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. 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/
Announcement: I updated the essay “Painting and desires – part 2” and “Fire and Darkness: Yoon Seungho”
What is exactly a perfect crime? The definition is that from a legal point, a crime remains either undetected, or unattributed to a perpetrator, or otherwise unsolved due to the lack of evidence. This signifies not only that the perpetrator will never face any legal charge, but also that the crime has been perfectly covered up, because there are no witness and evidence and even in the worst case no official victim. However, for this to happen, it requires great planning implying that the mastermind desired to seek perfection. The condition is that the culprit behind the crime must know exactly what he wants. Besides, the fewer people are involved, the lower the risk is to get caught.
Striking is that on the surface the first kidnapping doesn’t fit these criteria. First, Jihwa was a reluctant criminal, he didn’t truly wish the painter’s death, just to remove him from Yoon Seungho’s side. Moreover, he feared the consequences of this wrongdoing. Third, there were witnesses: the nobles at the party (chapter 43), Deok-Jae and the physician . This explains why The Joker could denunciate the second lead’s crime, although Nameless and Kim had made sure to give the impression that the painter had run away due to the footprints. However, there were traces of a kidnapping and sequestration: the wounds on the painter’s face (chapter 61) and wrists (chapter 66). But back then, the lord, too blinded by his own insecurities and fears, didn’t notice these. As you can observe, it was not a perfect crime, because Yoon Seungho got to discover the truth due to Min’s revelation. But if the lord had investigated it properly, he could have discovered the crime. First, the physician was a witness and he could have seen the bruises. On the other hand, strictly speaking it can be considered as a perfect crime so far, as the culprit (Jihwa) was not arrested and prosecuted. His only punishment was that the lord chose to cut ties with his childhood friend officially. That’s why the main lead visited the Lees’ mansion, he wanted to warn the father. If something strange were to happen again, the lord Lee would have to assume his responsibilities. He wouldn’t just go after Jihwa, but also after the father.
And since the next abduction is around the corner, the manhwaphiles have to question themselves if Black Heart will be able to create a perfect crime. As you can imagine, my answer is no. Why? First, Min doesn’t know exactly what he wants. He is deluding himself that if he tastes Baek Na-Kyum, he can get rid of the artist afterwards. Nevertheless, he couldn’t forget the painting , the kiss and the beautiful legs showing that he is already too obsessed with the painter. But more importantly is that Min and his accomplice Kim are overlooking an important aspect: human nature. Both have the impression that they know Yoon Seungho. (chapter 33) (Min, chapter 52). Nonetheless, people can change and as such they can change their habits. In chapter 74, the painter notes the lord’s transformation. The latter smiles, is caring and humble. Then lord Na-Kyum describes their daily life: As you can observe, they have developed a routine. What caught my attention is the following aspect: the lord’s nightly visits. Only Baek Na-Kyum and the readers know what the lord does there. He gazes at his lover and he gives him a good night kiss at the end. Yet, we shouldn’t forget that the study was the place, where they often had sex. Moreover, the manhwalovers will certainly recall this important sex session in chapter 48-49. That’s why I come to the conclusion, that for an outsider observing the lord’s moves, it looks like the painter still has sex with his master, when the latter wishes it. After the deal is done, then he leaves the study. And if someone heard the lord’s words in the bathroom, he could definitely get a false impression: Besides, according to my theory, the valet heard their conversation during that night (chapter 48-49). Thereby in the butler’s eyes, the painter seems to have finally accepted his role as favored servant and has become submissive, while the noble can satisfy his thirst for sex once in a while. Since it is clear for me that the butler has always viewed his master as a man consumed by sex, he must associate these visits during the night to sex. In his eyes, the lord has not changed. First, he still has sex with the painter who surely won’t love such a man after the way he mistreated him. Secondly, he sits at the window and smokes, exactly like in the past. He might not be angry, but this is because he has no reason to. While the routine is definitely new to Baek Na-Kyum, it looks like the same for the butler. Since the lord has cut ties with Jihwa and his friends, there are no parties, but the lord hasn’t given up on sexual intercourse. Thus I deduce that for someone who has lived so long by the lord’s side, I doubt that Kim can notice the real transformation.
