Pearl Boy: Curse or blessing?

This is where you can read the manhwa.  But be aware that this manhwa is a mature Yaoi, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes. Here is the link, if you are interested in more analyses about this manhwa and others

While reading Pearl Boy, I couldn’t help myself connecting this manhwa to the novel written by John Steinbeck, The Pearl. In this story, the Mexican diver Kino found a huge pearl which led him to imagine that thanks to the pearl, he would be able to have a better life. In other words, he considered the pearl as a blessing. Yet, the problem is that the pearl awoke greed and other negative feelings in Kino and other people so that at the end, Kino ended up losing everything. Hence he decided to threw the gem into the ocean. This means that the protagonist finally considered the gem as a curse, the gem only brought him misery. While in the beginning Kino was poor, he had a loving family. However, with the appearance of the pearl, the readers can observe the disintegration of that harmonious family and the transformation of Kino’s personality. The diver even lost his son Coyotito which was the trigger for the main lead to give up on the pearl. As you can observe, it looks like the Pearl was more a curse to Kino and his family, because it brought evil and destruction in his life. More importantly is that the protagonist, who sought to gain fortune and status through the precious item, transformed from a happy and contented father into a brutal criminal, demonstrating the way ambition and greed could destroy innocence. Hence we could conclude that in the novel the pearl symbolizes evil and greed. On the other hand, the pearl is just an object, thus it has no thoughts and feelings. That’s why I don’t think the gem truly embodies these values. From my perspective, since the pearl is round and shining (chapter 12), it could be viewed as a mirror, which reflects human greed. As soon as humans discover such a precious object, their deeply buried desires like ambition and greed are awakened. Then I would like to point out that John Steinbeck’s novel was inspired by a Mexican folktale. Striking is that this story contains many parallels to the Chinese’s entitled The story of the Dragon’s pearl. [For more information:]

The similarities are the families owning the pearl were poor, and once people heard about its existence, they started becoming envious and desired to take it. Moreover, both protagonists changed due to the gem, both turned in a “monster”, although the dragon has a positive connotation. The only difference between the two folktales is that in the Chinese version, the boy decided to eat the pearl in order to put an end to misery and fight among people. By eating the pearl, he became a dragon. Through this ending, the lesson of this fairy tale is that by sacrificing himself, he showed generosity and selflessness. At the same time, he was rewarded for his sacrifice. With his transformation, the boy was now able to protect his family and people, yet he could no longer live with his mother. Note that there was no drought any longer. As you can sense, the existence of the pearl always seems to bring fortune and happiness first, yet this blessing is turned into a curse, as it brings calamity and destroys families.

