I am very happy I found your writing. I love ‘Painter of the night’, and I look forward to your future writings!

    Liked by 1 person

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