Another important detail is their habits: they spend some time together but after that, they separate. Once in a while, the protagonist brings sweets or visits the study during the night. Striking is that during all this time, the painter couldn’t create a new picture, as his wrist was still injured. This means that their routine can now change. Baek Na-Kyum can start painting again. And since I demonstrated in my previous analysis that the protagonist has finally decided to face his own feelings, I come to the deduction that right after his return, he will decide to create a new painting displaying his affection for Yoon Seungho. This signifies that there will be a change in the routine. In my opinion, the painter won’t feel hungry, too focused on his work. Imagine that in chapter 40, he even didn’t eat the sweets. (chapter 40) That’s why I believe that during the day and evening, the painter will be too busy with his work that he won’t feel the need to eat anything. There’s no ambiguity that Baek Na-Kyum won’t mention the picture to Yoon Seungho and will hide his action so that the lord ends up eating his meal alone. And remember in my previous prediction called “the purge”, I developed the idea of the drug. Now, I consider this panel as a clue for my theory: Here, the physician is asking if the painter is feeling well. Why? It can’t be related to his past testimony, because he shows no sign of real discomfort. This means that he must have heard that Baek Na-Kyum was not feeling alright. As you can anticipate, from my perspective, he must have received Kim’s visit, a new version of chapter 65. Remember that this story is always repeating situations from season 1 and 2. However, this time the butler didn’t frighten the doctor, he must have faked his concern for the artist. The latter had a flashback and now he has sleeping problems due to the kidnapping. He must have also confessed how the commoner was treated by his master after his return. Therefore he needed to give him some drug against insomnia, then the physician must have reply: . Consequently, the valet repeated this: But since the lord is already taking medicine for his insomnia, like it was mentioned in chapter 55, the doctor must have questioned the butler why he would buy the same medicine, when master Yoon already has his own: (chapter 33). In season 1, Kim could give the medicine to the maid saying that it was for his health, while in reality it was to give the painter an aphrodisiac. As you can see, the valet is now determined to drug the painter a second time, but this time he should fall asleep so that he can be taken away in his sleep. Kim can’t give the medicine from master Yoon’s, because the maids would question the butler’s intention and they could mention it to the lord. However, it becomes a different story, if he says that it was ordered by lord Yoon due to the flashback, which one of the maids witnessed. As you can see, this is Kim’s MO. He uses people’s ignorance and trust. The physician is truly a good man, but a stupid and dangerous doctor. Actually, he should realize that with his actions he is committing a crime (negligence) and he knows this, but his doubts are always removed by Kim’s magical word: the lord’s authority. Note that in both episodes 33 and 65, the valet abused his position and threatened the doctor, but Yoon Seungho didn’t notice it in chapter 33, as he was too worried about Baek Na-Kyum. But observe that he never threatened the man himself.
So when the doctor faces the artist, he notices that the artist is looking well and is showing no sign of insomnia. He has a vivid eye and a rosy complexion. That’s why he questions the painter. But instead of explaining the reason for this question, he chooses to remain silent. He dismisses this contradiction, insinuating that he doesn’t even trust his own judgement and eyes. That’s how deceitful the butler is and naïve the doctor is.
Therefore I predict that Min and Kim have already planned to drug the two protagonists, so that the lord wouldn’t visit the painter during the night. This would facilitate the painter’s abduction. There would be no fight and no resistance contrary to chapter 53. The butler can give later the excuse that it was prescribed by his physician. (chapter 55) However, since Baek Na-Kyum is totally unpredictable, their plan won’t go like expected. The painter won’t be sleeping during that night, because he didn’t eat his dinner.
When I stated that the next kidnapping would occur in the next chapter, I had two reasons for this declaration: the presence of Min spying on the two protagonists (chapter 74) and the following panel. (chapter 71) I believe, Byeonduck already gave us a clue with this picture. Here, we have a waning crescent, while in chapter 70/71 the painter looked at a waxing crescent: (chapter 70). Therefore this implied that these were two different nights. That’s why I believe that the first panel announces the second abduction. The change of the moon gives us a clue how many days have between their Wedding and the second kidnapping: 14 days, enough for the painter’s wrist to recover. Moreover, remember my analysis of this image: all the elements (water, fire, air and earth) were in harmony, which would fit with my following interpretation: Baek Na-Kyum has the intention to confess to Yoon Seungho with a painting, a new version of chapter 40. On the other hand, this image resembles a lot to the one from chapter 32/33: So in my opinion, the butler is looking at his master’s chamber. He needs to confirm if the lord is indeed asleep, before the second kidnapping can take place.