And now, it is time to focus on the manhwa Pearl Boy. In this story, the protagonist Jin Jooha is actually the pearl, as he can create pearls by ejaculating. (chapter 1) That’s why this manhwa is entitled Pearl Boy. What does it mean for the main lead? In his eyes, his special condition is more a curse than a blessing. Because of his ability, he is not treated like a human, but as an object. He is called either as a vending machine (chapter 22) or as a clam (chapter 23). In chapter 22, the poor man is even viewed as a living sex toy, hence he is enchained . But why don’t people consider him as a human? In my opinion, it is related to Choi Pilwon’s words and attitude. The latter definitely views him as his pet or a doll. (chapter 4). Since Jooha is his possession, he states this to the poor pearl boy (chapter 22). He might enjoy now some privileges, (chapter 14), but he is not free. That’s why I believe that for Jooha, the pearl is more a curse. In the beginning of the story, he is forced to have sex with people so that he can ejaculate many pearls. He is bounded to Choi Pilwon, as the former needs to repay his debt . On the other hand, I think, for Choi Pilwon, Jooha represents a blessing and a curse simultaneously. Why? A blessing… because he is well aware that Jooha is definitely special. With such a treasure, people seek his attention and favors. Thanks to his wealth, he was able to obtain Jooha. Striking is that Jooha even trusted him in the past. It is palpable, when the main lead threw himself into his arms after running away. (chapter 22) However, it becomes clear that the antagonist created such a situation, so that the main lead would rely on him, this explicates why he smiled while getting hugged. This smile exposes his manipulation. He wanted the pearl boy to depend on him entirely. By joining Choi Pilwon, the main character lost his freedom, the CEO used the immense debt to tie Jooha to him. What caught my attention is that we never see him having sex with men. He only gets fellatios. (chapter 14). He even pays other people to have sex (chapter 17), while he watches them. And this observation made me think that Choi Pilwon could have some sexual issues, like erectile dysfunction. Let’s not forget that in Painter Of The Night, Yoon Seungho needed to get a fellatio before a penetration before viewing his first erotic portray. And if this theory is correct, this signifies that Choi Pilwon can’t have sex with Jooha, which is frustrating him. Therefore I get the impression, he is desiring love from Jooha. He might possess the pearl boy, yet he is incapable to obtain his heart and love. And that’s his curse. There are other evidences for this interpretation. Even before selling him to low-lives, he just watched him having sex with other men, as if he couldn’t have sex with him. What the “mermaid” considered as sexual perversion could be definitely judged differently. He wished to taste the pearl boy, but he can’t any more, hence he needed others. The pearls are the cause for this toxic relationship. Secondly, when he sees Kang Dooshik close to his pet, he looks at his rival very carefully. He pays attention to his appearances: (chapter 9) and dismisses him due to his sweats. Since Kang Dooshik is not wearing any expensive cloth, he doesn’t judge him as a source of threat. However, when he hears that Dooshik has become Jooha’s partner, he is bothered. Hence the main lead is no longer forced to have sex with men whom Choi Pilwon sent him. The CEO is determined to get rid of the former host. Look how he is upset, (chapter 14), when he discovers that the protagonist has found the perfect partner. Nonetheless, he can’t forced the pearl boy to follow his order any longer, as Jooha procured him a huge amount of pearls. In other words, thanks to Dooshik, the main character has been able to gain more freedom. That’s why I doubt that watching other men having sex with Jooha was Pilwon’s true desire. Let’s not forget that in the beginning of the story, the CEO is standing in the street, while the protagonist is selling his body in the back room. This exposes that Choi Pilwon was not even watching this, a sign that he didn’t like it at all. And like Jooha has truly recognized, the debt can not be the real explanation for his harsh attitude towards the protagonist. When the latter offered him new pearls as a compensation, because he had not produced so many, the CEO got furious and put them in Jooha’s mouth. The latter had masturbated in order to get pearls. This truly shows that the pearls and the debt are just an excuse. Consequently, Choi Pilwon is not happy with the pearl boy. First, he thought, he had been blessed. Yet since the young man rejected him, he had to find a trick to bind him. And remember what I wrote above. For me, the pearl is like a mirror… since the CEO has been raised in a rich but cold environment, he has already internalized that money buys everything. In my opinion, he was not able to give what the protagonist was longing for: love and acceptance. Moreover, there is no doubt that Choi Pilwon is selfish and pays a lot attention to appearances, thus he couldn’t treat Jooha properly. Since both folktales contain reference to transformation, I believe that Choi Pilwon changed in contact with Jooha and the CEO’s terrible flaws came to the surface and were reinforced: greed, obsession and possessiveness. The pearl boy reflected Pilwon’s mentality: everything was revolving around money. Another detail caught my attention: the CEO is often associated to the shadow and darkness in the pictures. Look at the panels above and these ones: (chapter 4) (chapter 14) In the last image, it becomes more obvious, as Kang Dooshik stands in opposition to the CEO. He enters the inn rushing to the purple haired man’s side in order to comfort him. As you can imagine, the protagonist Kang Dooshik brings light and warmth to Jooha (purple and pink are warm colors), while Choi Pilwon embodies darkness and coldness due to the dark green and the black. This interpretation gets confirmed, when Dooshik is seen in the street during the night. The manhwaphiles can even observe a starry night in Dooshik’s presence. (chapter 8).

