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When the episode 24 was released, I couldn’t help myself connecting this panel with the following one (chapter 21) As you can detect, both have so many similarities: a memory, an open area, the blue sky with clouds, two people close to each other, a very confidential conversation, a plan and a clear view. When I analyzed the second panel [read for that the essay “Hope” https://bebebisous33analyses.com/2021/07/13/the-pawns-revenge-hope-%f0%9f%94%9e/], I described that this image represented a dream and as such a hope. Kang Hyeon-Jong explained his plan to his younger brother, and envisioned that an open space was the perfect place for secrecy. In a park, no one would ever suspect them to have such a project (getting rid of corruption among the police and its connection to the red-light district). However, we all know that the police officer’s dream got ruined, for he went missing. There’s no doubt that he got killed, because he got betrayed.
As you can imagine, this image oozes the same atmosphere. Do Seong-Rok and the former prostitute are “hoping” that everything will go well with their plan. By killing Jeon Hee-Seong’s enemies, the serial killer has the impression that he will free her so that they can be together. Because of the parallels, the manhwaphiles can already sense that their dream is doomed to failure, since Kang Hyeon-Jong’s vision never came true. This signifies that their “dream” is in fact just an illusion. Why? I believe that first we can get some answers by comparing both panels again. Yet this time I will focus on the divergences. Then in the second part, I will elaborate their “perfect” project more concretely.
1. Comparison between the detective and the prostitute’s project
1. 1. The beach
First, the place diverges. The protagonist is with Jeon Hee-Seong at the beach. This is no coincidence, as the beach symbolizes new beginning. The reason is simple. It’s because the water washes away the sand and allows the sand underneath to have its new beginning on top. This means that the moment their project is finished, the couple is supposed to start their life anew.
1. 2. The ocean
Secondly, both are facing the ocean, while the brothers were facing the city. It was, as if the couple desired to leave the civilization and to return to nature. They would leave everything behind, as there exists nothing else next to them. They are alone and carrying no possession. On the other hand, the detective’s wish was to clean the city with his brother’s support. We have the impression that the protagonist and his companion have no real aspiration except escaping from their “prison”, whereas the detective, associated to the mountain, is full of idealism and ambition. Imagine that he plans to purge the whole organization alone, a huge task for a simple human. But as you know, the villainess Jeon Hee-Seong is actually far from being contented and humble. Like the author has already revealed it, her flower is snapdragon embodying greed and ambition. This aspect is even reinforced with the choice of color, purple.
Purple: “pompous and arrogant, fraudulent and corrupt, delusions of grandeur and the social climber.” Quoted from https://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/color-purple.html
And this truly shows that the chosen place for the confidence, the beach, is actually a deception planned by the former prostitute.
Striking is that the ocean is a symbol of power, strength, life, mystery, hope and truth. It is also referred to as being the tears, or sorrow, of God. These associations can be perceived with the following legend. Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty and love, was born from the ocean and its foam, as a drop of blood and semen fell from the sky into the ocean. The titan Cronus had severed his father’s genitals and flung them into the sea. Her birth reflects life, mystery but also power and strength.
