This is where you can read the manhwa. https://www.lezhinus.com/en/comic/madplace_en But be aware that this manhwa is a mature Yaoi, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes. Here is the link, if you are interested in more analyses about other manhwas https://bebebisous33analyses.com/2021/06/06/table-of-contents-of-analyzed-mentioned-manhwas/ I mentioned the following essays: https://bebebisous33analyses.com/2021/07/24/mad-place-smiling-ghost-and-sinful-priest/ and https://bebebisous33analyses.com/2022/07/06/painter-of-the-night-payback-innocent-or-not-guilty-%e2%9a%96/ and https://bebebisous33analyses.com/2021/06/21/who-are-you-the-significance-of-masks-in-manhwas/
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First of all, I would like to thank the author Junah 😍😘 for mentioning my first essay about Mad Place on Lezhin in the creator’s note. Imagine my surprise and my joy, when I saw this. It truly means a lot to me, for I felt that my dedication and work were recognized.
1. Sin versus purity
But let’s turn our attention to the manhwa and season 2. I had already sensed the presence of religion in season 1, and this interpretation got reinforced in season 2. It even became more obvious in special episode 2 which I will elaborate more in details later. In my first analysis about the main characters, I had compared the chaebol’s son to a mysterious ghost and Gu Sehyuk to a sinful priest. The prosecutor’s house was like a temple dedicated to the “spirit” Gu Sihwan and the picture on the shelf served as an altar. And observe that in season 2, the protagonist confided to the suspect Ideun that he had felt the presence of Sihwan’s ghost in the house. (chapter 36) Hence you comprehend why my new title is once again referring to faith and sin. On the other hand, the readers could be surprised by the choice of my new title. How is it possible that a sinner can be pure? This represents a contradiction. I chose this oxymoron for two reasons. Junah ended season 2 with the same contrast: (chapter 44) In this scene, the prosecutor is pronouncing Ha Ideun for “guilty” for murdering Kim Jintaek. (chapter 44) However, in that moment the author chose to show the hand of Ha Sungmin, who is about to remove the mask of Ha Sungyeob. This means that the so-called brother is about to commit a murder on the former CEO, his official father. Thus I am deducing that despite the verdict of the prosecutor, Ha Ideun is actually innocent. The “real guilty” versus the “fake one”.
In addition, observe that when Gu Sehuyk is confronting the suspect Ha Ideun about the charges pressed against him, at no moment the chaebol is worried or scared. In verity, he looks calm and relaxed. (chapter 44) It was, as if a burden had been removed from his shoulder and heart. Furthermore, in special episode 2, the protagonist’s innocence became even more obvious. In his nightmare, Ha Ideun is imagining himself wearing a white bathrobe in a white room. Moreover, he looks busy cleaning himself. If you read my essays about Painter Of The Night, you are probably aware of the signification of white and “cleaning”. It is an allusion to purity and purification. Finally, Ha Ideun said that he would never lie by commision. (chapter 11) Everything is pointing out about Ha Ideun’s innocence.
However, he could be perceived as a “sin” and “sinner”, for he is not wearing the same name than his brothers: Not Sung- but Ideun! His name displays that he is the result of an illegitimate affair. (chapter 39) Hence the reporter Yoo Tae describes him as a bastard, and the official mother Choi Seolhwa doesn’t recognize the protagonist as her son. She doesn’t even call him by his name, but by the expression “the boy”. (chapter 41) He is not part of the family. On the other hand, Ha Sungmin and Ha Sungjoon views Ha Ideun as a relative. (chapter 37) We could even say that Ha Sungmin views himself as his owner, even as a surrogate father, for he was the one who raised the main lead. (chapter 37)
2. Crime or sin?
Nevertheless, I would like the manhwaphiles to keep in their mind two important aspects. First, it is important to make the distinction between a criminal and a sinner. The former belongs to the justice system, while the latter is a religious concept. In the essay “Innocent or not guilty?”, I had already outlined the difference. An accused will never be pronounced “innocent”, in the best case he can be found not guilty. Hence the defendant can still be judged as a sinner. His action or words could be judged as morally wrong or they contributed indirectly to a negative outcome.