But now, we have the following problem: who will take away Baek Na-Kyum? My initial thought (Animals of misfortune) was Min. However, I have to admit that The Joker is the mirror of Kim. Both are cowards who will always use others so that they don’t have to dirty their own hands. Note that with the drug, the doctor becomes responsible for his misdeeds, even if he can say that he had no idea about the valet’s intention. Deep down, he knew that he was committing a wrongdoing. Yet, the butler has already lost his position, for he is now working in the backyard indicating that he has no control over the staff. He can’t even use the male servants in my opinion. Imagine, during these 14 days, they led a really peaceful life, hence I doubt that the domestics are now truly resenting the low-born. Yet, as you can envision, I am suspecting that Kim will try as much as possible to let someone else take the fall, since old habits are hard to die. First, he will try to incriminate the maids with the drug, like I had explained in the essay “The purge”. Secondly, he needs someone else to take away the artist. And there’s only one person left who would do it without thinking: Heena. She would justify her action that she is saving her brother. Let’s not forget that in chapter 69, she never recognized her wrongdoing in front of Yoon Seungho. Therefore she can definitely repeat such a misdeed, as she legitimates her action out of love. Note that she doesn’t fear Joseon justice system, only divine retribution Consequently, I am expecting a new version of chapter 65, but this time the kisaeng will trespass the property during the night soundless. It’s possible that Kim visits Baek Na-Kyum’s chamber and realizes that the plan with the drug failed so that he can’t carry him to gate. The manhwaphiles should reminisce that the butler once carried the painter from the study to the lord’s chamber in chapter 33/34. Thus there should be a new version of this trick. Therefore, once the butler recognizes that drugging the commoner was a failure, he can only ask Heena noona to pay a visitation to her brother in order to deceive him. For the butler, this is actually perfect, as he can manage to maintain his image as loyal and caring servant. When she meets her brother, she questions him if he wants to leave the propriety, but he will again reject the offer. Therefore she will use her guards to take away her brother. On the other hand, in order to achieve her goal, she will deceive her brother asking him to accompany her to the door. She will justify her appearance that the lord threatened her, hence she can only see him during the night. Full of trust, Baek Na-Kyum will follow her and once at the gate, a hand will grab his chin and drag him away.
And now, you are wondering how Heena noona will decide to kidnap her own brother. In my opinion, there is a repetition of chapter 43, but this time, the conspiracy takes place at the kisaeng house. , Min, impersonating Jihwa, incites Heena by telling her this: The painter has been bewitched by the infamous hell-raiser. He has fallen too much into sodomy, he needs to be rescued. Yet, The Joker is well aware that as a kisaeng, she can’t truly protect her brother from Yoon Seungho due to his wealth and power. Hence he will propose her the following deal: he will offer her the painter’s protection. Since Heena noona judges people based on their reputation and appearances, she won’t mistrust Min. That’s why he will ask her to deliver Baek Na-Kyum to him so that he can get away from the protagonist’s claws. There’s no doubt that she will have heard that there was a scandal between the Yoons and the Lees, hence she will definitely trust Black Heart’s words. Since the enemy of an enemy is a friend, for her “the fake Jihwa” is her “friend”. Besides, the manhwaphiles should recall her final words in the study: It is definitely possible that Min describes himself as a great admirer of her brother’s work and even shows her that he owns many publications. That’s why she will be persuaded by The Joker. The latter will never be rude and violent, exactly like the scholar Jung In-Hun. Let’s not forget that in chapter 43, Min justified the murder by portraying the second lead as a savior. He needed to remove the painter, as his friend was in danger in front of a “witch”. However, this time the “witch” will be Yoon Seungho in the kisaeng’s eyes. (a new version of this panel). In addition, the warning from the servant reinforced her hatred towards the aristocrat, therefore when Kim opens the door gate that night, she will thank him for his “kindness”. The latter seems so gentle and selfless. Now, you are probably thinking that I must resent the kisaeng for developing such a prediction. But no. She is just a flawed character. Besides, the manhwaworms should recall that she was already responsible for the artist’s misery in the past. She might have justified her action that she wanted to protect her brother and did it out of love, yet she never asked for Baek Na-Kyum’s consent. There is this saying: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. This quote embodies perfectly Heena’s mentality and role in Baek Na-Kyum’s life. And her terrible choices led to the artist’s misery. Not only he lost his home, but also he lost his passion and confidence. He was exposed to physical and emotional abuse. The result was that he became a drunk after all. So when she says , I believe that her words are actually reflecting her own role: she is the one bringing her adoptive brother misfortune. However, she was never confronted by Baek Na-Kyum, and the manhwaphiles shouldn’t overlook the fact that for almost one and half year, she never tried to contact her brother!! Sure, she is not doing it, because she needs his help, but due to her stubbornness and blindness, she is not realizing that she has been abusing her position as a noona towards Baek Na-Kyum. Besides, I’ve got another reason why I am expecting such a development. The painter’s destiny is to go through the same experiences than Yoon Seungho’s and the latter experienced abandonment and betrayal by his own brother. This explicates why the protagonist had huge trust issues, which is a normal reaction for people suffering from PTSD. So far, the painter has not experienced the sister’s betrayal, only the abandonment… but he chose to overlook it, as she showed great concern and care after their reunion. That’s why this second abduction can never be a perfect crime. The artist will realize that he can no longer trust Heena and the divine retribution she has always feared will be to lose her brother’s trust and support. Moreover, in chapter 40, we had the scholar’s betrayal, hence we have to expect a betrayal from a person close to Baek Na-Kyum.
