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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As the readers can see, the title consists of an unfinished sentence. I did it on purpose for two reasons. First, it would have been too long. Secondly, it would have revealed the central topic of this essay. The name of this composition is in truth a quote from A. A. Milne. The manhwaphiles can see that I would like to analyze the new pictures released from Lezhin inciting me to present new interpretations, theories and predictions.
1. Yoon Seungho and Sleeping beauty
Interesting is that on February 1st the Korean company tweeted this image. The manhwalovers could barely see Yoon Seungho’s face, for he was surrounded by darkness. When I saw it, my first thought was to associate the protagonist to “Sleeping beauty”. He had the same expression than in the bedchamber, when he was sleeping totally relaxed. (chapter 87) He was not tormented by a nightmare, like the painter discovered it in chapter 38: And the darkness reminded me of the forest of thorns and as such of the curse put on the princess. The darkness, the metaphor for the forest of thorns, is the reason why the lord felt trapped and suffocating in his torment. (chapter 86) This contrasts to the princess’ situation, for the latter had no idea about the existence of the prison. It only appeared, when she fell asleep. Moreover, in this picture the obscurity is slowly disappearing announcing that the main lead is about to wake up, he is on the verge of being released from his curse. This signifies that the protagonist is slowly returning to life, allowing him to be able to fight back, the moment he is confronted with reality. He will be able to voice his thoughts and emotions contrary to his past lethargy.
In the fairy tale from Charles Perrault and the brothers Grimm, the princess was put to sleep for 100 years in order to avoid the terrible curse that the wicked witch had placed on her. Originally, she should have died, but thanks to the intervention of one fairy, the curse could be modified and attenuated. Instead of death, it was just “sleep”. My avid readers can already detect the similarities, as the young master’s martyrdom lasted 10 years. Not only the numbers are similar, but the idiom the lord employs to describe his past life is related to sleep: “nightmare”. (chapter 86) This shows that he had problems to distinguish illusion from reality. Why? He had long internalized that nightmare is real world. Hence any pleasant event could only be judged as dream and illusion. This explicates why the lord still feared that the painter’s love confession was a chimera. Besides, I had already pointed out that till the lord’s final suicidal attempt linked to the painter’s love and death, the lord was not truly living. I had compared him either to a dormant volcano or to a zombie. It is relevant, because thanks to the artist, the noble is learning that realism is not just made of betrayal, agony and torment. Happiness can still exist in real world, but in order to achieve happiness, the person has to work! That’s the reason why the American dream combines happiness with zeal and commitment. Therefore the main lead could only end up suffering, for he remained passive till the end of season 3. Therefore, till the end of season 3, he was not able to detect his true enemies and anticipate their moves.
Consequently, both characters, the lord and Sleeping beauty, have another common denominator. They couldn’t determine their own fate due to the intervention of others: the fathers, the “fairies”, the prince/king and the fortunetellers. Yes, sleeping beauty is connected to horoscopists. Actually, the fairy tale “Sleeping beauty” has its origins in the story “Sun, Moon, and Talia” from the Italian author Giambattista Basile. In this narration from the 17th Century, the so-called talented astrologers, tasked by Talia’s father, had predicted her future.