In this manhwa, Ha Ideun is suffering from a immense guilt. Therefore he dreams that he will end up in hell. The demons are dragging him to hell. (special episode 2) He feels responsible not only for the death of Gu Sihwan but also for the death of Kim Jintaek. This explicates why in his nightmares, the suspect had the impression that he had stabbed himself the victims. (chapter 21) (special episode 2) The hands covered with blood were the symbol of his guilt. The manhwalovers can comprehend why Ideun felt terrible towards the prosecutor. Thus he constantly apologized to the prosecutor by kissing Gu Sehuyk’s wounds (chapter 13) (chapter 23) or by voicing his apology directly. (chapter 44) However, as you can imagine, the chaebol never killed the brother or the criminal. I have no doubt about it. He shouldn’t blame himself for their death. On the other hand, Ha Ideun is definitely involved in their vanishing. Thus Ha Sungmin blames him for everything. Ha Ideun is perceived as a sinner. And that’s how he judges himself too, therefore he dreams of being sent to hell. So when the prosecutor declares Ha Ideun (chapter 44), we should view it from a religious perspective. In verity, it is the priest Gu Sehyuk speaking to the chaebol. By recognizing his “sins”, the wrongdoer has the opportunity to seek contrition. It will help him to reveal his suffering which has been buried. This is no coincidence that the night before this “sentence”, the main lead begged Gu Sehyuk for his forgiveness. (chapter 44) Only the “priest” Sehuyk can give him the opportunity to confess his “sins” and obtain forgiveness. That’s his fault that his brother died, though the prosecutor is well aware that this is not correct. That’s the reason why I believe that during that night, the chaebol confessed to his lover about his past action, though we didn’t see it. Gu Sehuyk had already voiced that he would trust him no matter what. The other evidence for this interpretation is naturally the suspect’s nightmare in special episode 2. This scene took place right after the sexual abuse from Ha Sungmin. But what sin did Ha Ideun commit exactly?
3. Ha Ideun’s “sin”
This is related to the investigation about the slush fund. (chapter 8) which is linked to corruption and the project Heaventown. With the slush fund, Ha Sungmin could buy politicians and officials in order to buy the golden land in Gwanghae. (chapter 39) Note that in the beginning, Gu Sehuyk was supposed to investigate the slush fund. Yet due to his brother’s death, he was removed from the case, for he was left traumatized. His colleague Na Joohwan took over the case and look how it ended: (chapter 8) They found nothing which is highly suspicious. I am suspecting the smiling deputy prosecutor general behind the cover up. (chapter 8) I have two clues for this theory: he got promoted within a short time, he became deputy prosecutor general, and he is wearing glasses. After reading so many manhwas, I made the following discovery: characters with glasses are hypocrites and even backstabbers. 🧐 [For more read the essay “The significance of masks in manhwas”] Then the reporter Yoo Tae was supported by Ha Ideun to investigate the matter, because he wanted to maintain the good reputation of Hasung Hotel: (chapter 39) Moreover, I would like to point out that 2 years later, Ha Ideun was also monitoring Kim Jintaek, this means that he was again investigating about a case, where the Hasung group was involved. This truly exposes the main lead’s righteousness and purity. He chose to do the right thing, yet each time he failed, for he was powerless. People had to die. Therefore the brother said this to Ha Ideun in his dream. (special episode 2) Both brothers are goal-oriented, yet they both stand on different sides of the law. Ha Ideun stands for law and righteousness, while the other has no conscious. The goal justifies the means. This explains why Ha Ideun would ask Gu Sehuyk as the prosecutor for this case. The latter is famous for his uprightness and pure nature. Only through him, the truth can come to light. Consequently, I am suspecting that the trial concerning the murder of Kim Jintaek will serve as a mean to unveil all the dirty deeds committed by the Ha family. On the other hand, Ha Ideun wished that his family wouldn’t get into trouble: (chapter 40) Why did he make such a request? We have many possibilities. It could be related to Ha Ideun’s goodhearted nature and pride or his fear that Gu Sehuyk could get hurt. So far, people representing a threat to the brother got eliminated. This shows that the main lead was still under the influence of the terrible huyng here.
