Payback: Portrait of a wacko 🤪

This is where you can read these manhwas. Payback: But be aware that this manhwas is a mature Yaoi, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes. If you want to read more analyses about Payback or other manhwas, here is the link to the table of contents: I am also using doctor Frost as reference again. 

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Reminder: This analysis is based only on the manhwa.

Anyone reading Payback is aware that „wacko“ is the nickname given to Yoon Jay by Lee Yoohan. The latter started calling him that way, when he met him on the rooftop of the building owned by Dream Ent “for the first time”. (chapter 4) As you can imagine, in this essay, my main focus will be on executive director Yoon Jae, because he is surrounded by mystery and secrets. However, this perception is not entirely correct, because they exist other wackos in this story which I will present at the end. 😲

1. Introduction of Yoon Jae

What caught my attention is the way the protagonist was introduced in the prologue. The manhwalovers could never see his face and as such his gaze. . This means that Fujoking and Samk were hiding his real character on purpose, though the readers already knew his job and name: executive director Yoon. As you can see, the mystery concerning Yoon Jay is not about his name, but about his personality. He is indeed very difficult to understand contrary to Lee Yoohan who can be read like an open book.

But why? First, it is because we don’t have much information about him and his past. (chapter 1) He lived for a long time in the US, and he hasn’t been working at Dream Ent for a long time. He is portrayed as a ruthless man, for he doesn’t mind firing people. However, I believe that his bad notoriety is linked to his smile as well. How so? It is because when he rejects or fires people, he has a huge smile on his face. It was, as if he was feeling Schadenfreude. We have the perfect example, when he rejects Song Myungshin’s advances. (chapter 9) Though the image seems to ooze warmth due to the flowers and bright colors, we should perceive it as the opposite due to the huge contrast between the background and the immense NO. He is here acting, mirroring the actor’s hypocrisy. Besides, note that the main lead has closed eyes, an indication that he is hiding his true thoughts and emotions to the antagonist. Because the main lead combines a smirk with cold words, he appears heartless… almost like a psychopath! Hence he is also called psychopath. (chapter 35) That’s the reason why Yoon Jae is not surprised or upset hearing it from his protégé. His negative reputation incites fear and intimidation, like the spy admits it. Even the manager Choi gets frightened, when he hears his name. (chapter 6) However, the readers should question if Yoon Jae’s dangerousness is not exaggerated. Why? First of all, despite his claims, the worker was actually revealing secrets about the executive director to the actor Song Myungshin. If he truly feared him, then he shouldn’t have exposed the director’s research for the rabbit. (chapter 1) This was absolutely private. But who is Yoon Jae in reality?

2. The prologue: first clues about the “wacko”

Yes, even in the prologue, the authors let us see a glimpse of Yoon Jae’s personality. If you read other analyses from me, you are well aware that the decoration of a room mirrors the mental and emotional disposition of people. (Doctor Frost, chapter 8) Striking is the preference for dark colors, essentially brown and black.

“In color psychology, black means power and control, hanging on to information and things rather than giving out to others. Black is intimidating, unfriendly and unapproachable because of the power it exudes. […] Negative keywords include aloof, depressing and pessimistic, secretive and withholding, conservative and serious, power & control, sadness and negativity.” Quoted from

As you can see, the color reflects his mind-set. He is quite a controlling person, thus he made sure to be updated on Lee Yoohan’s moves. (chapter 9) He investigated about his past immediately. And what is the signification of brown then?

