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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Announcement: Byeonduck tweeted that season 4 will star in February! 🥳 The essay “Sexual education and love” has been updated.
I would like to remind my readers that for me, Byeonduck introduced three different physicians. [For more read the essay The mysterious doctor] On the other hand, the manhwaphiles already know which doctor I am referring to, the physician from chapter 57 and this because of this expression: “I am still puzzled”. (chapter 57) So in this short essay, I would like to present my new observations and interpretation concerning this intriguing man.
1. His beard
What caught my attention is his beard (chapter 57), as it resembles a lot to the ones from the yangbans. (chapter 67) . (chapter 86) His beard is so different from the commoners’. (chapter 45) This is important, because it reveals that the doctor belongs to a different social class: Chungin, the upper-middle class.
“Chungin (중인) Chungin” was the second-highest class in the society. People belonging to this class were considered as upper-middle-class of the society. It consisted of highly educated specialists, artists, astrologers, physicians, accountants, and low-level bureaucrats. To belong to this class, one had to pass the technical efficiency examination, called the Chapkwa, and hence, could become a Chungin. Chungin, similar to Yangban were also exempted from military service and paying taxes.” Quoted from https://hallyuism.com/2021/05/10/the-korean-society-during-the-joseon-dynasty/
It exposes that this man has a higher position than peasants and small merchants, the sangmin. The reason is simple. Since they had to pass an examination, this indicates that they have a certain knowledge. In other words, education serves as a mark of distinction among Joseon’s hierarchical society. It explicates why the calligrapher insulted Baek Na-Kyum. (chapter 92) The lords and chungin can look down on the commoners, sangmin and cheonmin, as the latter are not considered as educated, since they never had to pass an exam. Striking is that the physician voiced his ignorance in front of the painter which stands in opposition to his social status. (chapter 57) He was not able to diagnose Yoon Seungho’s illness. Thus the doctor could be perceived as selfless, honest, dedicated and humble. He is determined to do anything to find the proper solution. Thus many readers came to like the clueless physician. However, in my eyes, it is just an illusion again!!
2. The physician’s testimony
First of all, I detected a contradiction. The doctor claimed that he had not been able to help the father (chapter 57). But this is not correct, for he prescribed and gave the drug to the butler and as such the elder master Yoon. That’s why he said this: (chapter 57) Note that solution has two meanings, thus it has for synonyms answer and elixir/extract!! He did give him a solution, the drug!! This truly shows that the physician was lying to the painter. 😮 But this doesn’t end here.
He also contradicted himself, when he first stipulated this. (chapter 57), With the idiom “strong”, he was implying that Yoon Seungho had always been quite in good health. On the other hand, he said later that he had always been puzzled about the mysterious illness.
Striking is this description of the main lead. (chapter 57) He is the only one who portrayed the protagonist in a positive light. Why? In my eyes, it was to gain the painter’s trust. That way, the doctor would appear as impartial and neutral. Thus he said the truth first in order to divert attention from his own actions. He had been the one supplying the drug to the butler. (chapter 57) I had already criticized the doctor in the past, for he kept giving the medicine to the valet, and never made the connection to his “hot-headed” temper. He appeared as quite stupid. In my eyes, he already appeared as a passive accomplice, but mainly due to his lack of discernment. He would trust the butler too much. Thus in the composition „the purge“, I had predicted his involvement in a plot which would bring to light his complicity.
Yet, note that during his confidence, he portrayed Yoon Chang-Hyeon in a bad light. He was ignorant (“he would say strange things”), he was brutal with his son (chapter 57). This shows that right from the start, he was already putting the whole blame on the elder master Yoon. That way, the physician was avoiding to become responsible. He had been giving the drug to the butler for a long time, while claiming that he had not been able to diagnose the illness. Besides, we shouldn’t overlook that in this chapter, we only have the physician’s version!! We never heard the testimony from the father. Just because we saw the bruises and the hand on the main character’s neck, this is no real guarantee that the father said this to the doctor. (chapter 57) That’s how I realized that the doctor had been deceiving the painter all along. He lied by commission, but also when he talked about the visitation, he was actually delivering the truth in delay, paltering!! He used the same MO than Kim. He feigned ignorance, and mixed a truth with a lie!! This is no coincidence. This leads me to the following question: why did he talk about the past to Baek Na-Kyum? (Chapter 57) Yes, it was to protect himself!! He was diverting the painter‘s attention. From that moment on, I could no longer judge him the same way. He was now an active and smart accomplice, who would utilize innocence, truth and knowledge to his advantage.
