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/
This won‘t be a long analysis like “The end of the vicious circle”, for my main purpose here is to try to reconstruct Yoon Seungho’s terrible past, and as such its chronology.
1. The incident in the study
We know now for sure that the starting point of Yoon Seungho‘s downward spiral was the incident with Jihwa.
Chapter 77: The young boy was caught doing something immoral, though like I elaborated it in my previous analysis, there‘s no doubt, the main lead was drugged, and Jihwa had been somehow manipulated. While some might see two teenagers fooling around, I have a different perspective. Then I came to realize why the perception from the manhwaphiles diverges so much. It is, because the readers are actually projecting their own thoughts and expectations. Hence this is normal that certain readers are still expecting something innocent and pure. Yet, since I believe, Yoon Seungho was never a sodomite from the start, but was turned into one, for me the smile and gaze from Yoon Seungho in that scene seemed so fake and artificial, especially if you compare it to this one: (chapter 57) versus (chapter 77) In the first one he oozes innocence and affection, in the other he’s in ecstasy, roofied. However, we have to envision that this smile could have just been a projection of the butler, which means that this represents a distorted memory. Like I explained in my previous essay, the noble has the same gaze than the painter under the influence of opium and alcohol.
“Date rape drugs make a sexual assault, including rape easier in one or more ways, such as:
- making a victim more compliant and less able to say no
- weakening a victim so they are unable to resist or fight back
- making a victim fully or partially unconscious
- weakening a victim’s inhibitions, so they consent to sexual activity they may otherwise decline” quoted from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320409#types
And if you pay attention to Yoon Seungho, he was not active at all. He was behaving like the painter in chapter 54.
2. Kim’s past actions
Observe the butler‘s actions. He opens the door without announcing himself. But remember the butler’s MO, it is to delay to deliver the information. We could observe this on different occasions like chapter 44 or 50. He never told the painter about the scholar’s departure(chapter 44), just like he only reported the conversation between Jung In-Hun and Baek Na-Kyum many weeks later. (chapter 50) That’s why I come to the conclusion that he never ran immediately to father Yoon in order to report the incident. The butler just needed to inform him later. While in the past, I used to think that he had used rumors again as an excuse, I have now a different perception. For me, it was someone else badmouthing the main lead, well aware that father Yoon feared gossips the most, (chapter 50) an older version of this image. This explicates why Yoon Seungho had regained consciousness and could fight back against the servants, when he got dragged to the shed. (chapter 77) Besides, observe that the main lead was sequestrated in the storage room on two occasions at least.
3. The shed and study
Hence Yoon Chang-Hyeon ordered to drag the young boy to the barn. (chapter 77) However, since it happened twice, I am deducing that this was not the case for the second time. But if you pay attention to Yoon Seungho‘s bedroom, you will notice that he was living in the actual painter‘s study. (chapter 77) And this means that the intelligent noble was in a privileged situation. Remember Jihwa’s words: (chapter 05) With this remark, the noble expressed a certain annoyance, for he would live next to Yoon Seungho. This truly shows that the painter’s room was a sign of Yoon Seungho‘s favoritism towards the low-born. So if the main lead had such a good reputation and was even favored by the eldest master, this signifies that he could only attract people‘s gaze. Thus some persons definitely envied or resented him, like Yoon Seung-Won and father Lee. And it occurred to me that the younger master had every reason to feel jealous of his elder brother. He might have had the impression that his father had no eyes for him. In other words, he could only benefit from such an incident. If his brother lost his father‘s favor, then he imagined that he would get noticed by his father. As you can imagine, I believe that someone must have poisoned Yoon Seung-Won‘s mind. From my point of view, only a grown-up could have access to the drug. I can‘t shake the butler‘s philosophy from my mind: „Ignorance is a blessing“! The person behind the plot knew about the children‘s weaknesses (innocence, longing for love and recognition, desire) and decided to use them to his advantage.
4. He is not in his right mind
But then suddenly it occurred to me that chapter 77 is a reflection of episode 5. Note the resemblance. Jihwa talked here about virginity by opening the commoner’s shirt. The manhwaphiles will certainly remember that during that night, the noble got rejected, for the lord’s mind was elsewhere! And here we have a proof that Yoon Seungho acted differently in the past. His mind was elsewhere due to the drug, but he didn’t stop his friend. Observe the similarity between the gestures: (chapter 5) (chapter 77) The young boy’s head stood above his childhood friend, exactly like with the painter. Jihwa also removed the shirt, but since the low-born stopped him, this signifies that Yoon Seungho had the opposite reaction. He was allowing his friend to kiss and touch him. However, the young noble couldn’t enjoy this moment, as the butler arrived so that the red-haired aristocrat ran away and abandoned him. Very early on, I had elaborated that Jihwa must have done something to his friend and ran away in order not to get caught. I had come to this deduction due to the incident with the door and the painter’s worries. He feared to have been seen.