And now it is time to turn our attention to the other main character: Kang Dooshik. When the story starts, the former bar server has already reached the bottom. He lost everything, because his ex-lover Eunwoo stole the money from Dooshik’s employer, Madam Hyung, and the main character was responsible for that money. In other words, the young man is on the run, yet despite his terrible situation, the man is not suicidal or heartbroken. On the one side, he is poor, exactly like Kino and the boy from the folktale. On the other side contrary to the stories, Dooshik had no harmonious relationship before, hence he knows the importance of true values (love, friendship, loyalty etc). In my eyes, he has learned through this terrible experience that love can’t be taken for granted. Another difference is that after meeting Jooha, the main lead’s personality doesn’t change: he remains generous, caring and honorable. (chapter 8) Surprising is that it was Jooha who helped Dooshik first. This signifies that for the purple haired man, Dooshik looked more like a curse. The former bar server tried to eat without paying his meal. Then he acted as a “prostitute”, when he proposed his body to reimburse the dish. Hence the pearl boy had the impression that Dooshik was like all the other men he had sex before: ruthless, superficial, selfish and perverted. Then in chapter 4, Jooha even chose to save his life, although the hero acted like an idiot. So for the main lead, it looked like Dooshik was a source of trouble. Yet, it turned out to be the opposite. Right after rescuing the confident and smiling man, the latter returned the favor. He rescued him from the sexually harassing men. (chapter 8) He even taught him how to protect himself. That’s why I believe that we have two pearl boys in this manhwa. Jooha might have this special ability, yet the former host is also a pearl due to his big heart. And observe that Jooha dived to get the “pearl” which reminds me of Kino. After that incident, the purple haired boy started treating Dooshik differently. And here, I could bring another fairy tale, The Little Mermaid, from Andersen. The mermaid rescued the prince and fell in love with him. However, the prince never returned his affection to the mermaid. But there’s a reason for that: the mermaid disguised herself. She was turned into a human, therefore she could never be true to herself. Moreover, due to her transformation, she became mute. In other words, her meeting with the “prince”, the pearl, was a curse hidden as a blessing. If we compare both stories, the manhwalovers can detect the huge contrast. In Pearl Boy, the evolution is totally different. The mermaid revealed his secret, and was even asked to voice his opinion and feelings. The prince could sense the gentleness and selflessness in his partner. That’s why there exists no one-sided crush.

What caught my attention is that the former host discovers two pearls: (chapter 3) and then in chapter 12. These incidents announced a change in the protagonist’s life. Although the main lead gets happy with this discovery each time, as he envisions that he could repay his former employee, Dooshik never loses his humanity. He still prioritizes love and humans over greed and selfishness. That’s why when he discovers Jooha’s ability, he asks him if he is ill. This truly exposes that Dooshik is the first one treating Jooha as a human. At no moment, he tries to take advantage of the purple-haired man. (chapter 14) Therefore it is not surprising that the ex-host often encourages his lover to express himself. Another important detail is that he is the only one kissing Jooha before going any further. In other words, he is showering him with love and warmth. He keeps hugging him in order to comfort him. (chapter 14) (chapter 24) Hence the manhwaphiles are not astonished that at the end, Jooha doesn’t desire to be separated from Kang Dooshik. He can’t even bear the thought of his lover’s departure from the hotel room. He fears that his partner might never return. He has already realized that he found a treasure, a pearl boy, while in the beginning he judged him as a source of trouble. As for Kang Dooshik, it is the same. While in his past, he was admired and could earn money and trust so easily, he was so unhappy in his relationship with Eunwoo (chapter 14). The latter betrayed him on multiple occasions, yet the weirdest is that after this terrible relationship, Kang Dooshik is not scared of love. Thanks to Jooha, his life became more stable, and indirectly he could get in touch with his best friend Lee Choonbae.

That’s why my conclusion is that the pearl is in reality a mirror. Since Jooha helped him without any expectation, the gentle and affectionate Dooshik couldn’t restrain himself giving some affection towards the purple-haired man. The latter could only reciprocate the feelings, as the main character was the only one treating him like a treasure. Consequently, Dooshik is often linked to purple and pink, the color of love and royalty, a prince (chapter 8) (chapter 24). That’s the reason why their love sessions are full of the following colors: white (innocence), purple and pink. Both protagonists became a blessing for each other, they gave each other exactly what the other needed. Hence for me, there are two pearl boys in this manhwa. And the pearl is not a curse or a blessing, it just reflects human desires: positive and negative. That’s why it is important for Choi Pilwon to recognize that he is actually cursed by maintaining such a relationship with Jooha. Thus I conclude that Dooshik’s best friend, Lee Choonbae, will play an important role in the future, as his intervention will affect Choi Pilwon’s relationship with Jooha. He could become Choi Pilwon’s blessing disguised as a curse.

