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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My avid readers are actually aware that Painter Of The Night is constructed like a kaleidoscope. Thus certain incidents keep occurring twice in each season. However, one might argue that this theory is not true, for the author used two hunts in season 1, yet we had no hunt at all in season 2, and only one in season 3.
- Chapter 22:
- Chapter 41:
- Chapter 83:
1. The hidden chases
As you can imagine, I can refute this point very easily. First of all, in the essay „Words“, I had pointed out that in the bedchamber, the lord was acting like a hunter chasing after his prey. I had made this connection, for the main lead would utilize idioms from the lexical field of the hunt. (Chapter 73) (chapter 73) This is important, because the manhwalovers can sense a connection between sex and hunt. This means that the love session in the bedchamber from season 2 should be perceived as a new version of a hunt. And this link between sex and hunting was also present, when Yoon Seungho and Min were in the woods in chapter 41: (chapter 41) In this scene, it looked like Black Heart was trying to make a move on Yoon Seungho, while in truth Min was more obsessed with the painter. (Chapter 41) The expression „spot“ belongs also to the semantic field of chase.
Secondly, the premeditated murder could be viewed as a new version of the hunt. Yoon Seungho was the first one to bring up these two notions together: (Chapter 11) A murder disguised as an accident, the scholar would have been eaten by a tiger. What caught my attention is that No-Name requested from Deok-Jae that he should make the painter leave the mansion. o (chapter 51) It was, as if the rabbit had been chased away from its burrow or the deer had been forced to leave the woods. That way, he would become an easy target for the hunter and butcher Mumyeong. To conclude, we had two hunts in season 2 as well.
As for season 3, the second chase took place, when the painter vanished. Yoon Seungho had to track down himself Baek Na-Kyum. He was like a hunter searching for his prey, following the clues left by the “witnesses”. (Chapter 99) First, he was rushing, but the moment he received the crucial tip from his childhood friend, he approached the den silently, just like a tiger. That‘s the reason why neither Black Heart nor lord Jang nor lord Park detected his presence. (Chapter 101)
2. Yoon Seungho the hunter
Thus I couldn‘t help myself associating Yoon Seungho to a tiger. In one of my first analyses, I had compared him to an eagle and a phoenix, hence this new association seems to contradict my previous interpretation. However, the readers should keep in their mind that each character has been associated to different animals: Min was either a snake or a crow or a magpie, while Jung In-Hun could be perceived as a snake, a peacock or a chameleon. I have already compared the painter to a deer and a butterfly, so Yoon Seungho should be linked to different animals either: the phoenix and the tiger.
This predator is known to be a solitary night hunter, mainly relying on his sense of sight and hearing rather than on smell when hunting prey. This method is also employed by the main character which was particularly perceptible during the last incident. On the one hand, he listened to the words from his staff, the noonas, Seokdae (chapter 99) and Lee Jihwa (chapter 100), hence he had not the time to question the veracity of their claims or sense their manipulations. On the other hand, he could detect the difference between the blood in front of the scholar’s house and inside the building. (Chapter 100). He was following his instincts. Tigers cautiously stalk their target from the rear in attempt to get as close as possible to their unsuspecting prey. (Chapter 101) And the moment I perceived Yoon Seungho as a tiger, I couldn‘t help myself thinking that the main lead was acting like a mother looking for her lost cub!! 🐯 This would explain why the protagonist showed no mercy at all to the nobles. However, the painter is definitely no tiger. In our story, he was symbolized by the deer, which the lord had stabbed with his sword. (Chapter 22) This was an allusion to the rape. Under this new light, it becomes comprehensible why Baek Na-Kyum feared the lord so much, because he had to face his strength and fury right away. From the beginning, the painter saw his dangerous side. A deer can only perceive the tiger as a natural enemy. We could say that Painter Of The Night is a love story between a tiger and a deer!😉 This means that the lord finally showed his real fangs, when he felt that his curb or treasured deer had been wounded. (chapter 102)
And this thought leads me to the following observation, the way Yoon Seungho hurts its targets. The tiger will attempt to take down its prey with a powerful bite to the neck and/ or throat. Now, look at this: (chapter 41) The pheasant was strangled, just like Yoon Seungho used to grab the painter by the throat (chapter 48) or the chin (chapter 11). The main lead‘s hand has the same form than the bite, though it can not cut the flesh… which the sword can. Thus we saw the lord using the sword: (chapter 22) (chapter 83) (chapter 102) Even in this panel, the sword resembles a lot to the tiger‘s fang: (chapter 102) Another important element is that this predator usually targets large-bodied preys like boar, deer, humans and not rabbit or pheasant. Under this new light, it becomes comprehensible why the main lead went after a boar or the aristocrats in season 3.