So my idea is that during the night, Kim ensures that both protagonists are asleep and goes to the gate. He lets the kisaeng trespassing the propriety and the latter goes directly to the study. There, she surprises Baek Na-Kyum painting. After convincing her brother to follow her to the door for a last farewell (a new version of chapter 29 , she lets her guards abduct her brother, and goes to the location recommended by Min. In my opinion, he will ask her to bring the artist to the mansion of the noble with the mole. Why? There’s no ambiguity that he will try to erase every evidence leading to him. He has definitely planned that Jihwa and the kisaeng will become his scapegoats. Secondly, the noble with the mole is Jihwa’s friend. Besides, when the first conspiracy took place, it was at a pavilion: , It’s not just a secluded place, but also the place where the artist was raped. For the low-born has created a new work, the new image will be brought to Min. Remember how the painting was the trigger for Yoon Seungho to kiss the protagonist at the pavilion which led to a rejection and confession… the result was that the main lead forced himself on the painter.
Once the painter has been dragged away, Kim has to ensure that there is no evidence left of an abduction, a repetition of the past. He removed the painter’s footprints. However, during that night the artist was painting, hence there’s evidence that the painter’s not trying to flee. In order to remain as close as possible to the truth (which is Kim’s MO), the butler decides to write a fake letter. I came to this idea because of the following panel: Note that the brushes are still full of ink, although he had finished with the picture. Even if the valet cleaned the brushes, they would be still wet the next day. That’s why he writes a letter in Baek Na-Kyum’s name. He explains why he decided to leave: the lord was still a man obsessed with sex and would even tie him up. There’s no doubt that the butler will use expressions that he heard while spying. As you can see, I haven’t changed my mind about this aspect: there will be a fake letter.
Strangely is that the real trigger for this essay was a comment left by Luzy outlining that we had a lot of panels with the sound of a door, therefore I selected a few: (chapter 74) (chapter 71)(chapter 69) (chapter 59) (chapter 53) (chapter 52)
After noticing this, the manhawphiles should question themselves, why did Byeonduck pay so much attention to the sound of the door? Observe that in certain panels, we don’t even see the characters, like for example in chapter 74, 71, 69 and 53. In other words, they don’t truly contribute to the narration of the story. In chapter 53, she could have drawn Min standing up in front of his friends while on his way to the door. However, if I contextualize the image from chapter 69, the panel plays a huge role. 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. Strangely is that Yoon Seungho could hear the noise from the door and he was sitting in his bedchamber. That’s why Kim needs to ensure that Yoon Seungho won’t hear the noise during that night. Secondly, in my essay “investigation”, I elaborated the theory that the physician had heard the noise from the restroom, when the main lead had to wash himself. And I believe to have found a confirmation in chapter 74: In my opinion, that’s why Byeonduck chose to draw such a picture. She wanted her readers to connect the noise from the door with the physician. With this new interpretation, I noticed that in chapter 52 and 53, there were so many “Creeak”😱 that I have the impression that this time, the “creeak” will serve as an evidence for the painter’s kidnapping. The readers will recall that during that night, the sound was definitely linked to Min, hence from my perspective Byeonduck decided to create such panels: Thereby the noise will become the domino and evidence for the abduction. Just like a domino game, where the first falls down and everything falls apart, the conspiracy will be discovered piece by piece. Remember that in the first abduction, the physician remained silent, as he didn’t pay attention to that noise, but only realized it afterwards. But who will hear the noise of the door and mention it to the lord? There’s no ambiguity that Yoon Seungho will realize that the letter is fake, but the problem is that he needs to know what truly happened and needs to investigate. Note that in front of Kim, he never revealed that the letter was fake. He can’t just beat his staff. From my point of view, the person mentioning the noise of the door will be the head-maid. First, in chapter 11, a maid revealed her observation to her master, when the painting got ruined. Then remember how the head-maid walked through the courtyard, when the butler was looking at the lord’s bedchamber. Besides, in chapter 63, Kim ignored her question and left her behind, he never justified why he was going outside. I can imagine that the butler will come up with an excuse, he entered the lord’s chamber in order to know if his master needed something. Then he did the same with the painter. This would explicate why the author created such a panel in chapter 71: Because the lord didn’t hear the noise of the door in his bedchamber, he could investigate the matter leading to the discovery: he was fed with the medicine. That’s why he will definitely threaten his servants and not just beat them like a crazy man. At the end, one of them will finally reveal what he told the kisaeng. I have the feeling that unlike in chapter 30, the domestics will betray the butler and abandon him revealing how they acted on his order. They trusted him and thought, he was acting on Yoon Seungho’s order. I would like to remind the readers that in that chapter 30, Deok-Jae never revealed the butler’s involvement, although he could have. He definitely remained loyal, yet he got the worst punishment. He definitely hoped that both would share the responsibility of Baek Na-Kyum’s disappearance (chapter 29), yet Kim let him take the fall. That’s why the vicious servant called him a bastard later. He had finally perceived the valet’s true personality. And that’s how the kisaeng will be connected to the incident.