Simultaneously, the ocean is also related to chaos. Remember that the goddess’ birth is linked to blood and violence. But the chaos is also explainable, as the ocean is boundless and ungovernable. This signification is important, for it already announces the prostitute’s huge mistake. She thinks, the beach is the perfect place to manipulate her lover, making him believe that they have a future together: they are facing the limitless ocean, a symbol for freedom. But she is overlooking one aspect: the ocean can be a synonym for destruction represented by hurricanes and tsunamis. That’s why I come to the conclusion that the ocean embodies Do Seong-Rok. Remember how Lee Je-Oh viewed him as a god and admired his force. (chapter 1) I would like the reader to keep in their mind that even in Janggi, the protagonist is acting as a cannon, hence he is definitely no ordinary pawn. For her, the young man is still an innocent and pure lamb, easily manipulated, that’s why she said this to her ally Ahn: (chapter 11) In her mind, he is just a worker and not a boyfriend. She is unaware that by turning him into a killer, she will change his nature. He can no longer be a lamb or even a simple pawn. That’s why he gets an erection while strangling Ma Jong-Seok. (chapter 18) He has become a weapon, and as the ocean, she can never control him. As you can see, if you interpret such an image, you can already anticipate the evolution of the story and realize the villain’s errors. Besides, pay attention to the place of the biggest cloud. It stands next to the main lead. The cloud often represents hope, but it also embodies danger, because it covers the view. And now if we combine the ocean with the cloud, we have a hurricane, the chaos!! This observation really outlined the villain’s mistake one more time. She is not realizing her lover’s true nature. And we have another clue for Do Seong-Rok’s dangerousness: The color yellow! This pigment is often associated to positive features like optimism, cheerfulness, logic and wisdom. [For more information: https://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/color-yellow.html] But what is less known is that this shade is the color of deception, physical illness (jaundice, malaria, pestilence) and caution. That’s why we have the yellow signal light for example and the yellow tape for a crime scene: (chapter 1) This negative association comes from the Middle-Age in Europe, where Jews and prostitutes were forced to wear some yellow on their clothes reflecting their social status. This pigment was a warning, and this justifies why in French (yellow=jaune) and in English there exist many negative expressions with yellow: “rire jaune” (two-faced laugh) or “jaune cocu” (cuckold yellow) or “yellow belly” (coward). Therefore yellow represents deception, betrayal, adultery, arrogance, vanity and jealousy. And note that Do Seong-Rok is indeed committing adultery with the main lead, (chapter 18) though now the roles have been switched. In episode 25, Lee Je-Oh is already treating Do Seong-Rok as his boyfriend and has the impression that his lover will cheat on him with Jeon Hee-Seong. That’s why he gets upset. And now, you comprehend why the femme fatale’s dream is an illusion. She thought, she was deceiving her pawn, while in reality she didn’t recognize her own misjudgment. Her delusion of grandeur is the cause for her future defeat.
1. 3. Their position
Another difference is their position. (chapter 24) The villainess and her pawn are standing, while the brothers are sitting. This is relevant, for it indicates that the detective and his Kang Hyeon-Woo are resting. By confiding to his brother, the future victim is taking a break, trying to release his stress and getting some comfort and support from his relative. On the other hand, the couple is standing indicating a certain tension. They are attempting to relax, but they can’t due to the pressure. They are about to start their project.
Another divergence is that the main characters are touching each other, their physical intimacy is even reinforced, as both are holding hands (chapter 24), while the brothers are just sitting next to each other with a certain distance. (chapter 21) However, this doesn’t reflect the real nature of their relationship. The siblings are indeed very close, as Kang Hyeon-Jong is confessing his true desire and wish. That’s why his brother mostly remained silent, this was his way to express his support. (chapter 21) And when he spoke, he expressed his concern for his brother. This signifies that safety mattered more than his dream back then.
Now, you can grasp why there exists this physical intimacy between the former prostitute and the future serial killer. It serves a purpose: to mask their distance, which is actually perceptible through their words. On the surface, it looks like they are working together in this, however this is just an illusion. Note that the killer is bearing the whole burden (“It’s something that only I can do” and repetition of the personal pronoun I), while the femme fatale is supposed to risk her life by using something. In other words, she only needs to do one thing. This interpretation is even reinforced by her fake concern in the next image. (chapter 24) Her so-called comforting words truly display that only Do Seong-Rok is getting his life in danger, as he will be the only one prosecuted. This means, the serial killer will divert the attention of the investigation and the prosecution office from Jeon Hee-Seong. The woman’s gentle gesture is actually masking the high expectation she has from her “lover”.
1. 4. The sky
What caught my attention is the presence of darkness in the blue sky, while the black was only present as a frame in the other picture. This announces that their plan has nothing pure, for it is related to murders and as such death. Secondly, I interpret that this darkness indicates the presence of manipulation. The red-haired man is actually deceived by his lover, it was, as if the magician had created a fake vision of their hope and dream, while behind the blue sky and clouds the reality is waiting for the future murderer. He will become a scapegoat, but he is not realizing it.
1. 5. Their clothes
What caught my attention is that the villainess and the deceased police officer’s pullover has the same color: beige. Yet, this is not visible from behind, for she is wearing a black jacket. The appearance of beige is no coincidence, because this color is associated to loyalty and responsibility.
