Painter Of The Night: Dogs🐕 don’t wear pants 👖

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. If you want to read more essays, here is the link to the table of contents:

It would be great if you could make some donations/sponsoring:  That way, you can support me with “coffee” so that I have the energy to keep examining manhwas. Besides, I need to cover up the expenses for this blog.

The starting point of this analysis was this quote from Lee Jihwa. (chapter 12) The mention of a new toy implied the existence of an old plaything. But we know for sure that Yoon Seungho has never possessed anything. He was treated like a male kisaeng himself, for he was not allowed to refuse advances from anyone. (chapter 52) Finally, he was forced to share anything he owned to others. (chapter 52) That’s how I realized that the inner thought from Lee Jihwa was exposing his knowledge. The latter knew about Yoon Seungho’s true conditions. The latter had been treated like a plaything by the pedophile. As the red-haired noble had been raised as an filial son respecting elders, Lee Jihwa saw no reason to change the way Yoon Seungho was “trained”. (chapter 57) Besides, he could only benefit from it. Now, he could have sex to his heart content. He only started playing tricks, the moment he felt that his childhood friend was escaping from his claws.

On the other hand, the author recently explained on a live session that Yoon Seungho’s mother committed suicide, for her son was tormented. However, my problem is that I only heard about this through others. Some stans were saying that Yoon Seungho was getting abused, others would even say, he got tortured. So was it abuse or torture? There’s a slight difference between these two notions. For I was a little unsure about this, I preferred to leave it at “abuse”. But then I realized this. If he had been truly tortured, then he should have traces on his body, they used to break bones… so that they ended up crippled. The readers could witness the way the Joseon authorities tortured people in order to obtain confession. (Chapter 37) On the other hand, since the lord went to the authorities in season 3, I deduce that he must have gone there in the past too, yet not as a victim/plaintiff, but as an accused. Because of this new revelation, I made a new connection: sex and torture.

Striking is that in the father‘s eyes, he was not even a slave, he was like an animal. (Chapter 83) Why? He viewed him like a dog, for he was living in the shed. He even had no proper hanbok and no real hair dress, and the manhwaphiles can certainly remember the idiom: clothes make the man! If he was no man, then he was an animal, a dog. Even his food reminded me of dog food. But why was he living there? (Chapter 83) In this essay, I will answer to this question. As a first conclusion, the lord was not even treated like a male kisaeng in the past, but more like a dog. Consequently, I deduce that when Baek Na-Kyum met the lord in the inn (chapter 1), his status had already changed. He was slowly experiencing emancipation. He was living like a male kisaeng. Thus I conclude that Lee Jihwa contributed to his recovery to a certain extent. (chapter 59) However, don’t get me wrong. I believe that the change occurred thanks to Baek Na-Kyum’s intervention, the new version of this scene. (chapter 68) Their path crossed a second time in the gibang which led to the painter’s expulsion which affected the lord‘s living condition. But let’s return our attention to the lord’s long suffering.

In the past, while reading season 2, I started getting confused about the identity of the abuser. When in the shed (chapter 62) the lord turned into a shadow or ghost from the past, certain gestures were similar to the patriarch‘s. (chapter 57) (chapter 62) This explicates why after reading episode 62 for the first time, I had suspected the father to have raped his own son. Yet this thought was dropped shortly after. Then when episode 77 was released, I realized that in the shed the lord was also reminded of Kim’s betrayal, for the latter would always drag him to the shed. Observe the way he was “carried away“. It was like an “embrace“. (Chapter 77) In episode 77, the readers can witness 2 incidents how the lord was brought to the storage house. (Chapter 77, this is a different situation, for we have different servants except Kim) Therefore in the barn, Yoon Seungho behaved like his surrogate father Kim as well. This explicates why we have the fake embrace and the insincere apology. (chapter 62) (chapter 62) As you can see, the hug from the past was the symbol of violence and hypocrisy. It served to drag the lord to the storage room. And this new observation led me to the following conclusion: Yoon Seungho was copying the behavior from all his abusers from the past: his brutal father, the hypocrite butler and naturally the pedophile. (chapter 62) Hence the protagonist grabbed the painter by the hair. For me, the “mysterious lord Song“ used to hurt the main lead by the hair, when he got angry. How did I come to this interpretation? Note that at no moment we never saw Yoon Chang-Hyeon taking his son’s hair. First, the lord’s head was covered with a hat. (Chapter 57) Even in the bedchamber, he would either slap his son or grab him by the throat. (Chapter 83) (chapter 83) As for Kim, the latter would always restrain the main lead by the shoulders, the fake embrace. (Chapter 57) And now, you comprehend why the lord dragged the two nobles by the topknot. (chapter 8) For a long time, I have demonstrated that this gesture represented one of Yoon Seungho’s biggest traumas. But why would the pedophile do that? One might say that it is because of Yoon Seungho’s resistance and struggling. He needed to punish him for his disobedience. Note that the noble with the mole and Lee Jihwa got humiliated as sanctions. (Chapter 18) However, in my eyes there exists another explanation which I will elaborate in this analysis either. From my point of view, the shed and the humiliation are strongly intertwined. This was particularly visible, when the lord forced Baek Na-Kyum to have sex in the courtyard. (Chapter 64) But why would he do that in the end? It was to train him, to make him obedient. (Chapter 64) Remember how he had declared that the painter was now his sex toy. He should listen to his master or owner. That’s how I came to this deduction. The infamous lord Song is a sadomasochist. In the worse case, he is simply a pure sadist. I am inclined to believe more in the first view. With this, we would have the link between sex and torment. And the picture from the erotic book where you see the bearded man having a braided man on his lap outside indicates that Yoon Seungho was here getting punished. The pedophile loved seeing Yoon Seungho humiliated and in tears. (chapter 01) And now, we have the explanation why the lord could no longer cry and how he came to hate “fake apology”. This was the result of the exposure to the sexual assaults under the form of BDSM.

1. The true nature of BDSM

But what is BDSM exactly?

It’s an abbreviation for bondage, discipline (or domination), sadism (or submission), masochism: sexual activity that involves, for example, tying a partner up, games in which one partner controls another, or giving and receiving pain for pleasure quoted from

This means that BDSM is a role play, where one acts as a dominant and the other as submissive. However, in order to become an act, there must exist consent and agreement. A contract is necessary, for the dominant has to ensure the submissive’s safety. He needs to know the limit between real and fake, and as such when the pain becomes too much to bear and is no longer a synonym for pleasure. The dominant needs to know boundaries. Thus the couple has to have a safety word. Once this word is said, the “punishment or humiliation“ has to stop. This truly shows that BDSM is strongly regulated. Therefore on different websites, you can see many recommendations. One stipulated 10 rules so that BDSM would be enjoyable for the couple: 1. be patient, 2. be humble, 3. be open, 4. be honest, 5. be realistic, 6. be sensitive, 7. be genuine, 8. be healthy, 9. Communicate, 10. have fun. ( Striking is that during their last love session, the couple was already following these principles, though there was no real punishment. Don’t forget that the painter had sex in front of people behind the doors. (chapter 96) They ended up in the hallway, anyone could see them. Then in another website, I found the following principles:

„What Daddy should do for his little Prince:

1. Help me brush my hair if you’re with me.

2. Help me pick out clothes and food.

3. Take bathies with me sometimes, and showers with me most of the time if you’re here.

4. Hold my hand as often as possible.

5. Call me my preferred words: little, sweetie, prince, puppy etc.

6. Give me treats when I’m good.

7. Punish me when I’m bad.

8. Praise me when I do good. No matter how small the good thing is.

11. Don’t make threats. Punish me if I’m bad, but don’t take things away or hurt me when you’re mad.

12. Never lose your temper because your day is going bad.

13. Always go to bed and get enough rest as much as possible.

16. If I’m sad I like hugs and kisses and pets and nice words.

17. Littles need to know they are loved.

18. Always be honest with me.

19. If I’m being a brat, I want attention.”

20. Don’t ever break promises, ever.” quoted from

2. The real and fake sadomasochist

After reading the second list of rules, the manhwaphiles will realize two important aspects. First, the main lead was slowly developing a manual of BDSM without realizing it. Note that after the coerced sex in the pavilion, he desired to take care of the painter personally. He took the horse, and if he had not met the butler on his way to the pavilion, he would have done it himself. (chapter 25) He even brought the hanbok himself. (chapter 26) The lord went so far to take his bath with his lover to clean him. (chapter 59) He made sure that his partner wouldn’t suffer. (chapter 89) Yoon Seungho knew by experience that the rest of semen in the stomach would cause him ailing. (chapter 77) This was the reason why Yoon Seungho had a fever afterwards. Don’t forget that the pedophile used Taoist sexual practices, this means the young boy had a sex marathon each time, he met the pedophile. Thus I interpret the bruise on Yoon Seungho’s eye not only as an indication of resistance, but also as a source of joy for the sexual predator. We have the reaction from lord Jang as the perfect example. (Chapter 101) He blushed, though he could see that Baek Na-Kyum was in pain, the face covered with blood. Remember what the painter did in the pavilion to the main lead: he scratched his face. (Chapter 25) Thus we have to envision that the lord must have reacted the same way and wounded his abuser. And imagine the consequence if he had wounded the king on the face. This could be seen as a reason for a punishment. (Chapter 77) Remember Black Heart‘s warning in the shaman‘s house: (chapter 102)

Under this new light, the readers can comprehend what happened. Because he was the ruler, he expected acceptance. In addition, the king never took care of his “lover” properly, for in the palace, the staff was supposed to take care of everything for him: he would receive the assistance from maids and eunuchs in order to get dressed. This signifies, he must have had the same expectations in the Yoons’ mansion. He always relied on Yoon Chang-Hyeon and the so-called loyal valet. But the father could only resent his own son, for he rejected homosexuality, as it stands in opposition to lineage. As for the valet, the latter was too much plagued by his own guilt that he resented the nobles for his own wrongdoings. He never realized that he was abandoning the young master.

