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/
I mostly used the following website as a source of inspiration: https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/tears
What caught my attention in chapter 76 was Min’s tear combined with the laugh (chapter 76) which was totally new in the manhwa. We never saw such a combination: a single tear with a laugh. Moreover, for the first time, The Joker had shed a tear. The manhwalovers will certainly recall that so far, we had tears of happiness (chapter 21) and sadness , (chapter 59) but never tears out of laughing.😂🤣 Therefore I came to recognize the significance of this scene. First, it divulged a lot about Black Heart’s personality, and announced a turning point in his life. At the same time, this observation gave me a new idea, which I will elaborate in the second part. Striking is that until now, I had examined the painter and Jihwa’s tears, yet I had never focused on this topic itself. Hence in this analysis, I would like to study not only the weeping of the characters, but also the absence of their tears.
But before beginning with the real topic, it is necessary to define tears and their origins. There exist three types of tears:
- Basal tears: This is a normal and vital function in order to keep our eye moist.
- Reflex tears: They are triggered, when you get something in the eye, or when you cut an onion.
- Emotional tears: These are the tears, when one is overcome with emotions (sadness, joy, eg.) Striking is that these tears are richer than the two others. They contain proteins and hormones like endorphin. The latter serves to relieve stress. The fact that these tears are richer is important, because like I had mentioned in my analysis about Jihwa (Water and fire -part 1), the red-haired aristocrat’s tears are a signal of the revival of his eyes. From that moment on, he is less blind. That’s why I associated tears to life, especially if you combine it to water. Without water, there’s no life.
1. Tears and pride
The connection between tears and life is relevant, because it explains why Jung In-Hun is never seen crying. He has a heart of stone. Consequently, Byeonduck drew the learned sir next to a rock in two occasions: (chapter 6) and (chapter 22). The rock is a metaphor of his heart: he will remain cold-hearted. Striking is that even after the humiliation during the hunt, he never shed a tear. He was only frustrated and angry at his opponent and sponsor. His huge ego had been hurt by the main lead’s mockery, but despite his wound, he chose to look up to the sky, apparently waiting that fate/karma would punish the wealthy noble for his wrongdoing. This outlines that the learned sir still believed in his superiority. In other words, Yoon Seungho had not reduced the scholar to tears with his words, which stands in opposition to the second lead’s reactions.
“To reduce someone to tears”: to cause a person to cry through insults, frustration and belittling” quoted from https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/reduce+(one)+to+tears
In chapter 18, the main lead had reduced Lee Jihwa to cry through his reproaches and belittling. (chapter 18)
This huge difference between the two figures (Lee Jihwa and Jung In-Hun) shows that the childhood friend is still a human despite his egoistic and prideful attitude. He was overcome with negative emotions (pain, sadness, frustration and anger), while the other only feels resent and anger. Hence through this expression (“reduce to tears”), the manhwalovers can recognize the connection between pride and tears. And if you compare both situations, you’ll notice that during their argument, the main lead lowered himself and faced his childhood friend.
This reveals that the true intention of Yoon Seungho was not to humiliate his ex-lover per se. He didn’t desire to show his superiority to him. He had acted in the moment after witnessing Jihwa’s outburst. The former felt betrayed, as the second lead had acted behind his acts on different occasions (the spy, the slapping of Baek Na-Kyum, the ruined painting). Yoon Seungho still showed a certain respect towards his ex-partner by sending him away accompanied with a servant. Note that in the woods, he left the low noble on his knees without looking back. In other words, he showed no remorse towards Jung In-Hun, while it was not the case with Jihwa. There’s no doubt that the noble was indeed moved by Jihwa’s tears. However, it wasn’t obvious, because he didn’t touch his face and wipe his tears. The readers can only grasp it, when they compare both scenes (18-22). Through this comparison, I recognized that Jihwa’s tears were connected to his wounded pride. It becomes even more evident in chapter 21. It was, as if the red-haired second lead had an outburst. We have to envision that he literary burst into tears.
“Burst into tears: to begin suddenly to cry” quoted from https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/burst+into+tears
This explosion of emotions is visible, as the lord ruined his room. He broke out to tears. And note that in that moment he was standing with a sword in his hand, another evidence that his tears were triggered by his frustration and bruised ego mixed with sadness and anger. And now, you comprehend why he represent a negative reflection of Baek Na-Kyum, the latter embodying humbleness and modesty. However, unlike the scholar, Jihwa was slowly learning his lesson and as such changing. Since the low noble’s heart is made of stone, he will never change in my opinion.