“at length they came to the conclusion that she would incur great danger from a splinter of flax. Her father therefore forbade that any flax, hemp, or any other material of that sort be brought into his house, so that she should escape the predestined danger.” Quoted from https://sites.pitt.edu/~dash/type0410.html
However, the lord’s attempts were a failure. The young woman couldn’t escape her terrible destiny, for she was left in the dark. Moreover, Talia was raped 😨 during her sleep by a king who was already married. Due to this encounter, the cursed protagonist got pregnant, and gave birth to twins, Sun and Moon. Under this new perspective, the readers realize that this panel is actually announcing the content of season 4. The lord’s rape will come to the surface! Furthermore, my avid readers can notice another parallel with the manhwa. I had already compared the main characters from Painter Of The Night to the moon and the sun. For Yoon Seungho, the painter symbolizes the sun and as such life, for he was slowly bringing him light, warmth (chapter 63), love and happiness in his nightmare. In his darkest moment, he voiced a wish, which exposed the return of hope. This corresponds to the spark of faith, the gradual return of trust in his life. On the other side, Baek Na-Kyum came to view his lover as the moon giving him light and hope during the night again. (chapter 94) I would like to point out that the artist has always associated this satellite to a source of joy and love, like we can detect it here. (chapter 94) Finally, Talia could get liberated from her curse thanks to her children. The splinter of flax got removed from her finger, the moment the babies were sucking on them. This signifies that she got revived thanks to love and life. Moreover, she woke up, the moment the source of her pain was removed. This observation leads me to the following conclusion: the noble can only be completely freed from this darkness, the moment his suffering is removed and as such revealed!! This means that Yoon Seungho will be able to voice his misery and denunciate the crimes he was exposed to. He will be able to identify the persons responsible for his suffering. He might know a name, lord Song, but he has no idea about his true identity. That’s how his burden will be erased. Like mentioned above, the noble’s physical and sexual assault will be brought up to light. That’s the reason why the new image announcing season 4 is so dark. They represent a reflection from Yoon Seungho’s past and torment.
Nonetheless, we should focus on the positive aspects, the gradual vanishing of the blackness. Hence I see this dark picture in a good light. It actually symbolizes peace, hope and faith. This explicates why once I detected the painter’s hair in this image, I imagined that the lord was sleeping with Baek Na-Kyum while holding him in his arms. At the same time, he was smelling his hair, a new version of this scene: (chapter 38) I thought that the couple would share the bed, thus the lord could relax. He felt protected by his lover. In other words, I was already envisioning that this scene is a reflection from chapter 97/98, for the couple had not been able to sleep together. (chapter 97) However, the moment Lezhin published the second panel, I realized that this illustration was referring to a different element in the same scene: separation. Thus I deduce that the embrace during the sleep must have happened before, for the noble’s eye has no dark circle. He looks rested and relaxed.
But let’s return our attention to the comparison between sleeping beauty and our beloved seme. The king was actually cheating on his wife, hence he only stayed in Talia’s home for a certain time. He not only hid the truth from her, but also made an empty promise, he would bring her back to his kingdom!
“In the meanwhile the king remembered Talia, and saying that he wanted to go hunting, he returned to the palace, and found her awake, and with two cupids of beauty. He was overjoyed, and he told Talia who he was, and how he had seen her, and what had taken place. When she heard this, their friendship was knitted with tighter bonds, and he remained with her for a few days. After that time he bade her farewell, and promised to return soon, and take her with him to his kingdom. And he went to his realm, but he could not find any rest, and at all hours he had in his mouth the names of Talia, and of Sun and Moon (those were the two children’s names), and when he took his rest, he called either one or other of them.” Quoted from https://sites.pitt.edu/~dash/type0410.html
And that’s how she became the victim of another plot, the queen got jealous and chose to get rid of Sun and Moon before targeting Talia herself. And this shows that deceptions and conspiracies stand in the center of this fairy tale! At no moment, the main lead heard the truth from her father or her future husband. Thus she couldn’t protect herself correctly, just like she could never anticipate her enemy’s moves. And that’s exactly what happened to Yoon Seungho. He was left in the dark the whole time, while people made empty promises to him. When Kim revealed Yoon Chang-Hyeon’s promise, the butler was implying (chapter 77) that he was doing it for the noble’s best interest. He insinuated that he was protecting him and he should trust him and his father. But this was not true, for he had not revealed the truth to Yoon Seungho, the stolen kiss. (chapter 88) This image was mirroring the past, someone had made the promise to the young master that he would “stay by his side”, implying that he would protect him, but he had failed to keep his words, for he had trusted more in others’ comments. (chapter 88) Because of the tragedies, the main figure got blamed, and as such he got cursed. He was a bird of misfortune, while in reality he was the main victim. In “Sun, Moon and Talia”, the perpetrator and the accomplices, the king and the astrologers, they all got scot-free. I am certain that it was the same in Yoon Seungho’s past. And because there are astrologers in this fairy tale, I am more than ever convinced that a shaman played a huge role in the young master’s downfall.
