Painter Of The Night: Baek Na-Kyum’s origins

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/

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Next to Yoon Seungho’s suffering, Baek Na-Kyum’s lineage represents the second biggest mystery. Thus many readers have already developed their own theory about the painter’s clan. However, the problem is that the author focused more on the noble’s traumatic past than on the painter’s genealogy. We could say that she barely left any clue about Baek Na-Kyum’s origins. The only information we have is this panel: (chapter 01) But after studying the manhwa so closely, I discovered the existence of rules in the manhwa which helped me to dig up new information. I am listing the laws of Painter Of The Night again in order to avoid repeating myself. I will refer to them later in my argumentation (rule 1, 2, eg.). That way the readers can better grasp how I came to new revelations and theories.

  1. The story is going in circle, thus Baek Na-Kyum’s path is similar to Yoon Seungho’s, yet it started much later. The reason is simple. The artist only began suffering the moment the noble’s condition improved. Thus it signifies that when the low-born was outcast and rejected (chapter 94), Yoon Seungho experienced the opposite. (chapter 57) He was admired which created a source of jealousy. While the painter discovered sexuality and his homosexuality very early on, Yoon Seungho was pure, but through incidents he was forced to become a sodomite. While Heena and the scholar tried to repress Baek Na-Kyum’s sexuality, the father pushed his son to have sex out of fear and high expectation.
  2. There’s always a reflection within the same chapter so that we can perceive the characters’ emotions and thoughts.
  3. Each episode is reflected in the next or previous season.
  4. The previous episode will always be mirrored in the next so that every chapter is connected to each other with reflections.
  5. Karma is always retaliating and it will be 1000 times worse. In addition, the son always pays for the father’s sins.
  6. The black frame is indicating either a vision or a memory.

1. Baek Na-Kyum as baby

And now, it is time to return our attention to the image from chapter 1. (chapter 1) What caught my attention is the presence of the black frame related to the servant’s narration. This indicates that this panel and the following represent memories, but they can not be the recollection from the servant, as the latter is just repeating what he has been told. I recognized it while reading episode 101.

1. 1. Comparison between episode 1 and 101

Observe that we have the same situation. A servant was informing Lee Jihwa about the last events: (chapter 101) Striking is that the author used the same method to introduce the memories. First, we see the servant talking before viewing the memories. (chapter 101) And now, compare it to chapter 1: (chapter 1) The order is the same, though the episodes are actually contrasting each other. How? Remember that in episode 1, Yoon Seungho followed the servant’s suggestion, whereas Lee Jihwa refused to do so. The latter chose to run away and vanish.

Striking is that the author added this picture (chapter 101). She was implying that this panel symbolized the vision from the witness, the tailor. This explicates why you see the wall on the left side. The tailor was observing Min in the shadow. This is important, for these images are reflecting the truth, revealing that the servant from episode 101 was actually lying. Thus I deduce that the domestic from chapter 1 was also lying, but contrary to the episode 101, he thought, he was telling the truth. We could say that he was acting as the fake “mirror of truth“. How do I come to this deduction? Simply because the servant in chapter 101 was actually deceiving Lee Jihwa and Yoon Seungho. Note that in the beginning of episode 101, Seokdae tried to defend himself by feigning ignorance. (Chapter 100) He denied his responsibility by putting the blame on someone else („I was told“), yet once facing the young master Jihwa, his declaration exposed his lie. (Chapter 101) He knows something!! Consequently, I come to the conclusion that in chapter 1, the domestic had been deceived about the painter’s childhood too, but he had no idea, while Seokdae was only partially involved in the scheme. The latter had been left in the dark that he could risk his life. (chapter 1) So in episode 1, the servant was not aware that he was lying to the protagonist, when it comes to the painter’s past. However, the domestic with the brown hanbok lied in one aspect, the publication of the book. (chapter 1) One might have the impression that I am digressing from the main topic. Yet the manhwalovers should keep in their mind that the servant from episode 1 served one purpose: to show us the memories of an important witness, someone who watched Baek Na-Kyum growing up. Thus we have three different pictures. First, he is a baby, then a young infant (chapter 1) and later almost a grown-up . (chapter 1) This signifies that the witness was close to Baek Na-Kyum which explains why the domestic trusted the source of his information. However, contrary to episode 101, she never divulged the identity of the witness. It is because the person wished to hide in the shadow.

Another similarity is that a third person is mentioned in the statement in order to give a certain credibility to their declaration. The head-kisaeng or the captain of the guards are the witnesses, but their absence in the image indicates that they are actually used as alibis. In addition, the manhwaphiles will recall that the episode 101 begins with the childhood friend’s sentence (the loss of the topknot), while the domestic got spared. On the other hand, we have the opposite situation in episode 1. (chapter 1) It ends with the domestic’s death, while the incident with the topknot is mentioned in the middle. At the end, the painter is dragged to the mansion. As you can see, both chapters reflect each other. That’s how I had this revelation (chapter 01) It made me realize that this image represented the view of a WITNESS! Someone was present, when the baby was brought to that place. This corresponds to the “dragging“ at the end of episode 1 (rule 2) In the beginning of the story, the adoptive parents (Heena and Jung In-Hun) were not aware of the situation, thus I am assuming that this was different in the past. The “biological parents“ or the “father“ knew about his whereabouts. Hence we need to find out the identity of the witness, though I already gave different clues. He was close the painter and watched him growing up.

1. 2. The fateful place

Moreover where did the domestic deliver the infant? Anyone would say that this was just the house of kisaeng. BUT no, as this panel reveals the entrance of the gibang. (chapter 99) The soil and the position of the pillars of the main gate are different. I can now announce the precise location, and this with certainty. Yes, I discovered the place thanks to rule 4!! (chapter 4) This is the door! You can recognize it thanks to the pillar on the side.

Another detail caught my notice: The shadow of the rooftop on the ground. (chapter 4) Here, the shadow was bigger indicating that it was early in the morning. The painter had just woken up. Consequently, I deduce that the baby was brought to the mansion during the day. This signifies that Baek Na-Kyum was never abandoned! He was entrusted to the owner of that mansion! (chapter 1) You can recognize the gate in the background. This is the domain, which you see when the lord is arguing with the painter in the courtyard. (chapter 4) Pay attention to the background in this picture. And now, you are probably thinking that the owners of that mansion are the Yoons, as we observed the main lead living there. Nevertheless, I had already pointed out that this was not Yoon Seungho’s mansion. This is the Yoons’ domain: (chapter 51) The courtyard is different. According to me, this is the mansion of the Lees. [For more read the essay 360: Lee Jihwa’s special relationship with Yoon Seungho] And since episode 1 and 101 reflect each other, this can only reinforce my interpretation that the Lees are involved in Baek Na-Kyum’s past, for we have Lee Jihwa present in chapter 101. Baek Na-Kyum was brought to the Lees, thus the scholar Lee keeps calling Baek Na-Kyum a peasant! He knows about his true origins. I had always said that the man was revealing his knowledge with his insult. But does it mean that this was the vision from Lee Jihwa’s father?

