This is where you can read the manhwa. https://www.lezhinus.com/en/comic/painter But be aware that this manhwa is a mature Yaoi, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes. If you want to read more essays, here is the link to the table of contents: https://bebebisous33analyses.wordpress.com/2020/07/04/table-of-contents-painter-of-the-night/
As you can imagine, the embrace between the two protagonists stands in the center of this analysis, because we had so many pictures with a hug, like these two: (chapter 76)Yet, the peak was reached with the following picture, for Baek Na-Kyum and Yoon Seungho seemed to have merged as one: The readers can barely detect the painter’s presence: only his head and hand are visible indicating the depth of their intimacy and closeness. However, the title is mentioning the presence of a ghost. The latter can not be Yoon Seungho, because the panel above announces his official wedding with the commoner due to the presence of the red and blue lanterns called Cheongsachorong. These are used for wedding ceremony in Joseon. Therefore who is the ghost? And why do I perceive the existence of a spirit in this chapter? But before revealing the identity of the ghost, I would like to expose the reason behind such a title. While focusing on the embrace, I came to the following observation.
Each time Baek Na-Kyum and Yoon Seungho embraced each other, I detected the presence of a ghost. During the second season, we had 6 real hugs:
- chapter 49,
- chapter 53 ,
- chapter 62 ,
- chapter 66 ,
- chapter 71,
- chapter 76.
While comparing all the hugs, I will determine the ghost’s identity each time. In chapter 49 the painter was reminded of Jung In-Hun due to the warmth exuding from the main lead. The painter couldn’t restrain himself from thinking about that fake embrace (chapter 29), therefore he chose to push away the wealthy aristocrat out of fear that he might get hurt and betrayed again. The commoner judged the embrace and warmth as a deception. This means that the low noble as a “spirit” was the reason why both protagonists couldn’t get closer. The low-born was only acknowledging Yoon Seungho as his sex partner and nothing more. Striking is that in episode 76, we have a reference to the hug from chapter 49, as the position of the painter’s head in this image resembles a lot to this one: (chapter 49). Yet the outcome is different, as the manhwaphiles can witness how the painter moves his head closer to Yoon Seungho’s. Moreover, the artist’s gaze is truly looking at his lover. We even have the impression that the artist is smelling the lord’s scent in order to reassure himself. Although the manhwaphiles couldn’t enter Baek Na-Kyum’s thoughts this time, they could perceive the change of his attitude. The embrace is no longer judged as fake. This signifies that the ghost Jung In-Hun has vanished for good, which is even reflected in a different panel: (chapter 76) The lord allowed the low-born to embrace him in front of people, whereas the scholar had to ask the commoner to follow him in a deserted alley. (chapter 29) The low noble feared people’s gaze, his attitude truly showed that he didn’t want to be connected to Baek Na-Kyum. His action was definitely a sign of hypocrisy and cowardice. That’s why in chapter 76, the painter could only come to the conclusion that the lord’s embrace was genuine and the lord’s feelings were not trivial. Moreover, the main character never pushed his lover away(chapter 76), he even lowered himself and sat down on the ground for a while, so that Baek Na-Kyum could calm down. Imagine, when the powerful lord arrived to the place where the main character had a panic attack, everyone was bowing in front of the noble. They didn’t even dare to face him, yet when he saw his lover trembling, the master lowered himself and attempted to help his partner. However, his gestures led to be misinterpreted in the beginning, hence a shop owner started interfering. However, he was stopped with a frightful gaze: Besides, when the noble kept calling the protagonist in an informal way (Na-Kyum-Ah), people could realize his real intention. He meant no harm. In fact, he was treating the low-born like a