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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In the essay “Breakups, chagrin and alcohol” I had outlined the parallels between Baek Na-Kyum and Lee Jihwa. Both would use alcohol to numb their pain after the separation from their loved one. Thus the painter and the red-haired noble went to the inn and became drunks. (chapter 1) (chapter 36) In addition, after realizing that each location is associated to a certain event in the past, I came to the conclusion that the inn represents no exception. Hence the tavern is full of symbolism too.
1. The significance of the tavern
If the manhwaphiles can recall all the scenes where the inn appeared (1, 12, 36, 56, 57, 59, 75, 92), they get aware immediately that this place is connected to breakups and more precisely to abandonment and rejection. This signifies that the place embodies longing too, for the “betrayed” one is still missing the partner. I also noticed that in all these scenes, there were 3 people! In episode 1, we have the servant, Baek Na-Kyum and Yoon Seungho. In episode 12, Jihwa, the servant from the Yoons and the noble with the mole. (chapter 12) In episode 36, we have Min, Lee Jihwa and the noble with the mole. (chapter 36) In episode 57, the noble with the mole got replaced by Kim: (chapter 57) In episode 59, the tavern owner asked No-Name to take away Lee Jihwa (chapter 59) And in episode 92, Black Heart joined the couple (chapter 92). The only exception seems to be the scene in chapter 75: (chapter 75) However, this is just an illusion, for the ghost Jung In-Hun was present. And even before, the painter kept thinking about Heena noona. As you can see, the painter’s words were influenced by his “surrogate parents”, the third party. But let’s return to the major parallel: the confession leading to a rejection.
In the inn, the red-haired noble suffered a huge humiliation, when he confessed his feelings for his childhood friend and got rejected. (chapter 57) Though Yoon Seungho had punished his friend for his forged letter, he still listened to his confession before rejecting him properly. He gave an explanation why he would never reciprocate the affection towards his friend. (chapter 59) What caught my attention is that Lee Jihwa perceived the rejection as abandonment, while in truth the protagonist was not truly cutting ties with him. The real traitor was someone else: the noble with the mole, who ran away, when Yoon Seungho confronted his friend. (chapter 57) In that scene, the young master Jihwa had drunk before the arrival of his friends, though he was in full possession of his mind. (chapter 56) As you can detect, in this scene, the author employed the following elements: confession, sanity, tears, sadness, rejection, alcohol and abandonment.
Then in episode 1, the painter was sad, because he was forbidden to paint. At the same time, he could no longer live with the learned sir. Thus he said this to Yoon Seungho in the tavern: (chapter 75) He was heartbroken due to the loss of his passion and his loved one. At the same time, he was plagued by guilt. He felt responsible for Jung In-Hun’s failure. This is important, because it shows that guilt is another common denominator. In chapter 57, Yoon Seungho was guilty for the antagonist’s suffering.
Striking is that in episode 75, the painter was drunk again. (chapter 75) Why? It is because he was also rejecting the lord. He couldn’t give him his heart, for the lord had such a fickle nature. (chapter 75) He was responsible that the painter wouldn’t get close to him. He was judged as not trustworthy. At the same time, the painter’s confession in the tavern mirrors that Baek Na-Kyum was not delirious. Despite the influence of the drug, he could think and speak properly about his feelings and thoughts, similar to Lee Jihwa in chapter 57. To conclude, in season 2, the commoner and the red-haired noble were not stoned during their confession, which stands in opposition to the First Wedding Night:: (chapter 21) And this common denominator reinforces my theory that when Yoon Seungho got kissed in the study, he was not in full possession of his mind. (chapter 77) As you can see, the drug is not only strongly associated to rejection and broken heart, but also to delirium and insanity.