Yoon Seungho learned through the hard way to take care of himself. However, because the protagonist had been traumatized by the sexual fake lesson, I doubt that he could have an erection. Thus the valet went to the physician again in order to get replenishing medicine. (chapter 33) This is an euphemism for aphrodisiac. Thus we had this confession from the physician. (chapter 57) Why did the butler visit the doctor without Yoon Chang-Hyeon? It is because he had been ordered to fetch the aphrodisiac. By feeding him with the drug, they wanted to force Yoon Seungho to accept the advances from the king, and as such to admit his sexual orientation. He was a sodomite. (chapter 65) They faked his “pleasure“ making him feel guity and dirty. That’s how he got tricked. This explicates why the main lead still has no idea of the use of the aphrodisiac.

And now, you have the answer why the king failed to “tame” Yoon Seungho. He did the exact opposite what he should have done. He never followed such rules: respect, health, etc… Lord Song never became responsible for the young boy, thus he never confessed as well. He never apologized for his mistakes or his brutality. (chapter 71) As a king, he couldn’t bow down to a noble. Observe that the roles of “dominant” and “submissive” are not clearly defined between Yoon Seungho and Baek Na-Kyum. The lord is the dominant sexually speaking, but note the vocabulary: (chapter 72) (chapter 89) If you pay attention to their interaction, the lord acts like the servant. The reason is simple. If you take into consideration the second list of recommendations, you will recognize that the roles are switched. Outside a sex session, the submissive becomes the “king“, and the dominant has to act like his servant. That way, a certain balance is created. But this was never the case between the pedophile and the teenager. The latter was always reduced to a plaything and at the end to an animal. The pedophile never called the protagonist by his name. (Chapter 1) He was just called “my boy“. And that was it. He never created a real bound with the main lead. Therefore trust was totally inexistent. And because the young noble could only fear the man, he came to hate him to the point he could die. The latter made promises which he never kept!! (Chapter 101) How could he vow to “protect or help“ Yoon Seungho, when the latter was tormented constantly and exposed to violence against his will? And this could only escalate to Yoon Seungho‘s attempt to commit suicide. (Chapter 57) What caught my attention is that Kim needed the help from the other servant to keep Yoon Seungho on the bed. This is relevant, because this reveals that Yoon Seungho had reached an age, when the bearded man was no longer strong enough to restrain the main lead. It is very likely that before killing himself, the protagonist had even tried to hurt the ruler. (Chapter 55) I had this idea, for the story is going in circle, meaning that the lord must have done it before, just like he did in season 3. The possible death from the main lead and probably his own pain must have brought the mysterious lord Song back to reality. That‘s the reason why he sent for the physician‘s assistance. He was encouraged to keep his distance from the young man, just like the latter was incited to stay away from the painter in season 1 (sickness, Min), in season 2 (the scholar‘s insult) and in season 3 (the rough sex session in chapter 81-82). Thus I deduce that the pedophile has always kept an eye on Yoon Seungho and his recovery. In my opinion, the man has not forgotten the main lead at all. Why do I think so? It is because he kept the painting… (chapter 82) a souvenir from their time together, just like Min who stole the painting in the study.

Thanks to the painter, the more time passes on, the more Yoon Seungho changed. Not only he returned to his original personality, but he slowly developed the rules how to play BDSM. He discovered the importance of “consent” after the second sex marathon. Striking is that he got reprimanded by his butler after the love session. This explicates why the main lead never requested the painter in his bedchamber, and only visited him during the night, when he was asleep. (chapter 74) Thus I am deducing that Seungho-Ya will become the safe word between the two protagonists. (Chapter 72)

While Yoon Seungho dresses the painter personally, or he cleans him with his own hands, the king imagined that the butler would take care of everything. Thus I come to the deduction that the king will discover the real reason why his relationship with Yoon Seungho was doomed, and why he could never obtain his heart. Kim had also betrayed him, for he had never revealed his knowledge at the right time. He used paltering to escape punishment. However, I would like not to be misunderstood here. Naturally, lord Song is as much responsible as the other abusers. Why? The king only focused on his own pleasure, and never paid attention to the counterpart, he was totally in denial that he was using violence. Deep down, he knew that this was wrong, for the main lead was just a boy, like the “nickname“ was revealing it. He thought, as the ruler, he could overlook social norms. However, here he had definitely crossed the line. So imagine what BDSM means for a teenager. It is indeed a torture. He must have been definitely scared. And the king must have threatened him too not to share his sexual habits to others. I am quite sure that the ruler was not willing to admit his own sexual habits to others, hence he did it in the shed. It is also possible that he didn‘t mind of Yoon Seungho being described as a licentious man. That way, the king‘s behavior wouldn‘t be criticized. But because Yoon Seungho was sent to the shed, and punished there, the “fathers“ misjudged the real “value“ of the main lead. They truly thought that the king only viewed the main lead as an animal. They took the punishments in the shed as face-value reinforcing their disregard for the protagonist.

Thus I come to the conclusion that the shed was the place where the main lead was exposed to BDSM. This explicates why Byeonduck revealed such an image in a tweet. The noble with the mole is trapped in a shed, and the color purple, a symbol for royalty, is dominant. From my point of view, the author revealed everything in this tweet. On the other hand, I would like to point out that here the man doesn’t look scared or rejecting the use of the bondage or the dildo.

This explicates why Yoon Seungho was so rough in the storage room. (Chapter 63) He was reliving his biggest trauma. Yet, he never went overboard in the shed. Note that the moment the painter called his lover “lord Seungho”, there was a switch. (chapter 63) That’s the reason why the lord changed the painter’s position and faced him. (chapter 63) The lord communicated his feelings and thoughts, and he even made a promise. (Chapter 63) This new perception reinforces my impression that there was no rape in the storage room. The painter kept saying “no“, because he was actually scared about his own reactions. Strangely he felt pleasure, thus he kept having climaxes. He was simply in denial. The irony is that the noble attempted himself to be cruel during the night of the revelation (episode 62, 63, 64), but he failed, because the night at the doctor’s house was still fresh in his memory. He couldn‘t forget the tender embrace from the painter. (Chapter 62) This explicates why he stood up during the penetration, he was forcing the artist to hug him, to clinch onto him. He wanted to relive it again.

As you can imagine, the infamous lord Song knew no boundary. He was simply the worst kind of sado-masochiste. First, this was never an act, the submission and as such violence were real. Why? It was because of his social position. He was the king, yet BDSM is a role play. Moreover, I would like to add the Marquis de Sade as the best illustration. The French philosopher from the 18th Century was arrested due to sexual crimes: rape, sodomy, sex with teenagers, abuses (bondage). We don’t know for sure how far he went, yet there’s no ambiguity that the libertine had definitely crossed the line. I doubt that the man knew about the necessity of rules in BDSM as well. Striking is that his „victims“ were prostitutes and people from the lower social class, while he belonged himself to the old nobility. I am suspecting that the man didn’t truly outlive his sexual fantasies with women from the same social status. Thus I came to the following conclusion: the necessity to distinguish fantasy and reality. My faithful readers will certainly recall that the protagonists had to learn to make this distinction. Consequently, I have the impression that the king didn’t make the difference in the beginning. He thought that he was finally able to outlive his sexual fantasies, not comprehending that this was just an illusion, for the “violence“ was real to Yoon Seungho. Under this new approach, we have the explanation why Yoon Seungho never paid attention to the marks left by the ties on his wrists. (Chapter 63) He had internalized the marks left by the bondage. This is no coincidence that the artist‘s wrist was covered by the bandage, the reflection from the torment in his youth. Under this new aspect, the presence of the bed in the shed was like a magical tool, which helped the lord to not turn into his tormentor. He was just a ghost from the past, and the word “lord Seungho“ worked like a magic spell, which stopped Yoon Seungho from becoming as vicious and cruel as lord Song. Moreover Lord Song sounds very similar to lord Seungho. And this new discovery confirms my interpretation that Kim was the helping hand of the king. He had to provide him with the white bands for the bondage, just like he had helped for the young master’s kidnapping in the gibang. (chapter 86) But don‘t get me wrong. The king sent the main lead to the shed, when he wished to punish him. Yes, he repeated the same actions than Yoon Chang-Hyeon. And what is the common denominator between these two circles? The valet…