5. The reflections in the kaleidoscope
That’s how I recognized a certain pattern in this story, the final proof that the story is built like a kaleidoscope:
- chapter 05:
- Chapter 16: Here, the artist was imitating the red-haired aristocrat’s actions in the past. The only difference is that he was the passive one!! Striking is that both chapters have something in common: one is always seducing the other, and the latter isn’t accepting the advances. In addition, the masturbation was not disclosed to anyone, yet someone notified Jihwa about the painter’s late return.
- Chapter 17: I judge this episode as a reflection from chapter 5, for the gestures are similar: the hand on the painter’s shoulder. Furthermore, the readers will note the presence of the sweets, the butler carrying food, but he’s avoiding the lord’s chamber. At no moment, he reports Jihwa’s trespassing, his master only discovers the assault, for he hears the commotion. The artist wouldn’t have been slapped, if the staff had immediately announced Jihwa’s visit. Striking is the aristocrat’s confession: (chapter 17) Other common points with chapter 77: “seduction”, the violence of the noble, his rage because he feels that the painter is lying and had lost his virginity with Yoon Seungho. Besides, I would like to point out that the lord only discovered Jihwa’s assault through the gossip. He came too late, hence he couldn’t stop Jihwa from insulting and slapping the low-born.
- chapter 50: Jihwa was living in anxieties that he needed alcohol, an indication that in the past he must have struggled as well. We have to imagine that back then, he feared that his father Lee would hear about this incident, but father Yoon never let transpire the incident to the outside world. From my point of view, father Lee must have denied his son’s actions, but the aristocrat with dragon’s eyes was no fool. And remember that I used the same chapter to outline that Kim communicated the information to his master in delay. Note that in this episode, time was essential. Both figures were struggling. While the one hoped, the murder would be done soon to put an end to his suffering, the other had the impression that he was running out of time. He couldn’t change the artist’s heart and mind, too wounded.
- Chapter 57: The visit to the physician showed us the lord’s past. Back then he got hurt by his father, but he was still looking fine. More importantly, he still trusted his butler. Father Yoon requested some medicine, for he believed that his son was not right in his mind. The physician presented the box full of drug which Kim has been giving to his master since his youth.
- Chapter 66: Here, Min arrived unannounced at the mansion and could observe in the lord’s chamber what Yoon Seungho had done. Here, he revealed the so-called culprit for the painter’s disappearance. The common denominators are: the delayed disclosure about the crime, the servants not doing their job and gossiping, the passivity of the butler.
- Chapter 67: After the main lead had discovered the crime disclosed by Min, he rushed to father Lee’s mansion and caused a commotion. What caught my attention is that we had again an incident with a door. In addition, Jihwa couldn’t run away. He was trapped in the room, yet he refused to face his friend. The other similarities are another rejection and the delayed arrival of father Lee putting the blame on Yoon Seungho.
And now pay attention to the number of the episodes: 05 – 16 (1+6 = 7) – 17 (1/ 1+6) – 50 – 57 (50+ 1+6) – 66 ( 5+1/ 5+1) – 67 (6 / 6 + 1) – 77 (1+6 /6+1) Here we have the kaleidoscope. For me this is no coincidence. But more importantly, all these chapters contain seduction, but also rejection, resistance and the presence of drug.