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Painter Of The Night: Love and Sex 👨‍❤️‍👨 (second version)

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When I examined the sex scenes from the first season (see the analysis “Sex or Love?), I realized that each character had different expectations from the sexual encounters. They were either looking for sex or for love, but each time they were not able to express their desire and even to recognize the distinction. Why couldn’t they sense the difference? It is related to the way the characters were raised.

1. Sex and philosophy

On the one hand, Baek Na-Kyum was taught by the learned sir and Heena noona that sex and as such homosexuality was dirty (chapter 34), only spiritual love was allowed (chapter 19) (chapter 68). This signified that in his education, not only sex was prohibited, but also sexual desires were denied. Although love was expressed through hugs (chapter 66) (chapter 68) and caresses (chapter 10) (chapter 68), they were devoid of sexuality. The painter experienced love, but was not allowed to experience sexuality. He was only authorized to paint it for the scholar’s sake. On the other side, Yoon Seungho was raised the opposite: love was not allowed, as it was a sign of submission and weakness. Sex was permitted, because it was considered as a fight in order to defeat his opponent. These were the butler’s doctrines. That way, he could still have a connection to the main lead. If he came to love someone (the pedophile), the lord could definitely abandon the valet and reveal his betrayals. In other words, he used pity as a way to tame the lord. At the same time, sex also served to gain some benefit, as it was an exchange of favors (giving versus receiving), (Chapter 71). I connect this philosophy to the king and indirectly to the butler. With sex, the nobles could exchange some favors. These huge divergences in the mindset explicate why there were so many misunderstandings between Yoon Seungho and Baek Na-Kyum, as their education diverged so much.

2. Sex and prostitution

Yet, despite the contrast, both educations had something in common: prostitution. Heena noona hates sex, because it is related to her work. The scholar rejects it, for it is beneath him. He expects the low-borns (Baek Na-Kyum and Heena noona) to become his prostitutes, if it’s necessary, while he can maintain his image of a proper scholar. Father Yoon used his son as a prostitute, and the main lead realized it after his father’s betrayal and abandonment. This explicates why “prostitution” stands in the center of the second season. For Baek Na-Kyum was brought to the mansion against his will, but he received certain privileges, his status was never clearly defined. Although Yoon Seungho thought, he had won the battle (chapt45), as the painter had accepted him as his sexual partner, he had to realize slowly that he was wrong. He imagined that since the artist had remained by his side and was accepting to have sex with him, he had achieved what he wanted: in his unconscious it was to be loved. Yet, it was just an illusion. The painter saw himself as a whore and the master as a man consumed by lust. As you can see, the noble was forced to judge the nature of the sexual encounters differently. He had associated sex to love due to their Wedding night, therefore he imagined that the moment the painter was accepting him, the problem was solved. He would be able to relive this wonderful moment, but however nothing like that happened. He felt never satisfied, as there were no feelings at all. Hence he even had sex during the day, believing that the artist’s lack of experience was the problem. (Chapter 45) While the lord became Baek Na-Kyum’s sexual emancipator, the painter became the lord’s teacher for love. This explicates why the low-born forced the lord to question his own identity and feelings.

But let’s return our focus on the common denominator: prostitution. As long as the painter chose to stay, because he had a roof over his head and could eat properly, we could definitely say that till 49 his stay at the mansion was indeed closer to prostitution than a master- servant relationship, because the commoner was never treated like a domestic. He only had sex with the lord and had some privileges. (chapter 46) He was never asked to do other work, although the artist tried to change his situation. Since he was behaving like a whore, he felt that he had no right to express any thought and emotion. He couldn’t show any pleasure. That’s why there were no feelings in their sex encounters, and the lord could sense the difference. Consequently, when the lord realized that he was still perceived as a man consumed by sex (chapter 48), he changed his behavior. He acted like a real client at the brothel (chapter 48), but at the same time he cornered the painter to have multiple climaxes in order to let him experience that he liked having sex with him. (chapter 49) As you can observe, the lord linked sensuality to love. If he could provoke ejaculations, then it meant that the artist was definitely feeling something for him. However, the moment the lord liberated the painter from his pejorative perception about himself (he is a prostitute), the painter reacted the exact opposite. Now, he was the one using Yoon Seungho, the latter was his plaything. (Chapter 49), his prostitute, for he was the one procuring pleasure to Yoon Seungho. As you can see, the roles had been switched. This means that now the painter had the upper-hand in their relationship. We could even say that the noble was willing to accept his fate. (Chapter 49) Yet there was a difference from the past. Yoon Seungho would feel pleasure as well. This is not surprising that Kim chose to intervene and separate the couple right after. Without sex, the painter had no power over the master. That’s the reason why the butler revealed his knowledge the morning after. The protagonist had to hear from his butler the real cause for Baek Na-Kyum’s passivity and torpor: (chapter 50). Through this revelation, the lord was indirectly confronted by his own reflection: he was indeed asking from Baek Na-Kyum sexual favors in exchange for his stay at the mansion. That’s the reason why the lord had a “relapse“ and kept his distance from the painter.