“Less than a century ago, tigers and leopards prowled the Korean peninsula and ruled the hours of darkness. Their depredations in the desolate regions were so severe that porters and horse-handlers refused to travel at night ― even in fairly large groups. If they were compelled to travel at night (through the promises of more money or threats of violence), they did so with great caution, brandishing torches, striking gongs, and relying on superstitious beliefs.”
Quoted from http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/opinon/2019/10/197_276925.html
By comparing all these hunting scenes, I detected the following parallels. The main lead would always do the mercy killing, which stands in opposition to Min or Jung In-Hun. Both disliked dirtying their own hands, it was beneath them to kill the animal themselves. (chapter 22) (chapter 41) We could say that Yoon Seungho was behaving like the tiger, who would always kill his prey in one go. Yet, since Jung In-Hun was seen wearing the same boots (chapter 111) than the killer in the woods (chapter 103), it looks like the learned sir chose to drop his own principle. And if this theory is true, then I come to the conclusion that the learned sir chose to copy the protagonist thinking that he could get away with it.
Simultaneously, this reminded me of the status of No-Name, who is a killer, but a butcher at the same time. (chapter 60) The latter belonged to the lowest ranks of Joseon’s society, because killing an animal was a disgraceful job. On the other hand, the butcher No-Name and the tiger Yoon Seungho have something in common: killing is viewed as a necessity. It is either to survive or to end the animal’s suffering or to punish the criminals.
3. Hunting: hobby or work?
That’s how I realized that hunt and murder are similar in this story, for both are mostly presented as an entertainment. Yoon Seungho invited the scholar for a hunt, as it would give the occasion to go to the woods. (Chapter 22). And when Black Heart suggested the artist’s assassination, he always kept laughing, making it sound like a game without any terrible consequence. (Chapter 43) Lee Jihwa would remove a witch, and not a human. (chapter 43) Only Nameless painted it in all its cruelty and brutality. Not only the person would lose his life, but he would lose his identity. (Chapter 60) By removing his eyes and tongue, the victim’s face would change making him impossible to be recognized. And note that his scarf and headgear had been removed as well. It was not a game, but a deadly matter. Why would he do such a thing? The reason is simple. If no one could identify the victim, there would be no investigation. Astonishing is that hunt is a synonym for investigation and prosecution. Hence I am deducing that in season 4, the investigation should be perceived a new version of the hunt, a new version of this scene. (chapter 37) Because of Jung In-Hun and Min, someone will be put on the wanted list. On the other side, Mumyeong’s other job is to entertain people. To conclude, there is a strong connection between killing and entertaining which the main lead destroyed during that night. He reminded the nobles that hunting means taking away a life.
On the other hand, the hunting in chapter 83 looked the exact opposite: (chapter 83) It was far more serious and deadly. The noble was acting like an obsessed and crazy man. There was no trace of fun on his face, only stress and fear. (chapter 83) Thus I am deducing that this chase had been suggested to the main lead in order to release his tension and as such in order to divert his attention from the painter. Naturally, Kim was behind this idea faking his concern for his master. The hunt was supposed to procure pleasure to Yoon Seungho, but it couldn’t, because he was afraid of losing the painter. This explains why he selected the boar as his prey. He was fearless in front of that dangerous animal, for it meant nothing to him. He didn’t mind losing his life… revealing his suicidal disposition which resurfaced later, when the father mentioned the authorities. (chapter 86) (chapter 86) But the moment the servant reminded him to pay more attention to himself (chapter 83), he abandoned the boar immediately. This shows that all this time, Baek Na-Kyum had been on his mind. Therefore it is no coincidence that he rushed home on his horse and looked for Baek Na-Kyum. (Chapter 83) He couldn’t forget that he had scared and wounded the painter in his dissociative state. This shows that the chase had not served its true purpose: entertainment. In reality, the domestics had been the ones suffering the most, for them it was definitely more work (Chapter 84) compared to the past. (chapter 23)
Another important detail caught my attention in this panel: (chapter 83) the hunter had the impression to become a target himself, thus he turned around. His situation coincides with the tigers in Joseon. The latter were hunted down by professional tiger hunters, for they represented a huge source of danger for the local population.