1. 3. The identity of the witness

(chapter 1) I don’t think so and this for two reasons! (chapter 1) First, the person was keeping an eye on the painter like mentioned above. Secondly, the artist is seen each time with the white head-band! In the last picture, he is seen drawing very young, whereas in this picture, he is much older. (Chapter 2) This item is connected to the scholar Jung In-Hun. Thus the learned sir reminded the artist to have it on his head in chapter 38 (chapter 38). Besides, father Lee views him as a peasant and not a servant. This observation gets reinforced, when you look at the memories from the painter. In his childhood, he was never wearing a white head-band. (Chapter 94) (chapter 87) (chapter 68) (chapter 70) This means that this panel (chapter 1) represents a distorted memory from Jung In-Hun. 😮 The other evidence for this signification is the absence of the landscape. We don’t see the gibang in the background. Striking is that it coincides with the following statement: “we know not of his origins“. From my point of view, it reflects that the scholar has long repressed the true origins of Baek Na-Kyum. He came to adopt this vision that the main lead was a peasant, a servant. Striking is that the painter was seen for the first time with the head-band in this panel: (chapter 94) Thus I assume that it was done on purpose. They used “his girly features“ as a fake excuse to beat him, but the intention behind this violence was to force him to wear the white head-band! As you can see, everything is pointing out that the learned sir and father Lee were somehow involved in this. But I have three more conclusive evidences for this theory. First, it is related to the reflection in chapter 101. (chapter 101) Look where the red-haired master and the servant are! It is in front of the teacher’s home! In Painter Of The Night, there is never a coincidence. This is a sign that Jung In-Hun is related to Baek Na-Kyum’s past and knows his true origins. However, by treating him like a low-born, he came to view him as one. But this doesn’t end it. Remember the rule 2: the reflection within the same chapter. The painter remembered the words from the gibang: (chapter 1) Jung In-Hun would employ such expressions like fiend and sodomy (chapter 18), he was repeating his admired sir’s idioms. Besides, “hell-raiser” is also an indication that the learned sir was a Christian who converted Heena. Thus I deduce that when father Lee received Baek Na-Kyum as a baby, he entrusted him to the learned sir Jung In-Hun who had no connection and no wealth so far. So when the lord described him as such in episode 7, it was not entirely correct. The reality was that the man had been working for the Lees, but he had been “abandoned”. (chapter 75) The scholar was his helping hand explaining why he would appear in this scene. (chapter 68) This was the night of the fake sexual lesson.

And this new discovery led me to the following conclusion. The moment Baek Na-Kyum was forced to wear the white tissue coincides with the loss of Lee Jihwa’s topknot because of rule 5. In my eyes, the painter helped Yoon Seungho to obtain his topknot which occurred after this incident. (chapter 57). However, there was a price to pay for the main lead’s emancipation. Lee Jihwa had to lose his topknot!! (chapter 59) Without a topknot, the red-haired master no longer looked like a real noble. He had lost his position. Hence I believe that the painter was forced to wear the headband. As you can detect, there was a chain reaction linked to the social status: lord or not, low-born or not.

1. Baek Na-Kyum and the gibang

However (chapter 1), since Baek Na-Kyum was so young, he needed a mother to feed him. Thus he was brought to the gibang. And that’s how he ended up in the kisaeng house. This means that Baek Na-Kyum is actually a noble! I would even add that he belongs to the royal family. And this would explain why the painter was forced to wear a headband, the moment Lee Jihwa lost his topknot. We also have the explication why the painter was living in the annex. (chapter 87) He was definitely living in comfort.

Nonetheless, where are the real proofs? First his name! Why was he called Baek Na-Kyum, if he has been abandoned? He should have only a name Na-Kyum. Secondly, why did the main lead let cut his hair? It was to indoctrinate him, to make him realize that he had been abandoned by his parents!! They deceived him with the long hair. It was implied that with short hair, he would be recognized as a boy. (chapter 94) However, the purpose was to let him experience rejection and isolation. It appears to me that his resent for nobles was part of the brainwashing as well! That way, he would never think that he was coming from a noble family. (chapter 94) This means that such a scene was created in order to ruin the main lead’s self-esteem, and naturally Heena who witnessed it was also influenced. Since she was a minor herself, she couldn’t detect the schemes behind such scenes. Don’t you find it weird that the young child was brought to that room? Under this new approach, the learned sir’s neglect concerning the painter’s education appears in a different light. (chapter 6) The painter was never destined to become a farmer. The neglect was done intentionally. And when you recall his words in the library, you can only view his words as pure lies again: (chapter 40) He was never born to be a prostitute, but he was sent there on purpose. Under this new perspective, it becomes more comprehensible why Heena sent Baek Na-Kyum to the learned sir. He was the one who had brought the artist to the gibang, and now he was getting older. One might refute this point, for she declared this: (chapter 68) Nonetheless, the beholder can detect the presence of a drop of sweat on Heena’s cheek. So she was deceiving the artist here. Why? Yes, in her mind, the painter was Jung In-Hun’s son and as such he should become responsible for the learned sir. But she had to lie in order to persuade him to leave the mansion. There’s no ambiguity that the head-kisaeng had no idea about the deal between the Lees and Jung In-Hun.

2. The noble Na-Kyum

But wait… I have more evidences for this theory. The poem from the scholar! Chapter 4 is a reflection of episode 1 (rule 4). (chapter 4) This was inspired by the poetry from Wang Bang-Yeon! (chapter 4) In this poem, the famous author was referring to the death of the young king Danjong who had been killed by his uncle Sejo. Danjong was just a teenager, when he died! As you can see, the text is actually an allusion to royalty and exile. Under this new light, it dawned on me that the scholar Lee had been entrusted to take care of Baek Na-Kyum, but the latter chose to delegate this to the learned sir. There was a reason behind this. For me, he was eyeing at the mansion himself! One might refute this point, for the elder Lee said this: (chapter 82) But note that the man never said that this was his house, just the household of the Lee. Since the artist is related to the king, this signifies that he is related to the elder Lee too, as the family ruling over Joseon belongs to the Lee clan. Hence I am suspecting that Baek Na-Kyum could be the true owner of this mansion. (chapter 1)

“The very night of Danjong’s murder, Sejo’s sleep was haunted by the appearance of Danjong’s mother who denounced him for his evil and left him with this malediction: “You have stolen the throne and killed my son. Yours too shall die.”
When Sejo awoke, he discovered the curse had been fulfilled ― Deokjong (the crown prince and his eldest son) was dead at the age of 20. In fury, Sejo had Danjong’s mother’s tomb dug up and her bones and remains scattered into a river.” Quoted from https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/opinion/2019/11/721_278751.html

If you read the analysis “The Dark Knight”, you are already aware of the importance of a curse in Gothic literature. We know that the lord is right now stigmatized as a bird of misfortune, thus I deduce that when the artist was a baby, he could have been labelled as such too. I am suspecting that he was condemned, for his mother had died by giving birth. (chapter 1) Note that the baby had no hair, so he was only a few weeks old. From my point of view, Baek Na-Kyum could have been sent away for that reason. Either he was perceived as a bird of misfortune (rule 1) or the father wished to protect his son from harm, for he was in a vulnerable position. His mother had died. Within the family, he would be protected. As you can imagine, I am sensing another manipulation and scheme, where the king chose to listen to people. One thing is sure: the artist is no peasant, but a nobleman, I would even say, he belongs to the royal family.

And Yoon Seungho has already detected the painter’s true origins. Thus he keeps removing the headband. (chapter 53) How does he know it? In my opinion, it is because Baek Na-Kyum resembles to the king. The only difference is that he has no beard. This would explain why Yoon Seungho said this: (chapter 55) Why would he get upset? Why would the painter’s face evoke such emotions? He is reminded of his abuser. This is no coincidence that the main lead had such a flashbulb right after, where you could see Lee Jihwa and his father. (chapter 55) They are all related. And now, you comprehend why the author wouldn’t reveal the face of the mysterious lord Song in chapter 83 (chapter 83) We could have seen the resemblance, as in this picture he was much younger. As the manhwalovers can sense, I detected a strong connection between the Lees and Baek Na-Kyum. Observe that the moment Lee Jihwa lost his topknot (the symbol for nobility and adulthood), the painter received a purple/burgundy hanbok!! (chapter 102) The colors are already insinuating that the artist belongs to the royalty.