6. Jihwa’s dream
And by putting these chapters together, we get finally the evidence that Jihwa was the boy in the protagonist’s room. Then it came to my mind why the red-haired master was still unhappy in his relationship with Yoon Seungho. When he was wooing his friend in his youth, he saw the friend’s smile and gaze and imagined that he had been accepted. (chapter 77) I also believed that he had to envision this smile from Yoon Seungho to justify his action. An older version from this chapter: (chapter 19) That’s why Jihwa was blushing the whole time. His dream seemed to have come true!! But unfortunately, they got interrupted. But he didn’t realize that this “dream” was just an illusion, and he had been played. Because he had opened the friend’s shirt, he noticed his virginity. That’s why he had an eye for that. (chapter 5) He had gained this experience with his friend. Since I see some parallels between chapter 77 and the first Wedding Night, which stands for illusion and dream, it becomes even more evident that Yoon Seungho had been drugged and both young boys got played. During all these years of separation, the second lead kept his virginity intact for his friend. Once the main lead got betrayed and abandoned, Jihwa saw finally that his dream could come true. Since Yoon Seungho’s gaze had haunted him for so long, he hoped to obtain the same gaze, as in his mind it was the symbol of love and affection. Besides, he had another reason for approaching his friend. Since he had caused his downfall, deep down he imagined that if they became a real couple, then he could do as if the time of their separation had never happened. They would live, as if nothing had happened.
And now, you comprehend why Jihwa was so sure that his friend would never purse and seduce another man! (chapter 17) Yoon Seungho had never done it to him. Remember my observation: the main lead had been totally passive in the study due to the drug. In fact, he had never rejected anyone, (chapter 52) because he had been trained as a kisaeng. And these observations made me recognize another important aspect: Jihwa, exactly like Baek Na-Kyum, has never discovered that sex could be a form of violence. From my point of view, the chapter 77 shows us that sexual assaults can take many different forms. Using a KO-drug is definitely a crime, but due to Jihwa’s lack of experience, he couldn’t recognize the true nature of the situation.
That’s why I believe that Jihwa will still help Min, because he feels bound to him by secrecy. He is acting like the butler, he wants to survive and not get caught, that’s his driven motivation. However, he will be cornered and forced to make a decision: save his own skin or help someone. In my first version, I had written that the moment he discovered Min’s actions, he would be able to judge the situation correctly this time. And this expectation became a reality. (chapter 100) Black Heart taught Lee Jihwa an important lesson, the importance of consent. Someone can be forced to sex, which the second lead never truly grasped. He had to pay a huge price for the stolen kiss and his betrayal 10 years later. Interesting is that Lee Jihwa ran away, because he rejected to be responsible for the painter’s death, a synonym for Yoon Seungho’s curtains. (chapter 100) This is what I had also written in the first version.
However, as you can imagine, I am expecting a growth from the second lead. He will make the opposite choice than Kim, save the painter, while I am more than ever convinced that the butler won’t change his bad habit.
7. The chronology
But let’ s return our attention to chapter 77. When the butler opened the door, the second lead ran away leaving his friend behind. But Kim didn’t report the incident right away, he started spreading some rumor. Why? It is because we have the presence of rumors in chapter 17, 50, 57, 66 and 67. And notice that 17, 57, 66 and 67, he never stopped people from gossiping, while in chapter 50 he revealed the intel as rumor.
Since all the episodes involve the unannounced visit of a noble (17, 50: here Seungho barged in the scholar’s room, 57, 66, 67), I could only come to the conclusion that father Lee was the one who paid a visit to father Yoon, and revealed the incident by naturally putting the whole blame onto Yoon Seungho. But unlike in chapter 67, father Lee visited discreetly the mansion, as he feared gossips. That’s why the physician mentions that Jihwa was supposed to have the illness (chapter 57), but he could never identify the issue. And now, you comprehend why father Lee was red, totally embarrassed (chapter 67), for he was well aware of the truth. We have many possibilities here. Either someone leaked the info to the father secretly, or the son must have confided to him about the incident. Remember that in chapter 68, the painter confided to her his deepest fears and struggles. Let’s not forget that the son had hired an amateur spy in order to be updated about the events occurring in Yoon Seungho’s mansion. Consequently, I am inclined that the incident must have reached father Lee’s ears, and in order to maintain his respectability, he preferred covering up the commotion by blaming the elder son Yoon.
Since father Lee had intervened and Kim chose to reveal the “truth”, father Yoon could only perceive the incident as a truth. Consequently, father Yoon ordered his servants to drag Yoon Seungho and to confront his son. From my point of view, father Lee was questioned as well, but as you can imagine, he covered up his own son’s action. Since everyone was pointing the finger at the main lead, no one sided with the young boy. In other words, he got not only blamed, but also framed.
Right after he asked his staff to drag him to the shed as a punishment. But as you can imagine, Yoon Seungho couldn’t have any idea why his father reacted like that, for he had been drugged. He had no recollection, hence he denied the existence of the incident. However, the father chose to believe Kim, as he had the crowd. Imagine his reactions: the main lead had to hear from him what he had supposedly done. I would like to point out that victims of rape due to KO-drug suffer from immense guilt, as they showed no resistance or even seemed to “enjoy” the incident.