“Some of Korea’s most dangerous and ferocious tigers were those that dwelt on the slopes of Inwangsan, just outside the Seoul city walls. These tigers often preyed on woodcutters and firewood merchants traveling to and from Goyang city ― especially at Muakjae Pass. In 1893, at least one tiger was reported to be prowling about Gyeongbok Palace ― probably hunting the tame little deer kept there. There are even claims (probably exaggerated) of tigers stalking Seoul’s gloomy, unlit streets ― the silence shattered by the screams of their unwary victims fighting a losing battle for their lives. When the tigers became too much of a nuisance, professional hunters were summoned. These men were highly respected by Koreans and foreigners for their bravery. ” Quoted from http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/opinon/2019/10/197_276925.html
To conclude, the hunter can become hunted too.
This is interesting, because the hunter Min became himself a prey to the tiger Seungho. When I started examining this manhwa, I had interpreted this scene as a metaphor for Lee Jihwa’s destiny. (chapter 41) First, I had feared that he might lose his life, then later I had realized that this death was purely symbolic. He would lose his title and family, therefore he would become a commoner. But I had also expressed my doubts that this scene could be a reference to Black Heart, as from chapter 52 on, I had sensed that he would die. Moreover, observe that during that hunt, Min had wounded the animal himself. This mirrors his own death. He became a victim of his own trick. But if the pheasant is representing two characters, The Joker and Lee Jihwa, then this means that the deer in chapter 22 (chapter 22) embodies not only the painter, but also someone else. While in the past, I used to believe that it was Kim, now I come to the deduction that it was Jung In-Hun. Note that in this scene, the main lead left the prey and the scholar behind. Both got defeated. This means that by targeting Yoon Seungho, the scholar is not realizing that he is actually endangering his own life. Besides, by hunting the deer, the learned sir offered this prey to the tiger Yoon Seungho, and this was the painter’s case. Furthermore, the deer was carried back home on a horse (chapter 24) reflecting the painter’s fate. (chapter 25) Who brought the horse to the pavilion? Kim and Deok-Jae! And when the learned sir departed from the mansion, he was followed by the vicious servant and the horse. (chapter 44) As you can see, Jung In-Hun is connected to the horse. This observation was even confirmed in season 4. (Chapter 111) Thanks to episode 111, I detected another progression. First, Jung In-Hun was walking behind the horse (chapter 24) Thus he could take the artist away unnoticed. Then in episode 44, the learned sir is shown standing in front of the horse. Finally, the manhwaphiles can see the man riding. This reflects his social ascension. (Chapter 111) So the learned sir could have the impression, he is getting more powerful. But this is just a deception, for I doubt that he owns the horse. The horse is the evidence that Jung In-Hun is sponsored. And because the deer was carried on the horse back, I am deducing that in reality, the scholar is even more closer to death than before. And by losing the painter, the scholar would lose his power over Yoon Seungho, and this is what truly happened. By leaving the main lead’s side, Jung In-Hun is no longer lucky, though be believes the opposite. He will become a victim of his own tricks. Everything is pointing out that the learned sir was like a deer or better said the hunting dog for the hidden hunter, while he thought of himself as the tiger!! (Chapter 111) Like mentioned above, the shoes could be perceived as the evidence for Jung In-Hun’s crime.
(chapter 83) The boar symbolizes not only the nobles like Jihwa, Min, Jang or Park, but also the elders Kim, Lee, Yoon Chang-Hyeon, and as such the king. And if you consider the boar as the personification of the pedophile, the ruler, this means that the moment Yoon Seungho hunted down the nobles, he defeated the ruler in a figurative way. I would even say that the nobles like Min or lord Haseon are pushing the main lead to “hunt” the monarch, for the shadows are standing behind the main lead. Due to their tricks, the “schemers” are realizing that they are contributing to give justice to the protagonists. Thus I was wondering if in the end, the main lead would hunt down a human in season 4, Kim or the king. Don’t forget the main lead’s words to the painter: (chapter 11) It could be staged as a hunting accident. In other words, I was expecting a new form of hunt in season 4, a human will be chased, either through an interrogation or through a staged hunt. And this expectation got proven correct. (Chapter 103) However, since the manhunt appeared in the first episode from season 4, I deduce that we will have many manhunts in the final season, like here (Chapter 106) (chapter 106)
Because the butler is connected to hunt (chapter 24, 41, 84), I come to the conclusion that Kim’s fate is strongly intertwined with manhunt. Because he has been working for the schemers and as such the pedophile, we have to envision that the puppet masters like the learned sir, Kim, lord “Haseon”/Song will meet their doom in the next season. While the one is prosecuted for murder, the other could be killed during a hunt. Moreover, the manhwaphiles shouldn’t overlook that the king used clothes and impersonation to his advantages in the past, and according to me even in the present. (chapter 37)
Like mentioned in the previous part, Nameless explained to Lee Jihwa that he had to butcher the victim in order to hide the murder. Thus this staged crime scene looked like the scholar had been attacked by a tiger. (Chapter 88) On the other hand, the foot print and the glasses were added to give the impression that the learned sir had been murdered. However, after adding blood in the fake crime scene and removing the learned sir’s possessions, (chapter 100), the place could be interpreted differently. The inhabitant had been attacked by a tiger during the night. Though the painter had been the prey of these vicious nobles, the real target had been Yoon Seungho. That’s the reason why I had developed the theory that the pedophile had been not only lusting after the young master, but also targeting the Yoons.