What the painter considered as a curse (his girly feature) is actually a blessing. Yes, his face is the evidence of his lineage! And now, you comprehend why he was beaten by these people (chapter 94), why he was forced to have short hair and wear a white head-band! (chapter 71) If the pedophile came to the gibang and crossed the main lead’s path, he couldn’t recognize his relative (son or nephew) due to the hair and the clothes. Besides, I am certain that my avid readers can recall my other theory: the painter was stolen as a child. This new interpretation would corroborate this theory. The painter has been robbed of his true identity, he had been kidnapped, when he was brought to the kisaeng house!! Besides, if he is the true owner of the mansion, then this signifies that Father Lee succeeded in his coup d’Etat (rule 1, rule 3). In season 3, we have an attempted “coup d’Etat” with Yoon Chang-Hyeon eyeing at the seat. (chapter 86) Moreover, I would like to point out that we have the topic: siblings’ jealousy. This is definitely possible that father Lee is related to the artist, an uncle for example. Finally, if the painter is the king’s son, this is no coincidence that Baek Na-Kyum suffered so much. He was paying for his father’s sins (rule 5). At the same time, if Baek Na-Kyum has to face the infamous lord Song, as his son/nephew, he is put in a position where he can criticize his father/uncle. How could he abandon him and treat Yoon Seungho like that?

3. Baek Na-Kyum’s murder

I had already detected that the painter was supposed to die in chapter 1. But with this new discovery, I have another explanation for his assassination. Baek Na-Kyum was not only a witness of the pedophile’s crime, but also involved in Lee Jihwa’s humiliation. Furthermore, he was on the verge of becoming an adult. Thus he could claim his inheritance. In my eyes, his existence represented a source of threat for father Lee. The latter had completely forgotten the boy (like the saying: out of sight, out of mind), until the incident with the topknot occurred. Since the learned sir and father Lee had neglected him on purpose, they had another reason to get rid of him. Since Yoon Chang-Hyeon viewed his son as a small adult who should dedicate his time to study in order to contribute to the Yoons’ reputation, it is possible that the painter’s father could have made the opposite decision. He should grew up in a more carefree environment, or maybe he could avoid being affected by a curse. Naturally, the scholar Lee has every reason to remove the painter from Yoon Seungho’s side. (chapter 82) All his past crimes could come to the surface! He had not taken care of the painter, and he had been neglected on purpose. He had committed a crime (disobedience to the king), thus he was a traitor. On the other hand, they could use the last publication as a justification for his death! He had threatened the ruler, he was blackmailing him with his secret. There’s no ambiguity that lord Song had no idea about the true identity of the artist.

And now, imagine this. What if Yoon Seungho had killed the painter? Jung In-Hun and father Lee could frame the main lead for the murder and accuse him of killing the king’s relative. The poem would serve as an evidence for the painter’s identification. The protagonist had committed treason… That way, the patriarch Lee could kill two birds with one stone. Yoon Seungho would be forced to leave his propriety (in chapter 1, he was living next to Yoon Seungho), and even lose the family’s mansion. He would destroy the Yoons totally. There exists this possibility that father Lee had already announced to the lord Song that his son/nephew had been kidnapped and died. (chapter 37) So far, we still have no idea about the cause for the treason: Coup d’Etat or attempt of assassination on the king or spying or murder of a royal member (here Baek Na-Kyum)? There’s no ambiguity that the painting in Yoon Chang-Hyeon’s bedchamber was used as an evidence that the elder master Yoon was eyeing at the throne (chapter 83) imagining that Yoon Seungho through his “marriage” would become the crown prince. Since the author mentioned “torture”, I have the impression that the main lead was brought to the bureau of investigation and got tormented there. He was naturally framed, he had been acting as a spy. He was hoping to become the king’s successor as his “bride”. So once the artist had been executed, the scholar Jung could claim that he had been raising the painter the whole time and receive a huge compensation for his benevolence! Then it occurred to me that the learned sir could have approached the palace for that exact reason: Baek Na-Kyum’s true origins. He had been taken care of the painter, but on the day he went to the court, Baek Na-Kyum published the book where the king’s crimes were painted and as such ruined his plan!!

Anyway, there’s one thing that I am certain. The accusation from the past was revealing father Lee’s true desires. He was power-hungry and greedy, hence he projected his own thoughts and emotions onto the patriarch Yoon. But by running away, Lee Jihwa ruined everything! The scholar Lee can no longer aim at the throne.

And if the king were to face Baek Na-Kyum, he would recognize his relative due to his face, especially he would share some similarities with the mother. Since the painter’s face was wounded at the end of season 3(chapter 102), I am assuming that his visage won’t be bruised again, so that his foot could get hurt, for the lord and the butler had a broken foot in chapter 77. (rule 3) (chapter 77) And that’s how the ruler could discover the truth!! Therefore the culprits would be detected easily: father Lee and naturally Kim, as both knew the real identity of Baek Na-Kyum, but chose to remain silent. Yes, knowledge will become Kim’s downfall in the end. Why do I think so? For me, the feet in this panel are Kim’s (chapter 1), but like mentioned in a different analysis, No-Name got framed for the painter’s disappearance. How did I come to this assumption? It is because the author is often portraying the butler by his feet! (chapter 66: According to me, this is Kim and not No-Name) (chapter 77) Don’t forget rule 1 and 3. Nevertheless, the main point for this interpretation is the way the painter ran: (chapter 4) He made the same sounds than the butler: (chapter 17) (chapter 85) Here he had faked running. Since he had been introduced with his feet in chapter 1, she needed to create reflections later. Finally, I would like to point out this: (chapter 7) Their meeting here is an indication that their past must have crossed before because of rule 1!! Since the painter was so devoted to the learned sir, the valet could only jump to the conclusion that the man had truly taken care of Baek Na-Kyum properly.

4. Conclusions

As a conclusion, the first panel is containing many clues about Baek Na-Kyum’s lineage! Only through long reflection, I could reconstruct his past partially. I am well aware that my perception of father Lee and Jung In-Hun contains more speculations concerning their motivations, since I am still lacking some information. Yet, I am convinced that Baek Na-Kyum is related to the Lees and the king. And the painter ended up in the gibang, because the scholar needed a woman to feed the boy. It was to make sure that the boy was not connected to the household Lee. This would have raised questions, if suddenly a baby had appeared in the mansion. Thus Baek Na-Kyum was entrusted to the noonas through the scholar. There’s no doubt that the painter’s face will play a huge role, for during that time, the scientists didn’t know the existence of DNA! It was not possible to take a paternity test. Besides, the author is always avoiding long narration. She uses “chance” and “coincidence” to deliver much information in a short time! Within 26-28 episodes, she has to give all the answers to the readers, while the story is still going on! And that’s how I realized the importance of the door: (chapter 04) The protagonists’ fate got switched the moment they passed a door. Thus the painter didn’t suffer here contrary to the young master (chapter 68). He might have been sad, yet he was not exposed to violence and humiliation. But here, it was different: (chapter 94) He had entered the room. In my eyes, this door had a special meaning (chapter 4) It is where the main characters’ destiny was affected, hence the lord expressed this: (chapter 4) He recognized that the artist was not a servant or slave, but a free man. His words became a reality. He is not embracing a peasant, but a noble, even a member from the royal family. He was speaking the truth, while all the readers were thinking that Yoon Seungho was a hypocrite. We could say that the main lead was under the influence of the spirits/unconscious, thus he caught the artist right on time. At the same time, “peasant” is again a reference to father Lee which reinforces my theory that the scholar Lee is deeply involved in the couple’s suffering.

As for the scholar, since he never mentioned his involvement in the painter’s life (chapter 1), officially Heena raised him, the readers can grasp why Baek Na-Kyum never considered the learned sir as his “father”. He had been raised in the gibang by the noonas, but not by the learned sir. He was just a companion and a friend, whom he felt indebted and attracted to due to his “gentleness and fake selflessness”. This is not surprising that the servant in episode 1 got executed in the end. The servant had lied, because he had repeated the scholar’s words. And the latter had lied about the painter (chapter 1) He had actually painted animals and nature in his childhood, thus the noonas kept his drawings. (chapter 94) The man had trusted the learned sir’s testimony without verifying the facts. He had not detected the presence of a blackmail! (chapter 1) This truly shows that ignorance is indeed no blessing, and people shouldn’t trust others according to their appearances or social status. At the same time, the servant had forgotten that Yoon Seungho was a noble, though he was dressed like a peasant in the bedchamber. (chapter 1) He was not even wearing a hanbok here, and his head-band was different too. As you can see, both protagonists shared the same experience. They were not treated according to their social status. To sum up, the valet Kim brought Baek Na-Kyum to the Lees, who decided to get rid of the painter by entrusting him to the scholar Jung. And Heena became his accomplice, the moment she became his surrogate mother. Let’s not forget that in season 1 and 2, the learned sir was the only one seen with children: girls. (chapter 6) (chapter 29) and Baek Na-Kyum (chapter 68) This shows that the painter embodies the link between the head-kisaeng and the learned sir. Jung In-Hun had entrusted her the baby.