The valet gaslighted the poor boy by making him feel guilty (chapter 77), but despite his harsh and cruel words, the young protagonist chose to continue trusting him and his words. Let’s not forget that Kim claimed that his father would fix his “problems”. (chapter 77) From my point of view, the young master was determined to show good will and to listen to Kim’s advice.
Because he was sent to the shed and we see the straw mat beating right after, we have the impression that this was the punishment he received for this incident. But this was an illusion created by the author. Why? First, when the father visited the doctor, the young boy was still looking fine. He had such a rosy complexion, and still admired and trusted the butler. However, the main lead’s gaze changed after the straw mat beating. He recognized that he had been betrayed and abandoned by Kim. Observe the slight movement of the iris. First, the iris is directed at Kim, then it moves in the opposite direction. By looking away, he clearly unveils his inner thoughts and emotions: he has been betrayed and abandoned by his butler. He resents him, yet until that moment he was still willing to trust despite the multiple betrayals. He is disillusioned.
But there’s another indication that the straw mat beating didn’t occur right away. It is, because of the following panel: (chapter 55) First, there’s no rain. Secondly, Yoon Seungho was feverish and his eyes were so bruised after the harsh punishment that I doubt he could still see clearly the boy’s gesture so from faraway. So for me, that’s the moment when he is dragged into the courtyard and not during the straw mat beating. In the past, I used to think, it was Yoon Seung-Won, but then after the latest episode I started doubting it. However, like one of my followers reminded me that Byeonduck had confirmed about Yoon Seung-Won’s identity. Yet, observe that the lord and the boy have no face. Why? It is because the two persons embody not only Yoon Chang-Hyeon and Yoon Seung-Won, but also father Lee and Lee Jihwa. The scholar Lee was the one who had asked for the flogging! That’s the reason why he said this to the lord years later: (chapter 82) This statement proves that he had done it before! Furthermore, the red-haired master is connected to the straw mat beating. (chapter 12) This explicates why Lee Jihwa resented the brother and the father, for in his eyes they were responsible for his childhood friend’s suffering. And since the father had done it once, then he had no problem to order a second flogging or straw mat beating, just like the king Yeonjo who punished the Crown Prince Sado so brutally. So because the eldest master next to Seung-Won is dressed differently in chapter 77: (chapter 77) I could only come to the conclusion that these two panels are not referring to the same incident.
From my point of view, Yoon Seungho received the second straw mat beating after the rape!! And this means that Kim had been present, but he had not intervened. (chapter 65) Here, he had been brought back to the past. Remember the past mirrors the present. In my eyes, the rape of the main lead occurred at the same time than the painter’s. It took place in fall. So when did Baek Na-Kyum get sick?
It was after the first sex marathon! He was dragged to the bedchamber and due to the long sex session, he got sick. Notice the parallels:
- he is so wounded, but the father refuses to call for a doctor (chapter 33)
- it is raining, and the painter got sick due to the wet clothes (chapter 27/29)
- Father Yoon abandons his son and leaves him behind. He doesn’t even carry his son himself. (chapter 33) Note that Yoon Seungho called for a doctor, he even carried himself to the study and waited there, until the doctor had given his prescription.
And now, the manhwaphiles comprehend why I came to this interpretation.
What happened is the following. Once he had been abandoned by the father, the rapist could approach him and have sex with him. Kim heard the boy’s resistance, but he chose to remain outside, until the man was finished. (chapter 65) I am quite sure that the butler’s passivity was justified that it was done for the main lead’s sake. However, once it was over, the butler was forced to see the consequences of his bad choice. But the valet refused to become responsible and gaslighted the young master again. If he had not kissed Lee Jihwa, if he had put his prick in the hole etc… The main character had still acted like a dog and a cat, and this time he reported it to his master directly so that the latter came to the conclusion that Yoon Seungho was still useful for him. Or the eldest master knew about it anyway. But the main lead never got to discover that Kim had heard him outside the room, but had remained silent and passive.