precious treasure, who needed help. By calling his name Na-Kyum-Ah, the main lead tried to reassure his lover. Hearing his name made the low-born realize that he wasn’t attacked by the jester. This explains why the artist immediately embraced his companion. (chapter 76) Thus we could say that “Na-Kyum” had finally become a magical word like Seungho-Ya. Another contrast to the scene in episode 29 is that the way the low noble called Na-Kyum. (chapter 29) The former teacher was just caught by surprise, hence “Na-Kyum” was said more or less randomly. On the other hand, Yoon Seungho used this name as a sign of intimacy. He desired to give comfort and warmth to his lover. And now, you understand why Baek Na-Kyum hugged his lover by instinct. With his embrace, the protagonist would feel safe, which contrasts so much to the one in chapter 29. Back then, after the hug the learned sir brought the artist back to the mansion, although the low-born had run away out of fright. He mostly feared for the scholar’s life (chapter 29) thus he tried to find him. And now the mansion has become the painter’s home, just like the lord’s embrace. It is a synonym for comfort, warmth and safety. Another huge contrast is that for the first time, the painter asked for Yoon Seungho’s help directly. (chapter 76) Imagine that so far, he has never relied on others. Even as a low-born, he was willing to save others (Jung In-Hun or Deok-Jae or Heena (chapter 65). Surprising is that when he was bullied by Deok-Jae, he never complained and asked for the head-maid’s assistance or his lover’s. His attitude to never rely on others was even more perceptible in his escape in chapter 46. The cause for this behavior is linked to his abandonment issues. Due to his past, he was forced to only rely on himself. Nonetheless, in chapter 76 he changes his attitude. This shows that he is now opening up. That’s why his head rests on the lord’s shoulder completely. (chapter 76) This is a sign of trust, Baek Na-Kyum is willing to trust his lover. By comparing these 2 hugs, I come to the conclusion that Jung In-Hun has been totally removed from the painter’s mind as well. This embrace and marriage represent the scholar’s defeat. From now on, he won’t be able to use the painter as his pawn, because the latter is no longer attached to him. The lord’s love for Baek Na-Kyum can not be used as a weakness, since the low-born is reciprocating the affection. That’s why I would say that this panel (chapter 76) embodies the learned sir’s loss. There’s no one separating them, not even Heena noona who was the last person defending the scholar and as such representing his interest. So was Jung In-Hun the ghost I was referring to? Yes and no… because there’s more to it. That’s why it is important to examine the other embraces.
In chapter 53, the ghost was Yoon Seungho himself, since he was considering himself as a spirit. (chapter 53) However, the painter’s hug made him realize that he was a human after all, and that his fists and punches could definitely hurt his precious painter. Unlike in chapter 76, the painter’s voice couldn’t calm down the vengeful spirit(chapter 53), hence the gentle boy needed to intervene directly. The lord was definitely deaf to the artist’s words. Striking is that here again, we had the presence of danger, the painter feared for Deok-Jae’s life. Moreover, despite his fear and shaking hands, (chapter 53)the commoner chose to protect the vicious servant, but Yoon Seungho too. He desired him not to let his emotions blind his behavior. The gentle and selfless man didn’t even ask for help, he stopped the noble with his body twice: first his face, then he hugged him. Striking is that in chapter 62 and 66, we had a similar situation. One of the protagonists was behaving like a ghost. In chapter 62, Yoon Seungho, who was reliving his traumatic past, almost became a demon (chapter 62), whereas in chapter 66 the artist had a flashback, hence he wasn’t himself. (chapter 66) This meant that in both episodes, neither the aristocrat nor the commoner could sense the lover’s comfort and warmth. (chapter 66) Both of them didn’t feel safe and displayed extreme fear due to betrayal and abandonment.