And now, look at the lord’s reaction, when he was approached by Min in the inn: (chapter 92) Min was voicing his longing for Yoon Seungho, he was implying that he had been abandoned by the protagonist. However, note that the lord utilized water to reject Black Heart! (chapter 92) It was, as if the noble was now crying. The water was displaying the hypocrisy of Min, the “fake tears”. He was not missing the main lead at all, in reality he was yearning for the painter’s gaze. Thus he expressed this in the shaman’s house: (chapter 99) Striking is that when the lord with the green hanbok complained to his acquaintance, he was also acting as if he was guilt-tripping Yoon Seungho. According to his words, the protagonist had abandoned him. It was, as if he had completely forgotten him. (chapter 92)
The most astonishing is that just after splashing Min with water, the protagonist justified his action. Min had lost his sanity. (chapter 92) It was, as if he wanted to bring him back to reality, similar to this gesture: (chapter 102). He explained Black Heart’s attitude with the alcohol. Due to the liquor, Min had become insane and obscene. He was speaking about sodomy in a public place. Striking is that the Joker was portraying himself as a man consumed by lust. He needed the lord’s phallus to feel good. That’s how I detected another similarity: the presence of sex and sensuality in the conversation!
- Chapter 1:
- Chapter 12: Here, the idiom “toy” was implying sex, though the main characters had not sex together yet.
- Chapter 36:
- Chapter 57:
- Chapter 59:
- Chapter 75: Here, the painter’s reproach was connected to the lord’s change of behavior. He was no asking for sex, but the painter was actually longing for Yoon Seungho’s warmth and phallus. (chapter 74) As you can see, Baek Na-Kyum was craving for sensuality. But he couldn’t voice it like Min! He was paying attention to social norms.
Hence I deduce that this place is also connected to homosexuality.
2. The tavern in the torment
The allusion to insanity made me realize that the tavern is connected to torment and as such nightmare. The painter had become like a zombie, when he met Yoon Seungho, and Lee Jihwa was also devastated to have lost his lover and friend. (chapter 36) He kept crying, as he couldn’t bear the separation. At the same time, he explained his weeping with the main lead’s past. He was a pitiful creature, for he suffered a lot. Indirectly, he was comparing himself with the main figure. He had gone through a lot too.
Later, when the childhood friend confessed to the protagonist, he brought pain to his friend, for the latter had to hear so many reproaches. He was responsible for his misery, he was so pitiful , (chapter 57) On the other hand, with this blame, Yoon Seungho was constantly reminded of the pedophile, lord Song. Thus Yoon Seungho replied this to the antagonist: (chapter 59) He couldn’t even pronounce his name out of hatred and pain. And now, you comprehend why I chose “nightmare inn” as title. This place is connected to Yoon Seungho’s torment and not just in season 2. In my eyes, something must have happened there which changed the lord’s fate for a decade. The other evidence is this: the forged letter from Lee Jihwa requested from the main lead to meet lord Song in that place. (chapter 56) And observe that Kim never doubted the authenticity of the encounter. (chapter 56) This signifies that the pedophile must have gone there in the past. 😮
One might argue that the tavern is not related to nightmare and torment, for Lee Jihwa visited the tavern in order to celebrate the success of his trick in the manhwa. (chapter 12) There was no breakup or rejection in this scene. There were no tears either contrary to the other chapters. Yet, this is just an illusion. The celebration was based on the suffering of Baek Na-Kyum and Yoon Seungho!! Both had been wounded. Then I realized that this scene mirrored Min’s words in the other taven: “Having fun at Yoon Seungho’s expense”. But more importantly, in Lee Jihwa’s mind, this sentence represented the separation of the couple. Due to the ruined painting, the lord felt rejected and betrayed. (chapter 12) Thus in the red-haired aristocrat’s mind, Yoon Seungho would turn his back on Baek Na-Kyum and abandon him. He would imitate the painter. A betrayal leads to a betrayal. There is no forgiveness. That’s the reason why Lee Jihwa never anticipated that he would get abandoned after getting caught in the study. So far, Yoon Seungho had always forgiven him! (chapter 18)
But why? It is because Baek Na-Kyum had revived the lord’s long lost passion: painting! It was bringing colors and as such light in his darkness. If he were to send away the artist, he would lose his soul forever. He would remain trapped in the nightmare forever. This truly exposes that Lee Jihwa hadn’t truly grasped the significance of painting in Yoon Seungho’s life. In his eyes, it was just an important hobby. (chapter 14), whereas in verity, this passion was essential and even vital for Yoon Seungho. In his subconscious, the lord sensed the healing effect. This would make him smile and provoke emotions and arousal!