3. Abstinence and love

However, because Yoon Seungho was now associating sexual pleasure with the painter, the noble was no longer able to have sex at all. Don’t forget that Baek Na-Kyum symbolizes love. Seungho-Ya 😉 couldn’t even get an erection with a fellatio given by someone else. (chapter 52). This was important, because for the noble, it meant that he could no longer have sex with other partners. Without sex, the lord was forced to question himself and ponder on the true nature of his relationship with Baek Na-Kyum. He felt jealousy during that night, he was very protective as well. (Chapter 52) His sexuality had already become an expression of his love, although the main lead was still unaware of his own feelings. That’s why I come to the conclusion, chapter 52 was actually revealing Yoon Seungho’s monogamy, although it looked the opposite. And this becomes truly visible, when the gangrape was about to occur. He felt no urge, when he was with the guests, yet the moment he brought the artist to the bedchamber, he couldn’t stop himself from kissing his loved one. (chapter 54) He was definitely longing for his warmth. This explicates why the noble got so infuriated, when he was confronted with the consequence of his bad decision: (chapter 54) the artist was on the verge to be no longer monogamous, as he would be tasted by other aristocrats. In this scene, the lord would have indeed become a client and pimp, if he hadn’t chased away his guests. Although the painter was indeed upset afterwards about this incident (chapter 55), deep down he sensed that his master had protected him. This night was important for the main lead: he was forced to admit his own feelings for the painter. Therefore, we could say that the issue with the prostitution was solved after chapter 54. Yoon Seungho thought that the moment he confessed, the painter would get scared and run away, but it didn’t happen. Why? Love among men and especially between a brutal noble and a commoner, was a taboo, like Min had underlined. Secondly, if the lord had indeed feelings for him, he had behaved like a beast during that night. He had mistreated Baek Na-Kyum. In his mind, the artist would never accept him.Besides, the painter had clearly denied the affection from the main lead. In his eyes, the painter’s words were indicating a rejection. (chapter 54) Thus I conclude that Yoon Seungho and Baek Na-Kyum had come to an implicit agreement: they had a master-servant relationship (chapter 56), although Baek Na-Kyum started perceiving himself as a domestic from chapter 51 on again. He kept following the head-maid and Kim (chapter 51) in order to help them. Therefore the readers could witness the return of the white headband in chapter 52: his task was to paint for his master. (Chapter 52)

However, this new situation didn’t last long due to the artist’s abduction. The lord thought that since he had properly confessed to his servant (chapter 62) here, he whispered to Baek Na-Kyum that he adored him), he would bind the artist to himself.

4. The real relapse: sex, the symbol of submission

Nevertheless the commoner disappeared making Yoon Seungho think that the moment he revealed his vulnerability, he got betrayed and abandoned. This explicates why the noble punished the artist, when he was found. Since they had a master-servant relationship and the artist had run away, this meant that Baek Na-Kyum was rejecting the lord’s love. Hence he could only treat him like his sex toy (chapter 63), exactly like he had wished in chapter 49. The only difference is that this time, the painter was here for the lord’s pleasure. The roles had been switched again. As the manhwaphiles can perceive, the noble and painter had a similar reaction: they both tried to deny the existence of love in their relationship. That’s the reason why the noble stopped the artist from confessing: (chapter 63) They just had a sexual relationship which could provoke pleasure, but that was it. But in order to ensure that the artist wouldn’t run away again, he used sex to “tame“ Baek Na-Kyum. If the main lead could procure multiple climaxes to the artist, then the latter was forced to admit that only Yoon Seungho could be his “partner“. This explicates why the noble kept pointing out how the artist would react to his lover’s body. (Chapter 63) (chapter 64) He was moaning and would ejaculate constantly thanks to the main lead. Yet, during this second marathon, the noble was actually deceiving himself. (Chapter 62)