Brown suppresses the emotions, creating a safe haven from the stresses of the outside world within which problems can be contemplated and solved. Brown is a color of structure, although by no means does it encourage perfectionism – rather it encourages orderliness and organization. Brown is solid with strength and maturity. It prefers to function in its own safe little world – it is not carefree and spontaneous and doesn’t like surprises. It can be considered dull, boring and unexciting by many.” Quoted from

This exposes that Yoon Jae is not an emotional person, quite the opposite. He is very serious, rational and even calculative, as he has to anticipate people’s actions (combined with black). (prologue) Furthermore, since the brown shade is associated to structure and organization, this shows that his whole life is revolving around work. Besides, the manhwaworms can perceive his workaholism thanks to the scripts placed on his desk and cupboards. He is so dedicated to his job that he even brings work home. (chapter 35). One might object to this interpretation, for contrary to the office in Dream’s building and Alice’s labyrinth (chapter 13), the floor and walls of his home are white. Why is there this difference? The color exposes the emptiness and loneliness of his life. This explains why the main lead barely goes home. I am even assuming that he is avoiding the place. He prefers sleeping on the bank (chapter 34) from the rooftop of the building than going home. And now, you comprehend why the director’s relative and friend sent Lee Yoohan there. He desired to ensure that his acquaintance would get enough sleep. Yoon Jae realized that if he desired to keep the main lead by his side, he needed to go back home so that they could share a bed together. (chapter 35) As you can see, I was able to create connections between the main lead’s office and other scenes indicating the importance of the design of a room.

(Prologue) His office seems to have no window, though I have my doubts about it. From my point of view, the windows are covered, or since this office has two rooms, it is possible that the windows are in the other study. Let’s not forget that when Lee Yoohan delivered the letter to his assistant Park Sung-Ki, it was still daylight. Anyway, since there’s no sunlight, the director has to turn on the light. This indicates that he doesn’t pay attention to time at all. I would even say that he has somehow lost the notion of „time“. Thus I conclude that he has no regular life. This is not surprising when Yoon Jae explains to Lee Yoohan later that he worked for three days without sleeping. (chapter 35) Since he switched from the office in the Dream’s building to the one at Alice labyrinth’s, he can barely notice sun light. And now, you have the explanation why the main lead is so feared by the workers from Dream Ent. He forces them to work non-stop, even to sacrifice their night (see chapter 38)! That’s the reason why he is called a psychopath. He doesn’t know the true meaning of life. For him, there only exists work, work, work. Under this new light, the readers can perceive the similarities between the two protagonists. Both were leading a similar way of life, but definitely for different reasons.

(Prologue) Finally, behind his desk there is this huge picture of a conifers’ forest covered with clouds and fog. (chapter 10) The topic exposes the main lead’s loneliness and dull life. There is no real fresh air in his office, as it is just a picture. This room feels suffocating. It was, as if Yoon Jae was buried under work. Finally, the manhwaphiles can notice the absence of family pictures. And this is the same in the second office at Alice labyrinth’s and his real home. He is truly alone. The darkness of the room and the absence of a family display that Yoon Jae is not truly living. He is just working. There’s no joy or happiness in his life. That’s the reason why he appears so ruthless to others, because he doesn’t take into consideration his workers’ love life and family. This is the second common denominator with Lee Yoohan. And now, it is time to focus why the main lead called Yoon Jae a wacko.

3. Their first meeting on the rooftop

When Lee Yoohan asked him for a cigarette, (chapter 3), Yoon Jae showed his hostility immediately. First, he remained silent, then he insulted him by throwing the butt to his feet. (chapter 3) Such a reaction could only shock Lee Yoohan, as the latter had showed no sign of aggressiveness before. But why did the mysterious man react so negatively then? It is because for Yoon Jae, the rooftop had become his true home, the place where he could breathe. That’s the reason why he didn’t want anyone there, until he met the other main lead! And it is the same at Alice‘s labyrinth either. The rooftop is the main lead’s refuge where he can connect to “nature”. He can watch the city, but also the stars in the night sky or find some sleep.