3. The presence of the Joker
I discovered another similarity between all these scenes: the presence of a trick! You are probably surprised by this connection, but don’t forget that “trick” is a synonym for “conspiracy, deception and illusion”. And the joker embodies these values, especially if you consider Painter Of The Night as a new version of Batman and The Dark Knight.
In chapter 1, I had explained that the painter was supposed to get killed in the inn. Thus the tavern got closed for the night. It is also possible that the lord went there after the curfew. (chapter 1) There was no witness for these reasons. No one should notice the execution of the commoner Baek Na-Kyum. Secondly, the book had been switched. The lord had shown this to the butler (chapter 1), but when Yoon Seungho interrogated the artist, he exposed a different publication: (chapter 1) It was, as if the painter was forced to deny to be the author of this book. There is no ambiguity that the servant had lied to Yoon Seungho, just like the painter was not entirely honest with Yoon Seungho. In my eyes, the painter had not noticed the divergence. As you can see, the meeting was staged. Unknown people were involved in this encounter so that we could say that the protagonists were just pawns during this scene.
In episode 12, the trick had taken place in the mansion, yet the manhwaphiles shouldn’t overlook that Lee Jihwa had been incited to get revenge on the noble with the mole. (chapter 12) The drop of sweat on his face clearly indicates that he was just feigning ignorance. This exposes that the noble with the mole was deceiving his friend and as such betraying him.
In chapter 36, Min definitely lied to the young master Jihwa. (chapter 36) He was inciting the antagonist to return to the mansion so that he would catch the couple having sex together. That’s the reason why Black Heart made such a comment in the pavilion of his friend: (chapter 43) Yet, this trick didn’t work like Black Heart had anticipated. Why? He imagined that the red-haired noble would resent his friend for his abandonment and betrayal. The reality is that the antagonist reproached The Joker for his lies, he had been manipulating him. (chapter 43)
But let’s return to the scene in the tavern. (chapter 36) The noble with the mole remained silent, but he was well aware of his friend’s manipulations. This indicates that he had become his accomplice. We could say that he helped to create an illusion.
In chapter 56, the childhood friend had forged a letter, forcing Yoon Seungho to go to the inn. However, this time the trick was discovered. (chapter 56) Simultaneously, the butler deceived the tavern owner. He portrayed the red-haired master in such a negative light that she had no compassion for him. (chapter 59) She wished to get rid of him as soon as possible. Thus she asked the Joker to take care of him. (chapter 59) This truly exposes the talent of Kim’s manipulative nature. The tricks are exposing the hypocrisy and lack of loyalty among the characters.
