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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Recently, Lezhin released a message on Instagram announcing the return of manhwas in hiatus for November. And unfortunately, Painter Of Night was not part of them. 😭 Later, the author announced that due to a surgery, the release of season 4 has been delayed. She apologized, for she couldn’t keep her promise. This means, either it will start at the end of December or in January. Nevertheless, this doesn’t change my resolution to keep analyzing this story, for Yoon Seungho’s suffering and the painter’s past have not been entirely unveiled. Like a detective, I am trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. In this essay, I would like to elaborate my new discoveries concerning Heena which led me to develop new theories.
1. Heena: a mother or a sister?
During season 2, I had trouble to figure out her true identity. Was she the head-kisaeng who had adopted Baek Na-Kyum? (chapter1) Or was she simply the noona? (chapter 70) At some point, I came to realize that Heena had acted as the surrogate mother, but she had never clearly stated that she was the painter’s mother. In other words, his adoption was never official, which explicates why the main lead only considered her as his older sister. This is important, because her ambiguous status can not only generate problems, but also expose her betrayal towards Baek Na-Kyum. Note that in chapter 97, the noona treated Baek Na-Kyum as her “child” who wouldn’t listen to her (Chapter 97), while later she implied that they were both equal, for she employed the personal pronoun “us”. (chapter 97) On the other hand, she used her seniority as status, when she called him a fool (Chapter 97). He lacked experiences, hence he was too naïve, and as such he would trust the protagonist too easily. As you can see, Heena herself had an ambiguous relationship with her brother. Nonetheless, thanks to chapter 93, I got finally a definitive answer about Heena’s true identity. She is indeed the head-kisaeng in the gibang. I realized that the protagonists were invited to stay in Heena’s personal room. (Chapter 93) That’s the reason why the seat of the host was empty and why Yoon Seungho didn’t go there. He would have violated social norms, if he had taken her seat.. Moreover, by doing so, he would have revealed that he knew where the woman was. This could have raised questions.
2. Heena’s study
But how did I come up to this revelation? What caught my attention is the type of the door from that room (rectangles). Its pattern diverges from the ones in the hallway. (Chapter 93) This means that the figures were not sitting in the room shown in the last panel. On the other hand, their voices in the hallway exposed their location. The noonas and Heena were not far away from that door hidden by the veil. That’s how I got aware where Heena’s room was situated. In the last picture, the readers are turning their back from Heena’s study, which is right after the corner. Thus I could recognize the design of the building: ][ In the center, there is this huge hallway with the purple veils, but at its end, on each both sides, there exists a corridor perpendicular to the one with the purple curtains. What the beholder imagined as a door at the end of the hallway, (Chapter 68) was in truth a huge window. How do I know this? First, in this scene, the scholar was hiding a huge white vase with red flowers. Hence I deduced that Jung In-Hun couldn’t have walked through that “gate”, it was just a window. Therefore I assumed that he had to walk past the flowers, either turn to the right or the left. Secondly, observe that next to the lantern on the left, there is a small white panel. This means that the view from chapter 93 was more or less taken from the right corner. Moreover, in the next chapter, Heena is not facing this “window”, when she is in the same building. (Chapter 69) This time, the white vase with the flowers is standing in front of a wall. That’s how I deduced that Heena had to turn to the left in order to go to the hallway. (chapter 69) On the other hand, another element caught my notice. In this picture, (chapter 69) the purple curtain is covering the wall and is very close to the lantern, which is not the case in this picture from chapter 93. (chapter 93) And now, if you pay attention to the curtains in the hallway, you can detect a huge difference. (chapter 69) On the right side, there is no white wall between the purple veils, while it is not the case on the left side. And all these observations (the window in the background, the length and position of the purple veils, the white wall) made me realize that Jung In-Hun and Heena were actually walking in the same direction. At first glance, the beholder has the impression that the learned sir was leaving the building, whereas Heena was supposed to return to her private room. However, as you can see, this is just a deception. Furthermore, what caught my attention is the presence of a tiny window . (chapter 93) which is not present in episode 69. (chapter 93) Since I came to the conclusion that Heena’s private room was on the right side after the corner, I