4. The other “pure” sinner 😉
The irony is that Ha Sungmin has a perfect reputation, because he has a clean record! On the other hand, Ha Ideun is perceived as a man living in debauchery. He would have sex with different men in hotels, he would be lazy. But what is Ha Sungmin’s dream? This panel exposes everything: (chapter 26) his ambition and greed. He would like to dominate the town and even the economy. His mentality is strongly influenced by his mother who appears as ruthless and selfish too. (chapter 41) She is already waiting for her husband’s death. Striking is that at no moment, the villain feels remorse. Why? It is because he has been gaslighting his brother. The brainwashing is detectable in this statement. (special episode 2) If Ha Ideun hadn’t started the investigation and as such betrayed the “family”, then none of this would have ever happened. Gu Sihwan and the informant wouldn’t have died. But as you can imagine, the reality is that his project Heaventown was only possible thanks to crimes (corruption, drug, murder). Besides, I would like to point out that the former CEO Ha Sungyeob only became the president of this group after his other siblings were ruled out. (chapter 39) I am definitely suspecting that there was a battle among the family, and Ha Sungyeob definitely used illegal means to achieve his goal. The oldest sister died in a car accident, and the second brother was judged unqualified. So we could say that Ha Sungmin is actually imitating his “father’s” past behavior, though they are not biologically related. Interesting is that (chapter 25) in this scene, Kim Jintaek revealed that he had been in contact with Sungyeob. He showed no real respect to the elder by calling him “crook”, though I have to admit that I am suspecting that Ha Ideun is not Sungyeob’s son. This truly shows that the family Ha is no ordinary family.
5. Ha Ideun’s confessions and contrition
But this doesn’t explain why Ha Ideun would constantly dream of his hands covered in blood. In my eyes, it is related to the sexual abuse he suffered from his “brother” Ha Sungmin. (chapter 37) In this chapter, it was already implied, and Sungjoon even knew about this. (chapter 37) Junah added the red traces in this panel for that reason. Moreover, Ha Ideun showed signs of PTSD in season 2. On different occasions, he was seen trembling (chapter 34), sweating, had difficulties to breathe (chapter 34), he had a lost and terrified gaze (chapter 33), and he is still suffering from insomnia. He can only sleep after having sex. (Chapter 36) This is an indication that the sexual abuse took place during the night. His panic attacks could get triggered by different elements: a certain position or a specific location. He is also suicidal, displaying his self-loathing. (chapter 21) From my point of view, Ha Ideun had tried to rebell and leave his brother’s side (chapter 35), but he had failed. The stabbing is the proof of his resistance. (chapter 35) Simultaneously, he was forced to remain by his side, for he had wounded his brother. The blood on the stomach was to make the main lead feel guilty. That way, he would remain silent and passive.
