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/

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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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2 thoughts on “Steel Under Silk: The Power of the Dog ⚔️

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