In season 3, the manhwalovers could perceive the presence of 2 Jokers: Black Heart who faked that this meeting was just random. (chapter 92) However, he had been informed about the content of the paper, for he could already determine the genre of the text without seeing the writing. At the same time, he also deceived the couple by taking away the Spring poem. (chapter 92) We never saw him returning it. As for the second trickster, it was naturally Kim who hid under the hanbok which had a similar color than Jung In-Hun’s. (chapter 92) He desired to remind the painter of the existence of the scholar. However, this trick failed too. Why? It is because just before the painter had seen a kisaeng wearing the same robe. (chapter 92) He was just reminded of his noonas, and not just Heena and Jung In-Hun. Furthermore, the butler had overlooked another aspect: Yoon Seungho had been wearing a similar hanbok. (chapter 78) This means that the painter was no longer associating the lavender color to the learned sir. Slowly, the main lead was replacing the teacher and as such, he was moving on from his crush. Thus such an attitude could be perceived by a malevolent eye as indifference and hatred. My avid readers can already understand who I am referring to with such a statement. However, we are all aware that the painter is still loyal towards the learned sir. (chapter 94). Nevertheless, I would like the painterofthenight-stans to take a closer look to this image: (chapter 92) Yes, the couple was sitting in an inn eating sweet potatoes. When I saw this panel for the first time, the man in black caught my attention. His presence puzzled me, for he was standing next to a kisaeng working in the inn. This is totally unusual, for no noble would remain immobile close to the fire place and as such the kitchen. Secondly, he was not wearing his gat, indicating that he was violating social norms. [For more read the essay Coming-Of-Ages] Back then, I had thought that this was the scholar. However, the latter would always pay attention to his appearances. Moreover, he embodies social norms, so he would never move around without his hat. Was he a Joker spying on the couple? For me yes, especially if you take into consideration that there were always 3 people in each scene taking place in the inn. One thing is sure: Min had been informed about the painter’s desire for a Spring poem and his visit to the calligrapher. This means that during their stay in the tavern, the painter had talked constantly about this. So the kisaeng could have heard about the content of their conversation. One might argue that this stay stands in opposition to the other scenes. In this inn, there was no tear, no alcohol and no “betrayal”. But the manhwalovers shouldn’t forget that during that scene, the lord was actually rejecting the suggestion of the painter. The former saw no reason why they should look for the calligrapher!! Yoon Seungho was on the verge of breaking his promise, a “betrayal”. The irony is that he was so annoyed by the painter’s words, that at the end he gave in. (chapter 91) He was on the verge of losing his “sanity”😉, for the painter kept talking how important it was to protect from bad luck! As you can see, this scene is not different from the others: insanity, longing, trick, betrayal and rejection! The absence of tears and alcohol is easily explainable. The painter was not heartbroken, he just saw this as a necessity. Furthermore, this scene made me realize that the tavern is connected to arts. In almost all the mentioned chapters, the characters implied the erotic publications or arts. The spring poem is compared to a drawing by the painter, the calligraphy reminded him of snow flakes. Once again, the exception of this element is chapter 36! Here, Black Min and Lee Jihwa were only referring to sex and nothing more. (chapter 36) This outlines that sodomy had replaced the lord’s original passions: poetry and painting. Yet, the manhwaphiles shouldn’t forget that in chapter 36 the author had included a scene with painting. This is no coincidence that during the same night, the lord took the brush and created a orchid on his lover’s stomach. (chapter 36) From my point of view, Lee Jihwa was aware that his friend had been forced to renounce on his passions. Thus he said this: (chapter 36) To conclude, there is a strong connection between the tavern and arts. The manhwaworms will certainly recall that many kisaengs would start working in taverns, once they reached a certain age. And look at this: (chapter 74) I had already explained in a different essay that in chapter 75, the painter had been thinking about his noonas and in particular about Heena, because he had seen the kisaeng. Thus he kept thinking about his sister’s words: (chapter 75) However, observe that in chapter 92, he was so focused on the Spring poem that he didn’t see the kisaeng in this tavern. (chapter 92) Thus I come to the conclusion that the schemers must have played a similar trick later. However, this time, there was not just one kisaeng, but two! Moreover, these were still active kisaengs which is visible due to the colors of their hanboks. (chapter 92). That’s the reason why I am more than ever convinced that the man in the black hanbok was connected to Min.
Thus I am deducing that in the past, one of the characters in the tavern got deceived by his companion. And here, I am thinking of the patriarch Yoon Chang-Hyeon. In my eyes, he must have committed a wrongdoing there, but he never realized it. I would even add that he never recognized that his mistake would have terrible consequences for his family and in particular for Yoon Seungho. This explains why the location embodies guilt either. Moreover, don’t forget that according to me, the mysterious lord Song must have visited this place in the past.