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Painter Of The Night: Fortune-telling 🔮 (second version)

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/

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After reading such a title, my avid readers are now imagining that the topic of this essay is a prediction concerning season 4. But no… far from it. In this text, I will explain the importance of fortune-telling in Painter Of The Night. But before going into details, it is important to define fortune-telling.

fortune-telling, the forecasting of future events or the delineation of character by methods not ordinarily considered to have a rational basis. Evidence indicates that forms of fortune-telling were practiced in ancient China, Egypt, Chaldea, and Babylonia as long ago as 4000 BCE. Prophetic dreams and oracular utterances played an important part in ancient religion and medicine. Predictive methods of fortune-telling include astrology (interpretation of the movements of heavenly bodies as influences on earthly events), numerology, and the utilization of objects such as playing cards, tea leaves, crystal balls, dice, fire, water, and scattered salt. Fortune-telling as a process of character analysis can take such forms as graphology (study of handwriting), physiognomy (study of facial characteristics), phrenology (study of contours on the skull), and palmistry (study of lines on the palm of the hand). Quoted from https://www.britannica.com/topic/fortune-telling

As you can see, there exist different methods to make predictions, but anyone will say that so far in the manhwa, we only had dreams or nightmares revealing the future.

1. The utilization of objects

However, this is not correct, for the lord had a vision, when he killed the boar. (Chapter 83) But what was the vision telling to the main character? The problem with visions is that their message is never clear. It is up to the fortune-teller. The beholder can interpret the hallucination differently. Here, one might say that the blood let Yoon Seungho see that one servant, in our case Kim, was working against him with 2 nobles: Min and Jihwa. It was already predicting Min’s death, for the blood pond was touching the noble on the right, while the other nobleman with the hat is not connected to the blood. The red-haired master only lost his topknot a second time. This is no coincidence. The vision showed that Black Heart would die by the hand of 2 people, Yoon Seungho the child and Yoon Seungho the adult. Thus Byeonduck created such a panel: (Chapter 102) The lord was in a dissociative state. In his rage, the main lead was brought back to his own past, when he was a victim of gangrape. (Chapter 102) He was acting like in trance, the painter’s bloody face had opened the Pandora’s box. (Chapter 101) Remember his confession in the bedchamber: (chapter 55) Simultaneously, this vision (chapter 83) could display the argument between Yoon Seungho and his childhood friend in front of the scholar’s house. The servant was the witness, and he got spared thanks to the red-haired master’s appearance. (Chapter 100) But if so, this means that the domestic will die, after his master abandoned him and ran away. Remember that the blood spurt is linked to the person without a hat. (chapter 83) Another possibility is that Min was shown in the middle, and he was the puppet of the two elders, father Lee and Yoon Chang-Hyeon. Note that when we saw them in season 3, both were wearing their hat. (chapter 82) (chapter 86) And if I consider that this vision is referring to Kim, then it already announces his doom. Another possibility of interpretation is to say that the boar embodies the king, which Yoon Seungho defeats by removing from his side Lee Jihwa and Min, both were used as tools to control and tame the main lead so that he would remain by the pedophile’s side. This means that the moment he executed Black Heart and cut off the friend’s topknot, he was finally able to escape from the ruler’s claws. And if the noblemen are referring to the elders, the message doesn’t change. The moment the main lead killed Min, he wounded the king so that the elders are affected, one more than the other. And Kim didn’t stop his young master, for the butler thought that with his suicide, he could finally free himself from his task of taking care of Yoon Seungho. With his suicide, Kim would be able to live in peace. He would no longer be tormented by the main lead’s suffering. In his mind, his suicide was the natural outcome of such a long suffering. As you can see, this hallucination can be interpreted so differently. And the more information we will get in season 4, the more precise the interpretation of this vision can become.

Then we have the painter’s vision in the mirror which worked like a crystal ball. Here, the artist saw himself embracing Yoon Seungho which he rejected. (Chapter 28) As you can see, blood and a mirror were used as objects for “fortune-telling“, though the main characters had no idea about their signification. While the painter rejected this “hallucination“, Yoon Seungho had the impression that it was real. Thus he turned around. He imagined that the two nobles were approaching him. (Chapter 83) I have always said that Yoon Seungho and Baek Na-Kyum are shamans, but they have no idea about their true identity. This means, none of them considers himself as a fortune-teller, though both have this gift. They have no one telling them about their skills, they can predict the future and even repel evil spirits.

Yet, the nightmares and dreams represent the biggest part of fortune-telling in Painter Of The Night. On the other hand, it is also possible that Byeonduck reveals later that other skills were used in the past (like handwriting or physiognomy), for face-reading was popular in Joseon (see for example the Korean movie The Face reader), and we have the lord’s beautiful handwriting. (Chapter 92). Keep in mind that since the lord wrote a poem in season 3, this means that he must have done it in the past too, but this twice. In season 1, he wrote one, when he switched the paper, yet it must have occurred before, for we had two circles, which corresponds to two full moons. My friend Luzyla brought my attention that in the whole story, Byeonduck only drew one full moon, and this in chapter 1. This announced the beginning of a new circle!! The third one and observe that the moon was far away, very high up in the sky, while the night sky was very dark. (Chapter 1) There was no moon light which I consider as a reference to the painter‘s absence in Yoon Seungho‘s life. Under this perspective, the manhwaphiles understand why in episode 102, Byeonduck drew such a moon. (chapter 102). Their trust and love had been tested, thus I am assuming that season 4 will be the beginning of the 4th circle, where the protagonist will face the main culprit for his suffering: the mysterious lord Song, the king.

2. Dreams and visions

But let‘s return our attention to the dreams and nightmares of the characters, which were reflecting the future. First, the readers can recall all the painter’s wet dreams. They all became true, like I had written in previous analyses. Baek Na-Kyum dreamed of receiving a love confession from Yoon Seungho and being called tenderly (chapter 56), and it became a reality. (Chapter 91) But the artist never accepted these visions, for he was rejecting sodomy and later he was in denial about his affection for the main lead. Yet this is no longer possible. The artist has already confessed and is determined to remain by the noble’s side, no matter what.

Concerning the nightmares, I am quite certain that you remember the lord‘s which is the longest in the whole story. (chapter 74) Here again, we have an allusion to the bloodbath in the shaman‘s house, for the position of the hands reminds us of Black Heart’s reaction before the main lead stabbed him. (Chapter 102) Nevertheless, I believe that this nightmare was already announcing to the protagonist that he would dirty his own hands, and kill people. On the other hand, the readers should keep in their mind that since the story is going in circle, the nightmare was also a reference to the past and Yoon Seungho’s suffering. But the aristocrat was not the only one having nightmares, the manhwaworms will certainly recall Jihwa‘s torment (chapter 50) and Baek Na-Kyum‘s nightmares in the bedchamber. (Chapter 34) and (Chapter 98) In the last one, he believed to see the scholar’s corpse. The artist had even an auditive hallucination. (Chapter 98) This means that a similar situation will occur. Someone will repeat Jung In-Hun’s words. (chapter 98) How could he be with the man who killed his family (for example Heena)?