Jihwa reached the bottom, when he got confronted by Yoon Seungho at the tavern in chapter 57. He was not only pushed to the ground, but the latter was never able to stand up in front of his friend again, contrary to chapter 18. At the end, the second lead gathered his courage and confessed his love on his knees in front of commoners. And this truly outlines that Jihwa had finally realized that his bond with his childhood friend mattered more than his pride. He had to make a choice and selected affection over his ego. (chapter 57)
In addition, by comparing it with the episode 18, the manhwaworms can notice a divergence in the main lead’s attitude. Contrary to before, he no longer showed any respect towards his friend. He never lowered himself, but he was forced to sit down by valet Kim. For me, this is no coincidence, the sickness was a good excuse for the butler. If his master sat down, then the public humiliation would be lessened and as such, this would cause less ruckus. Important is that after his answer, Yoon Seungho left Lee Jihwa behind without paying attention to him. He never asked Kim to take care of his former lover. This displays that the gap between them had so much increased that their relationship would never be like before. This was even reinforced by the lord’s words: “Do not harbor any longing for me. There is not the slightest chance of my ever returning such sentiments.” (chapter 59)
Striking is that in the second season, Yoon Seungho was taught the same lesson by the painter. The former had to give up on his title and devalue himself in order to remain by Baek Na-Kyum’s side. That’s why in chapter 71, he called his lover Lord Na-Kyum and treated him as a master after that. But pay attention that the main lead never shed a tears due to his wounded ego. Yet this doesn’t mean that he is similar to the learned sir. In fact, the main character felt more like crying, when he was reminded of his past. (chapter 56). This signifies that his tears are not related to pride, but to his traumas. The lord can no longer weep due to the constant exposure to physical, mental and emotional pain. However, since he has been taught not cry in the presence of the butler, in chapter 56 it was, as if he was blinking back tears.
“to blink back tears: to try to stop oneself from crying” quoted from https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/blink+back+tears
How do I come to this conclusion? It’s because the butler avoided his master’s gaze, when the latter threw the letter (chapter 56) He acted, as if nothing was happening. Furthermore, it was the butler who asked the painter to stop crying after the rape: “Would you stop crying? Your eyes will be sore later”.(chapter 26) And since the painter’s fate is to go through the same suffering than the rich noble, it signifies that the butler must have said the same thing to his master in the past. There’s no ambiguity that father Yoon must have a similar mind-set too.
2. Tears, pain and emotions
As you can see, Yoon Seungho isn’t still capable to cry, as he has long internalized that he is not allowed to show such emotions. In his past, he was coerced to repress his tears. He was forbidden to show any emotion and pain, though he was repeatedly confronted with terrible events (rape, physical and mental abuse, gangrape, drugs, brainwashing, betrayal). This explicates why the lord chose to live as a ghost. If he was a spirit, he could no longer feel emotions and as such pain. I would like to point out the strong connection between emotion and hurt, though the latter is no emotion. It is an emotional experience. However, the chapter 56 indicates a slow transformation, as the lord feels the need to hide his gaze behind his hand and even turn away his head from Kim, like you can observe at the top of the composition. In my perspective, the lord must have sensed something in his eyes, but out of fear and habit, he preferred masking his wound.
2. 1. Baek Na-Kyum the role model
There’s a reason for Yoon Seungho’s gradual metamorphosis. Baek Na-Kyum cried, when he was physically (chapter 11, 25) and emotionally wounded (chapter 11, 41, 42)
Besides, right from the start the noble was moved by the painter’s tears, hence he felt the need to touch his face and wipe his tears. (chapter 2) And now, you can imagine which idiom I am about to bring up:
“Moved to tears”: to elicit such a strong reaction or overwhelming reaction in one that it causes one to cry. Quoted from https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/moved+to+tears
2. 2. The painter as the trigger of emotions
Since the noble was forced to repress his emotions and as such tears, it is normal that in chapter 1, he wasn’t moved to tears. Furthermore, living without any emotion, it signifies that he couldn’t detect and recognize them in chapter 1. He never realized that he was actually showing happiness first and later a certain sadness, when he killed the servant. However, the tears from the painter (episode 1) triggered something in his heart.
He sensed a slight pain, that’s why he asked him to stop crying. Let’s not forget that right before the artist started shedding tears, the noble reminded him of the death of the servant. He put the whole blame on the low-born, as the latter had lied to him. According to the main lead, the painter was responsible for the domestic’s death. After hearing this, Baek Na-Kyum was moved to tears. This incident is important for two reasons:
- The tears are connected to empathy. He feels pity and sorry for the deceased man.
- At the same time, they also express the artist’s guilt. Note that in the shed, the low-born never denied the lord’s statement.