5. Love and servitude

Although he treated the painter like a servant, as the latter was asked to paint, Yoon Seungho couldn’t help himself cleaning Baek Na-Kyum and bringing him to his bedchamber. (Chapter 65) This shows that the painter had gained a new position: he was indeed a favored servant. He was allowed to spend the night in his lover’s bed and he could see the lord getting dressed. (Chapter 65) The slight change was that now the main lead was aware of this. This truly exposes the lord’s affection for the artist. He might have treated him like a plaything in the shed, in reality he had attempted to show “his skills“ as a lover. He had licked him, bit him and the painter had felt pleasure, though he kept saying no! This is not surprising that Yoon Seungho had denied the kiss in the study. (Chapter 64) Because that’s how he had been deceived that night in the study. (Chapter 49) Baek Na-Kyum had silenced him with the kiss, as the main lead was about to protest. (Chapter 49) When he mentioned the kiss, the symbol for love, in his confession, it was connected to sensuality and not affection. Hence he didn‘t kiss him at the end of the second marathon. As a conclusion, by bringing the artist to his bedchamber, the lord never realized that his action was betraying his words from the night before. They were definitely more than 2 naked bodies. The lord trusted the painter so that he could lie down next to him in the bed. (Chapter 65) Striking is that Heena noona’s intervention destroyed their terrible but short-lived master-servant relationship, because the noble was faced with the truth: he had brought back the artist to the mansion against his will. (chapter 65) What caught my attention is that the painter’s disappearance mirrored the lord’s wrongdoing. Lee Jihwa and the main lead had both kidnapped the artist. That’s why I believe that when he heard Heena’s words in the study (chapter 68), the noble could only come to the following conclusion: he could only let the painter choose his destiny. But the moment the artist decided to remain by his side, he needed to change Baek Na-Kyum’s position in the mansion. He was no longer a servant, but a noble guest. Hence the lord tied the scarf like aristocrats did. (chapter 69) Consequently, we could say that the painter had a similar status than Jung In-Hun. Yet, there was a huge difference: the owner of the mansion was now acting like the painter’s servant. Hence Deok-Jae’s words came true: (chapter 46).

6. Nobility and love

From chapter 69 on, there were two masters in the mansion: (chapter 71). Why? It is because the lord made the decision that the painter chose him, then this means that he became his wife, though at the end of season 2, he was not thinking about marriage yet. He was not aware of this perception. By becoming his official partner, the spouse obtains the status of his husband: nobility. This explicates why the lord ate with his lover (chapter 74) and allowed him to smoke. Then in season 3, he gave him ladies-in-waiting in order to give him some company. (Chapter 78) He even gave him the music box, which was mistaken as a dowry. However, the problem is that the painter was still fighting his own feelings for the protagonist due to Heena noona’s words and past experience with the scholar. He feared that this new situation was too beautiful to be true, hence he thought that the lord’s feelings would fade away. But there was another reason for doubting the lord’s affection: there was no sex. (chapter 74) The painter had come to associate sex with love too. Yet, the moment he relived his trauma, he only found comfort and safety in the lord’s embrace. (Chapter 76) The main lead didn’t reject the painter’s urge for a hug in front of commoners. At no moment, Yoon Seungho felt embarrassment. He treated him like a special treasure. That’s how the painter came to realize that Yoon Seungho‘s love for him was true and genuine. Consequently, he decided to rely on him and to trust him. That’s why in this panel, the painter closed his eyes: (chapter 76) We could say that he was reminded of his own past. When he was a child, he sensed love through hugs and caresses. Since the painter could feel the lord’s genuine affection and warmth, he recognized that even when there was no sex, love was present. All his senses made him perceive the lord’s love: (chapter 76) His words showed his care and concern, then he bought him an expensive music box. (Chapter 76)