“Beige: is practical and reliable, conservative, constant, unchanging and loyal”. Quoted from https://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/color-brown.html
Here, I would like the manhwaphiles to pay attention to the femme fatale’s clothes. Her choice of color is never random, they always reflect her intentions. She uses the colors to mask her true thoughts and deceive her counterparts. That’s why she was dressed like that in chapter 25: Her bun and her clothes gave the impression that she was just an average married woman, but when she visited her so-called boyfriend, she had dressed up. Her long hair was left in the open, an important sign for seduction, just like the white shirt exudes purity and innocence. (chapter 25) At the same time, the black skirt embodies mystery and seduction.
But let’s return our attention to the clothes she was wearing at the beach. So when she had the beige pullover on, she wanted to exude reliability and fidelity. That’s the reason why she asks her companion to trust her, just like she trusts him. In addition, beige is a devirated shade from brown, and brown symbolizes sincerity, warmth and protection. However, brown and beige can serve as deception and can definitely be associated to hypocrisy and fakeness. And now, you understand why the scene at the beach was just a vision, and not a real wish. The villainess used her body (the hand and her clothes) to convince Do Seong-Rok to set the plan in motion. The former prostitute had the impression, she had developed the perfect plan. She would get her freedom, but she would be able to achieve her dream: getting power and wealth, (chapter 23), while she would let the young man take the fall.
2. Jeon Hee-Seong’s perfect plan
Actually, she is well aware that she will become the prime suspect. Even Koo Jeong-Moo was already suspecting her after Choi Yeong-Gil’s disappearance. (chapter 11) That’s why she is well aware that she needs to find someone to become her scapegoat. But who would be so stupid to do her dirty work and even trust her? Only a person blinded by her intelligence, her terrible situation (a fragile prostitute who got forced to get married to an abusive husband) and by his thirst for affection and warmth: Do Seong-Rok.
2. 1. Truth
What caught my attention is that her manipulations are based on truth. She told him for example that her life was so terrible that from now on, she would do anything for her own sake, she would use every trick, and even the main lead. (chapter 16) And observe that the future assassin was willing to accept this terrible situation (chapter 16) He would be her tool. And don’t forget that in that scene, she was trembling on her knees, a sign of huge vulnerability, which could only move his heart. He felt that she needed him, that’s why he accepted to follow her plan. I could use another evidence that truth is her MO. She confided to him this (chapter 23). For the pure man, her words sounded normal and natural. She didn’t desire to be stigmatized as a prostitute, she just wanted to be part of the society. However, in truth, she meant something else. By climbing up the ladder, she was aiming at a higher position: becoming the king of the red-light district. That’s why it is important to even question people’s intention, when they speak the truth. Nevertheless, when he decided to follow her perfect plan, he had one request: she was the only one who could save him, if it became too hard for him.
And now, it becomes understandable what he meant with this promise. It is related to her plan. (chapter 24) Once he has been prosecuted and he is proven innocent, he can’t be charged with the same crime. But just because this rule exists, this doesn’t mean that this will be applied in this case.
2. 2. Evidences and witnesses
And now, you comprehend why he killed Lee Soon-Cheol first. The latter was in possession of the videos compromising Jeon Hee-Seong. (chapter 24) These videos were her weaknesses, therefore the main lead needed to find and erase them. We don’t know for sure that he was tasked with this request as well. That’s my assumption, because she stated that she wanted to erase her past, and the footage was part of her terrible past. Once her husband was removed, she would be able to get rich thanks to the property situated in the redevelopment.
And now, you are wondering what the former prostitute was supposed to use. She just needed to keep a paper showing that she rented a car for Do Seong-Rok. She anticipated that the detectives involved in the investigations might look for a lover. (chapter 24) She desired to lead the detective to Do Seong-Rok and the pieces of Janggi left on the body would serve as a clue for his involvement in the assassinations. This explicates why Lee Je-Oh wondered about the reason for leaving evidence next to the victims an. (chapter 13) The femme fatale has power over his life, because she could reveal the truth. That’s her promise, if his situation worsens, she can save him implying that she has an evidence that could prove Do Seong-Rok’s innocence. However, she knew that once her husband dies, she will become a suspect. Thus she needed the main lead to divert the attention from her. Her plan was to redirect the investigation towards the red-haired man.