And now, if the manhwaphiles look at the panel again, they will notice that the noble’s behavior displays remorse and compassion. Hence he asks him to stop crying, while wiping his tears. Consequently, during the night of the rape, we have a repetition of this scene: the lord feels uncomfortable in the presence of the tears (remorse), but also a certain compassion towards the painter. However, when his hand is rejected, the main lead tries to blame the artist for the situation. But this time, Baek Na-Kyum doesn’t accept the criticism and defends his position. Furthermore, he expresses a death wish: “I hate you so much I could die, sir”. (chapter 26) Only now, I truly realize the significance of this scenes. These words pained Yoon Seungho so much that it triggered emotions, which had been buried for a long time. That’s why we witnessed an outburst: “But if I am to be hated, I might as well be hated properly. Don’t you agree?” (chapter 26) But since he had forgotten how to cry, he could only show strong emotions like pain, rage and jealousy through violence.
However, we shouldn’t overlook that the painter had mentioned his death. In my eyes, it truly exposed the lord’s fear. He couldn’t bear the thought of being separated from the painter. If the lord had been able to cry, he would have. But he could only explode and in my opinion, in that scene he hadn’t just murderous, but also suicidal thoughts. This was the first version of this panel, though the lord never expressed it: “If I killed them all, and myself, would it be easier…” (chapter 55).
By killing the learned sir, he would push the painter to kill himself and the noble would have definitely followed him in his death. And now, you comprehend why in the hallway, the lord wondered about his own reaction. This was totally new to him, he had never felt anything like that before. Simultaneously, the manhwalovers can grasp why we haven’t witnessed the lord’s weeping yet. He needed to feel pain and emotions first. As a conclusion, during that night, the lord felt guilty, empathy, envy, rage and jealousy. Therefore I interpret that by witnessing the painter’s tears, the lord was taught to feel pain and emotions. Hence he stands in opposition to the scholar who chose to vent his anger and jealousy onto the painter, each time he felt humiliated. (chapter 75) This truly exposes the teacher’s cruelty and ruthlessness. We could say that the painter reinforced his admired sir’s cold-heartedness. Therefore I come to the following conclusion: Jung In-Hun will never feel remorse or empathy. He is destined to become a monster, as his wounded pride will just arouse brutality, resent and thirst for revenge.
3. Tears and indifference
Because of the strong connection between tears and emotions, I realized that the absence of tears isn’t just a sign of heartlessness, but also of indifference. There’s another person who never sheds a tear. It is the butler Kim. When in the pavilion he saw the painter lying on the ground, he was not moved to tears. The only comment he made was: “And here I was wondering why he lent me a horse…” (chapter 25) This means that he felt no empathy for the painter. However, he is different from the teacher. How? While Jung In-Hun senses no sympathy, the other tries to feel nothing. That’s why he gave his master the following advice: “Perhaps it would be best, if you did not take it to heart…” (chapter 50) In other words, Yoon Seungho should act, as if he had no heart. This explicates why he is annoyed, when he is facing someone in tears. He feels uncomfortable, especially if he is responsible for the incident. From my point of view, after Yoon Seungho got raped, the domestic made sure that the young lord would stop crying by making feel guilty and dirty. “Please!! No… It’s not…!” (chapter 65) Besides, I have the impression that he was turning his back on Yoon Seungho, when the teenager grabbed his shirt. Like I had pointed out above, tears are linked to a guilty conscience. And now, you comprehend, why Kim never cries. He is indifferent, because he doesn’t want to feel any pain and remorse. What is funny is that there exists a slang expression which connects tears to insensitivity:
“Two tears in a bucket” (rude slang): doesn’t matter, who cares. Said to express acceptance of or unconcern for the consequences of something. https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/two+tears+in+a+bucket+fuck+it
And look at this: we always see the butler carrying a bucket around. (chapter 56) I couldn’t help myself laughing, when I discovered it. I have no idea, if there’s such an expression in Korean. This slang expression comes from “to cry buckets”, which signifies that the person is like a cry baby. This new discovery made me realize that Yoon Seungho played a similar role to his admired valet than Baek Na-Kyum to his learned sir. Since the main lead was constantly facing terrible experiences, due to his cowardice and powerlessness the domestic chose not to take to heart. The more he witnessed, the more unconcerned he became. Therefore I deduce that Kim will never change his mind-set. He will prefer detachment, cowardice and blindness, because that way he is not suffering: neither regret nor heartache.