deduce that the kisaeng was not on her way to her room. Moreover, since the kisaeng was walking in the same direction than the scholar, I can only conclude that Heena was actually approaching the entrance of the building. I believe that she had turned around, but the author didn’t reveal this. One might argue that it is possible that in chapter 68, the learned sir could have gone with the painter to Heena’s bedroom. However, back then the latter was not the head-kisaeng. We know this due to the presence of a kisaeng standing right behind Yoon Chang-Hyeon during the sexual lesson. (chapter 86) She was the superior. Moreover, we saw the teacher walking through the countryside during the night. (chapter 70) That’s how I realized that Byeonduck had deceived the readers once again. She was playing with reflections. That’s the reason why I deduced that Heena was not talking loudly by accident in front of Black Heart. (chapter 69) It was done on purpose!! She wished that Min would take care of her brother. Under this new light, it becomes comprehensible why the noona has a drop of sweat on her cheek. She is faking ignorance, she is acting, as if she was very protective of her brother. She uses illusion to manipulate people. In reality, she was acting here. One might argue that I am overthinking again. This is not possible, for Heena didn’t know Min at all. Hence she couldn’t manipulate him. The latter had heard of her for the first time in Yoon Seungho’s mansion. (chapter 66) But let me ask you this. How could Heena have never met Min, when she was the head-kisaeng? Secondly, just because the servant had never heard of the noona, this doesn’t mean that it was the case for Black Heart. The domestic assumed Black Heart’s ignorance, just like the readers. Moreover, recently I had detected that Heena had been standing in front of a mansion belonging to a noble. (chapter 46) This was not Yoon Seungho and Lee Jihwa’s mansion, for the gate and walls (chapter 67) diverge. Moreover, Min has been seen in the kisaeng house in so many chapters , (chapter 19) (chapter 59). Here, I would like to point out that in episode 59, Lee Jihwa had visited the kisaeng house on different occasions, for his hair was slowly growing. (chapter 59) Moreover, note that his visits took place during the day and not during the night. Why? It was for privacy and so far, during the day, the manhwaphiles never saw any kisaeng in the gibang. (chapter 1) (chapter 94) Lee Jihwa was not supposed to meet kisaengs. As you can see, Min had strong connections with the gibang, just like Lee Jihwa. Hence Black Heart should have known Heena, for she was the head-kisaeng. But I would like to bring up a more conclusive proof for this interpretation. (chapter 19) This image was showing us that Yoon Seungho was visiting the gibang. However, pay attention to the pattern of the doors in the last picture and the next: (chapter 19) The motive diverges, it looks like the one from the hallway with the purple veils. This means that the party was not taking place in the room shown in the former picture. What caught my notice is the presence of the white vase with the red flowers in front of the building. It was present in each scene taking place in the gibang. (chapter 68) (chapter 69) (chapter 93) For me, the red flowers symbolize Heena noona. This explicates why during the painter’s dream, the flowers were not present. (chapter 87), as Heena was not included in his vision. And this image (chapter 19) made me think of Yoon Chang-Hyeon due to the writing on the wooden planks. (chapter 44) Due to the similarities, I believe that in chapter 19, Byeonduck was actually exposing the ghost head-kisaeng. Exactly like the father, she was hiding. Why? It is because she is involved in Yoon Seungho’s suffering. And now, imagine her reaction, when she hears that Black Heart has organized a feast for the main lead’s honor. The woman could only avoid the main character. And now, you have the explication why Heena as the head-kisaeng was not present during that festivity. It was deliberate. (chapter 19) Striking is that the kisaeng had a similar hair dress than Heena, This is no coincidence. She was acting as the head-kisaeng. The manhwalovers will certainly remember that only two kisaengs had no braided bun or braids: this one and Heena. Look at all the others: (chapter 51) (chapter 93) (chapter 93) (chapter 95) The extravagant hair dress was exposing the kisaeng’s status. And now, you comprehend why the other noona explained the disappearance of Heena during that night. (chapter 93) She was the head-kisaeng’s right-hand. She had to give an explanation why the noona wouldn’t appear in her bedroom.
But let’s return our attention to chapter 19. What did the kisaeng do during that party? She questioned the main character. (chapter 19) But how could she sense that the noble was in a good mood? The latter was silent and not even smiling. (chapter 19) How could she claim this? In reality she was actually spying on him. Heena had no idea why the lord would come to the gibang, especially after suffering there so much. The kisaeng’s task was to dig up information. This visitation must have bothered the head-kisaeng.