Besides, he didn’t treat Yoon Seungho like a slave, but like an animal. One might say that it was not his fault, for he was not aware of the physical and emotional torment from the other abusers. However, the moment he “claimed“ Yoon Seungho as his „partner“ or “plaything“, it was his duty to ensure his safety. Besides, if he truly cared for him, he should have showed more interest in the young master. Thus he became responsible for Yoon Seungho’s suffering. Note that so far, no servant was treated like that in the mansion. Even Soongap from Bongchon Bride was treated much better, until he received his terrible punishment. Soongap was never forced to live in the shed. Under this new light, I see it as another evidence that the infamous lord Song could only be the king! He is the only person who has absolute power in Joseon, and as such knows no “real boundaries“. Furthermore, as the ruler, he is expecting no rejection from his subjects. Anyone watching sageuks (historical Korean dramas), is aware that the Joseon king was never an absolute monarch, for he was always controlled by the officials, ministers, the Queen dowager and the Queen. There were also protocols which he was forced to follow. And we have an indication about the king‘s lack of power and wealth. (Chapter 76) Thus I am assuming that the lord Song must have been frustrated about this contradiction. On the one hand, he was supposed to be the most powerful man in Joseon, on the other hand, he had to rely on the aristocracy. Hence I have the impression that the ruler vented his anger and frustration on Yoon Seungho unconsciously. That way, he could outlive his sexual fantasies, where he was powerful. But because of these terrible sexual habits, the young master could never get treated by a physician. Anyone would have recognized the sign of abuse.

But imagine what it meant for Yoon Seungho, a teenager who discovered sex through the most horrible way! He had been traumatized by the penetration between the kisaeng and the fake teacher. Striking is that the perpetrator and the other adults all reduced sex to penetration, like my friend Luzyla pointed out to me. The dildo and the comments from the nobles (chapter 92) (Chapter 101) are a proof that they never discovered the importance of kisses, embraces, caresses and words during sex. They never recognized that they were denying the existence of love, too obsessed with their heritage and their reputation. The manhwalovers will remember my previous observation. The pedophile had never kissed the main lead. The king like all the nobles had disconnected sex from love. Why? It is because sex was a duty… to continue the lineage. And now, you have the explanation why the pedophile and all the others reduced sex to penetration.

Under this new perspective, it becomes comprehensible why Heena got scared in the annex. (Chapter 96) When she heard the noise (PLOP), she was brought back to the past, when she had witnessed a scene of BDSM, though the violence was real. A similar situation to this scene: (chapter 73) The pictures from the erotic publication are the evidence for this theory. After hearing the description from the butler about the events in the shed, the noona Heena believed to know what had happened in the shed. (Chapter 68) She could see the traces on the painter’s body, and conclude that the valet was telling the truth. However, the butler had been misled himself, for his perception was biased by his past experience. (Chapter 64) The butler thought that the “no“ from the painter was truly real, while the latter was just dishonest. It was the result from the “indoctrination“ from Heena and Jung In-Hun. The valet had been deceived in the end. The humiliation and punishment were not real, for the painter did ejaculate, and back then he was not under the influence of the aphrodisiac. (Chapter 64) This was not like in the past, when the brutality was real. And now, you comprehend why Heena‘s resent towards her brother became more visible after witnessing the love session between the noble and Baek Na-Kyum. (Chapter 97) From my point of view, she had already internalized that the painter would never change, he was already too “damaged“ to change. However, since he was close to Yoon Seungho, he could become in danger, for she knew the connection between the ruler and the main lead.

3. The pants

And now, you are probably wondering why I selected such a title, when so far, I didn’t mention the pants. Nevertheless, my faithful readers will certainly recall my previous analysis “Who is wearing the pants?“ , where I had pointed out about the lord’s habit who kept his trousers for the most part of the time. (Chapter 72) He was copying the habit from the pedophile in my eyes. The latter would never remove all his clothes on his own. As the king, he was used to get undressed by his own staff. Only the teenager as the uke was undressed, unless the lord was accompanied by the other nobles, like in this scene. (Chapter 54) And because the ruler was too focused on his own pleasure, he never got to know the young noble. He only realized too late that he had made huge mistakes. (chapter 37) Because he couldn‘t accept his responsibility, he preferred blaming others: Yoon Seungho, Yoon Chang-Hyeon, the real lord Song, the 3 nobles who got tortured, etc. Thus everyone got punished. He had definitely developed feelings for Yoon Seungho, but he would never admit it, for love was not accepted among nobility and even less between 2 men. However, I don‘t think that the man should be romanticized, for he abused a young boy for almost a decade. He has to be judged as a sexual predator, who hunted down Yoon Seungho to get him. (Chapter 72) Yoon Seungho was his prey.

4. Discipline and sadism

After reading my whole explanation, the manhwaworms can comprehend why Yoon Seungho said this to his childhood friend. (Chapter 59) The main lead was supposed to meet his tormentor in a public place. Yet their relationship was based on “humiliation“! The “king“ loved to punish Yoon Seungho through humiliation and violence. This explicates why Yoon Seungho reacted that way. (Chapter 56) (chapter 57) This is what he experienced himself in the past. And observe that the childhood friend’s biggest punishment was actually his public humiliation, when he confessed and got rejected. (Chapter 59) In my eyes, the king sought to obtain Yoon Seungho’s affection, but he never realized this. He definitely confused it with submission. He definitely imagined that once the teenager would become submissive, he would have achieved his goal. But he was doomed to fail. In his mind, as the ruler no one could ever reject him. Besides, as the ruler, he was allowed to use his power and as such his strength to obtain what he desires. Don’t forget that in Joseon, people viewed all the monarchs als representatives of the gods. The latter would support them. However, since his youth Yoon Seungho had a strong opinion and mind. Therefore he had caused trouble to his father, as the latter viewed his critical thinking as a synonym for a lack of respect for traditions and the elders, the so-called illness from his childhood. Besides, I am suspecting that the lord must have had visions as well, which would contradict the father‘s dreams and expectations. (Chapter 57) Yoon Chang-Hyeon looked down on his son’s critical thinking and came to doubt his words. The author left many clues for this interpretation: (chapter 101) Lord Jang got aroused, when he saw the bloodied lips from the painter. Moreover, Black Heart had brought a huge dildo. (Chapter 101) The item was huge, therefore it could only injure the artist’s anus. (Chapter 100) (chapter 101) Even the noble said that this must have hurt. The painter disliked being bitten in the neck. (Chapter 88) Furthermore, the lord said this to the painter in the study: (chapter 85) These were the words from the pedophile. He was repeating his sexual abuser‘s words. And this proves to me again that the lord was abused in the study, but if he rejected the man, he would be sent to the shed where he would receive his punishment. In other words, Yoon Seungho was punished with sex and violence. And now, you have the explanation why he got gangraped in the end. But the readers should keep in their mind that this was no real BDSM, for the brutality was real. The king couldn’t distinguish between reality and illusion. And this coincides with all my previous interpretations.

  • The importance of acting,
  • The protagonists had to learn to distinguish between illusion and reality
  • The constant switching between lord and servant,
  • The differentiation between conscious and unconscious
  • The repetition of trials leading to punishment (an allusion to BDSM)

Naturally, the king is the biggest hypocrite in the end. He raped the boy, and he knew that. But he could always legitimate his actions with the following excuse. The young boy was a sodomite anyway, for he couldn’t do the deed with a kisaeng. He had brought him upon himself, since he had accepted his offer in the first place. He definitely used religion and philosophy (Taoism) to hide his crimes. By maintaining the harmony between the Yin and Yang, he would live healthy and live longer. But exactly like Lee Jihwa, he was attempting to fool himself and the main lead. And because he made no distinction between real and fake submission, neither father Yoon nor Kim felt obliged to view Yoon Seungho as the king’s official wife or concubine. How could they know that the man viewed the main lead more than just a plaything or a dog? This explicates why Kim had such a memory in the end. (Chapter 65) Kim had brought him to the barn, because Yoon Seungho was punished there. This could only be suggested by the butler, as I don’t think that the king would ask for the owner of the mansion for permission. This room was definitely taboo, no one was allowed to approach the study or the shed. Yoon Seungho was exposed to rough sex, and Kim knew this, like mentioned above. But he never witnessed it himself, he only discovered the aftermath. From my point of view, this scene occurred after the lord’s loss of virginity. (Chapter 65) And now, you have the explanation why he got gangraped in the end. I had always sensed that this was a punishment for Yoon Seungho.