Then I noticed an element in this image: (chapter 45) the cobweb behind Deok-Jae. Imagine that this scene took place in the middle of winter, thus the spider’s web got covered by frost. However, this indicates that this room had been abandoned for quite some time. But it is close to the gate. So it should have been the place where the doorkeeper is living. Secondly, I had demonstrated that the shrine had been neglected, for the altar had been removed. (chapter 18) Because of the presence of the cobweb, I started wondering why the author drew it behind Deok-Jae. In my eyes, it is because he was part of the spider’s web.
That’s why I came to the conclusion that in the past, Yoon Seungho, had caught the attention of the monarch represented by the spider. Since the lord’s fate resembles the painter’s, I am assuming that we should perceive him as a deer and a butterfly too. And in order to catch its prey, the spider prepared a web, a web made of lies. Even before the start of season 3, I had declared that right from the start, the young master had been targeted. Thanks to this new parallel, I had another revelation. Remember how I had described the schemers as puppet masters, and they would view people as pawns. As the spider has 8 legs, I am thinking that the pedophile has always been using 8 persons to achieve its goal. Some were aware of the scheme, others were just manipulated. In the past, there were Father Lee, Lee Jihwa, Kim, Jung In-Hun, Heena, Yoon Chang-Hyeon, Yoon Seung-Won and No-Name. So when the story started, I believe that there was a new generation of pawns: Kim, Deok-Jae, Lee Jihwa, No-Name, the noble with the mole, Heena, Yoon Seung-Won and Black Heart. I am excluding father Lee for the simple reason that due to the topknot incident, the scholar was well aware that “lord Song” was no longer judging his family in a good light. He definitely lied low for a while. Naturally, the huge change from the past is that this time Kim had become proactive. But let’s examine Yoon Seungho’s downfall.
Since the main lead was protected by his good reputation, the first goal was to taint his reputation to the point that no one would ever remember him. He was idle, disobedient, but more importantly he was a sodomite. He had to make sure that Yoon Chang-Hyeon would abandon him. The main lead needed to become a “commoner” or “low-born” so that the pedophile could claim him. Yes, the exact opposite of this situation: (chapter 18) That’s the reason why Yoon Seungho was not dressed properly. (chapter 83) If he lived in a shed and had such a simple attire, no one would ever think that he was a noble in the first place. I believe that neither the patriarch nor the ruler had an interest to reveal his true identity. However, the protagonist had to be monitored, for he could try to escape at any moment. That’s the reason why the butler was still tasked to “take care of him”. But by becoming a male night servant for the king, this meant that the other nobles could claim him as well. He had no right. However, since the main lead was a butterfly, he couldn’t get tamed. Hence violence, manipulations and drugs were used to tame the young master. And remember how the spider kills its target: he empties it of its blood. In other word, he sucks all his energy. Therefore it is not surprising that at the end the main lead had become a wreck, and had no light in his eyes. (chapter 57) Naturally, the purge played a huge role in the lord’s suffering reinforcing the huge rift between the pedophile and Yoon Seungho.