But let’s return to the embrace in chapter 53, because this incident has another common denominator with the embrace from episode 66 and 76, the presence of a certain witness: Black Heart. There’s no doubt that the vicious noble felt extremely jealous in both episodes (53-66). The manhwaphiles should envision that despite his rage and his terrible behavior, the artist was willing to embrace such a man, which could only make Min envious. Moreover, the low-born showed courage and even strength. He didn’t reproach anything to his sexual partner. He just attempted to calm him down. Then even after seeing how poorly the main lead had treated the artist, the latter chose not to leave Yoon Seungho’s side. Min was definitely certain that after waking up, Baek Na-Kyum would follow his sister and come back to the kisaeng house. (chapter 69) That’s why he was waiting there. He imagined that the boy would be delivered to him on a silver plate, yet nothing like he had expected happened. In chapter 76, we have a new version of chapter 53. However, when Black Heart witnesses the painter’s second embrace, he can detect the huge difference. (chapter 76) This time, the artist is seeking his lover’s warmth and love. There’s no fear related to the “monster”. While in the past (53-54) The Joker mocked Yoon Seungho for his affection, here he can’t do it at all. The noble is not denying anything. In fact, he accepted the low-born’s embrace without feeling shame or embarrassment. He didn’t pay attention to the town folks, he just followed his heart. While in chapter 54, Min was able to separate the protagonists with his mockery and words (chapter 54), in episode 76 Black Heart is truly defeated. And by contrasting these two scenes, it becomes obvious why Yoon Seungho assaulted his guest back then. The noble was in fact punishing The Joker for insulting his lover, as the latter was just reduced to his status: a low-born. He had no name and as such no identity. The powerful aristocrat didn’t do it in order to protect his honor, but the artist’s. At no time, the main lead was afraid of losing his reputation, he is well aware of his bad notoriety. Thus this shows that in chapter 54, the one who feared more social norms was indeed Baek Na-Kyum, which was still visible in chapter 75. That’s why the commoner denied the lord’s affection. (chapter 54)The expression “it can’t be” was referring to permission and social rules. No wonder why the noble felt so hurt in the end and retaliated. He misunderstood the artist’s rejection.
What caught my attention in chapter 76 are Black Heart’s behavior and words. First, he notices that he is too late. (chapter 76) He imagined that time would work for him, as in his mind, no one would ever stay by Yoon Seungho’s side. That’s why he didn’t hurry the second abduction. The latter had such a terrible reputation (mood swings, his huge rage, his violence), yet nothing could pressure the artist to leave the mansion. Even his noona was not able to convince him to follow her and to return to the kisaeng house. However, when he saw the couple in front of the tailor’s shop, his jealousy and greed reached a new peak. That’s why that night he had planned to visit Nameless. He wanted him to abduct the artist a second time. The expression “time is running out” outlines The Joker’s urgency. He couldn’t wait any longer, as he could witness how close they had become within 2 weeks. And if you look at the panel above, you’ll detect the presence of a shadow, in other words, a ghost. However, this is the jester Nameless looking at the couple. When the painter faced the joker (chapter 76), the ghost from his nightmare (chapter 61), the painter got so panicked that he got paralyzed. Only the lord’s embrace could calm him. As you can see, the commoner denominator between 53 and 76 is that the presence of a terrible ghost. The latter pushed the artist to embrace his lover. This time, he needed himself protection. However, Nameless was not the only ghost witnessing the protagonists’ embrace. Lord Min has already become a ghost himself in my opinion. First, he is wearing a black hanbok which I am associating to death. Moreover, because he threatens the criminal to kill him (chapter 76), I view The Joker as a grim reaper. What caught my attention is his reaction, when he saw the heartfelt hug. He had to vomit and this is no coincidence. (chapter 76) Observe that the color green is connected to two reactions: “to be green with envy” and “to be green” (sickly). Besides, we have in French “être vert” as a synonym for fuming, furious and disgusted. Hence it’s not surprising that it exist these emojis: 🤮🤢. Both contain green. That’s why I believe that when Min saw the embrace between the protagonists, he got so upset and disgusted that he felt the urge to vomit. It was definitely a mixture of envy and rage. However, he had to lie to the others in order to hide his “weakness”. (chapter 76) For me, there’s no ambiguity that The Joker was not honest here. First, he has no dark circle and red eyes like Jihwa who definitely drank again. (chapter 76) Besides, has Black Heart ever apologized to others? No. He didn’t even care, when he smoked opium in front of commoners. When