3. Dream or nightmare?

However, there exists another person who had a premonitory dream, but I just realized it recently! In addition, you are wondering where this dream was. (chapter 45) Yes, in chapter 45!! How did I come to this conclusion? The first clue is the black frame. (chapter 45) Byeonduck always uses it in order to indicate that we are dealing with a memory or a dream. Secondly, in this scene we are supposed to see Baek Na-Kyum with his lover, both kissing tenderly, yet in the same chapter, the author let us see the reality of their interaction. (chapter 45) The painter was more acting like a robot, he was not able to procure pleasure to Yoon Seungho. He was not talented. As you can see, the introduction allowed us to see the dream of a fortune-teller concerning Yoon Seungho and the painter. But wait… (chapter 45) Who is who here? In this image, the artist is lying on the bed, he is recognizable by his slender and smooth leg and his thin foot. The lord is on the top, the beholder can identify him with his bigger and rounder butt. However, in the second picture, their position is switched. (chapter 45) The painter is on the top, he can be identified by his flat chest, while the lord is lying on the bed. Here, we see the artist showering Yoon Seungho with love, giving everything so that Yoon Seungho feels so good. One might argue that this can not be possible because of the lock of hair on the temple. Baek Na-Kyum doesn’t have one. (chapter 45) But don’t forget that we are here dealing with a premonitory dream. In my opinion, the lock of hair is implying that Baek Na-Kyum will be wearing a topknot in the future, similar to this situation: (chapter 87) This means that the person saw in this dream that Baek Na-Kyum would become the lord’s partner, and he would even be dressed like a noble (a topknot and white pants). Don’t forget that in season 2, he was still wearing grey pants and not white. (chapter 46) And this vision came true in season 3: (chapter 79) This is the same position, but from a different perspective. (chapter 45) But who has been foreseeing this scene or better said, who was recalling this dream, as it was a memory triggered by words? KIM! Don’t forget that he was present, when he heard this grapevine about the fiancée. However, I have more evidences for this interpretation. First, I have already pointed out that the butler was the one spreading rumors. (chapter 45) Moreover, it is related to the vocabulary employed by the commoners: black sheep. It is very similar to a bird of misfortune. Besides, who can call Yoon Seungho the black sheep of the Yoon family? The person behind this insult reveals that he knows the family very well. But why would he do such a thing? The reason is simple. This vision for the butler was not a dream, but a nightmare!! 😮 Why? It’s because it was announcing that Yoon Seungho would cut ties with the pedophile, his unofficial “husband”. Kim had made sure that no information about Yoon Seungho would leak to the outside for almost 10 years, the town folks didn’t know lord Yoon at all. But due to Bongyong and his loose lips (chapter 45), a rumor started that Yoon Seungho had a fiancée. Thus Kim chose to spread rumors in the village to kill the grapevines about the existence of Yoon Seungho‘s fiancée with another gossip. He used Jihwa and the incidents in the past… One might argue that it is not possible, because it looks like the rumor about the existence of Yoon Seungho’s sodomy existed before than the presence of a fiancée.

But please now read carefully chapter 45 again. After hearing this rumor, there was a caesura (the title), which we could judge as an indication for a time jump. Besides, this is what we see right after. (chapter 45) The owner of the stand is sitting and he has a white scarf, but in the next panel, the person is standing, and has a red scarf. (chapter 45) Moreover, the headcover on one player is much slightly darker. This is another indication that there could be a time jump between these two panels. But one might argue that the rumors about Yoon Seungho’s homosexuality were existing before the grapevines about the fiancée. (chapter 45) But not necessarily. Imagine, the butler had such a dream, and his memory got triggered, when he heard the commoner talking about the incident with Bongyong for the first time. But don’t forget that the man is a traveling merchant, so in the butler’s mind, the trader would leave the town and as such he wouldn’t be able to mention this to others. But he never imagined that the man would meet his friend. (chapter 45) In order to ensure that no one would take this rumor seriously, Kim made sure to spread the rumors about Lee Jihwa and Yoon Seungho’s sexuality.

First, we could see in chapter 40 that no one knew the lord in town. (chapter 40) His joke with the red dot was not even noticed by the woman and seller of the mirror!! Both were totally indifferent. Though he had made a joke, his action had caused no wave. Besides, we should question why the man would say that even dogs would know about his homosexuality. This implies the intensity of the grapevines. It displays that someone was deliberately leaking this information to the outside. Furthermore, one witness is saying that Yoon Seungho‘s affairs used to stir up the village… when did it happen? (chapter 45) Moreover, which affairs was he referring to? He has no idea about the masturbation in the tailor’s shop and the red dot on the painter’s face. As for Lee Jihwa’s humiliation, it was definitely not leaked to the outside as well. Besides, remember the comment from the red-haired master’s servant. (chapter 41) Striking is that (chapter 45) this statement was immediately denied by one player. As you can see, people were confused for one reason. Someone had spread a different grapevine as counter-measure. But why did Kim do this?

First, no one should be aware that Yoon Chang-Hyeon had been sent away from the family mansion. From my point of view, no one knew that the protagonist had been abandoned by his family and was the owner of the mansion. But this doesn’t end it. I have already pointed out the existence of a fake marriage between Yoon Seungho and the pedophile. In my eyes, the main character has always been the king’s ghost bride. The rumors about the main lead’s sodomy were there to ensure that no one should expect a marriage of the protagonist. The latter was already married, but the king can not claim him. And now, you comprehend why he has hanboks with designs. He was sending him clothes as a reward and a reminder that he was already taken. Note that he was always wearing a hanbok with a design, each time he had kept his distance from the painter. (chapter 34) (chapter 45) Here, Baek Na-Kyum had just returned to the mansion after his second desertion. (chapter 52) The lord had kept his distance from the artist for one week, though I believe that he still came to see him (chapter 51),(chapter 51) for the painter’s scarf was put on the way Yoon Seungho did in the courtyard in chapter 69. (chapter 69) And now, you comprehend why Kim criticized the painter in the courtyard. The lord would come to see him ensuring that he was well covered. The butler had every reason to view this dream (chapter 45) as a nightmare, for the king would get infuriated, and he could vent his frustration on the butler. He had not done his job properly. Observe that in chapter 45, Kim was acting more like the lord of the mansion, as he left the mansion without permission, he also bought ink and paper without the main lead’s knowledge, and even gave an order to Deok-Jae in order to reinforce his jealousy. (chapter 45) Now, I have the proof for this interpretation. The guardian was on his way back to the gate, so why did the valet ask him to bring the items to the painter’s study? Actually, Kim could have done it himself, it is not so that his master was waiting for him or had been requesting his presence. (chapter 45) Now, you are probably thinking that this essay has reached an end. But no… Why?

4. The other definition of “fortune-telling”

As you can see, this term has another signification which is not well known among people. In truth, this idiom is used in psychology. I discovered this, while I was looking for a word describing the butler’s mind-set. Everything started with this thought triggered by these two panels. (chapter 87) What if the butler had been saying the truth? He had no idea what was going on inside the room of the kisaeng house. But as an outsider, he observed this. Nobles were going to and from lord Yoon’s chambers. The readers had the impression that the young master was getting raped in the bedchamber. Yet, like I had pointed out, this is definitely not true, for the teenager was dressed. (chapter 87) We could detect the presence of a stock, this means that in the bedchamber, he was physically abused. And the butler could have jumped to the wrong conclusion, exactly like in this scene. (chapter 77) He had seen the kiss between the two boys, but because of Yoon Seungho’s smile, he had assumed that Yoon Seungho was consenting. (chapter 77) However, like mentioned before, the protagonist was under the influence of a drug. So in his eyes, it was, as if the young boy had been the one kissing Lee Jihwa. Because of this scene, he assumed that the two boys were fooling around. He jumped to the wrong conclusion that Yoon Seungho was a sodomite, something Kim truly abhors. So my idea was that the butler could have made the same mistake concerning the bedchamber: he made an assumption, and he jumped to the wrong conclusion that Yoon Chang-Hyeon was treating his son as a prostitute for his own greed and ambition. Because of these two expressions “assumptions” and “wrong conclusion”, I started researching for this. And this is what I found:

“As a therapist, I define this pattern of behavior as “making assumptions.” Some cognitive behaviorists call this behavior fortune-telling. Fortune-telling is considered a cognitive distortion leading to depression and anxiety. Cognitive distortions are irrational beliefs that have become habituated because they have been reinforced over time. […] Burns discusses the fortune-telling bias as “jumping to conclusions.” He states that people jump to conclusions because of impatience to achieve a resolution to confusing unresolved situations. In haste, people mentally make inferences without adequate supporting evidence. These inferences and conclusions may be negative or catastrophic, but people draw them in order to feel the situation is resolved.” Quoted from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sustainable-life-satisfaction/201909/are-you-guilty-making-too-many-assumptions

Striking is that these persons fortune-telling are trying to fill the blanks by their own thoughts and experiences, in order to control their life, yet they have always negative expectations. This shows that they are motivated by fear. While they guess, they believe to know the truth and to know people, thus they can make rash decisions. And now, you comprehend why Kim always says this: “I thought…” And because they think, they know people, they don’t feel the need to talk to others.