By contrasting these scenes, I came to recognize another pattern: pride which led to humiliation. In chapter 1, the lord executed the servant, for he had “fooled” him. His honor had been soiled. (chapter 1) In chapter 12, the childhood friend praised the main character. He had acted like a true lord with the sentence. (chapter 12) Furthermore, the noble with the hunting outfit had been avenged, so his honor had been restored. In chapter 36, the red-haired master had first acted like a prideful master. (chapter 36) He would only forgive his friend, if the latter would come to see him. Furthermore, when the latter confessed to his friend, he threw his pride over board: (chapter 57) He was willing to accept this humiliation, if in exchange he could rekindle with Yoon Seungho. He hoped by lowering himself that his friend would come to save his honor. He wouldn’t reject him due his title and social norms. Yet, his dream didn’t come true, so we could say that he had the impression that he was sent to hell. Then in chapter 75, the learned sir’s pride had been wounded because of the erotic paintings. (chapter 75) As for Black Heart, he got insulted in the tavern. He was splashed with water. And what did the noble with the green hanbok reply to this insult? He announced that he would seek revenge on Yoon Seungho (chapter 92) Lee Jihwa was also full by resent and revenge, when he realized that the lord had made love to the painter after he had been rejected. (chapter 60) Thus shortly after, the young man had a weapon in his hand (though according to me, this tool was placed by Kim) (chapter 60). His intention was to kill the painter, though here he was just acting on affect. As you can see, the inn is in reality connected to a crime, and the desire of revenge! Don’t forget what Yoon Seungho said to the messenger: (chapter 80) According to his words, he had insulted the king by not utilizing the correct title. BUT we shouldn’t take this declaration as face-value, for the main lead is just repeating what he has been told. I have always said that the pedophile had been motivated by revenge and lust. The latter had been humiliated! Now, for the first time, I see a strong connection between the tavern and the wrongdoing linked to the mysterious lord. But what is the common denominator between all these scenes? CONFESSION! In chapter 1, Yoon Seungho confessed his admiration for the artist. In chapter 36, Lee Jihwa admitted the existence of a secret and his friend’s torment. In chapter 57 and 75, both ukes confessed their love (the main lead and painting). On the other hand, confession has a different meaning: admission of a crime! Thus I am suspecting that “lord Song” got rejected in this place. Thus he felt humiliated and his thirst for revenge took over. And it is related to arts!!
5. The guests in the inn
First, we have the presence of the noble with the mole who keeps wearing a purple outfit. The color reminds me of this guest. (chapter 83) This reinforces my conviction that lord Song visited the tavern once.
Secondly, I detected the presence of a servant in the inn: 1, 12, 57, 59 and 92. In episode 59, I had already pointed out that a servant from the Lees had visited the inn, for there were foot prints in the snow. (chapter 59) Then in chapter 75, we should consider Baek Na-Kyum as a servant due to his clothes. (chapter 75) And now, if you take into consideration that the servant from episode 1 and 12 were acting on Kim’s behalf, you will realize that the servant in the past can only be KIM. And he was present in episode 92. (chapter 92) Furthermore, according to my observation, he was working with No-Name during the night of the abduction. This means that Kim witnessed something. And since he is seen tattling to Min, I come to the conclusion that he denunciated someone!! This represents the confession of a “crime”. And this can only be the Yoons in my opinion. Servant in episode 1 had spied onto Baek Na-Kyum, and the servant from episode 12 had also reported to Lee Jihwa. Kim in episode 57 and 92 left the mansion without permission, and this was the case for the domestic in episode 12 either.