I will stop here, for the essay is already very long. But before ending this, I would add two more aspects. I was still unable to comment about this panel, (chapter 94). Notice that violence was used against the painter to mask attraction. The “girly features“ were definitely perceived as something tantalizing. Thus I perceive this incident as a reflection from the BDSM. It was to push the artist away, to incite him to leave the gibang. Heena feared that he might catch the attention of the pedophile, and it is very likely that she was manipulated by the scholar, her idol.

As a conclusion, this new approach gave me new insight about the pedophile‘s personality. Either he will come to the city very soon or he is already in town and this for two reasons. It is related to Yoon Seungho and Black Heart. There’s no ambiguity that the death of Min who was definitely close to him will force him to intervene directly. In the past, I had developed the theory that Black Heart and his friend with the mole were the king’s new companions. In truth, he will use this incident to reenter the main lead‘s life. First, Yoon Seungho was supposed to have committed suicide. He will ask about Yoon Seungho‘s whereabouts and about the incident leading to his disappearance: the rumor about the protagonist‘s crimes (the death of the scholar and the servants)…. And that‘s how he will discover that Baek Na-Kyum is considered as the main lead‘s bride! From my point of view, he knew about the existence of the painter, yet he must have explained his “bride“‘s behavior like this: (chapter 18)

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 Reddit-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.

Steel Under Silk / Painter Of The night: The lotus 🌸 and the snake🐍

This is where you can read these manhwas. But be aware that these manhwa are 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 concerning Painter Of The Night:  Steel Under Silk:  If you want to read more essays about this manhwa or others, here is the link to the table of contents:

It would be great if you could make some donations/sponsoring:  That way, you can support me with “coffee” so that I have the energy to keep examining manhwas. Besides, I need to cover up the expenses for this blog.

The chapter 7 confirmed my previous interpretation concerning the signification of the Korean title: Blade and flower. The main lead Lee Yeonjo is indeed the flower. However, since I am not speaking Korean, I had no idea about the meaning of his name. (chapter 7) The young man is associated to the lotus flower.

1. Purity and corruption

This is very important for two reasons. First, the lotus is associated to purity and beauty indicating Lee Yeonjo’s function in the story. He will catch the attention of many characters, especially of lord Chang and Kwon Hee-Ryang so that he will be constantly on their mind. Striking is that after seeing him, the governor couldn‘t forget his face. (chapter 7) After their first meeting, the governor was already dreaming of having sex with the slave. Secondly, since the lotus flower emerges from murky water, the latter could be perceived as the symbol of the court in Hamheung-castle. Therefore the court is portrayed as a place full of corruption. Because of the darkness of the place, Yeonjo’s purity can only outshine and captivate the semes’ attention. One might say that he is far from pure, for the former noble is selling his body. On the other hand, his soul and heart have remained intact. He did it for selfless reasons. It was for his brother’s sake. It demonstrates his humbleness and dedication. He was willing to give up on his pride, if it meant to save his brother. Even later, he only accepts the order from headman Choi, once he recognizes that it is his only possibility to approach his enemy. He showed great reluctance in the beginning, for he despises homosexuality. He had never imagined that Kwon Hee-Ryang liked having sex with men. (chapter 7) This truly displays his innocence and purity. But there’s more to it. The particularity of the lotus flower is that it blossoms during the day, but once the moon appears, the lotus flower closes, but re-blooms the next morning entirely dirt-free! This can be perceived as a metaphor for Yeonjo’s future development. In my eyes, the sex sessions during the night will represent the main lead’s fights. During the night he will be far from pure and innocent, this can only be judged as an allusion to sensuality. However, this means that Lee Yeonjo will never lose his “beauty and purity“ despite these sex fights, for the next morning, he will come out as pure and innocent.

2. The scholars and the flower

At the same time, his name Yeonjo (“lotus shines”) betrays his origins. (Chapter 7) He comes from a former noble family. How so? First, the lotus is strongly intertwined with Confucianism and Buddhism.

In both Confucianism and Buddhism, the lotus flower is seen as a symbol of honest poverty and virtue associated with an aloofness. Poverty and virtue come from the fact that lotus flowers grow in muddy and dirty waters, yet it still has such beauty.” Quoted from,it%20still%20has%20such%20beauty.

Consequently, the plant came to represent the upright and faithful scholar. This new meaning was based on Chinese wordplay—lotus (lian) and uprightness (lian) which are homonyms. This explicates why during the Joseon period, Korean neo-Confucian scholars loved having quadrangular ponds with lotus flowers in their propriety. Under this new light, the manhwaphiles can comprehend why in the Painter Of The Night, all the domains from the nobles (the Lees (Painter Of The night, chapter 3), the Yoons (chapter 10) and the Mins (chapter 33) have a square pond with a pavilion and lotus flowers. The pond was supposed to represent the owner: a upright and faithful scholar. 🙄 And this made me laugh, because this was the place where crimes and sins were committed. Jung In-Hun asked Baek Na-Kyum to disrespect his sponsor, to become disobedient and as such disloyal. Besides, he lied, manipulated and wounded the main lead (chapter 10), whereas Min, Yoon Seungho and Lee Jihwa had sex there. (chapter 25) All of them were far from righteous and humble scholars. That’s how I realized why the pavilion in Painter Of The Night symbolized emancipation. It was where the main protagonists got purified thanks to the lotus flower. Why? The answer is simple. The lotus flower embodies rebirth, regeneration and enlightenment. (Chapter 3) This coincides with the main lead‘s enlightenment. In the pavilion, he could perceive his sex appeal and attraction. Let’s not forget that Yoon Seungho had discovered sex through sexual abuse, and was blamed for the sexual desires from the pedophiles. Furthermore, with this new discovery, the manhwaphiles can grasp why Lee Jihwa sent his friend there. (Chapter 3) That way, the second lead could appear as an integer and down-to-earth noble. 😂 But no, it had the opposite effect: the lotus flower revealed the true nature of the relationship between the red-haired master and his friend: it was purely sexual. He loved having sex with Yoon Seungho. Furthermore, it also exposed Jihwa‘s true reflection: he was a homosexual. This signifies that the pavilion and the lotus flowers exposed the decadency of the aristocracy in this story, while they cleaned the protagonists. In my eyes, only Yoon Seungho among the aristocrats has the disposition of becoming a true scholar. Finally, it explains why the video had such a scene: Here, the lord is portrayed as a humble and righteous scholar. Because of this new discovery, I felt the need to examine the color of the lotus flower in the main lead‘s pond. What caught my attention is the following: the reflection of the patio. It gives the impression that the water is clean! However, the lotus flower needs dirt to grow. Furthermore, since the painter embodies water, I am questioning if the lotus flowers had enough water. Notice the huge gap between the level of water and the bridge. This explicates why the flowers are just raising above the water contrary to this picture. The manhwaphiles can notice the presence of the long stems. I would even say that now the number of pink lotus flowers has increased, for now they are visible on the right side of the bridge which contradicts to the picture from episode 10. Another important detail caught my attention: the color of the flower. It is a pink lotus flower.

Pink Lotus Flowers are said to be the true flower of the Buddha. A budding pink Lotus Flower symbolises a person whose awareness is beginning to expand, while one that has reached full bloom represents a full sense of enlightenment.“ quoted from

The color pink is made by combining red with white. The color red contributes to the need for action while white brings the potential for success to the table. The combination of passion and power (Red) with purity and completeness (White) results in some of the most beautiful hues of pink. With this in mind, think about the various shades of pink. Psychologists often associate the color Pink as a sign of hope, positivity, warmth, comfort, and a sense of security. Pink is often used to diminish (or at least reduce) feelings related to anger, neglect, aggression, or even a sense of abandonment. quoted from

Under this new approach, the manhwaphiles can grasp the painter’s function in Painter Of The Night. He is the pink lotus flower too. During the night, he cleansed the lord and showed his true nature (a huge libido), but the next morning, he was still as pure and innocent as before. Don‘t forget that the two main leads reflect each other. This means that the artist should be perceived as the sun too. Baek Na-Kyum could bring out Yoon Seungho from the darkness, the muddy water! Without any sun, the lotus flower can not emerge and shine. I conclude that the two protagonists have a dual nature: the lotus flower and the sun.

As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, s​​​​o, I, born in the world, raised in the world, having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world.”-Buddha quoted from

Because of the strong connection between the lotus flower and Buddha, I come to the conclusion that Yoon Seungho‘s fateful encounter with the painter will bring him closer to religion, and make him drop his nihilistic vision he adopted from his surrogate father Kim. In my eyes, he will become truly enlightened.