“Assumptions damage our capacity to relate to others. If you are always assuming you know how others think and feel, you stop listening and communicating and leave them feeling trapped or misunderstood. And relationship difficulties, whether at work or home, can lead to low self-esteem and depression. quoted from https://www.harleytherapy.co.uk/counselling/making-assumptions.htm

This explains why Yoon Seungho felt so lonely in the end. The butler was not talking to him due to his mind-set. But naturally, he had other reasons to do so. He had to hide his own wrongdoings, he had made wrong decisions. He had jumped to wrong conclusions.

But this doesn’t end here. There exist 10 types of cognitive distortions, and in my opinion, Kim has many of them: All-or-nothing, overgeneralization, arbitrary interpretation/interference, selective abstraction, mental filters, jumping to conclusion (fortune-telling and mind reading), magnification and minimization, should statements, labeling, emotional reasoning, discounting the positive. I am not giving all the definitions of these types, for it would be too long. But you can read them in the links I posted below.

All-or-nothing thinking is also known as black and white thinking or polarized thinking. This type of thinking involves viewing things in absolute terms: Situations are always black or white, everything or nothing, good or bad, success or failure.2All-or-nothing thinking is associated with certain mental health conditions, including narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and borderline personality disorder (BPD).3 Quoted from https://www.verywellmind.com/ten-cognitive-distortions-identified-in-cbt-22412

The butler only sees two categories: friend or enemy. There’s no between. Hence if there’s a disagreement, he will view the other as an enemy.

“Arbitrary inference is “the process of forming an interpretation of a situation, event, or experience when there is no factual evidence to support the conclusion or where the conclusion is contrary to the evidence” [1]. https://www.psychologytools.com/articles/unhelpful-thinking-styles-cognitive-distortions-in-cbt/

And this is exactly what the butler did, when he saw the two boys (chapter 77) He ran away, and didn’t question the boys in order to discover the truth behind the stolen kiss. There was never a trial, for he had already acted as the judge and the witness. For him, the perpetrator was his master due to his huge smile, but he had not been paying attention to Lee Jihwa’s facial expressions (blushing) and his actions. In my opinion, he was already expecting the worst in Yoon Seungho, though the butler was not conscious of this. He repeated the same mistake, when he went to the shed in chapter 63. He thought that Yoon Seungho was raping Baek Na-Kyum in the shed, which was not the case. He ran away too, thus he assumed that Baek Na-Kyum would decide to leave the mansion.

And now, you have the explanation why the maids asked this to the butler: (chapter 17) This is an expression that he would often use. We could witness this cognitive distortion (should statement) in front of the shed. (chapter 77) This explains too why Yoon Seungho is called a black sheep, a bird of misfortune. (chapter 87, labelling)

Kim doesn’t accept arguments, for him a quarrel is something negative, as he has the impression that his authority is questioned. He is overgeneralizing, for he views nobles as violent liars. Thus he said this to the main lead: (chapter 68) But here, like I pointed out before, he was excluding himself from this incident. Let’s not forget that he had been the one dragging him to the shed.

I have been describing Kim as a fake shaman for quite some time, and now this new discovery reinforces my interpretation. He is a fake fortune-teller, someone who has mental problems. From my point of view, he had already a negative attitude about the young master, when he met him for the first time. Don’t forget that he only served him for a decade, this means that Yoon Seungho’s downfall coincides with Kim’s arrival. In my eyes, it is related to the description father Yoon had made about his own son. Remember what he said to the doctor: (chapter 57) He had been ill, since he was very young. But the physician mentioned the good notoriety about Yoon Seungho: he was intelligent. Striking is that Kim has never mentioned this. Either he is not aware of this, because he only met the protagonist after hearing the negative comment from the father, or as a person suffering from cognitive distortion, he is only remembering the negative aspects. I had already exposed that this was not related to sodomy, for sexuality was not relevant, when he was just a child. From my point of view, Yoon Chang-Hyeon saw in his son’s questioning and critical thinking a problem. He was not respecting the elders, and Kim is definitely a reinforcer of social norms. From my point of view, the drug administrated was not to treat him for sodomy, but in order to obtain his obedience. We were all assuming that the visit to the doctor must have occurred after the stolen kiss, but it could be the opposite. Why? It is because the physician revealed the valet’s second visit which occurred after the incident in the kisaeng house. (chapter 57) And now, imagine this. What if the purpose of the drug was to make Yoon Seungho submissive? Thus the young boy was smiling, and doesn’t remember the stolen kiss. Striking is that cognitive distortion has an impact on memory, it can create distorted memories. And this would confirm my previous assumption that here, the butler was mixing two memories together. (chapter 65) Since the butler has always been expecting the worst unconsciously, I am suspecting that he is the one who offered Yoon Seungho to the king! That way, he imagined that his master would be protected, unaware that he had never been forced to have sex before. There’s no ambiguity that his cognitive distortions led to Yoon Seungho’s suffering. Hence the father and the king will be quite surprised when they discover the verity. Kim badmouthed the main lead calling him a bird of misfortune, though lord Song views him differently, as he keeps sending him hanboks with cranes and phoenix, asymbol for good fortune.

Due to his fortune-telling and mind-reading, the butler had never confided to the protagonist, he was never close to Yoon Seungho. I would even go so far to say that he even tormented him (see the flashback triggered in chapter 81). He had lied, for he had only told what he had already interpreted. The readers will certainly recall his MO: to mix a truth with a lie!! This is the evidence of a cognitive distortion, though in the past it was not done consciously. His so-called predictions were all fake, for he always made a wrong interpretation! This brings me back to the beginning of this essay. A dream and vision are difficult to discern, and they can have many meanings, but the valet only knew one way how to read them: in a negative way. And when it happened, the valet saw his false predictions confirmed, while in truth he had just mixed causes and consequences. Because he had jumped to the wrong conclusion, he had contributed that the tragedy would take place. Deep down, he knows this, but he is refusing to admit it. This explains why he is plagued by his guilty conscience, as long as the young man remains by his side. Thus he said this to the painter: (chapter 87) He was talking about himself here. For the valet, there’s only one solution: “Out of sight, out of mind!” Hence he hoped that the father would take away Yoon Seungho from the mansion.

5. Baek Na-Kyum’s role

The manhwalovers understand the painter’s personality and role. He stands for hope and change, thus his dreams are always connected to something positive. He stands in opposition to the valet. The artist’s role is to teach the butler a terrible lesson which he will pay with his life in my opinion, as the lord’s vision implied in chapter 83. Kim is just an ignorant servant. He can never make real predictions. In addition, he doesn’t know people at all. How so? Don’t forget that the painter is a butterfly, and the moves from a butterfly are never predictable. The butterfly can have a terrible impact on others, the so-called butterfly effect. Therefore all the valet’s schemes were always doomed to failure in the artist’s presence. (chapter 45) And the nightmare Kim had will become a reality, and this shows that he was never loyal to Yoon Seungho. Here, he saw the lord relaxed and enjoying his time, but this couldn’t make the butler happy for two reasons. He feared the king’s reaction. The latter would never accept being rejected. Secondly, he realized that he would lose his position as the ghost lord. The valet rejected this vision exactly like all the other characters, but this was pointless, since he is fighting against the gods. When the butler had a real vision, he denied its existence, he preferred his own fortune-telling and mind-reading. He envisioned that since these two tools had helped him in the past, he could succeed again.