7. The symbols for the couple‘s love

But by accepting the noble’s affection, the painter was also incited to question his affection for Yoon Seungho. On the other hand till chapter 94, he hadn’t voiced it yet. As you can see, the abstinence at the end of season 2 and the beginning of season 3 had a important function. It helped the painter to admit the existence of love and more precisely the lord’s affection for him, a reflection of the lord’s situation in season 2 (50-54). Simultaneously, it meant that the painter could no longer deny his attachment to Yoon Seungho too. Therefore it is not surprising that in the bedchamber, when the artist tried to initiate a kiss, it could be perceived as the start of a love confession. (Chapter 80) And now, you comprehend why the painter didn‘t confess during that night. He got interrupted. The kiss was the symbol for their love. Thus it is no coincidence that just after his confession,. (Chapter 94) the painter initiated a long and sensual kiss with his “husband“. (Chapter 95) Since the painter had received caresses and embraces in his childhood, he came to view the kiss as the symbol for true love. And note that the kisses exchanged in the gibang were full of passion and love. This was the perfect combination of love and sex. (Chapter 95)

On the other hand, the lord had developed a different preference: the locked gaze, the warm embrace and the joined hands. Thus when he confessed his affection for the painter in the kisaeng house, observe what he did: (Chapter 96) This shows that Yoon Seungho has always longed for a pure and spiritual love in the first place. His sexual preferences were already palpable in the last love session (season 2): (chapter 72) We could say that he discovered all his sexual preferences thanks to the painter.

Thus my prediction in the first version that the painter would express his love through sex later came true. He tried to initiate it with a kiss. He was moved by the lord’s loving gaze and smile. (Chapter 80) But he failed due to the intervention of the butler and other schemers. Besides, the whispering of „Kyumah“ could only make his heart race. Let’s not forget that his painting in the sand (chapter 1) externalized his own philosophy: love and sex can’t be separated. Note that the couple is is hugging and kissing at the same time! 😍 This picture will represent the peak of their love! Striking is that when the couple confirmed their mutual affection, they did in the kisaeng house, the symbol for prostitution. This truly exposed that Yoon Seungho had been treated like a male night servant in the past. .

As you can imagine, I am expecting a new version of this love session. (chapter 72) in the next season, for the painter is still calling his lover “lord Seungho“ (chapter 99) (chapter 102) This means that he is still viewing himself as a low-born. But note that contrary to the past, Baek Na-Kum is now wearing a hanbok and he has no other clothes. Thus I am deducing that the painter’s next lesson is to drop his notion that he is a commoner. He will be taught to view himself as an equal to Yoon Seungho. Only when he has internalized that there is no gap between him and his lover, then he will be able to address him as “Seungho-YA!“ At the same time, both protagonists will come to realize that they can express their love differently. Poetry, painting and more importantly through their desire to protect their loved one. The lord will start protecting Baek Na-Kyum more actively, just like the painter will decide to show more interests in his lover’s skills and past life. Baek Na-Kyum will feel responsible for the bloodshed in the shaman’s house. In my opinion, the lord will confide to him what happened to Min and the other nobles. I am assuming this, for the lord remained silent, when the messenger of his father came to the mansion. He didn’t want to scare his lover because of his brutal outburst. (chapter 84)

8. Sex, passion and confession

What caught my attention is that unlike in the first season, where characters came to find love and had sex or the reverse, the second season presented each sexual encounter as a sex session, but at some point love came to the surface.

  • chapter 45: The trigger for the change is the noble’s words. The latter keeps talking to the painter asking for an reply. Hence in my eyes, there are glimpses of love the moment Baek Na-Kyum said this: It sounded like a confession, hence the seme became more passionate:
  • chapter 48/49: Here the lord acted like a client. Yet, notice that the lord is speaking again forcing to express himself. And the moment the painter cried and started voicing his own opinion, the sexual encounter was affected. (Chapter 49) The lord comforted the artist and hugged him: (chapter 49) An expression of love and affection, but the painter rejected it, as he mistrusted his own judgement. He couldn’t help thinking of the learned sir’s fake embrace. Striking is that despite the rejection, the painter kissed and hugged back his lover (chapter 49), which made the lord believe that he could only get embraced by the painter, if they had sex.
  • This explicates why in chapter 63, the lord forced the painter to hug him: . Although the second sex marathon starts like a pure sex session, the moment the painter calls Yoon Seungho differently, the lord’s attitude changes. The painter is turned around and faces his lover, a sign that they are getting closer. Striking is that again through their conversation, the painter is pressured to think about his own emotions. However, due to his own insecurities and fear, the noble still can’t trust the artist’s words, therefore there’s no confession. As you can see, love was not absent, it is just that both main leads were in denial.