Besides, the manhwalovers can note that he employs the same expressions than the valet: “it seems”, „always“… He is referring to appearances, a sign that he is aware of the importance of impression. As you can see, he was acting exactly like Kim. Thus we should see this conversation as a reflection from this scene: (chapter 12) According to my interpretation, here the butler wished the painter to desert the mansion. Thus I conclude that at the physician’s office, the doctor had the opposite task: he should ensure that Baek Na-Kyum doesn’t run away. It was important that the artist was by the lord’s side the moment he gets kidnapped. That way, Yoon Seungho would only blame himself and the painter. Yet, I don’t think that he knew everything about the future abduction. Secondly, why did the doctor bring up Yoon Seungho’s health and his medicine to the painter? He was actually a stranger, even a „servant“. (chapter 57) First, notice that Kim had already implied that he would bring his master to the doctor’s office. (chapter 57) However, the office is actually far away from the mansion. (For more read the essay The hidden shaman) From my point of view, the revelations from the doctor had two purposes. Baek Na-Kyum should not wonder why the butler brought his sick master to the office. Secondly, he had to gain his trust so that he would feel safe there. Moreover, I think that the butler must have realized that the artist had heard the exchange between the second physician and Kim. So he knew that the lord was supposed to take some medicine: (chapter 55) But like I have always pointed out, Yoon Seungho had no idea about the drugs and medicine. He was totally left in the dark, for the valet would call the drug ” medicinal tea”. (chapter 35) He employed an euphemism. This truly shows that the doctor and the valet were partners in crime, both accomplices due to their passivity, knowledge and silence. Nevertheless, I don’t think that the physician was directly involved with the kidnapping and assassination plot. The conversation between the valet and the physician displays the lack of honesty coming from Kim. (chapter 57) The latter portrays himself as a victim.
Under this new light, it becomes comprehensible why he never revealed anything after the abduction. (chapter 63) He felt bound by secrecy to the bearded man. On the other hand, this incident must have worried him, as it had taken place at his own mansion. Thus he could get into trouble. Kim realized that he needed to reassure the doctor. If the latter started speaking, he could get into trouble, for he had left the propriety during that night. He had no real alibi. Hence the valet visited the doctor during that night, but he never threatened him. (chapter 65) The doctor believed that the moment someone talked, someone could take the fall. Observe that in the yard, the butler followed the physician’s advice: he should say nothing. (chapter 65) This truly exposes that the doctor is not just a naive man, but an accomplice not only due to his silence and passivity, but also due to his own manipulations. He described himself as a concerned observer who had done nothing wrong. But no, this is not true, as the drug is the evidence of his participation. Who paid for the drug/medicine in the end? Since the elder master Yoon was no longer living in the mansion, the valet was the one responsible for the expenses. I doubt that Yoon Seungho would take a closer look to the accounts. Then when he said that he only saw the protagonist twice (chapter 57), this doesn’t mean that he was not involved in the main lead’s suffering. He could have affected Yoon Seungho’s life differently. We have the perfect example in season 3: he treated the butler (chapter 77), while he neglected the lord’s hand (chapter 84) But like I pointed out, who gave the aphrodisiac to Lee Jihwa? This is a medicine!! To conclude, the physician was involved in the main lead’s suffering, though he only met him twice. (chapter 57) The reason why I started examining the physician again, is because he was the first person to mention the shaman. (chapter 57) But since my theory is that Kim was a shaman, this signifies that he should have recognized Kim as the shaman!! In that case, I deduced that the physician had been lying to the elder master Yoon by omission. Naturally, it is also possible that the father had hired the shaman, but out of fear for his reputation, he acted, as if he had no idea about the butler’s true identity. In other words, all three men acted, as if they knew nothing. This would explain why all the characters had no eye in the last picture. Anyway, because of my latest theory, I reexamined the physician‘s statement and found more incongruences