3. Lotus and revenge

And now, it is time to return our attention to Steel under Silk. When Lee Yeonjo revealed his name, the praise from the sharp and intelligent Kwon Hee-Ryang lets transpire the true thought from the governor. (chapter 7) He knows that the young boy was never born as a slave! But he is masking his new gained insight behind his compliment. Therefore it is not surprising in episode 12, the governor confronts the slave with the truth. He is well aware about Lee Yeonjo’s identity. The official killed his father in the past!! By mentioning his father’s death, Kwon Hee-Ryang is showing to Yeonjo that he won’t succeed with his revenge. The governor is no fool. Let’s not forget that the young man had planned to approach the official during his sleep in order to kill him. (chapter 6)

Some might think that the lord is a real snake, for he is tormenting the young man with his harsh words! On the other hand, the serpent is associated to seduction and deception due to his role in the bible: the animal lied to Eva and Adam which led them to be banished from the garden of Eden. Nevertheless, as you can recognize it, Kwon Hee-Ryang is doing the opposite. He is telling the servant the uncomfortable truth. He knows very well the hatred and resent from Lee Yeonjo. Besides, the readers should keep in their mind that Yeonjo’s desire for retribution was strongly intertwined with his suicide. He knew that with such a goal, he would never escape death. He might be still alive, but he is not truly living. This explicates why the young man didn’t protest, when the governor’s assistant announced that the staff should get punished for their misbehavior (bullying the main lead). Lee Yeonjo didn’t ask for justice. Thus Kwon Hee-Ryang had to step in and defend the victim from the injustice. (chapter 2) In fact, he got upset because of the official’s benevolence. (Chapter 2). Anyone in his place would have been happy and thankful. This signifies that he would have preferred getting flogged and even being hurt over true justice! This shows how deep his resent is, but also how much he is neglecting his own body. All his thoughts are revolving around payback and as such his imminent death. Then, when he cut his finger, he showed indifference again. He didn’t treat the wound, indicating that he was not treasuring his own body. This attitude could only catch the official’s notice. That’s why I believe that the confrontation in the jail should be perceived as a wake-up call for the young man, similar to the “words“ from that fateful night. (Chapter 1) Here by saying this, he was encouraging the boy to fight back and not accept his fate.

Another important detail is the lord‘s attitude during that night. First, he was wearing a white hanbok. (Chapter 1) In Joseon, the color white was traditionally used for funeral. He was dressed for the occasion: there would be death during that night. Secondly, he walked through the courtyard searching for father Lee. This means that he had chosen to kill the scholar himself. He had not sent his guards or minions to do it. In other words, he was showing a certain respect towards Lee Yeongjo‘s father. (Chapter 1) This exposed the main lead‘s true personality. He doesn‘t mind dirtying his own hands, he is taking responsibility for his own decisions. Finally, Lee Yeonjo was just a young boy back then. He had no idea about the political context and circumstances of this purge. He perceives the king and his governor as the villains (chapter 7), for he lost everything during that night. Yet, he has no idea what kind of official his father was and why this massacre took place. Lee Yeonjo needs to distinguish the difference between the father and the official. Besides, observe that the slave is seeking revenge, and not justice. From my point of view, this second confrontation with cruel reality is necessary to put this tragedy in the bigger picture. In my eyes, it is related to the hojok. (chapter 2) If not, the king would not have mentioned the service done from 5 years ago. As a conclusion, the lotus is about to discover the reality of the murky water, while Kwon Hee-Ryang doesn’t appear to be a snake.

At the same time, I started wondering which color Yeonjo was associated: white, pink, blue or purple? From my point of view, the slave is connected to the purple lotus flower. Why? First, it is because of his white skin and blue eyes. Combined together, we have violet. (Chapter 8) In addition, he is wearing a purple shirt. (Chapter 8) He is surrounded by rats, a metaphor for the dirty water and as such the corruption in the palace. And what is the meaning of the purple lotus flower?

A lotus flower, in general, symbolizes fertility, compassion, spiritual enlightenment, impurity. The purple lotus flower has a unique existence because it represents the Noble Eightfold Path of Mysticism. It is represented by the eight petals and how the lotus flower grows from first the deep mud to the sunlight, and then blooming for three days is a beautiful fragrant purple flowers. The purple lotus, in particular, is unique, and the color changes according to the sunlight, the moonlight, and the temperature. This gives it a glowing and magical effect of transformation. Quoted from

This means that this flower is even more powerful than the pink lotus flower. This signifies that Lee Yeonjo will rediscover his original personality, he will metamorphose and give up on his suicidal thoughts. Simultaneously, the presence of the purple lotus flower indicates that it will clean the whole place and bring destruction to the hojok and others. As a conclusion, the lotus flower implies the main lead’s transformation (like for example acceptance of his sexual orientation), just like it will change others. He will find a new purpose in his life: fight for justice. So far, his thirst of revenge is connected to suicide and despair. Since his father is judged as a traitor, it is also possible that Kwon Hee-Ryang proposes him a deal. He could clean his father‘s name. But we will see.

4. Lord Chang’s true nature

In the third part, I had compared Kwon Hee-Ryang to a snake, and concluded that on the surface, he was not behaving like the animal from the bible in front of the slave: lies and deception. On the other hand, what did lord Chang do, when the young man got bullied? He blamed the main lead! Why? Notice that when the administrator arrived, he caught Yeonjo fighting. (chapter 1) This could only reinforce such a prejudice. Another reason for this misjudgment is his assistant’s report. (chapter 1) The protagonist was portrayed as the one causing trouble, while in truth it was the opposite. The source for the ruckus was the noble’s favoritism towards the main lead. To sum up, lord Chang was viewing the main lead in a negative way. This interpretation is even corroborated in chapter 7:

“I hope no trouble finds him for these few days I’m away”.

His words are implying that the main lead is somehow responsible for trouble. However, the noble never realized that his indecisiveness is one of the main issues in his relationship with the main character. Since he used the brother’s sickness for his own advantage, and could obtain the slave’s body so easily, he never tried to understand Yeonjo. He knew about his hatred(chapter 7), yet he didn’t attempt to ease the main lead’s heart and mind by removing the source of his negative emotions: the injustice he felt for the loss of his family and name. But why does he resent lord Chang? Simply because as the administrator for the construction, he represents the king‘s authority. The huge gap between Lee Yeonjo and the official becomes more visible, when the protagonist changes his attitude so suddenly. The lord never tried to seek the real reason behind the sudden change of heart. Why should he, since he was gaining something? (chapter 7) He had a reason to believe in his lies so easily. (chapter 2) He imagined that since the young man was accepting him as his sponsor and benefactor after the brother’s death, he was getting closer to obtain Yeonjo’s heart. Because of Lee Yeonjo’s attitude towards sodomy (chapter 1)(chapter 7), it is quite obvious that the idea of prostitution was brought up by lord Chang. In exchange for medicine and special treatment, Lee Yeonjo could help his brother. So this offer was a temptation which could only lead to issues. The young boy’s reputation suffered. That’s the reason why we shouldn’t underestimate lord Chang’s personality. He might act gentle and caring, but behind his kindness hides real selfishness. On the other hand, the submissive slave was acting in front of the administrator, so that we should question ourselves if with this suggestion, Lee Yeonjo was not acting as the snake.

When the protagonist announced that he had a change of heart, the administrator had no inclination to doubt his words. He hoped that the main lead would come to fall in love with him. It was just a matter of time. Yet it was clearly a delusion, for the simple reason that lord Chang is not assuming his own sexuality. First, the readers should pay attention to the location of their sexual encounter: a library!! (chapter 5) It was not in his own place. The noble was not becoming responsible for his sexuality and their relationship. This explicates why the lord said that he was hurting the servant. (chapter 7) Thus I come to the conclusion that lord Chang is behaving similarly to Lee Jihwa. He is yearning for Lee Yeonjo’s love without risking anything, he prefers maintaining his good reputation.

In addition, note that he used the festivities as a justification to switch his shift (chapter 4), while he could leave the banquet by saying that he had an office duty. No one would ever question his disappearance. That way, he wouldn’t be caught with the main lead. Naturally, the staff has ears and eyes, so that they can not be fooled. That’s the reason why he got bullied by the workers. However, lord Chang will never be confronted with the rumors, for he is a noble. (chapter 7) Due to their social status, the servants are not allowed to show their disapproval. This explicates why Yeonjo became the target of the grapevines. (chapter 6) Only him will be judged and looked down. The last comment lets transpire that if the “lotus” had not been there, lord Chang wouldn’t have asked to have him as a boy toy. Note that he is portrayed as the seducer. In their eyes, he is the snake.