In his eyes, Lee Yoohan was just an intruder who was trying to approach him in order to obtain some benefit. This shows that kindness and generosity were unknown in his world. It is only about value, give and take. Striking is that during this scene, the authors let the readers see the devil’s smile which was actually a sign of his coldness. (chapter 3) This perception got even reinforced, when Fujoking chose black to show Yoon Jae’s words. (chapter 3) Unlike with Song Myungshin, the main lead decided to expose his true thoughts and emotions, therefore Lee Yoohan could see his gaze. In other words, the scene 9 stands in opposition to chapter 3 and 4. This is important, because this explains why Yoon Jae came to “show an interest in Lee Yoohan” righ away. While in chapter 9, the executive director sent away the evil and fake actor (chapter 9), he proposed a deal to “Lee Baekwon”. (chapter 4) The reason for this change of attitude is that Lee Yoohan showed no fear in front of him. He didn’t feel humiliated to take the butt and he even retaliated. (chapter 3) This means that he had no problem to defy Yoon Jae, while the latter knows about his terrible reputation. The protagonist would even glare at him after the punch. (chapter 4)

The other reason why the executive director got intrigued is the young man’s innocence and honesty. He had not only no idea about his true identity (chapter 4), but also he rejected his assistance. (chapter 5) This shows that Lee Yoohan was no real leech. In other words, the young man was acting the opposite to the people Yoon Jae had ever met so far: hypocrites and greedy leech. That’s the reason why Yoon Jae found him so intriguing.

What caught my attention is the vocabulary he was employing in connection with the young actor: joke (chapter 4), amusing (chapter 11), impressive (chapter 13), boring (chapter 23) and “amused” . (chapter 23) These idioms belong to the semantic field “entertainment”, which stands in opposition to work! To conclude, Lee Yoohan brought joy and light into his dull life, this is not surprising that at the end of season 1, Yoon Jae is now investing in an independent movie.

Due to his unusual reactions, the main lead felt more and more attracted to the young man. Thanks to him, he felt his heart racing for the second time! (chapter 35) But why did he react to “revenge” then? He had never done something like that before, for he had always been on his own. He had always been indifferent towards people. But the more he saw the young actor, the more he got aroused sexually, the consequence of his racing heart. (chapter 13) This indicates that he was slowly brought back to life.

4. The origins of Yoon Jae’s weirdness

What he only knew so far was to make deals (value, give and take), because that’s the way he had been raised: t (chapter 30) He was not allowed to voice his emotions and thoughts to his “mother”. That’s the reason why Fujoking portrayed him as emotionless. (chapter 30) He had no smile on his face as a child, because he had been forced to lose it. There is no ambiguity that he was not allowed to cry either. The reason seems to be related to the mother’s high expectations for her son. (chapter 30). She made plans that Yoon Jae had to make come true. That’s how he internalized that life consists of only work and expectations. Everything else is pointless. It doesn’t matter, if this woman is his biological mother or his “adoptive mother”. Let’s not forget that the executive director has two names, Han and Yoon. Yoon comes from his mother. He is using “Yoon”, which could be seen as a sign of pride, while he resents “Han”.

This woman raised him with the following principles: deals and plans. There was no hug and warmth between them, hence there is this huge distance between them. (chapter 30) And she only touched him with her finger on his forehead. (chapter 30) He only had to use his intelligence and deny the existence of his heart. That’s the reason why he became a lonely and detached person. The lack of intimacy explains why Yoon Jae discovered sexuality very late. He only had sex with Lee Yoohan so far. (chapter 30) He had not the time and the opportunity to question his sexual orientation. His whole life revolved around work since his childhood.

Striking is that on the day, he met the protagonist for the first time, he looked quite suicidal and depressed. He was definitely provoking the men, thus he reproached the main lead his intervention. (chapter 14) He had a wounded arm, he was hiding his gaze behind his hair… a sign that he was having a hard time. He could only voice his emotions through aggression in the end. Striking is that in this situation, he utilized the idiom “play” contrasting to his philosophy of life: work: (chapter 14) In his mind, play was a synonym for fighting, but Lee Yoohan changed the meaning: sex. Thus when he had sex with the young man, he made two discoveries: tears which could only move his heart (chapter 14), for they represented what Yoon Jae had always been repressing so far, his broken heart and sadness. (chapter 35) This means that the young actor serves as a role model for the executive director. At the same time, he felt sexual pleasure for the first time (chapter 14), and he could give warmth to someone. (chapter 15) He was no longer evaluated based on his work performance, but on his kindness. I am quite certain that during this encounter Yoon Jae must have felt time differently too.

