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

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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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