5. The true nature of the snake

As you can see, the introduction in the bedchamber was the starting point for the governor to investigate the servant’s origins. (chapter 7) He knew, he was a fallen noble, and he had been hired to spy on him. (chapter 7) This shows that the lord is never taking anything for granted. In my eyes, he is always questioning the intentions of his counterparts. That’s the reason why he can anticipate his enemies’ moves. He is always asking why. Therefore I perceive this scene as an important turning point in the protagonists’ relationship. (chapter 7)

5. 1 Yoon Seungho a snake?

One of my followers even pointed out that Kwon Hee-Ryang was so cunning and perceptive that he appears as scary. Compared to him, Yoon Seungho looks so naive and even stupid for not being able to detect his acquaintances’ lies and anticipate their moves. But this is totally normal. We have to envision that Yoon Seungho was held captive for 10 years, and he was brainwashed. He lived for 10 years as a male kisaeng. He was never confronted with politics. Therefore he is lacking experiences, and has no knowledge of the “real world”. Kwon Hee-Ryang had to fight to climb the social ladders and get close to the monarch. The scars on his body and face are the evidence of his dedication and strong will. Since Yoon Seungho was portrayed as an innocent and simple-minded man, I realized that he must not have been the real author of the fake promise to Jung In-Hun. (chapter 7) Kim must have suggested him this scheme. But he had no idea that he was inviting a snake into his realm. We imagined that the butler didn’t know the learned sir, for the main lead had no idea about the man. Nevertheless, their path had crossed in the past: in the gibang. (chapter 68) How could the protagonist have paid attention to the learned sir, when he got caught by the black guard? (chapter 68) Kim represents knowledge from the past. He must have remembered Baek Na-Kyum and Jung In-Hun in the past. And what did he see? A caring and gentle man… so he thought that if the scholar met the infamous Yoon Seungho, he would worry for the painter and take him away. But no… he accepted the invitation. He imagined that he had not heard the rumors, thus he spread rumors about the lord. (chapter 10) He envisioned that this would upset the righteous learned sir. However, this was used to scare the low-born… When the incident with the ruined painting occurred, and the scholar didn’t intervene, the butler imagined that Jung In-Hun was protecting himself, and the painter would resent him for his passivity. Yet, the painter remained in the mansion. The assistant sensed the strong bound between these two men, so he thought that Jung had indeed feelings for Baek Na-Kyum, but he was just powerless. He projected his own thoughts onto the learned sir: “He couldn’t do anything”. That’s the reason why he let him see the rape. Everything was done to scare the teacher who had such a good reputation. Then he suggested that he should see a shaman, he hoped that the man would ask about Yoon Seungho so that the shaman would tell him that the main lead was a bird of misfortune… but Jung asked for something else: digging up the past. Notice that on the day, he was supposed to meet the former servant, the main character was given the sword (chapter 35). Striking is that he let his master see the artist with Jung In-Hun in the courtyard. Here, the scholar was again coming back from the pond! So he was not learning. However, the stroke and the gentle words from the learned sir had one purpose: they were to remind to Yoon Seungho that the artist would only listen to Jung. He was the real master. Yes, this was the reflection from episode 30! (chapter 30) And in both situations, the learned sir had escaped the noble’s wrath. In my eyes, the real target in episode 35 was the scholar. The latter was supposed to die along with the painter, but it failed. Under this new perspective, it becomes so understandable why Yoon Seungho couldn’t detect the schemes. As a lotus flower, he was still pure and innocent. He could never be the snake.

And now, we know how Kim could trick Yoon Chang-Hyeon and earn his trust: he could compliment him while laughing behind his back. (chapter 6) Here, the lord was actually imitating the butler. And this shows the stupidity of Kim’s move. Why? (chapter 7) It offered indirectly a comeback for the Yoons to the palace. Furthermore, Jung In-hun seems to have succeeded the first round of the civil service examination. This is important, because this means that if Jung In-Hun is indeed dead, his disappearance will definitely involve the intervention of the authorities. Because Yoon Seungho was so innocent to plan great schemes, I can only assume that the readers were witnessing the scheming nature from the butler. And this leads me to the following observation. If the butler Kim is indeed a “snake”, this doesn’t mean that he was evil right from the start. He had a rebirth as well, but he just chose a different path. He decided to ensure that he would live in peace, and if his peace is in danger, then he can bite! And now, you comprehend why Kim felt threatened by Baek Na-Kyum. His presence could lead to the following discovery: Yoon Seungho was not a bird of misfortune, but a beautiful lotus flower! And once this lie was detected, his power based on deceptions and half-truths would get ruined.

Thanks to the painter as the lotus flower, the lord could slowly regain his freedom. But like mentioned above, the main lead is the lotus flower as well, thus Byeonduck created such a picture. This explicates why Baek Na-Kyum got purified first!!

5. 2 The snake: an evil animal?

So far, I have been describing the serpent as something negative. It is connected to the Fall of Man: lies and seduction. Nevertheless, the snake shouldn’t be perceived as something negative entirely. He embodies knowledge. Moreover, this animal has something in common with the lotus flower: it symbolizes “rebirth”.

“Snakes represent life, renewal, and rebirth. Over a period of time, snakes accumulate dirt and grime on their skin but they have the unique ability to shed their skin to get rid of the filth. Due to this quality of the snake, many people use it as a symbol of self-renewal. Just like the snake, if we are ready to shed off the past, we can rid ourselves of what was holding us back and be born again. Additionally, in many ancient cultures the snake has represented a rebirth of the physical body.  For instance, in ancient Greek mythology, god Asclepius, who has a snake on his staff, is believed to remove diseases and restore the body.” quoted from

This is relevant, because this means that the meeting between Kwon Hee-Ryang and Lee Yeonjo is announcing a rebirth. When the warrior entered his life for the first time, he brought death and destruction (chapter 1), now I believe that we are about to witness the opposite. The young slave needs to get a new goal in his life. the revenge was associated to death.

What caught my attention is the official’s comment. (chapter 8) He has the intention to treat him as his boy toy, to keep him by his side. Anyone reading this can only get upset. He is viewing the protagonist as a plaything. But the manhwaphiles should recall that contrary to lord Chang, the governor is planning not to hide their relationship. He will improve his situation, whereas it was not the case with lord Chang. Besides, I don’t think that in the bedchamber, the official was aware that the young man rejects homosexuality. Secondly, the manhwalovers should keep in their mind that the boy was sent there to spy for headman Choi. So with such an offer, Kwon Hee-Ryang hoped to deceive his enemies, letting them think that their plan had succeeded and the governor was blinded by his lust.

As for lord Chang, the latter might have given Yeonjo medicine or excuse him from work for the brother’s funeral (chapter 1), but he was still working for the bureau of construction. Lord Chang as his superior never sent him to another department. He only used his connection, when the young man asked for this favor. This shows that the administrator never had the intention to change anything. He imagined that with the brother’s death, the young man would still have sex with him. This explicates why the main lead rejected the sweets from the noble. (chapter 4) This was not real kindness, for the food would never contribute to improve his living conditions. Yeonjo was still treated like a prostitute. (chapter 7) The administrator might be acting, as if the slave was his lover (chapter 5), but this was behind closed doors. These words were just more or less lip service: (chapter 5) He still had leave him behind because of his work. Besides, the main lead was now acting, as if he was accepting his work as a “prostitute”. In exchange for the help, he had now to serve his benefactor. In the open, I doubt that the lord would like to be seen together having sex. Moreover, don’t forget that Yeonjo is called the son of a traitor, which could be another reason for lord Chang not to make their relationship official.

This stands in opposition to the governor’s attitude. Kwon Hee-Ryang feels no shame and embarrassment for his sexual orientation. Therefore he has sex outdoors. (chapter 4) He didn’t even mind being seen. He even made fun of Gisook, one of the men supporting the hojok. (chapter 4) That’s the reason why I believe that Kwon Hee-Ryang’s promise was honest. (chapter 8) If he became his boy toy, he would be “protected”. No one would dare to bully the slave. And now, you comprehend why Lee Yeonjo got badmouthed and bullied. (chapter 1) (chapter 6) People knew the nature of the relationship between lord Chang and Lee Yeonjo, but since the lord had never made an official statement, people could only conclude that the young man was selling himself for favors. However, the reality was the exact opposite. Lord Chang had been using his social status and wealth to obtain what he desired the most: sex. (chapter 4) He hoped to obtain the lotus’ love. Another important contradiction is the mark bite. While the noble with the dark circle did it without Yeonjo’s knowledge (chapter 5), Kwon Hee-Ryang did the exact opposite. (chapter 8) He was marking the slave as his possession, but he was making sure that the slave was well aware of this. (chapter 8) Since the governor is the son of the concubine, he came to resent social norms. This explicates why he doesn’t follow social norms. Consequently, it is not surprising that he doesn’t hide his sexual orientation. That’s the reason why I believe that the official will play a huge role as the uke’s mentor. He might be a snake in Yeonjo’s eyes, yet he is totally misjudging the man. He is not relying on his status and power, he knows that he needs to be prudent and observant in this hostile environment. That’s the reason why he can perceive people’s personality quite well. It looks like he is looking into their eyes so that he can detect their thoughts and emotions. That’s the reason why I come to the conclusion that the governor and the administrator are both snakes, but they stand for different values. Brutal honesty versus gentle hypocrisy.