Therefore it is no coincidence that after this love session, the executive director wished to keep in touch with the mysterious rabbit. He was willing to open up his heart for him. (chapter 15) I would even add that he was totally sincere, when he gave him the following advice: (chapter 15) But what the executive director had in mind back then was totally different from Lee Yoohan. Thanks the pink rabbit, he had discovered that he was not truly alone, there existed warmth and emotions besides work. This meeting had definitely affected the main lead’s perception, hence he added this: (chapter 15) He was smiling again, because he felt that a new chapter in his life was about to begin. However, the problem is that his words resonated for the former thug differently. He had deserved to lose his mother and his brother, as he had neglected them before. He was responsible for their death. He reinforced the main lead’s guilt and shame. Thus the latter got angry and punched Yoon Jae’s wounded arm before giving him money. (chapter 15) He was not allowed to receive affection, though his future lover meant the exact opposite. From my point of view, this was the moment Yoon Jae learned the following lesson: smile is associated to rejection and coldness. This explicates why his facial expression in the motel room (chapter 15) resembles to the one on the rooftop. (chapter 9) Thus the manhwalovers can comprehend why the stockholder Jae was angry at the Jihwaja rabbit (chapter 17), but still was longing for him and his embrace. (chapter 37) One thing is sure. Because of this incident, the executive director learned not to show his affection immediately. So when Lee Yoohan got into trouble at Alice Labyrinth’s, the executive director denied that he had sent the waiter in order to assist him. (chapter 23) However, the readers can grasp that this is not true, for he got annoyed that Lee Yoohan said that he was not expecting any help from him.

5. The true nature of Yoon Jae’s relationship with Yoohan

Because for the executive director, work means everything, he can only reject sponsoring! Why? It is because the latter uses connections and pleasure as basis. This has nothing to do with talent or hard work. The “protégé” just needs to assist his “sponsor” elsewhere. Sponsoring contradicts the values the protagonist is advocating: honest hard work, no reliance on others. And now, if you observe the evolution of the couple, you will realize that the executive director never gave his support for free. There was always a deal between them. Even when he offered the interview, it contained a trap: (chapter 7) Lee Taemin was here cornered. If he had mentioned the incident on the rooftop, the protagonist would have lost his interest in him. However, this pushed the main lead to become proactive and even creative. Then later, it was the same. His help was never for free. (chapter 10) The irony is that here, the debutant didn’t grasp the ambiguity of his words. He could mean that he was selling his body, while in reality he had in his mind to work for the mysterious “helper”. The executive director had already perceived his innocence, hence he indeed offered him a job. (chapter 13) Secondly, Lee Tamin never truly employed his assistance directly. When he made the first phone call to wacko, he asked him to have his manager punished. Why? That way, Song Myungshin’s intervention would be mentioned. This means that Lee Yoohan used more or less the normal way to achieve his goal. That’s the reason why no one has ever made a connection between the executive director and Lee Taemin. The latter always tried to resolve the problems on his own. This could only impress the executive director. He could see that the young man was hard working. Striking is that Jay revealed his attachment and admiration towards Lee Yoohan very early on, because he introduced himself as Jay! (chapter 13) This is quite unusual for Koreans. Moreover, observe that he allowed him to enter his office at Alice Labyrinth’s. This is definitely his hiding place, hence I doubt that he allows strangers to visit him there. Slowly, the executive director Jay allowed Lee Yoohan to visit his private places: first the roof, then his office at Alice’s Labyrinth, the rooftop there too and finally his home.

But why didn’t Lee Yoohan notice his affection for him in the end? First, their mind-sets were different. Lee Yoohan grew up in a family, so he still cared for his mother and brother. He definitely had a big heart, but the problem was his mother was overwhelmed by her situation, raising two children as a single mother. He has always helped others, the perfect example is his relationship with the actor Song Myungshin. He consoled him and helped him to read his lines, he would share his flat with him. As you can see, Lee Yoohan might have been a thug, but he was still a generous man. Therefore it is no wonder that he felt terribly guilty after the loss of his family. And observe how Lee Yoohan reacted, when the director asked him to sleep with him. He let his future lover embrace him while asleep. (chapter 35)

Yoon Jae has never learned to share, as it was about a deal. So far, he never had to take care of a partner. This explicates why his friend gave a suit to the protagonist. (chapter 29) He knew that he had to play cupide.