I have to admit that in my first theory, I still had a problem with the following panel: finding the authorities! Who would ask for the authorities’ help? Now, I have a clue how we would have a repetition of this scene. From my point of view, Yoon Seungho as a transformed man will decide to seek help from the authorities, something he never did before. And like I mentioned it before, the schemers will be defeated, because they disregarded human nature and the possibility of change. You might not know but people suffering from PTSD have huge trust issues and view the authorities as incompetent and untrustworthy, as the latter failed to protect them. In our case, it becomes comprehensible why the noble would avoid authorities, as they represented the source of his misery (the father, the king and the officials). However, if we consider that now Yoon Seungho has become the painter’s servant and Na-Kyum is a lord, he has technically no power to use his staff. That’s how the purge will start. The kisaeng will be interrogated and her temerity, which many confused with courage, will let her think that she is protecting her brother’s interest. She will never reveal anything, until the main lead reveals to her Baek Na-Kyum’s secret: he can’t write and read, because the scholar never taught him. I believe that once she recognizes this as truth, she will mention Jihwa leading to his arrest.
However, the one who will save Baek Na-Kyum from The Joker is Nameless. Like I have already elaborated before, the latter stands in opposition to the noble. He surely knows that Yoon Seungho showed leniency towards his childhood friend, the last incident confirmed the red-haired noble’s statement. So he has every interest to protect the artist’s life. And let’s not forget that we had Min and Nameless appearing in the same chapter. In episode 54, the criminal killed the servant, because he represented a threat to Jihwa. Since Baek Na-Kyum’s fate is now strongly intertwined with Jihwa’s, the second Joker will repeat the same action than in episode 54: defend Jihwa and as such lord Na-Kyum’s interest. Moreover, in the past the criminal refused to enter the mansion and do the deed for the following reason: . Therefore imagine that the painter is now at a pavilion, a secluded and restricted area, exactly like Nameless prefers it. However, I doubt that Nameless will kill the Joker with a knife, because this would leave traces of a crime. Remember that I always said that Black Heart would die suffocating. With Nameless’ help, the painter would be saved. Therefore the conspiracy could be finally revealed: the physician’s negligence and Jihwa’s silence who knew long ago that Min was lusting for the artist. I am still expecting that the lord’s words from chapter 11 will come true: No one will ever suspect that Min died due to Yoon Seungho in the end. As for Kim, his fate is almost sealed. The moment he drugs the protagonists, he can no longer let others take the blame, although there’s no doubt that he will try to incriminate the maid. The lord will finally be free from the last remain of darkness. However, as you can imagine, the moment father Yoon hears about his loyal butler’s death, the latter will decide to become proactive and retaliate against his rebellious son. As for the painter, there’s no doubt that first he will confront The Joker and defend his lover. It is definitely possible that he calls for his help, but this time, it will be: And this love confession will be heard by Nameless who was also present, when the painter was calling for his help the first time. He will detect that their relationship is truly genuine. Imagine, how beautiful it would be for Nameless to finally get an identity, because he saved Baek Na-Kyum. This would truly show Yoon Seungho’s generosity and prove the commoner that there still exist pure and nice people among commoners and nobles.
As a conclusion, Min and Kim will fail with their “perfect crime”, because they couldn’t imagine that people can change. A so-called ruthless and greedy assassin convinced Jihwa to remain pure, then he acted as the painter’s personal guard. At the same time, they didn’t notice Yoon Seungho’s gradual transformation. Their real mistake was to overlook the power of love.
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