The Pawn’s Revenge: Janggi and life 🔞

This is where you can read the manhwa. https://www.lezhinus.com/en/comic/pawn  But be aware that this manhwa is a mature Yaoi, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes. Besides, this manhwa is categorized as HARDCORE: 🔞  Here is the link, if you are interested in more analyses about this manhwa and others https://bebebisous33analyses.com/2021/06/06/table-of-contents-of-analyzed-mentioned-manhwas/

In chapter 6, Jeon Hee-Seong compared Janggi (Korean chess) to real life. For her, humans resemble to the pieces of the chess board, where the weakest are doomed to disappear. Striking is that many chess players have a similar approach than her. They all see many similarities between real life and chess.

Benjamin Franklin: Chess teaches foresight, by having to plan ahead; vigilance, by having to keep watch over the whole chess board; caution, by having to restrain ourselves from making hasty moves; and finally, we learn from chess the greatest maxim in life – that even when everything seems to be going badly for us we should not lose heart, but always hoping for a change for the better, steadfastly continue searching for the solutions to our problems. or from the same author: “Life is a kind of Chess, with struggle, competition, good and ill events.”

Charles Buxton: “In life, as in chess, forethought wins.” quoted from https://www.ichess.net/blog/chess-quotes/

Allan Rufus: Life is like a game of chess. To win you have to make a move. Knowing which move to make comes with IN-SIGHT and knowledge, and by learning the lessons that are accumulated along the way. We become each and every piece within the game called life!

1. Jeon Hee-Seong’s perception about Janggi and life

What caught my attention is these men have a different mindset than the character from The Pawn’s Revenge. They have a rather optimistic attitude, whereas the former prostitute seems only to see death. It is a dog-eat-dog world, and if you want to survive, then you need to become ruthless as well. This negative attitude is really palpable, if you contrast it to Allan Rufus’ quote. The latter views the game and life as a place, where people gain knowledge through experiences. Thanks to the practice and increasing maturity, the person is capable to change or anticipate the next moves. In other words, with the training, people can make a different decision. Furthermore Benjamin Franklin, who has a similar approach, adds that even bad events should be considered as lessons and as such a source of motivation to improve the situation. Both authors promote hope, whereas the femme fatale advocates disillusion and defeatism. Hence, for the Korean figure, life is perceived as an endless battle and nothing more. This signifies that in her eyes, life contains no happy moment and has nothing to offer. Since she compares it to a constant war, this signifies that only power matters, as it guarantees survival. I would like to point out that EVY confirmed in a tweet that the femme fatale plans to become a king. This truly reveals that for the former prostitute, dominance is her ultimate goal in life. In her mind, strength symbolizes life. Thereby for her, love has no meaning. Moreover, I also think, she doesn’t believe in values like affection, friendship or respect. The evidence for this the following. Note how many times she utilizes the idiom “kill”, while the male authors outline the importance of insight (“insight”, “foresight”, “forethought” “vigilance”) and wisdom (“knowledge”, “knowing”, “insight”). In other words, while Jeon Hee-Seong is focusing more on action (killing), the other players (Franklin, Buxton, Rufus) privilege pondering and reflection. She is already aiming directly at her final goal: removing the former king and replacing him.

Her pessimistic mindset is particularly perceptible, when she describes the role played by the pawn. (chapter 6) In her eyes, it has no value at all (“the most useless”), whereas the protagonist and student Seong-Rok views the soldier differently: (chapter 13). The latter can be influential, but it depends on its position and the way the general uses it. Sense the contrast between these two descriptions outlining her narrow-mindedness in the end.

In my opinion, her words about the soldier truly expose that the femme fatale is acting under the influence of emotions (fear, resentment, greed). She is not just trying to arouse pity in her lover, her description about real world and Janggi reflect her true thoughts: dark, brutal and painful. That’s why the title of this manhwa is also referring to her, and not just to the two protagonists. She is a pawn and desires to get revenge by becoming powerful. Striking is that many famous intellectuals associate revenge to weak people.

Juvenal: “Revenge is always the weak pleasure of a little and narrow mind” (Roman poet from 2nd Century AD)

Albert Einstein: “Weak people revenge. Strong people forgive. Intelligent people forget.”

Since I described Jeong Hee-Seong as disenchanted and pessimistic, I can’t help myself judging the femme fatale as a weak person in the end. She is definitely short-sighted, as she can no longer be moved by genuineness and affection. Besides, in her eyes, love can not procure protection and power. I have the impression, she views affection as a vulnerability. Let’s not forget that she was backstabbed, hence I deduce that she has become immune to loyalty. All this would explain why she manipulates the red-haired innocent man and why she plans to betray him too.