Kwon Hee-Ryang is very seductive, but also gentle (chapter 7), for he pays attention to his counterpart’s well-being. He noticed the wound, he kissed Yeonjo before the sexual encounter in order to set the mood (chapter 8), while lord Chang did the exact opposite. First rough sex (chapter 5), then after the climax he showered the main lead with tenderness. (chapter 5) But don’t get me wrong. The governor can be rough in sex as well. Moreover, the latter is indeed a dangerous man, and he shouldn’t be underestimated. As you can detect, I fell under the spell of Kwon Hee-Ryang, and I am looking forward for the evolution of the couple’s relationship.

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 Reddit-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.

Steel Under Silk: Lost in translation

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. If you want to read more essays about other manhwas, here is the link to the table of contents: Here you can read a second analysis about Steel Under Silk:

It would be great if you could make some donations/sponsoring:  That way, you can support me with “coffee” so that I have the energy to keep examining manhwas. Besides, I need to cover up the expenses for this blog.

When Lezhin US announced the release of snob’s new manhwa, many readers were surprised by the English title: Steel under Silk. They were all expecting the following title: “Blade and flower”, because this is the actual title in Korean. The blogger @Theprocrastinatingredkitty even questioned the reasons behind the change. How did the original title get lost in translation? Naturally, it was done on purpose, and I can’t tell exactly how this choice came to the surface. Nevertheless, I would like to give a possible answer why the English title fits perfectly to this story. But for that, I need to explain the meaning of the original title first. Then I will elaborate the signification behind the new title by including an examination of the story and characters.

1. Blade and Flower

Like mentioned above, it is important to elaborate the symbolism behind the original title. The blade is a synonym for the knife which embodies severance, death, sacrifice, division or even liberation. Striking is that the first chapter reflects these notions. It started when Kwon Hee-Ryang entered Lee Yeonjo’s life and killed his father in front of his eyes. (chapter 1) From that moment on, the main character lost everything. In one single night, he became the son of a traitor, while in reality we have to imagine that the king had made a coup d’état and got rid of his opponents. This explicates why Yeonjo made the following statement: A new king!! (chapter 1) In other words, Lee Yeonjo’s father was sacrificed. However, this is just the beginning, because now the king is determined to strengthen his authority and power by eliminating the hojok in Hamgil-do. This means that Kwon Hee-Ryang will have to use his blade for the monarch one more time. Simultaneously, Lee Yeonjo as a slave is seeking revenge. He plans to kill the person whom he views as responsible for his family’s death: Kwon Hee-Ryang. But the real mastermind behind this is actually the new king. (chapter 2) The reference of the “blade” in the title implies that the relationships between the characters in the story will get affected: severance, sacrifice, liberation and death. There’s no ambiguity that lord Chang won’t be able to use Yeonjo as his boy toy like in the past, or even claim him as his lover due to Yeonjo’s closeness to the new governor Kwon Hee-Ryang. (chapter 6)

On the other hand, if I take into consideration that the main lead is carrying a sword in his hand, the blade could be a reference to this weapon. Thus I should add the signification of the sword as well. The sword symbolizes not only power, protection, authority, strength, courage, but also righteousness and justice. This explicates why the sword Excalibur was given to the king Arthur or the goddess of Justice with her covered eyes is carrying one. With her sword, she is giving justice. Therefore it is not surprising that the main lead is seeing carrying a sword. He is not just protecting the new king, he is making sure that the hojok (chapter 2) are removed, for they represent a threat to the royal authority. The monarch is supposed to represent “justice”, but if there exist warlords, the latter can do whatever they please. This means, they can escape any punishment, the king can not control them. Finally, the sword should be perceived as a metaphor for the phallus (penis). As the manhwaphiles can sense, the blade is referring to the main lead Kwon Hee-Ryang. That’s the reason why I believe that when Snob chose the title, she was thinking of the two protagonists, Hee-Ryang was the blade, and the flower was the uke Lee Yeonjo.

But if the sword represents justice, why did Lee Yeonjo‘s father get removed? Let’s not forget that this story took place in 1448. (chapter 1) That’s the reason why I looked into that historical period. This is what I found:

King Sejo of Joseon (hangul: 세조; hanja: 世祖; 1417-1468, r. 1455-1468) was the seventh king of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea. Born in 1417 as Yi Yu, he was better known as Grand Prince Suyang. The second of King Sejong the Great’s many sons, he showed great ability at archery, horse riding, and martial arts. Suyang was also a brilliant military commander, though he never went to the battlefront himself. Although his ascent to the throne was stained with ruthless bloodshed and the forced removal of his nephew from the throne, he went on to prove himself one of the most able rulers and administrators in Korean history. […] First, he strengthened the monarchy established by Taejong, by weakening the power of the prime minister and bringing staff directly under the king’s control. The Uijongbu, the board of counselors who helped the king rule that had been established by Taejo and Taejong had been intended to give the king support and collective wisdom to assist him in running the country, but in practice, the members of the aristocracy on the board had become too influential, and held too much of the power, so Sejo restructured the government to return more power to the king. […] He restructured the military system, stationing large military garrisons in each province.” quoted from

From 1456 on, Sejo’s power was not again questioned. He had his way in virtually everything, and it can be said in his favor that, once established, he was a remarkably effective king. Among his achievements were lavish support of Buddhist writings and their publication, effective frontier defense, suppression of a major rebellion, and institution of the “secret censor” system, by which royal spies circulated covertly through the provinces ferreting out and summarily punishing corruption. In time these posts became themselves major focuses of graft, but the original idea of incorruptible censors had a long life in popular fiction.” quoted from

Though the dates don’t correspond perfectly, we can perceive strong parallels between the ruling of Sejo and this faceless king, for their policy is very similar. (chapter 2) Hence I am assuming that the author was inspired by Sejo. Kwon Hee-Ryang’s biography indicates that the monarch values more merits than lineage. (chapter 1)The main protagonist is the son of a concubine, therefore according to social norms, he should have never expected to raise the ranks and become a governor. He is not the official son. This explains why the main lead has so many scars, and why he is willing to do the dirty work. He had to work hard to reach the top of the hierarchy. This exposes the strong will from the new governor. He never accepted his fate as the son of a concubine, who was supposed to live in the shadow. The manhwalovers should keep in their mind that in Joseon the son was supposed to inherit the mother’s social status. That’s the reason why I don’t believe that Kwon Hee-Ryang truly meant this, when he spoke to Lee Yeonjo. (chapter 1) The man could sense the main lead’s resent in his eyes and even provoked him with this statement. He didn’t want him to give up on his life. In truth he was encouraging him to fight back and not to resign. Why? It is because the noble had been put through the same experience. He had not accepted his fate as the son of a concubine. And now, you comprehend why Yeonsuk and his brother’s life were spared. Actually, they should have been killed, since the father had been labelled as a traitor. They would usually eradicate a whole household due to this principle: “guilty by association”. To conclude, the governor embodies the sword, for he is a representative of the new ruler. He was sent as a spy to eradicate corruption and eliminate the powerful lords close to the border. As you can imagine, I came to the conclusion that Lee Yeonjo represents the flower.

And now, it is time to examine the different significations of a flower. Contrary to the blade, the flower embodies life and emotions, for it is not cold. The beautiful face from Yeonjo is arousing many emotions in Kwon Hee-Ryang and lord Chang. Both feel attracted. (chapter 5) Besides, it symbolizes tenderness and temporality as well. Therefore a beholder will want to protect it. Kwon Hee-Ryang (chapter 2) and lord Chang (chapter 1) intervened and stopped the bullying from other slaves. That’s how the two semes perceive the slave due to his frail silhouette. He is small and thin, therefore he reminds them of a fragile flower which could be trampled on so easily by others. However, this is just an illusion, as we can view it in the last image. Lee Yeonjo is not afraid of fights, he will never allow others to look down on him. He can fight back, if he desires it. And this leads me to the English title.