Moreover, just because the doctor made this statement, this doesn’t signify that we should take his words as face-value. Like pointed out above, the physician was not honest, and he was definitely putting the whole blame on Yoon Chang-Hyeon for malpractice, while he was hiding his own malpractice. He acted as an ignorant and naive man. Striking is only the nobles were described in a rather negative light: Yoon Seungho as a hot-tempered man, Yoon Chang-Hyeon as a violent, untrustworthy and ignorant father. (chapter 57) Here he doubted the elder master Yoon’s words, for he stated as a fact that the young master Lee Jihwa was not mentally sick. Keep in mind that according to the doctor, the protagonist was described as someone suffering from a mental illness. And this detail caught my attention: the physician took the Lees’ side. Furthermore, the patriarch Lee was thinking similarly than the doctor: the shaman and the mental illness. (chapter 82) Finally, I would like to point out that in that chapter, the physician was mentioned too, and this next to the patriarch Lee. (chapter 82) Thus I believe that the physician’s fate is linked to Lee Jihwa and his father.
To conclude, since he feigned ignorance and hid his participation, I deduce that he will pay for his wrongdoings. His karma should be to become denunciated as an accomplice of a plot and even sentenced, though this time, he had truly been left in the dark, similar to Lee Jihwa. However, the physician won’t be able to run away. And remember the lord’s statement: (chapter 44) We should never trust the old bearded men, not even the doctor. And ignorance can not serve as an excuse for covering up wrongdoings. As a conclusion, the physician was more acting in chapter 57, he rather expressed a fake concern towards the main lead. (Chapter 57) Finally, the manhwaphiles should detect that the doctor never mentioned the presence of the servants in the bedchamber. Both were restraining the wounded lord. (Chapter 57) This is also no coincidence that he didn‘t point out the absence of the elder master Yoon during the second visit. He couldn‘t, because his tactic to put the whole blame on the patriarch would have totally failed. And this leads me to the following observation: (chapter 74) The doctor was not honest here either. Exactly like in episode 57, he was faking his worries towards Baek NA-Kyum. First, we have the presence of the drop of sweat on his cheek, a sign of dishonesty, but more importantly, his question was just theoretical, he was influencing the painter. The latter just needed to agree. He hoped that the artist would never bring up the incident in his mansion, and as such would wonder about his whereabouts and his responsibility concerning the kidnapping. At the same time, he could have asked this with the hope that the painter would blame the protagonist for his misery. He would use the painter‘s suffering (the unfair judgement leading to his imprisonment) in order to divert attention from his own wrongdoing: his silence, his passivity and his lack of commitment. He never tried to look for Baek Na-Kyum‘s vanishing. He never felt responsible. But he had to give up, because the artist was truly ignorant. (chapter 74) He never made any reproach towards the main lead.
As a conclusion, it is important to contrast the characters’ testimonies, to compare the images with the texts. That way, the readers can detect the deceptions through the contrast. Moreover, this shows that the physician was more than just an ignorant doctor, he was an accomplice. First, ignorance can not be an excuse for crimes. Secondly, we should question if he was truly ignorant. Yoon Seungho has not talked to him so far, hence this should happen in season 4. Therefore I come to the deduction that the physician will play a huge part in season 4, for he remained hidden in season 3. But he was definitely present because of the split, the aphrodisiac and the opium. The latter was often used as a medicine in China. Finally, it made me realize that season 4 will expose the participation of the commoners in the lord‘s suffering. Not only the aristocrats like Yoon Chang-Hyeon and father Lee were to blame for his misery, but also the servants, the tailor and the doctor. The latter played a role, as they never divulged their knowledge. The tailor could have noticed that he was no longer creating new clothes for the young master Seungho. The physician and the staff could have exposed the abuse to the authorities. Children were not supposed to be exposed to the straw mat beating.
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