Her desire to become powerful and as such to get rid of her former “colleagues” is stronger than anything else, therefore Lee Seon-Cheol (chapter 1), her husband, Ma Jong-Seok (chapter 18) are removed within a short time. This explicates why the detective Kang Hyeon-Woo suspects her right away. (chapter 8) But why is the femme fatale neglecting reflection, knowledge and foresight in Janggi?

2. The causes for her negative attitude about Janggi and life

From my point of view, the former prostitute has the impression that she knows everything about life. Through her bad experiences, she believes that she has already understood how life works. I would like to point out that Do Seong-Rok got mesmerized by her due to her insight. She could recognize his personality (chapter 16) and his occupation within a few minutes, when they met for the first time. In his eyes, she appeared as an intelligent woman full of wisdom and experiences. This explicates why he listened to her explanations so carefully, when she was about to manipulate him to kill for her. (chapter 16) And that’s how she definitely views herself too.

3. The consequences

But her attitude is the reason why she will fail. First, she has never heard about the concept of “lifelong learning”. Life is always teaching lessons to people till their death. Secondly, she is overestimating her abilities. Because she understands humans due to her observation skills, she believes that her manipulations will always be effective. However, she is misjudging the importance of love and loyalty, as she is just a disillusioned woman. And pieces from Janggi are different from humans, for the latter have emotions and can think on their own. The pieces in the game board will never switch sides and as such betray their general and king. In real life, it is different. People can change. From my perspective, she is diminishing the significance of change. Do Seong-Rok was an obedient puppy, for he imagined that she loved him. However, once she lost her temper (chapter 12) and showed no loyalty towards him (chapter 12), the young man could only recognize that she was lying to him. (chapter 12) She has no idea about Do Seong-Rok’s past experience (the fake promise and abandonment).

To sum up, because she thinks, she knows everything about men and life, in her mind, she no longer needs to gain more insight, and as such be more prudent. For she has internalized that weak people are just pawns that can be easily discarded, she is already viewing her lover Do Seong-Rok as such. For her, he is just a tool, and once he has fulfilled its functions, she can sacrifice him. That’s why she describes him in a very rational way to her second lover officer Ahn. (chapter 11) The red-haired man is perfect for her plan, as his eyes and hands are focused on the game. But what the female character failed to realize is that in Janggi, there exists different pieces: the elephant, the horse, the general/king, the pawns, the chariot and the cannon. Do Seong-Rok is not a pawn in reality.

3. The pieces of Janggi

Striking is that the black-haired woman describes herself as a pawn to her lover Do Seong-Rok. (chapter 6) This means, she portrays herself as vulnerable, implying she needs the protection of a more powerful piece. However, since she gives Do Seong-Rok instructions(chapter 13), this signifies that her true role in Janggi is different. She is the player. Consequently, she is sitting on the one side and takes the pieces. (chapter 6) That’s why I come to the conclusion that in the game itself, she represents the general/king and Do Seong-Rok’s part is to protect her and help her to defeat her opponent. In her eyes, he is her pawn and she is the player. But like I mentioned above, in Korean chess, we have more than just the pawn: the horse, the elephant, the counselor/the guard, the chariot and the cannon (chapter 13). That’s why I tried to identify the killer’s true role in the game board.

3. 1. Do Seong-Rok in the game board

In my opinion, he is the cannon, while his girlfriend is the player. First, since the cannon represents a weapon, it fits Seong-Rok’s role perfectly: he is a killer. Secondly, the cannon in Janggi is the only piece that can jump over other pieces. That’s the reason why it becomes useless, if there are no other pieces to skip over. And this function (jumping over) reminds me of the kidnapping. The killer abducted Lee Je-Oh and Ma Jong-Seok, though the latter was his real target. This kidnapping resembles a lot to jumping over, especially after Lee Je-Oh got spared. And note that the black-haired man is now considered as an ally to the killer. In addition, Do Seong-Rok plans a second abduction: Koo Jeong-Mo. (chapter 13) The moment the protagonist has eliminated all her targets, he will become useless. Consequently, I deduce that when Jeon Hee-Seong plays chess, she is the “king” and Do Seong-Rok is the cannon.