2. Steel Under Silk

One might reject the English title, for steel appeared during the Industrial revolution which took place in the 19th Century. Yet, the story is set in the 15th Century. Therefore we would have an anachronism. On the other hand, the readers shouldn’t overlook the alliteration, the figure of style in which a series of words, usually two or more neighboring words, have the same first consonant sound. In our case, it would be the “S”. This letter and sound is associated to the snake. (chapter 2) As you already know, the serpent embodies cunningness, knowledge and seduction. This is important, for “silk” is a reference to the bed. As you can see, the English title gives us a totally different approach. It implies sex. Furthermore, steel symbolizes strength and invulnerability. I would even add: determination and calculation, for a metal is cold and hard. Thus I come to the deduction, steel represents strategy and power. Since steel is used in weapon, I conclude that the author desired to include the notion of a fight in the bed. Yes, here I detect some similarities to Yoon Seungho’s following doctrine: “Sex is like a battle”. The one surrendering to his feelings should be judged as the loser. Though the story has just started, the manhwalovers could sense the presence of struggle during a sex session. (chapter 5) No one is allowed to reveal his emotions: neither passion nor pleasure.

In addition, the readers can detect another difference from the Korean title: the vanishing of “and”. Since I had pointed out that for me, the blade and the flower represented the 2 protagonists, I came to the conclusion that Steel and Silk can not be referring to two different characters. For me, Steel under Silk represents all the main characters in this story: Lee Yeonjo, Kwon Hee-Ryang and lord Chang.

2. 1. Lee Yeonjo

What caught my attention is Lee Yeonjo’s strength. In verity, he is not a flower. I would even say that he is as strong as Kwon Hee-Ryang. This was particularly visible in this panel. (chapter 1) He watched how the main lead killed the protagonist’s father. He never closed his eyes and looked straight into his enemy’s eyes. Note how he is clenching his jaw, a sign for hatred and strong-will. He didn’t hide his true thoughts and emotions. Furthermore, there’s blood on his face, which is quite similar to the scars from the governor. Despite the blood and the violence, the young boy never closed his eyes, while the older brother was turning his back on Kwon. And now, you comprehend why the governor feels that he has already met Lee Yeonjo. He could never forget this gaze full of resent and determination. In that scene, Lee Yeonjo showed courage. (chapter 1) He didn’t mind provoking his enemy with his daring gaze. Observe the huge contrast to the brother. The latter closed his eyes, and later turned his back on the official. This is not surprising that at the end, Yeonjuk died. He could never bear the cruelty of this world and resigned. I would say, the scene in the first episode revealed the brother’s weakness. Yeonjo might have been trembling, yet the latter was in reality the one comforting his brother. In other words, Yeonjo is a fighter. Therefore it is no coincidence that we could see him imaging how he would attack his enemy. (chapter 6) But he doesn’t let his emotions cloud his judgement. This explicates why in his second meeting with the governor, he didn’t try to take his revenge on the main lead immediately. The uke is calculating, developing how he should approach the official. (chapter 6) The bed is the place where the man is totally vulnerable, for he is sleeping. But the main lead is far from stupid, he doesn‘t trust many people.

We could see how determined Lee Yeonjo was in a different area: Prostitution. Since he chose to prostitute himself for his brother’s sake, he never considered himself as a homosexual. (chapter 1) Hence it is not surprising that he rejects sodomy. For him, selling his body was just a duty, and not really a job. Therefore he forces himself to think that he shouldn’t feel any pleasure. This explicates why he is resisting and not admitting that he is aroused while having sex with lord Chang. (chapter 5) Yet, his hands and his curled toes are betraying him. This means that Lee Yeonjo’s inner struggle about pleasure will keep increasing, the more time passes on. Note that his position changed, the moment he requested from the administrator of public works his assistance and protection. Here, the main lead lied saying that he desired to live a better life. (chapter 2) Lee Yeonjo was implying that he was willing to rely on someone. Hence it is not surprising that lord Chang started treating him more like his lover in episode 5. On the other hand, since headman Choi asked the protagonist to seduce the governor, this means that the slave will be forced to use his body differently. Even if he fails in the beginning, there’s no ambiguity that the young man will be cornered at some point. How can he “seduce” his enemy, if he is as cold as steel? This will force Yeonjo to act, even to fake pleasure. Thus I am expecting that Kwon Hee-Ryang will play a huge role in the slave’s transformation, his acceptance of his sexual orientation. And this leads me to the following observation. Steel under Silk is revealing the presence of a disguise and as such of acting. Note that Lee Yeonjo has been acting tough or respectful in front of the two other main characters. He never shared his suicidal thoughts to lord Chang. He is never honest to his counterparts.

Another important aspect is that Kwon Hee-Ryang truly views the slave as weak and frail, for he caught him in two situations, where he showed vulnerability. This incited the governor to show great care towards the young man. (chapter 3) Yet, the latter doesn’t want to be judged like that. Imagine his rage, when he had to thank the governor for his help and benevolence. (chapter 2) How could be thankful towards the man who had brought misfortune to his family? He is in truth steel behind his thin body.

2. 2. Kwon Hee-Ryang

And this is not something that the governor is expecting from the slave. He wished to see the young man in tears, as the latter would feel extreme pleasure. But this will represent a immense hurdle for Kwon Hee-Ryang. Not only the slave resents him, but also he rejects homosexuality. Thus I am expecting that the battles in the bed won’t be easy. For the first time, the governor will meet a strong-willed opponent.

On the other hand, the governor is also represented by steel. Behind his title as an official, he hides his true function: a fighter. (chapter 2) As a warrior, he was tasked to eliminate the hojok. And he will use every possible mean: poisoning for example. He is a strategist exactly like Yeonjo. The only difference is that he has more experiences than the slave. The noble could perceive the betrayal from headman Choi right away and even anticipate his moves: planting spies through the kisaengs. Since the man is nominated as a governor for 2 years, the warlords are underestimating their opponent’s authority. And this observation leads me to the following conclusion. The slave was the only one who could detect Kwon Hee-Ryang’s true personality. He is a warrior and he is cunning as a snake. Why? It is because he witnessed himself that the man wouldn’t mind to dirty his hands himself. (Chapter 1) He killed the traitor himself. However, due to his “robe” as a governor, his enemies are underestimating his intelligence, ruthlessness and his strength. He can do it without any trouble, since he is backed up by the monarch himself. As a conclusion, the silk can be also a reference to the hanbok and the official robe as the governor. I have to admit that I couldn’t help myself thinking of this scene from Painter Of The Night: (chapter 88) The removing of the jacket made of silk… Behind the silk hides a chest made of steel… 😉

On the other hand, I have the impression that Yeonjo doesn’t know his enemy either. He is overlooking him as a governor. The slave is driven by his revenge, yet he is forgetting the importance of politics and the problems concerning the country. From my point of view, Yeonjo needs to see Kwon Hee-Ryang acting as a governor. He never saw his sense of justice, when the noble said this. (chapter 2) He was fair, as he never asked for a punishment for Yeonjo. He could perceive that he was a victim, and he didn’t condemn him because of his social status. Later he never asked for a punishment, when the domestic broke the vase as well. In fact, he valued more the slave than the broken item. (chapter 6) Yes, Yeonjo is not paying attention to this. But it is only a matter of time, until he discovers the main lead under a different light. Notice that both are standing behind the sword, an indication that they will come to stand on the same side.

2. 3. Lord Chang

There’s no doubt that this man is in love with the slave Lee Yeonjo. This was truly perceptible in episode 5, where he kissed the main lead so tenderly. (chapter 5) Striking is that he even bit him. (chapter 5) It was, as if he was marking Yeonjo as his lover. He thought, he had finally the main lead in his hand. The latter was no longer rejecting him, (chapter 2), he was even requesting his help and protection. Thanks to him, he would have an easier life. This explicates why the next time they met, lord Chang was particularly gentle. (chapter 5) He could even sense that Yeonjo was feeling pleasure, and it was no longer prostitution.

But lord Chang has no idea about Lee Yeonjo’s revenge. This is important, because so far, the man doesn’t have a high position in the administration. He doesn’t seem to have a lot of power. But what will he do, when he sees that Yeonjo is getting closer to the governor? Let’s not forget that he brought him to the castle himself. He will have to find a way to get back Yeonjo… either by supporting him in his request for a revenge or by getting more power, because he believed in his lies: (chapter 2) Here, he believed that the main character had moved on and overcome the brother’s loss. That’s the reason why we should expect a transformation of lord Chang. He might raise the rank as well… So far, the administrator seems quite caring and gentle, but I have the impression that he is only showing this side towards the main lead. He showed favoritism which stands in opposition to justice. The manhwaphiles should keep in their mind that lord Chang is responsible for the construction of streets or protection walls. This means that he is in charge of many slaves. He could definitely let the workers work to exhaustion so that he could finish his projects on time. Thus I deduce that he is a man of steel as well. He could be as coldhearted as Kwon Hee-Ryang. In other words, I believe that Yeonjo will discover a new side from lord Chang. As the administrator of public work (behind his silk), he could be quite demanding and cold.

As the manhwaphiles could see, I do think that the title of “Steel Under Silk” is quite a good choice. It offers more aspects, and thanks to the metaphors, I could get new insight.

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 Reddit-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.