In addition, the suicide from the main lead’s mother brought an end to this masquerade. The king could no longer feign ignorance about the main lead’s true identity, and naturally he needed to punish Yoon Chang-Hyeon for his “trick”. He had deceived him, whereas in reality he was well aware of the situation. He had to blame someone else, for he didn’t desire to become responsible for this. Besides, by fueling Yoon Seungho’s hatred for the father, “lord Song” definitely hoped to be judged in a different light. Nonetheless, because the protagonist was abused sexually, physically and emotionally, he could only fear and resent the pedophile, but he could never express it. This was a vicious circle, which ended when the main lead tried to commit suicide himself. (chapter 57)
That’s the reason why I believe that little by little, the pedophile is losing his pawns and as such his legs. Why? IT is because the pawns from the past became “puppet masters”. They started acting on their own, copying his method, using naive people in order to achieve his goal. And that’s how the truth will be unveiled in the end. Lee Jihwa was punished with the loss of his topknot, then he left town with No-Name. Since the main lead deserted the mansion at the end of season 3, the ruler lost control over the protagonist in a symbolic way. And this is related to the butterfly Baek Na-Kyum which Yoon Seungho is following faithfully. In other words, he is imitating his lover, his role model. Neither Kim nor Jung In-Hun nor lord Haseon nor the king are able to predict the main lead’s action. Then Yoon Chang-Hyeon has no longer any power and connection, he has to rely on his son Yoon Seung-Won or on Kim. But the elder master Yoon played a trick at the end of season 3. As you can see, the pedophile almost lost all his pawns from the past. Finally, Black Heart and his friends got killed. What started like an entertaining hunt became war in the end, for many people died. And this brings me back to Black Heart and lord Jang again.
The nobles are in truth animals. They are dogs, like Byeonduck indicated it. Therefore it is no coincidence that they don’t make a difference between hunting an animal or a human. This explains why lord Shin was abandoned behind in the cold and why Lee Jihwa was compared to a dog (chapter 101). It was not Min’s task to carry a friend… he was just a fellow puppet brought to the shaman’s house in order to entertain Black Heart. This truly exposes that Black Heart never saw in the aristocrats humans. As the red-haired master, he had been considered as the hunting dog, he had fulfilled his function. That’s why he was abandoned. He had helped Min to corner the painter and brought the kisaeng to the scholar’s home. Moreover, a hunting dog disobeying his master will be killed. Hence it is not surprising that the wild dogs ended up all dead. They were totally defenseless in front of a huge tiger. This feline is difficult to tame.
As for the painter, Min considered him as an animal that should entertain them. Striking is that the aristocrats’ vocabulary is revolving around violence (“break”, “bloodied”) reflecting their cruel and ruthless nature. (chapter 101) They saw in the sexual violence a new form of hunting. I would even go so far to say that they desired to turn the artist into their pet fulfilling all their desires: (chapter 101) Thus it is not surprising that Yoon Seungho was compared to an animal by his own father in the past. (chapter 83) The pedophile also desired to tame the young master, the beautiful and gentle butterfly. Thus he got brainwashed. He could never refuse anyone, he had to entertain the guests. And now you comprehend why Min said this to the painter. (chapter 101) As a punishment, he was given to lord Jang and his friend. Since Min had captured the artist, he viewed himself as his owner who would give order to his pet. Yet, a deer is a shy, but wild animal, difficult to control making it difficult to be tamed.
Min had turned into a dog, because he had been misguided. He never realized that his biggest wish was to be noticed as a human by the painter. (chapter 99) But this was impossible, for Black Heart never treated Baek Na-Kyum as a man. Hence I come to the conclusion that by meeting the painter, Yoon Seungho rediscovered his true nature: he was a free spirit, a tiger! And guess what… In Joseon, the tiger was perceived as a good talisman to chase away the evil spirit!! (chapter 102) Hence the dogs became the preys of the huge tiger. On the other hand, I am wondering if in the next season, the painter will paint a tiger and show it to his lover. So far, we couldn’t see the pictures from his childhood.
But how could the tiger earn the deer’s trust? It is because he treated Baek Na-Kyum as a human. By falling in love, Yoon Seungho rediscovered his humanity. His beating heart was the reason why he didn’t end up completely as a beast. His art moved his heart and healed his eyes. He could forget the violence and blood from his youth. Yet, in episode 104 Yoon Seungho has the impression that he could get hunted down, for he killed the nobles. The tiger is now the target of “humans”, and Jung In-Hun will play a crucial role in his prosecution (Chapter 111) But in order to happen, the painter needs to leave Yoon Seungho’s side and return to the learned sir’s. However, since Yoon Seungho is treasuring the painter, and he spared Heena and the kisaengs, Baek Na-Kyum will believe in the main lead’s innocence. He is not capable to commit such a heinous crime. Why? It is because he has been portrayed as weak-hearted by the butler. He often had a change of heart. When Yoon Seungho executed the servant in episode 1, he was not violating social norms. (Chapter 10)
Before closing this essay, I would like to point out that the pedophile is not just a spider, but also a dragon, for he is the king of Joseon. Hence expect in the next season a battle between a tiger and a dragon…though at some point, the roles will be switched.
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