While Baek Na-Kyum contrasts so much to the valet, it means that Lee Jihwa stands between them. He is a mixture of indifference and empathy. This is particularly palpable in chapter 36. At the tavern, he cries out of frustration and anger, thereby he calls Yoon Seungho an “asshole” due to his wounded pride. Yet at the same time he feels a certain empathy for his childhood friend: “But I… know him best of all… I can… I can understand it all. Everything…” (Jihwa, chapter 36) He knows that he suffered a lot in the past. However, his compassion is quite superficial, because his bruised ego and pain are more important than his ex-lover’s traumatic past. As you can imagine, I am predicting that Jihwa will change in that aspect again. As time passes on, he will show more caring and respect towards others. However, as the readers can anticipate it, Nameless will serve him as role model. Besides, he has already triggered in him the right emotions:
- regret: “I have ruined it all myself” (Jihwa, chapter 61)
- empathy: “…I do. I pity you.” (Nameless, chapter 61)
On the other hand, the noble brings the goodness which was buried in the criminal’s heart to the surface. That’s why I come to the following deduction. Nameless might have not shed a tear until now, but he wasn’t indifferent. Contrary to the butler, he had a job, where he was forced to bury his compassion. In my opinion, he was confronted in a similar situation than Yoon Seungho. The only difference is that Nameless had to witness many wrongdoings committed on people close to him that at some point he chose to stop crying. In other words, Jihwa will teach the commoner to feel emotions (pity, caring, admiration, eg.) again so that at some point, we should expect Nameless to have tears in his eyes. Though he is not crying like the low noble and the domestic, he is not truly devoid of emotions. So far, he used his mask to protect his heart.
4. Tears and diligence
I am quite sure that you are surprised with such a heading. Nonetheless, there’s a reason for this selection. You all know the saying
“blood, sweat and tears”: a huge amount of effort, dedication and hard work. quoted from https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/Blood+Sweat+and+Tears
What caught my attention is that neither Jung In-Hun nor Kim are seen hard-working. I had already demonstrated in the essay entitled “Jung In-Hun’s worries and problems” that the scholar was more and more stressed, when he realized that he needed to pass the exam in order to get the high position as official. Before he envisioned that the powerful noble would give him a high position without putting any effort. As for the butler, he is only forced to work hard (chapter 12, 25, 33, 56), when he has to take care of the painter. However, if you pay attention to his action, you will notice that he doesn’t work like a real intendant. That’s why I am stating that he is not diligent. He shows no real authority around the staff. He lets them eat the painter’s dishes (chapter 17) or leave the mansion without any permission (chapter 12, chapter 51). Furthermore, Deok-Jae attempted to sell the stolen red dresser. That’s why the worker in episode 29 described the household as hush-hush. There was no real control over the domestics. In my opinion, Kim is not a true hard worker, as he is not taking any responsibility in the mansion. He prefers simple tasks, like sweeping (chapter 65), bringing lunches or announcing the arrival of a guest. And this observation made me realize that the lord started working hard, the moment he desired to woo Baek Na-Kyum. He dressed up, ordered some medicine for excessive drinking, organized two hunts, started strolling through downtown. Yet, this is no real work. And note that Jihwa behaved in a similar way, when he sensed danger from the painter. He also dressed up, had to plant a spy and trespass the mansion on different occasions. From my perspective, Yoon Seungho will start working the moment he behaves like a master. He needs more than just give orders to his staff. He has to control them and pay attention to finances. From my point of view, it is also his duty to take care of them as well, as the head of the mansion. To sum up, he has to learn how to manage the mansion. That’s why I believe that the lord’s tears will only return, the moment all the conditions are met:
- hard working
- deep emotions which he can not control and repress
- emotional pain linked to his traumas
- he drops the habit to hide his face, when he is wounded. Like I mentioned above, he still hides his pain and emotions in front of his so-called loyal servant Kim.
That’s why after comparing these 5 characters concerning their “tears”, I realized Jihwa’s true position and Nameless’ role. The second lead is not truly the painter’s negative reflection. Therefore I created a table to summarize my interpretations.
|Pride||Jung In-Hun||Lee Jihwa / Yoon Seungho||Baek Na-Kyum/ Nameless|
|Empathy||Valet Kim||Lee Jihwa / Yoon Seungho||Baek Na-Kyum / Nameless|
|Diligence / hard work||Jung In-Hun / Valet Kim||Lee Jihwa / Yoon Seungho||Baek Na-Kyum / Nameless|
As you can imagine, the persons in the middle were in the beginning of Painter Of The Night selfish, lazy and quite superficial. But as time passed on, they were affected by the painter. The latter with his tears moved the lord’s heart which created a riff between the protagonist and his lover. The latter was forced to cry and as such to change.
And now, you are wondering when I will talk about Min and his tear! As you can anticipate, I can only examine him in the second part. This essay already has more than 3700 words! Furthermore, I haven’t mentioned Heena noona and Yoon Seung-Won yet. As a conclusion, there’s so much to say about the tears, which is no surprise, because many manhwaphiles call this work “PAIN”ter of the night. Many readers are crying buckets while reading this story.
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