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: The Power of the Dog ⚔️

This is where you can read the manhwa.https://www.lezhinus.com/en/comic/steel_silk 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 this manhwa and others, here is the link to the table of contents: https://bebebisous33analyses.com/2021/06/06/table-of-contents-of-analyzed-mentioned-manhwas/ Here you can read the second analysis about Steel Under Silk:  https://bebebisous33analyses.com/2022/05/11/steel-under-silk-painter-of-the-night-the-lotus-%f0%9f%8c%b8-and-the-snake%f0%9f%90%8d/

It would be great if you could make some donations/sponsoring: Ko-fi.com/bebebisous33  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.

Anyone reading chapter 12 comes to the conclusion that Kwon Hee-Ryang has the upper hand, and Lee Yeonjo has been defeated. (chapter 12) The governor gives orders to the slave, and the latter can only obey. Secondly, the official only reveals to his counterpart at the end that he knows about his identity. (chapter 12) He is the son of the right state councilor, the man he killed with his own hands 5 years ago. By unveiling the truth, the man shows that Lee Yeonjo won‘t be able to deceive him. He can see through his heart and gaze which are filled with rage. (chapter 12) Thus the uke won’t be able to get his revenge. However, in my eyes, this confrontation in jail outlines the opposite. The dominant is not Kwon Hee-Ryang, but Lee Yeonjo. For me, the governor made a huge mistake in the jail, but it is barely perceptible. It becomes more obvious through a detailed examination. Striking is that in my previous analysis, I had compared the uke to the purple lotus flower due to his name, but the young man is also associated to the dog. (chapter 9) (chapter 10) (chapter 10) And now, you comprehend why I chose such a title. This will be the topic of my essay. I will elaborate why and how Lee Yeonjo is powerful, though he views himself as weak and powerless. (chapter 10) I am quite certain that you are wondering about this. How is it possible that the uke is not in a disadvantageous position? Everything is pointing out the opposite: his condition as a slave, his situation (he is imprisoned for a crime), he is the talk of rumors and Kwon Hee-Ryang has already identified him as an enemy.

1. The fight in the bedchamber

Let‘s start with their first sexual encounter. We shouldn’t forget that Kwon Hee-Ryang had already been eyeing Lee Yeonjo (chapter 8), and he was already thinking how to approach him. However, he was caught by surprise, when the servant was sent to his staff. He had the impression that the main lead had been delivered on a silver plate. Imagine this. He didn‘t need to do anything. Due to the bite on his neck, the governor knew that the young man had sex with another man. So in his mind, he was not rejecting sodomy. Secondly, he just had to make the request that Lee Yeonjo should serve him, and that was it. Once in the bedchamber, he could taste him. He envisioned that with his position, the slave wouldn‘t reject his advances. At the same time, we could sense that initially Kwon Hee-Ryang tried to woo him. He asked for his name (chapter 7), then he showed concern for his wounded finger before touching his hand in order to seduce him. Honestly, as the governor, he was in a position where he could have just ordered Lee Yeonjo around, and the latter would have been forced to obey. He only mentioned his power, the moment he sensed the protagonist’s resistance. (chapter 8) As you can see, first the official chose a more delicate approach. Simultaneously, he mentioned that he was aware of the existence of the request from Headman Choi. Lee Yeonjo should spy for Choi. By unveiling this secret, Kwon Hee-Ryang wanted to be perceived as a generous man, even as a savior, for he was giving an opportunity for the slave to escape such a terrible fate: being accused of spying in case something went wrong. He was implying that he knew that Lee Yeonjo was acting here against his will, the governor was believing in his innocence. He just needed to become his lover, and that was it. The reproach of spying would never be brought up against him. But note that his words had the opposite effect, it even scared Lee Yeonjo more. At the end, the lord had to remind the slave of his precarious situation, he was in no position to refuse his advances. (chapter 8) Because he didn’t threaten the servant right away, this indicates that he was not just seeking sensual pleasure, he was hoping to gain the lotus’ attention and trust. But this doesn’t end here. What caught my attention is that Kwon Hee-Ryang decided to restrain himself, he was controlling his sexual desires, a sign that he was very considerate towards Lee Yeonjo. (chapter 9) The usage of the foreplay displays that the noble was not rushing things. He wanted to ensure that this wouldn’t be painful for the uke. Because he thought that with his power, he had been able to tame the “dog”, he got caught by surprise by the man’s sudden rejection. He got slapped so hard that he lost the cover of his topknot with the hairpin. (chapter 9) This scene was full of symbolism. The slap symbolizes humiliation and castration. It was, as if the young boy had disarmed his adversary. (chapter 9), for the hairpin represents the governor’s blade. Lee Yeonjo went so far that he wanted to commit suicide with the main lead’s hairpin. (chapter 9) This signifies that he had defeated Kwon Hee-Ryang by taking his hairpin. He was revealing the governor’s powerlessness. The official couldn’t obtain what he desired, but also his authority had been defied. Neither his advances nor his strength had been able to overcome the man’s defiance and resistance. And now, you comprehend why the “beast” was so furious and sent the servant to jail. (chapter 9) As a powerful man, he had not been able to prevent such a humiliation.

This shows that Kwon Hee-Ryang desired to earn the trust from Yeonjo. He thought that with his gentle gestures, his reassuring and praising words and his position, the slave would accept him right away. So he was not just aiming to have the boy’s body, and that was it. He definitely desired more, he had no problem to make him his official lover, which distinguishes him from lord Chang. Their sex session displays that Kwon Hee-Ryang was considerate towards Lee Yeonjo, but the latter was not realizing it, for his mind was too focused on his own physical reaction. (chapter 9) He is still denying his own sensuality.

2. In jail

Once in prison, he received the visit from headman Choi. And even here, he had no problem to talk back to his superior. He went so far to insult the headman. (chapter 11) He refused to kill himself in order to cover up the man’s sins. He might be a slave, but he was not stupid or desperate enough to give up on his own life. But the bearded man didn’t take the servant’s warning seriously, which had terrible consequences for Choi. He ended up losing his position and life, for he was caught red-handed by the governor. We could say that thanks to Lee Yeonjo, the official could get rid of a nuisance. Headman Choi had served the hojok instead of the governors. (chapter 11) The uke played a huge role in Choi’s demise, which people could detect, as afterwards that night, Yeonjo was blamed for Choi’s vanishing. His resignation happened the same day of Yeonjo’s imprisonment. That way, Kwon Hee-Ryang’s true personality and goal were still kept in the dark.