3. Heena and Min
According to my theory, Heena was walking in front of the room where Black Heart was on purpose. She wished to push him to remove the painter from Yoon Seungho’s side. Yet one might reject this thought, because it was impossible for her to know about the man’s presence. The entire time she was looking straight (chapter 69), and Min was sitting on the floor in the corner of the room. (chapter 69) She was even turning her back to him. But actually, she could have detected his presence, exactly like I had recognized him: through his laugh!! (chapter 69) And this would actually reinforce my interpretation that the noona was familiar with Min, and her encounter with him was not recent. Moreover, I would like to point out another discrepancy. This is what the kisaeng claimed to Yoon Seungho: (chapter 99) He was wearing a veiled hat, yet in chapter 69, this was not the case. (chapter 69) They could have seen his face, and as such recognize him as lord Min!! The kisaengs claimed that they had no idea, for they couldn’t see his face. But like pointed out, Black Heart was not wearing a veil in chapter 69! So they could identify him properly. People could have noticed that he was impersonating Lee Jihwa. That’s the reason why the villain had to change the hat!! Moreover, in this scene, he was not alone, he had been followed by his best friend, the noble with the mole. (chapter 69) That’s the reason why the trick with the first impersonation failed. Under this new approach, it becomes understandable why in season 3, Min was no longer followed by his friend and why he was wearing the hat with the black veil. They needed to ensure that no one would recognize his face. That way, the impersonation would be perfect, and Lee Jihwa could be framed easily. But this means that Black Heart must have got aware that the head-kisaeng had tried to trick him with her words in the hallway. This explains why in season 3, the woman got deceived herself with illusions. (chapter 88) (chapter 97) This was her karma. She had spoken with ill intentions (to achieve her goal by using a pawn), therefore she couldn’t speak in front of blood. This is no coincidence that her hands were covering her mouth, the opposite of her behavior in the hallway. Moreover, she had acted, as if she was caring for her brother, but the reality is that she cared more for the scholar than Baek Na-Kyum. In other words, the noona and Min were both fooling each other, they were constantly acting in front of each other. Hence when the noona saw the Joker in front of the scholar’s house, she feigned ignorance, while it was the opposite. (chapter 99) Under this new light, Min’s words get a new signification: (chapter 99) He was implying that they knew each other for a long time! The irony is that the manhwaphiles had the impression that their relationship was recent, and his cynical tone contributed to it. Secondly, he called her Heena, a sign that they were close to each other. Note that Lee Jihwa never mentioned her name. (chapter 99) His words even insinuate that Black Heart had just given the following order. The red-haired master should just fetch a kisaeng and in my opinion, Heena was waiting for Lee Jihwa’s arrival to leave the gibang. According to his words, he had no idea about the kisaeng’s identity. But is it true? I have my doubts now, and this for two reasons. Why would he ask about her identity, when he already knows that she is a kisaeng? The drop of sweat on his face is an indication that he is lying. But the problem is to determine if the deception is only referring to “I heard not a word” and to all the questions. Let’s not forget that he knew about Min’s initial intention. The moment Lee Jihwa arrived in the gibang, she just followed him. That way, they would avoid to attract attention, and with her new hair dress (chapter 99), she could no longer be recognized as the head-kisaeng. And this leads me to the following observation. When Heena was sent to the storage room, she actually lost her position as head-kisaeng. (chapter 93) In other words, when Yoon Seungho jailed her (chapter 93), the gibang had lost its “leader”. This explains why this noona as her right-hand had to explain the absence of the owner. (chapter 93). This scene (chapter 93) was actually announcing the downfall of Heena. She was about to desert the kisaeng house. She was giving up on her possessions and her position for “freedom”.
4. Heena and Yoon Chang-Hyeon
Because of the empty seat, I couldn’t help myself thinking of the elder master Yoon. (chapter 86) The latter had been eyeing the throne in the family mansion, but he failed to take over the mansion. This was the negative reflection of Heena. Whereas the kisaeng had a powerful position in the gibang, it was the opposite for the patriarch. He was no longer recognized as the head of the Yoons. Yet, both have something in common. Both lost their position for good, for Heena and Yoon Chang-Hyeon couldn’t take or keep the seat. We could say that both got defeated by Yoon Seungho. In chapter 93, the main lead acted as a respectful and calm master, whereas in the bedchamber he showed no respect to his own father. He talked back and even made fun of him. (chapter 87) This picture stands in opposition to this one: (chapter 93) To conclude, the surrogate mother and the patriarch made a similar experience in season 3. Both got deceived by manipulations and in both cases, letters played a huge role.