And now, you comprehend why Yoon Seungho was so hurt and disappointed by Kim. Kim never protected him or even defended him at all. He made sure that the young boy would be blamed and should feel guilty or he remained paralyzed and speechless. He never rushed to his care. And since father Yoon speaks “chambers”, this means that the protagonist had already become the lord Song’s “favored servant.” But he had not reached the bottom, he needed to become a kisaeng. In my eyes, the young boy got punished, as he was still refusing his role as „favored servant“. And now, you comprehend why Kim threatened the doctor in chapter 33. The latter had reminded the butler of his own wrongdoings: (chapter 33) Back then, he not only followed his master’s requests, but also he did nothing at all. He stayed immobile and shocked. (chapter 77) I believe that when the valet looked at the young boy’s gaze and perceived his own true reflection (a disgusting and fake domestic), the man was surprised. He never imagined that he would be judged differently: (chapter 67) The main lead must have thought similarly. But due to the long exposure to abuse and to the drug, Yoon Seungho repressed these thoughts and emotions.
8. The beneficiaries
So if my theory is correct (Yoon Seungho was drugged), we have to question ourselves. Who benefitted the most from the protagonist’s downfall?
- Yoon Seung-Won: he could finally obtain the study next to his father’s bedchamber. He would finally get some “recognition”. And note that the brother got dressed exactly like the main lead. He had finally reached his goal: he was the better son.
- the pedophile
- Father Yoon: I am convinced that the father made a deal with the rapist. Now, the author has revealed that it was Yoon Seungho in the kisaeng house (chapter 68). Father Yoon imagined that if he had sex with a kisaeng house, he would be cured. However, something happened in the gibang. The young boy refused which forced the nobles to intervene. Yoon Seungho got dragged and tied up by the black guards. Naturally, father Yoon could only jump to the conclusion that with such a rejection, Yoon Seungho was admitting his homosexuality. This could only reinforce the prejudices the father had about his son. The irony is that with such an attempt, father Yoon exposed that he was a man obsessed with sex. He never understood that sex is strongly intertwined with love and warmth. Thus I deduce that father Yoon never associated sex to affection. For him, it was either a synonym for power, submission or duty as the noble has to make sure that he has sons to continue the legacy. With this new insight, I come to the conclusion that the man was totally fooled by his surroundings and most importantly by the rapist. Everyone lied out of selfishness and cowardice, and let the young boy take the whole burden. Hence the father truly believed in his son’s homosexuality and out of resent and contempt, when he saw an opportunity to use his son for his own career, he was trained as a kisaeng. In my eyes, this idea was definitely suggested by the pedophile, though I doubt that he was directly involved in the incident in the kisaeng house. And the man dreamed of bringing greatness to the Yoons with his “connections”. However, this was just a pyrrhic victory, as both Yoons lost more than they gained, for the rapist hadn’t kept his promise.
That’s why I believe that the younger brother was indeed involved in the first incident misguided by the rapist, instilling his jealousy, an older version of Min and Jihwa. But the young son never imagined that his father would treat his brother like that. The panel from chapter 55 exposes Yoon Seung-Won’s guilt and silence. But as time passed on, he could still benefit from this. He finally got recognition from his father. (chapter 86) But it was in detriment of the Yoons’ power! The father lost everything, yet the younger master didn’t suffer much from it first, until he reached adulthood. Now, the father was putting his whole hope on him, and that’s how Yoon Seung-Won realized the existence of such a burden. That’s the reason why he contacted his brother again. He hoped to get an office through his brother’s connections and power. Remember that Baek Na-Kyum’s real torment started with the arrival of the learned sir to the mansion. Hence the moment “lord Song” came to the propriety, he started scheming to achieve his goal: he was bewitched by the young protagonist, he needed to taste him. However, from my point of view, the pedophile had sent the butler for this exact purpose. He must have definitely known how Kim would behave in there. I have already exposed that for me, the butler represents the poisoned gift from chapter 19. (chapter 19)
But since the whole tragedy was caused by delayed information, I deduce that timing is essential, especially when it comes to “justice”. Since the “accomplices” and “perpetratrors” never got punished, they imagined that they had escaped human justice. However, karma was waiting for them. Jihwa was never happy, though he had become the main lead’s lover. Why? It is because he had to live with his guilt. Moreover, he had wished to obtain Yoon Seungho’s love. In other words, he was living an illusion. The brother didn’t gain anything in the end, as his comfortable life and good reputation were based on Yoon Seungho’s suffering. Secondly, father Yoon almost lost everything. However, I doubt that all of them learned their lesson, just like the pedophile. This explicates why Yoon Chang-Hyeon schemed again in season 3. (chapter 94) He hoped to appear as a good lord, while his son had mistreated his own messenger.
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