Though the slave witnessed another bloodbath, the main lead still begged Kwon Hee-Ryang not to send him away. This means that his desire for revenge was stronger than his fear. (chapter 11) In this panel the readers can detect the former noble’s scare due to his trembling. Yet the moment the governor wished to send him outside the court, the main character realized the real consequence of his past action. He wouldn’t be able to approach his enemy again. (chapter 11) Thus he faked obedience and regret. (chapter 11) But Kwon Hee-Ryang was no fool, he could perceive the uke’s hypocrisy. Why? It is because he is also himself an actor, he is the “blade hiding behind the smile”. He can detect when people are acting. Only Lee Yeonjo knows his true nature. No one will ever suspect that as a high ranking official, he would dirty his own hands. This explains why the uke considered their first sex session as a hunt. (chapter 9) Kwon Hee-Ryang was a beast cornering a little puppy. But let’s return to the scene in the prison. What caught my attention is that once the slave pleaded for the lord’s leniency, the latter asked not only for privacy but also for a fire place! (chapter 11) This little detail unveils that the main character has already a soft spot for Lee Yeonjo. I would even go so far to say that the absence of penetration (again) in the prison is an indication that Kwon Hee-Ryang is not controlling the situation at all. He complained that the uke had a climax before him (chapter 12), that he had poor skills… (chapter 12) yet, note that he was the one suggesting the masturbation. It was also his own decision to masturbate Lee Yeonjo too. This shows that he still took the uke’s own sensuality into consideration. Besides, he was totally bothered that the uke was rejecting him. (chapter 12) He was also annoyed that Lee Yeonjo was not paying attention to him. He could even sense that his mind was elsewhere. (chapter 12) Exactly like in the bedchamber, the manhwalovers can sense that the main lead was longing for more, but after realizing the true identity of Lee Yeonjo, he is well aware that he can never obtain the slave’s heart, as he is the one who killed his father. (chapter 12) And now, you comprehend why he is sending away Lee Yeonjo, he is hoping that once out of his sight, he will be able to forget him. But like I had outlined in my introduction, the governor made a huge mistake by confronting Lee Yeonjo. (chapter 12) He divulged that his body language was betraying him. He couldn’t act, as his facial expressions and actions were showing how he hated his touch and presence. This means that if Lee Yeonjo takes the main lead’s reproaches to heart, he can have an advantage. The governor encouraged the uke to become a better actor. He just needs to learn how to control his reactions. One might say that he just needs to learn acting, but there’s more to it. In reality his defiance is strongly connected to his loathing about sodomy. Hence the moment the slave accepts his homosexuality and admits feeling pleasure, it will be more difficult for the counterpart to judge if Lee Yeonjo’s affection and sensuality is genuine or fake, especially if he becomes more proactive in the seduction. So far, the former noble was the one on the receiving hand, when he was with Kwon Hee-Ryang. So if he changes his attitude and becomes an expert how to please Kwon Hee-Ryang, the latter will lose more and more control of the situation.

Notice that in the bedchamber, Lee Yeonjo spoke of attachment (chapter 8), which could be viewed as a vulnerability. This is not surprising that Kwon Hee-Ryang worded his attraction differently: (chapter 8) The slave was just a pet, a plaything, nothing more. But biting was showing that he was claiming him as a his possession. Thus I deduce that Lee Yeonjo will take a different path in order to seek revenge on his father’s murderer. The author already left a clue with this panel: (chapter 9) He dreamed of killing him, but he doesn’t have the strength. Nevertheless, he can torment Kwon Hee-Ryang in a different way. He could use lord Chang for that. Under this new light, the manhwaphiles can comprehend why snob added the tag love triangle. From my point of view, the fact that the governor initiated a kiss with Yeonjo indicates his increasing attraction for the protagonist. (chapter 8) The lord was treating the other ukes differently, they were more indeed sex toys. (chapter 2) (chapter 4), for penetration was in the center of these intercourses. But with Lee Yeonjo, the strategist and warrior behaved in a more seductive way: there were caresses, kisses and embraces. The governor did his best to seduce the slave. Yet the lord didn’t succeed, thereby he was not even able to taste the uke.

3. Yeonjo’s deal

In the second part, I had mentioned that Yeonjo could employ lord Chang to torment the governor, the two persons he loathed the most. First, he has already used him, when he asked him for this favor. (chapter 2) Here he was lying to the administrator.

What caught my attention is that though Yeonjo was just a slave, he didn’t beg lord Chang for a favor in the shed, but he proposed a deal. (chapter 10) The idiom is important, for this term implies that the two sides are equal. This made me laugh, for the simple reason that the slave made this suggestion, though in reality he was in an disadvantageous situation. As a slave, he has no right at all, he can never be the lord’s equal. Striking is that when he said this, he was sitting on his knees, whereas the administrator was standing. Their position reflected their actual social status. On the other hand, a gentle kiss and stroke were strong enough for the ruthless and selfish lord Chang to accept the deal. This shows that here the servant was acting. He faked submission and acceptance. And notice that Yeonjo has been playing passive-aggressive with the administrator. (chapter 1) He could taste his body, but that was it. In truth, lord Chang was longing for more, he hoped to become his lover, when he asked him to send him to the court. As you can detect, Lee Yeonjo was able to control the administrator. Therefore it is no coincidence that he refuses to follow lord Chang who desires to remove him from the court (chapter 15). He hates the man, as much as he loathes the murderer of his family. People are wondering why. This is quite simple. Lee Yeonjo resents the administrator, for he abused his position. In chapter 10, he showed his true face. He portrayed himself as a generous man (chapter 10) The verity is that he never gave everything without expectations. His “kindness” was fake, he desired to have sex with Yeonjo. That’s the reason why the noble was rejected the first time. And note that during this meeting, the administrator felt the need to remind Lee Yeonjo of his superiority. (chapter 10) In my eyes, the official did nothing to change the protagonist’s situation, in fact he used the main lead’s despair. Real kindness is always free which was not the case here. However, he was caught by surprise as well, when the uke took his hand and kissed it. On the surface, Lee Yeonjo was acting as if he was submitting to lord Chang, but the reality was different. He still had the upper hand, which explains why the uke could show him the cold shoulder or even reject him in the beginning of the story. (chapter 1) I believe that the slave will use a similar strategy with the governor, but there will exist a slight nuance. Why? It is because Kwon Hee-Ryang is not hiding his homosexuality. (chapter 10) He doesn’t care about his image. The other reason is that he is still connecting him to the night where he saw him killing his father. He has internalized this fear. That’s the reason why he was reminded of that night during their first sexual interaction. (chapter 9) He knows that Kwon Hee-Ryang is a predator (chapter 10), thus he can not be approached like lord Chang. He is more dangerous and perceptive than lord Chang.(chapter 10) His fear and anger are hindering him to act properly. Due to his trembling and his anxiety, he has not grasped yet that he has already the upper hand: the governor’s attachment.

4. Conclusion

Lee Yeonjo has more power than it looks like. He could defeat headman Choi who had threatened him. He could escape punishments on two occasions thanks to the official’s leniency, and he was able to deceive and control lord Chang. And by revealing his cards to Lee Yeonjo, the latter can use his gained insight to change his plan for revenge. The noble might have played with him, but unconsciously his words and actions were betraying him. He is already losing control over his heart. This is particularly perceptible, when he said this to the main lead. (chapter 13) He had envisioned for one moment to share his bed with Lee Yeonjo. The presence of Lee Yeonjo in the court will be a constant reminder for Kwon Hee-Ryang that he committed a sin. (chapter 13) Like pointed above, the uke could change his attitude. So how will the governor react, when the slave’s gushing antipathy disappears? Will the lord truly believe that the resent disappeared for good? In my opinion, the young man will come to change his approach. He could deceive the official by appealing to his pity exactly like with lord Chang. (chapter 13) This exposes that the “dog” or kitten is much more powerful. He can torment him with his guilty conscience.

Here, I would like to outline the similarities between this work and the Western movie “The Power of The Dog” which was made by Jane Campion in 2021. In that story, the strong, very masculine and bullying main character Phil Burbank got defeated by the very thin and feminine Peter. In reality, the latter was the stronger one, he was confident, thus he could resist peers pressure. The latter gave the impression that he was connecting to Phil, and they had something in common, while in truth, Peter just sought his closeness to discover his vulnerability. Phil was a repressed homosexual, who hid his sexual orientation, though it is also implied that Phil had been sexually abused by his mentor Bronco. At the end, Peter was able to kill Phil who had been harassing his mother. He viewed himself as a man, for he could protect his mother. My point is that both works are showing that masculinity and power have nothing to do with sexuality or a certain body shape. Lee Yeonjo might be thin, shaking, unable to repress his hatred, but at least he is strong-willed and honest to himself, while Kwon Hee-Ryang is already in denial about his growing attachment towards the main lead. He is definitely underestimating Lee Yeonjo’s determination and deceptive skills. The young man uses his poor condition and weak appearance to move the semes’ heart. (chapter 13) Kwon Hee-Ryang can imagine his thirst for revenge, but the problem is that he is underestimating the effect Lee Yeonjo has on him and his heart.

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