On the other hand, the noona chose to give up on her seat and position in order to avoid trouble with justice. The elder master Yoon decided to act the opposite. He made accusations against his son (chapter 94), definitely thinking that he was doing the right thing. He thought that he could never get into trouble. But this is just a deception in my opinion. As for the former head-kisaeng, she has to run away, for she did something wrong! In the past and in the present! She definitely plotted, and she is aware that her actions will have terrible repercussions.
5. Heena’s departure
This means that Heena chose to renounce on her position and wealth in order to save her own skin! That’s the reason why she faked her death. (chapter 99) No one would be looking for her. The problem is that the witnesses of her curtains all vanished. Lee Jihwa ran away, Black Heart got killed with his friends, and the only survivor, lord Jang, was confronted with real corpses in the shaman’s house. (chapter 102) That’s why I come to the deduction that her murder will be questioned. Why? There is no blood contrary to the bloodbath in the shaman’s house and there is no corpse!! Since Black Heart used different corpses in order to deceive Heena and the couple, there is no ambiguity that the head-kisaeng’s curtains will be doubted. Striking is that Heena staged her death out of cowardice and selfishness, while Yoon Seungho made the opposite decision. He was resolute to commit suicide in order to follow his lover in his death. During that night, Heena and Yoon Seungho lost their “home”, but at the end, he found his true home: the painters embrace. (chapter 102) He gave up on everything (fortune, house and life), hence he will be rewarded for all his sacrifices. Under this new light, I am more than ever convinced that Heena has not reached the bottom. Her karma is to be punished for her deceptions and acting!
As you can imagine, the moment I questioned the relationship between Heena and Min, everything appeared in a different light. It becomes comprehensible why Min would whisper to the head-kisaeng, why she didn’t push away his hand (chapter 96) (chapter 96), though he is a noble. Besides, I am suspecting her of suffering from genophobia (fear of sex and intimacy) Their behavior exposes closeness and a certain trust. But how is this possible? It is because she knows that Min is a sodomite, and he is not looking for sexual favors. That’s the reason why she trusted Black Heart in my opinion. Moreover, he is smiling like Jung In-Hun. Therefore it is not surprising that she was speaking like the Joker in chapter 97. Here, the man had actually projected his own thoughts onto Yoon Seungho, and due to her own belief, Heena was more than willing to believe Black Heart. . (chapter 97) That’s how I came to realize why in season 2, Jung In-Hun was mentioned in front of Min. (chapter 52) It is because Black Heart knew Heena! I even believe that he had already met the scholar. Note that the man with the black hanbok was repeating the rumors about the learned sir. And the other questioned the main lead’s action exposing that he had never heard about this grapevine before. Hence I am deducing that the one spreading this rumor could only be MIN!! That’s the reason why he just said this (chapter 52) That means that the noble knew the teacher in the end. Therefore it is no coincidence that Min was aware where the learned sir lived!! (chapter 83) And now, if you connect the two scenes from chapter 97 and chapter 52 , you can only come to the conclusion that Min was the learned sir’s previous sponsor, but at the end he changed his mind (chapter 52). Why? It is because there was an incident in the gibang!! (chapter 01) And who had covered up the incident? Heena, for she was the head-kisaeng! She had lied to her brother by blaming the biggest victim, Yoon Seungho, who was the man with the braid! This image is a real memory of Baek Na-Kyum from that night, yet from far away, the painter couldn’t see the face of the sodomite! This is another secret Heena has been hiding from her brother!
That’s how I realized that season 3 focused on the “face”, the symbol for identity. The readers could never see the face of all the corpses (chapter 94) (chapter 97) (chapter 97) (chapter 101), and even Kim hid his face under a hanbok. (chapter 92) That’s the reason why I believe that in season 4, the visage will play a major role! The couple will recognize people due to the face!! In my eyes, the former head-kisaeng knows the identities of all the persons involved in Yoon Seungho’s suffering.
Hence I am encouraging you to read Painter Of The Night once again under the following theory: Heena and Min knew each other, and Jung In-Hun had already been in contact with Min…. This is no coincidence that Black Heart had to die at the end. Jung In-Hun was killed, after Min had betrayed and abandoned the scholar. If he had kept his words… the murder of Jung In-Hun wouldn’t have taken place. But let’s not forget that according to me, this scene in the gibang (chapter 1) corresponds to Yoon Seungho’s first liberation. This means that the sponsorship was doomed to fail, because the gods would no longer tolerate the abuse. Min’s promise was short-lived, because his dream couldn’t come true. He had no longer any use of the scholar. This truly exposes that Heena told many stories to her brother in the past and in the present, yet only now, (chapter 97) her brother is detecting her deception.
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