What caught my attention is that Min got more and more involved with the tavern. In chapter 12, his friend was the only one present. Then in chapter 36, he appeared for the first time. There he faked his understanding and concern for Lee Jihwa (chapter 36) In season 2, the Joker didn’t follow the red-haired master to the inn, yet there is no doubt that he sent the noble with the mole in his place. As you can see, the noble with the mole was Min’s emissary. He was supposed to manipulate his friend to follow Min’s request. Min knew about Lee Jihwa’s hesitation. (chapter 57) Thus he vanished, when he saw Yoon Seungho’s reaction. He realized that the protagonist could detect his presence. He feared that Yoon Seungho could recognize that they were the ones behind the letter of lord Song. Finally, in chapter 92, Black Heart joined the couple for the first time there. He definitely hoped to drive an edge between them. He hoped to get the attention from Baek Na-Kyum in the end. But he never succeeded. Thus I came to realize that Black Heart was preparing the arrival of the mysterious lord Song. The latter will replace Min.
6. Conclusions and predictions
The tavern doesn’t just symbolize confession, longing, rejection and abandonment, but also it is strongly connected to a wrongdoing. Thus the place is connected to humiliation, guilt and punishment. Moreover, I also discovered the link between the inn and arts. Consequently, I came to the following conclusion: everything started in the tavern which led to Yoon Seungho’s downfall and suffering. THUS the title is NIGHTMARE INN! Observe that Lee Jihwa’s reputation got ruined within a day after Kim spread this rumor about him: (chapter 59) His despair was fake, hence he was abandoned by the inn owner. This would explain why no one remembers the lord’s past good reputation. (chapter 57) This incident mirrors the past, the only difference is that the main lead was totally innocent contrary to Lee Jihwa, who had been partially responsible for his friend’s suffering. Under this new perspective, it becomes understandable why the author would start the story more or less in the tavern. But since the place is associated to sanity versus insanity (losing the wits), I am suspecting that the “wrongdoing” from the patriarch never deserved such a “punishment”. This sentence was out of proportion.
Because I made a connection between Heena and lord Song, I am expecting that we will see them there at some point. For me, there is no ambiguity that the woman is not dead. Besides, the painter needs to confront his noona about her lies and manipulations in the past and present. Heena, as a former kisaeng, could earn her living by working in the tavern. (chapter 01)
Finally, let’s not forget in this place, the painter had been betrayed by the noona and the scholar. How could Baek Na-Kyum live as a drunk, when he was no longer painting? Moreover, keep in mind that the vow was connected to erotic paintings. (chapter 34) Technically, he could paint other things (plants, animal etc), like in his childhood. Hence I have the impression that he had been pressured to become a painter of erotic paintings… the former version of season 1. And for me, Heena was behind this. Yet, the painter confessed in the tavern that he could no longer paint. (chapter 75) This means that he had forgotten how to paint nature or landscapes, and this reminds me of Yoon Seungho’s destiny. Note that he first started drawing erotic paintings (chapter 23) before drawing the orchid! (chapter 36) So when the painter was heartbroken and sad, drowning his sorrow in alcohol, someone had to pay for the bills and for me, this can only be the head-kisaeng. In my eyes, Heena and Jung In-Hun knew how and where the painter was living, but this was not their problem.
As a conclusion, expect another confession and rejection in the tavern, when season 4 is released. At the same time, I have the feeling that the authorities will get involved in this place. Why? Because of this: (chapter 1) and the element “confession” which is associated to crime. Back then, there was no witness and this scene took place during the night. No ruckus!! People in Joseon were not allowed to walk during the night due to the curfew. This stands in opposition to these scenes: it was not too late, thus the tavern was not closed yet (chapter 59) And this made me realize that the scene in the tavern from season 3 took place during the day contrary to season 1, while in season 2, we have both: the day and the night! Thus I am expecting that two scenes in the tavern will take place, one during the day and the other during the night in season 4. Let’s not forget that in chapter 75, the couple had remained there until nightfall.. (chapter 75) Finally, I believe that this scene in the tavern is linked to Kim, he will report the painter to the authorities. However, this night won’t end like a nightmare, for the circle is about to get closed, the end of ouroboros, the circle of revenge and hatred!! .
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