Naturally, the night in chapter 58 and 70, 71, 72 and 73, are different. Although in chapter 58, the noble confessed and made love to the painter, he was also cornering his lover. The latter was not really able to move. He was trapped under his body, the lord was blaming him for turning him into a wreck. (Chapter 58) Thus he should become responsible for him. Yoon Seungho was unconsciously trying to push the painter to reciprocate his feelings, an imitation of Lee Jihwa‘s confession. Nevertheless, the painter remained silent, therefore it meant that his love was still denied. That’s why it stands more under the sign of dream and illusion. Consequently, the night in chapter 70, 71, 72 and 73 contrasts so much to the one from chapter 58. This time, it symbolizes the lord’s pure love. As such, the sex is already a real expression of love. That’s why the lord asked to be called intimately: Seungho-Ya (chapter 72) On the other hand, this love session was strongly intertwined with the notion of forgiveness and punishment as well. This is important, it reveals that Yoon Seungho had internalized that sex was the expression to redeem himself. He had been tasked in the past that if he desired to obtain “forgiveness“, then he should have sex. And by comparing all these sexual encounters, I came to the following conclusion: the lord’s words definitely contributed to change the nature of the sex session, just like the hug.

And observe that the lord started hugging the painter more often outside sex, but the painter could never sense his affection. In chapter 49, he judged the warmth as fake. In chapter 66, he had a flashback, hence he couldn’t witness his lord’s attention and care. But the lord discovered this kind of embrace, when he helped the painter in chapter 53: That’s how the noble experienced the embrace as a source of comfort and affection. Therefore you can comprehend, why I wrote above that the painter was teaching the lord how to love properly, but also why the embrace became the symbol for love in the lord‘s eyes. He had never been embraced before by a man. And Lee Jihwa had recognized the true signification of this gesture, when he spied on the couple (chapter 43). That‘s how he knew the friend‘s biggest desire: and was deeply hurt after this discovery (Chapter 57) However, this shows that Yoon Seungho is a quick learner, because he knew what to do, when the painter was in pain and destress. At the same time, it explains why he could fake the embrace in chapter 62: This hug stands in opposition to the one at the end of season 3: (chapter 102) The artist was forgiving his lover! Love represents selflessness, tolerance, forgiveness, warmth, affection and assistance which is transmitted by the embrace. Now, you understand why Yoon Seungho was still not satisfied after the sex session in the study, he was longing for the hug. (Chapter 84) In his unconscious, he knew that if the artist hugged him, he would have forgiven him. But he had no idea about it, thus he couldn’t suggest this. So far, he had experienced the embrace from the artist while having sex. Deep down, he had already internalized the embrace to forgiveness. So we could say that the absence of the embrace in this scene was the lord‘s punishment for the fake hug in the shed. And the painter let him discover the true nature of a warm embrace: (chapter 88) This is not surprising that this hug was not connected to sex at all. Yet it moved the lord so deeply. As the manhwalovers could sense it, season 3 was focused on love and sensuality. During that season, the couple was able to voice about their sexual desires and their preferences. (chapter 91)

As for the lord’s addiction to grab the artist’s hand, we have to envision that it is related to the lord‘s huge trauma. (Chapter 86) No one close to him had grabbed his hand in order to show their support. This gesture in the picture embodies abandonment. On the other hand, the painter had been the first one to take his hand and to swear “loyalty“. (Chapter 30) The joined hands were repeated in season 3 , the only difference is that this time, Baek Na-Kyum was doing it willingly. (Chapter 88) The symbol for support, company and responsibility.

As a conclusion, the dichotomy between love and sex in the relationship between the protagonists is no longer existing at the end of the third season. Both have come accept their love for each other. But it already started vanishing at the end of season 2. Although the painter had not confessed properly yet, the return of the embrace and his request for help are strong indications that Baek Na-Kyum was now accepting his affection. He was now trusting the noble, hence he revealed an important clue about the abduction.

Consequently, I am predicting that in season 4, we will see a new erotic painting of the couple, the symbol of their affection which will stand in opposition to the ones from season 1. It won’t be about conquests and as a tool to procure an erection for the nightly activities. That’s the reason why I am now expecting only one erotic picture: the document of their official union. (chapter 1) versus chapter 41 (chapter 41) Under this perspective, it becomes understandable why the couple neglected these pictures. They were all devoid of affection, it was more about prostitution and battle! And here is now the question? Where are these drawings?

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