After reading season 2, I couldn’t help myself associating him to Yoon Seungho from Painter Of The Night. Both are smiling ghosts, because they are masking their pain and traumatic past. (chapter 26) They could never show their true self. In my eyes, Ha Ideun stabbed his brother during the sexual abuse (chapter 33), as he tried to protect himself, thus the brother has a huge scar on his stomach. (chapter 43) This explicates why Ha Sungmin tied his hands with the belt in the hotel. He made sure that the “brother” would never reject him. It was to control him. The hyung had learned his lesson. Moreover, it was his way to “convince” him to return home. In addition, Ha Ideun was definitely confined, for the nightmare revealed that Ha Ideun was trapped. The most terrible thing is that the huyng made sure to gaslight Ha Ideun. He shouldn’t have stabbed him, he had committed a huge sin against him. That’s the reason why Ha Ideun sees his hands covered with blood in his nightmares. He views himself as a sinner. The dirty hand symbolized his guilt. (special episode 2) Thus the main lead came to internalize that sex between “siblings” is normality. Don’t forget that Sungjoon never intervened. He became an silent accomplice. On the other hand, in his subconscious Ha Ideun is well aware that this is not right. This explicates why he felt safer to have sex with strangers than living with his brother. And now you comprehend why I wrote before that the main lead’s wish (chapter 40) was related to the brainwashing. At the same time, we have now the explication why the main character’s bedroom was so white and empty. (chapter 08) All traces of violence had to be removed and cleaned.
And this observation led me to the following deduction. Since Ha Ideun feels responsible for Gu Sihwan’s death, he decided to comfort the prosecutor by replacing the brother. Because the main lead had sex with his brother, then in his eyes, it should be the same between Gu Sihwan and the prosecutor. (chapter 23) This is no coincidence that Ha Ideun asked how his sexual partner felt about their sexual encounters. It was important that Gu Sehuyk would like it. (chapter 22) That way, the main lead had the impression that he was indeed capable to replace the brother’s loss. However, like pointed out above, Ha Ideun needed the protagonist on his side too, for he wished to unveil the truth about Heaventower and the father’s illness which is connected to the drug. This is no coincidence that sex with Gu Sehyuk was connected to a confession. The sinner was seeking relief from the “priest”, at the same time he was trying to redeem himself by give warmth to the wounded prosecutor. Simultaneously, he was hoping to obtain his forgiveness. This is important, because by interacting with the prosecutor, he came to discover a new form of family. This is not surprising that at some point, Ha Ideun came to question the nature of the relationship between siblings. (chapter 25) Hence I come to the conclusion that by interacting with Gu Sehuyk, the victim adopted slowly a new religion of HOME! Don’t forget that home has different significations: a household, a mansion and a clan. What caught my attention is that Ha Ideun started calling the prosecutor’s house HOME! (chapter 26) This truly exposes that he had moved from Sungmin’s fake religion of home and family. (special episode 2) They are only a family in name and as a family in the picture. In reality they don’t live under the same roof. Under this new perspective, it becomes comprehensible why Ha Ideun feared to return to his brother’s side (chapter 29) and at the end of season 2, he chose to reveal his secret to Gu Sehuyk: the sexual and physical abuse. Therefore it is not surprising that at the end, Gu Sehuyk said this to Ha Ideun. (chapter 44) He was now considering the “suspect” as his “family”. That’s the reason why I believe that this “sentence guilty” at the end of season 2 is just a subterfuge. This can only serve as an excuse to keep him by his side. At the same time, the prosecutor Gu Sehuyk can not be suspected of favoritism, for he is suspecting a chaebol to have committed a crime. The media already reported the case to the public. Under this new perspective, I came to understand why Ha Ideun never tried to defend himself right from the start. He needed to remain a suspect, so that he could influence the prosecutor in his investigations. That way, he could discover that his brother’s case had not been truly solved…. At the same time, Ha Ideun could be considered as a sinner, for he “seduced” the priest Gu Sehuyk to have sex. So far, the man was dedicated to his work, and as such had no sex life.
To conclude, Ha Ideun is on his way to discover that he has been a victim of sexual abuse all this time, and the Ha family can only be viewed as perverted and ruthless. Through his sexual encounters with the main lead, the “suspect” discovered a new form of home (chapter 36) where equity, love and warmth were oozing which stands in opposition to the cold and aseptic “temple” of the Ha. (special episode 2) The hyung was the highest authority and Ha Ideun had to obey blindly. The position of the characters reflects the nature of the relationship between Ha Ideun and his “sexual partners”: hierarchy versus equity.
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