Another reason for being called a wacko is that Lee Yoohan always had a regular life despite his terrible situation. He didn’t rest much, but his whole week was carefully planned. The time he didn’t spend at work was left to sleep. As you can see, he never neglected his body, thus he has a real home contrary to the main lead. Observe that the main lead noticed the chaos Yoon Jae’s office and home, yet this is not how the actor lives. This means that thanks to the main lead, the weirdo will learn to distance himself from work, and enjoy life. To conclude, though the main leads shared some similarities, they still came from two different worlds: education, life style and family situation. This is no coincidence that “Lee Baekwon” is connected to the pink rabbit. The latter symbolizes innocence, but also love and sexuality. He brought exactly what Yoon Jae had been missing in his childhood. Therefore, the main lead finds life more funny and interesting now.

Another reason is that Lee Yoohan has been betrayed by his ex-lover. So from my point of view, he became disillusioned about love. In the past, he had been fooled by Song Myungshin’s fake tears and affection. Hence I am suspecting that he chose sex with Yoon Jay for that reason. He had realized that sex could be quite superficial. This explicates why he didn’t mind switching position. However, since the stockholder had never fallen in love with someone before, he made the exact opposite experience. He came to see the connection between sex and love. Hence he has this romantic perception of love,. . (chapter 15) This shows that Yoon Jae associates love to faithfulness and strong emotions, but the innocent rookie has long disconnected sex with affection. That’s the reason why he couldn’t see his jealousy (chapter 16) and as such his growing affection towards him.

Striking is that the moment he realizes Lee Taemin’s true identity, he is so happy that he not only smiles, but also blushes. (chapter 37) This picture announces the final transformation of the “wacko”. He is so overjoyed, that he wished to give his lover everything. , (chapter 38): fame, revenge… but also his heart! Thus he added this (chapter 38) He will give him affection and warmth so that he can overcome his loss.

6. The other weirdos

Like mentioned above, the executive director dislikes sponsoring very much, as he is a purist. He only judges people based on their performance and value. He treasures integrity and honesty. This explains why he cleaned the company by firing so many people in the end. (chapter 07) Thus he embodies the opposite values of chairman Kim, who doesn’t care about great movies and realism. Thus he changes scripts or actors. (chapter 23) For him, only his pleasures matter. He uses his money and connections to obtain his goal. He is actually the real monster who will abuse and rape men. (chapter 40) And the actor Song Myungshin is his helping hand who selects the man’s future preys (chapter 40) with fake promises, while he benefits the most by receiving money and support for his career. The manager Choi described them as parasites who take pleasure at the suffering of others: (chapter 40) The actor is not different from chairman Kim, because as long as the others are sacrificed and as such suffering, he will never envy them. Song Myungshin is full of jealousy, and can not bear that someone else can be successful, thus he is determined to ruin the life of others: manager Choi, the talented Lee Hansoo and the rookie Lee Taemin. He perceives everyone as a source of threat due to his insecurities and greed. Since Chairman Kim and Song Myungshin embody rape and prostitution, it is normal that Yoon Jae never forced Lee Yoohan to have sex with him. He is the romantic one through and through, thus he is waiting for a real sign from his lover. Therefore it is no coincidence that he said this to the main lead: (chapter 28) He was signalizing that he wished to have sex with him, he had trouble to wait. (chapter 28) These words expose that for Yoon Jae sex and love were the same thing for him. He couldn’t differentiate them. Hence he can only appear as a wacko to the fake actor and chairman Kim. Therefore Song Myungshin is doomed to failure, he will never be able to seduce the powerful and attractive executive director Yoon Jae.

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