3. 2. Jeon Hee-Seong’s team

As for officer Ahn, I believe, he is her chariot, because he is the one who will procure her connections and power, the moment he becomes a politician. Compare it to the description about the chariot. (chapter 13) Because officer Park is working under officer Ahn, this signifies that he is definitely one of her pieces too: I am inclined to judge him as the horse, though there’s no real guarantee that this is correct. Why? It is, because Park is covering up for Jeon Hee-Seong by giving information to officer Ahn. Besides, the latter mentioned this: (chapter 11). “Some of my guys” is a reference to the lieutenant Park. And remember that the role of the horse is to create a bridge for the cannon. Let’s not forget that Park Gwang-Soo is not really trying to investigate the whole matter, as the victims are all involved in the red-light-district. A real investigation would lead to unveil the corruption among Mijeong police.

I have to admit that I am not very familiar with Janggi, hence my comparison could be lacking. EVY😉😘 might even correct my interpretations, since she has always read my essays and given me information. But one thing is sure. Though the former prostitute calls herself a pawn, she is definitely not acting like one. That’s why she abandons her boyfriend Do Seong-Rok. He is now on his own, since he didn’t follow her instructions correctly, though later she tries to diminish her words by renewing her previous promise: she would ensure to save him. (chapter 12) The beginning of the alienation between the red-haired man and his girlfriend is important, because this announces the creation of a third party. While the head manager of Hongok-Dong Red Light District jumps to the false conclusion that Jeon Hee-Seong represents the third party, he is not realizing that she is just trying to replace the first team. Jeon Hee-Seong plans to maintain the collaboration between Mijeong police and the red light district, yet the involved parties will be changed.

3. 3. The first team

As the victims represent different pieces of the Janggi, this means that they are embodying a team. Koo is the horse, Ma is the elephant, Choi the guard and Lee Soon-Cheol the pawn. However, two pieces are missing in this team: the chariot and the cannon. Since the the head manager of Hongok-Dong Red Light District meets officer Ahn in order to beg for his support(chapter 11), this signifies that Ahn has been working for this team too. In my opinion, he plays the same role than in the other team: he is the chariot. As for the cannon, I will unveil his identity below. But since we have a whole team, this signifies that there’s a general. Consequently, there exists someone behind the victims, the king and player of the game board. To sum up, Jeon Hee-Seong is playing against a person, whose identity has not been revealed yet. How ironic is that when I was writing this essay, the special episode confirmed my theory: The “not yet” is the player using Koo Jeong-Mo and the others as his pieces. Jeon Hee-Seong entered the game and started a war against the first team. She could win over officer Ahn by appealing to his feelings. She revealed the injustice she was exposed too. That’s why Ahn asks Koo Jeong-Moo about the reason for targeting him. (chapter 11) Ahn could understand her motivation. However, she disguises from him that she is stimulated by her greed and ambition too.

3. 4. Do Seong-Rok’s future team

The irony is that the moment Do Seong-Rok took an initiative, his role in the board game got affected. Though Jeon Hee-Seong gave him instructions, she never gave him any concrete indication how to remove her enemies. In other words, the protagonist was more than just a cannon. Striking is that in the beginning, the male prostitute associated him to a god (chapter 2) and a grim reaper, and this connection is no coincidence. This exposes that Do Seong-Rok became himself a player, when he started acting on his girlfriend’s behalf. He had to ponder how to approach and attack his victims. Hence in my eyes, the main lead represents a king/general too.

That’s why we see him facing Jeon Hee-Seong in chapter 6. Note that she asked him to kill in her name and if he did, he would be able to remain by her side. (chapter 6) It was, as if with the killing, he would go to her side, as in that scene he was facing her.

From my point of view, this scene in chapter 6 is important, as it somehow announces that they will become rivals and fight against each other. One might argue, the fact that the killer was sitting in front of his girlfriend is just random and has no real signification. Nevertheless, I would like to point out that right in the beginning, the murderer placed people like on a board game. For me, this is another clue that Do Seong-Rok is not just a cannon, but a player himself. (chapter 1). It was, as if he was observing a game and predicting moves. Furthermore, he observed Lee Je-Oh for a long time and questioned his role in this team. This truly shows that the main lead was pondering a lot. I would like the readers to keep in mind the advices given from the chess players: foresight, forethought, prudence and vigilance. Moreover, there exists a interrogation point in the image of the male prostitute, which shows that the main character was thinking about Lee Je-Oh’s role in that game. Furthermore, the former could impose himself through his strength in front of Lee Je-Oh. (chapter 12) The latter made the mistake to overestimate his situation and his skills. He imagined with his observation skills and schemes he could prove his superiority and loyalty, but the red-haired protagonist punished him for his “betrayal” and “arrogance”. The red-haired man embodies physical power and is the final authority. Finally, if you observe the way Do seong-Rok taught his new ally Lee Je-Oh about the game, you’ll sense that their position reflects the actual situation: they are sitting on the same side in front of the game. (chapter 13) which contrasts so much to the scene with the former prostitute in episode 6. Since Lee Je-Oh is giving advice to the young criminal (like not leaving any evidence (chapter 13) or not answering Jeon’s calls, I view him as a guard and counsellor. At the same time, he is offering his help to capture the pimp Koo. Hence I consider him as Do Seong-Rok’s horse too. As you can observe, the red-haired man and his lover will play different roles in Janggi. However, right now the two main characters are still working for the femme fatale, but it is only a matter of time, until they build their own team and work for their own survival and ultimate goal.