But as you can imagine, she has already planned to throw him away, once she got rid of all her enemies. When she stated (chapter 24), she implied that she was risking her life. On the other hand, she was actually lying. She is not truly compromising herself, as renting a car for a person doesn’t represent a crime. Yet, the true intention is to incriminate the young man.
Do Seong-Rok is becoming a serial murder, because he has already eliminated three people. Striking is that the former prostitute could say that he is just a delusional lover and even a psychopath, and the pieces of Janggi would serve as an evidence. Besides, she has Ahn by her side serving as protection, so her plan is still perfect.
2. 3. Far from perfection
But she made many huge mistakes, like I had already mentioned in the first part. But I will include other errors. First, she never told her lover how to eliminate the targets, that’s how the protagonist got aware of the killer’s presence. He could have been arrested much sooner, if Lee Je-Oh had revealed his observations. Secondly, she showed her true face, when she yelled at Do Seong-Rok. She declared that now, the main lead was on his own… something she had always planned. That’s how the assassin started mistrusting her and relying on Lee Je-Oh. Since the latter has recognized her identity(chapter 25), and has even realized her true goal thanks to Do Seong-Rok’s confession (chapter 23), he will change the game and do anything to protect his lover and weapon. (chapter 23) Unlike the female prostitute, the young man made the terrible experience by scheming very early on. He learned that he shouldn’t underestimate the killer’s strength and strong will. Hence he came to realize that he should treat his ally with respect. (chapter 12) Do Seong-Rok might not be clever, but he is not weak either. Actually, his major flaw is his innocence, for he is not cunning enough. And remember what I wrote above: she misjudge her lover’s true personality. Therefore she will recognize her error too late.
Furthermore, now the protagonist Lee Je-Oh represents a source of threat for Jeon Hee-Seong. He is an important witness and could testify against her.
Moreover, she is also making another mistake: she is underestimating emotions and affection. Her power over the serial killer was strong, for the latter was in love with her. But as soon as his admiration and affection vanish, her manipulations are no longer effective, and she loses her control over him. Their relationship is already falling apart. First, the main lead is forced to lie to her on different occasions. She even believes that the male prostitute has been removed. Secondly, their alienation is already announced with the following panel: (chapter 25). Notice the color of the sky: it is evening twilight, a huge symbol for a doomed relationship. And we have the presence of dark clouds and the presence of yellow… everything is signalizing the presence of a danger. Her perfect plan is on the verge of getting ruined, as the male prostitute will discover her identity. Because of him, her relationship with Seong-Rok can only be doomed.
Finally, since she is just judging her lover as a worker and pawn, she is not viewing him as a part of her life. He is just an accessory, whereas the male prostitute has a different perception of Do Seong-Rok. He considers him not just as a weapon, but also as a real boyfriend. I have to admit that I view the two protagonists as an entity. Lee Je-Oh is slowly becoming the brain (chapter 23), while the serial killer will become his arm and hand! Besides, don’t forget my recent interpretation. Do Seong-Rok is linked to the ocean, and the manhwalovers will certainly remember how the male prostitute viewed himself: (chapter 1) A fish!! I am well aware that a goldfish is not living in the ocean, but I doubt that the male prostitute could ever afford himself an expensive fish from the ocean. Besides, in the essay “The goldfish and the lamb – part 1”, I had already explained that for me, the young main lead reminded me a lot of the devil firefish / common lionfish.
As you can see, my previous interpretation seems to be confirmed. Since Lee Je-Oh is a common lionfish and the other is the ocean, they are a perfect match.
In addition, both protagonists have a similar disposition. They are starving for affection and have a huge sense of justice… Lee Je-Oh truly perceived Do Seong-Rok’s intentions behind the murders: liberation from slavery, whereas Jeon Hee-Seong used Do Seong-Rok’s empathy and generosity for her own dream: power and wealth! Due to the young main lead’s past experience and cunningness, Lee Je-Oh will be able to anticipate the villainess’ “perfect plan” and protect his boyfriend. Thereby, the femme fatale will slowly realize that this dream of her was just an illusion, and she was a victim of her own delusion.
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