he was asked to stop it, (chapter 52), he never expressed a real apology, he rather criticized the other for ruining the good mood and his fun. Besides, he looks down on low-borns and even Jihwa… (chapter 76) so why would he apologize? It is, because he is slowly recognizing that his urges for Baek Na-Kyum are not linked to sex!! When he saw the hug, he could recognize the affection between the two lovers, and he felt powerless. Moreover, he envied Yoon Seungho even more than before. Let’s not forget that Min fears social norms despite his nihilistic tendencies. In this scene, the main lead showed courage and genuine affection, something that The Joker can’t do. Till chapter 76, he thought that he had been bewitched and he only felt the urge to have sex with Baek Na-Kyum. In other words, he wasn’t honest to himself and to the others. Until now, he had always imagined that once he had tasted the artist, his thirst would be satisfied. But the warm and tender embrace made him realize that he was wrong. Consequently, when he saw the hug, his envy and jealousy reached a new peak. He had to vomit. This signifies that the resent from chapter 53 became much stronger and obvious to the point that others could detect it now. Hence he has to lie. But in my opinion, he had another reason for vomiting. From my point of view, while the main lead spent his time drinking and reading, Min was busy smoking opium. Let’s not forget that Byeonduck portrayed Min with such a hanbok (chapter 56) and the pattern reminds the readers of opium smoke. Contrary to Yoon Seungho who only smoked it once during that terrible party, Min chose to keep smoking opium. First, the manhwaphiles could detect that he enjoyed the kick in chapter 52. (chapter 52) Secondly, the hanbok was another indication. Finally, I perceive the lord’s nausea in chapter 76 as another evidence for Black Heart’s opium addiction. Vomiting/nausea are listed as side effects of opium. From my point of view, when he saw the happy couple in the street (chapter 74), he chose to smoke one pipe in order to relieve his frustration before visiting Jihwa and urging him to contact Nameless. This was a new version of chapter 56. That’s why they came both to meet the criminal. (chapter 76) Hence I come to the conclusion that Min is slowly turning into a ghost himself, losing his mind due to his addiction to opium and at the same time due to his greed and obsession for Baek Na-Kyum. The embrace in chapter 53 led to the kiss and indirectly it was the trigger for Min to change his original plan. (chapter 56) Therefore I deduce that this second embrace is forcing him to change his plan again. From my point of view, he is no longer interested in tasting the painter once and have him killed afterwards. Black Heart is now determined to take away Baek Na-Kyum from Yoon Seungho. He is definitely longing for the artist’s love. He has every reason to be so jealous. The painter showed such a loyalty and courage. He is no longer fearing people’s gaze unlike in the past. Then, he even forgave his lover for his violence and mistreatment. Slowly, Min is showing his vulnerability in front of Jihwa and as such losing his power over him. He is definitely less laughing. As a conclusion, in chapter 76, the ghost Jung In-Hun vanished for good, while a new one appeared: Black Heart, who is now dressed like a grim reaper. However, there’s a huge difference, because Min has never entered Baek Na-Kyum’s mind and heart. He has no chance at all.
But wait… you might now wonder why I have not mentioned the hug from chapter 71 yet. Where was the ghost? Note that in this panel, the artist is portrayed without eyes. This insinuates that the artist is somehow blind. Secondly, we have this picture where the manhwalovers could see the lord’s footprints. (chapter 71) My explanation is the following: Baek Na-Kyum wasn’t sure how to judge the lord’s behavior. Imagine that in the morning, his lover had tied him up, while in the evening he was so gentle and calm. That’s why I believe that in this hug, the artist wasn’t certain how he should perceive the lord’s embrace. He knew that it was no longer fake, but like he explained it much later… how long would Yoon Seungho have feelings for him? Therefore I believe that in this scene, Baek Na-Kyum viewed him as an illusion, a spirit who could give him warmth and comfort. (chapter 71) Note the difference with the following picture: (chapter 76) First, the painter’s gaze is much softer and less questioning. In addition, the position of his head is different which exposed that they are much closer now. Besides, let’s not forget that the embrace took place before the long love session. The artist’s reaction was totally normal.
As a conclusion, the last picture from chapter 76 displays two major developments. (chapter 76) The protagonists are no longer separated by their fears and issues. The ghosts in their mind and heart have finally disappeared. That’s why they are portrayed like one here. However, there are now other shadows and ghosts surrounding them, the ones who would do anything to destroy their relationship, like Min, Jung In-Hun and father Yoon.
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