Besides, let’s not forget that I have already predicted a revolution (chapter 1) from the male prostitute, for the latter has still a strong sense of justice. He has never forgotten the victims of Ma Jong-Seok. (chapter 18) And strangely, Benjamin Franklin was also involved in American Revolution:

War is when the government tells you who the bad guy is. Revolution is when you decide that for yourself”. (Benjamin Franklin)

With this quote, it becomes obvious that at some point, Do Seong-Rok will realize that his girlfriend is no angel either and the so-called bad guys (Koo, Ma, Lee and Choi) aren’t the only ones responsible for the existence of the Red Light District. (chapter 8)

3. 5 The special role played by the lieutenant Kang Hyeon-Woo

This is the only character I haven’t mentioned so far. However, I believe, he will play a major key role in the story. Why do I think so? My reasoning is that the young police officer doesn’t belong to any team. He represents a source of danger for officer Ahn, hence the latter got worried, when he heard about his presence. (chapter 11) According to his reaction, the manhwaphiles can deduce that the detective has lived himself in the city before moving out to Seoul. In other words, he is coming back to Mijeong and is determined to remove corruption in the city and police. Since Player 1 (Not Yet) will be aware that officer Ahn has already sided with Jeon Hee-Seong, there’s no doubt that he will try to use Kang Hyeon-Woo to target Jeon Hee-Seong and her helpers. An investigation about the murders in the city is definitely necessary for the player 1. However, since the lieutenant chose to leave the city in the past, this signifies that he suffered himself some injustice in the past and as such was a victim of the king from team 1. Therefore Kang Hyeon-Woo has to ensure that he needs to unveil the whole truth.

Simultaneously, I have the impression that Do Seong-Rok and Lee Je-Oh might use the detective for their own advantage too. Let’s not forget that Ahn judges the lieutenant as a threat. (chapter 11) It is even possible that the femme fatale decides to use the detective for her benefit too, when she believes that it’s time to get rid of Do Seong-Rok. That’s why I believe, the detective will be the lose cannon in the board game. From my perspective, each time they will try to take advantage of his desire for truth and justice in order to divert the attention from their own crimes and wrongdoings.

And now, it is time to summarize the discoveries/interpretations I made about the different teams:  

Player/GeneralNot YetJeon Hee-SeongDo Seong-Rok
HorseKoo Jeong-MoPark Gwang-SooLee Je-Oh
ElephantMa Jong-Seok? 
Guard/counselorChoi Yeong-Gil?Lee Je-Oh
Chariot? (Officer Ahn)Officer Ahn 
Cannon(Kang Hyeon-Woo)Do Seong-Rok (Kang Hyeon-Woo) Do Seong-Rok (Kang Hyeon-Woo) 
PawnLee Seon-Chool Lee Je-Oh (lure Koo) 

As you can notice, the team members can definitely switch sides and the characters can play different roles in the board game. From my perspective, the readers will witness the rise of Lee Je-Oh, his influence over Do Seong-Rok will keep increasing.

I am predicting this due to the character’s personality: he is observant, intelligent and can react quickly to new situations. Therefore he can anticipate moves from the others. As a conclusion, both original pawns, Do Seong-Rok and Lee Je-Oh, will take revenge on the persons responsible for their suffering. That’s why EVY chose this picture as an illustration for her story: And at the end, they will “destroy” this world, just like in the picture. Their reason is simple. They are not aiming at gaining power and wealth. For them, freedom and love matter more.

PS: Dear @EVY, if there are some errors, you can notify me. I tried to fill the blanks.

Feel free to comment. If you have any suggestion for topics or manhwas, feel free to ask. If you enjoyed reading it, retweet it or push the button like. My instagram-tumblr-twitter account is: @bebebisous33. Thanks for reading and for the support, particularly, I would like to thank all the new followers and people recommending my blog.

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