Yet there exists a huge difference between Painter Of The Night and the Italian story. Contrary to Yoon Seungho, Talia was not conscious, when she got sexually assaulted. She was left in the dark about the true origins of her motherhood. That’s the reason why she didn’t suffer from PTSD or better said from nightmares while asleep. She could never make the connection between the rape and the birth of Sun and Moon. She just saw them, and fell in love with them, as they marked the end of her solitude. The king never described the intimacy as a crime, it was portrayed as a normality. Thus her sleep is not connected to pain and nightmare, rather to a blessing and peace.
2. Memories and farewells
What caught my attention is that the king from “Sun, Moon and Talia” never saw the sex as a crime. Why? From my point of view, it is related to his position. As the ruler, he can do whatever he wants. Yet, the reality is that he is bound by traditions and religion. Yet, he chose to disregard them. Moreover, the most surprising is that he actually forgot his encounter with Talia for a while.
In the meanwhile the king remembered Talia, and saying that he wanted to go hunting, he returned to the palace, and found her awake, and with two cupids of beauty. Quoted from https://sites.pitt.edu/~dash/type0410.html
It exposes his selfishness and superficiality in the end. He was not truly motivated by love, rather by lust. It took him more than a year before returning to her side. And that’s how he discovered that he had now heirs! This explicates why he made such a promise to the young mother (bringing her to his realm with her kids), though he still remained passive afterwards. He had been able to continue his lineage, thus everything was fine. The fairy tale is actually exposing the king’s flaws and sins. In my eyes, his behavior is reflecting the pedophile’s from Painter Of The Night. Moreover, the ruler vowed faithfulness to Talia, when he announced that he would bring back her and their children to his realm. But he knew that it was not possible, for he still had a wife. This means that the king couldn’t live with Talia together. His time with her was limited, hence he justified his vanishing with “hunting”. Yes… another parallel with the lord’s attitude. (chapter 83) In Painter Of The Night, the hunts were always used to provoke a quarrel and as such a separation, but it never worked. This is important, because this shows that the couple from the Italian story had to separate. It is now time to reveal the whole quote from Milner:
“Promise me you’ll never forget me because if I thought you would, I’d never leave.”
His words indicate the difficulty of departure. In order to overcome the distance, one needs absolute trust in the partner’s love and loyalty. And this situation is actually reflected in the second picture released from Lezhin. Byeonduck is now announcing the separation arc. Since Yoon Seungho is closing his eyes while kissing Baek Na-Kyum’s eye, I come to the interpretation that the lord is trusting blindly his lover. He is not doubting the artist’s affection. There is no ambiguity that he is also embracing his lover. He is actually making here a promise to the painter. This is what Lezhin wrote on Twitter:
시샘달 하루부터 닷새까지. 매일 정오 찾아 오겠노라, 약조하마. From the first day to fifth day, I’ll come to you every day at noon, in the morning (translated by papago).
He will not only return to him, but also he is telling the time of his return!! This means that the lord has now regained the notion of time! Kim, whom I consider as a new version of Chronos, is no longer controlling the main lead, because he is no longer owner of his time. The panel with the text is already displaying the butler’s loss of power. To conclude, this panel represents the positive reflection from this scene: (chapter 97) Back then, the lord was scared, for he still doubted the artist’s love confession. It was too beautiful to be true! However, back then, the artist never doubted his own resolution, thus he gave comfort to his lover by giving him his hand. (chapter 97) (chapter 97) At the end, the lord expressed the following wishes: (chapter 97) In other words, he desired that the painter would follow his requests and as such he should vow him loyalty and trust one more time. The irony is that the lord was actually the one breaking his vow, for he left his lover without saying goodbye. Thus I conclude that in this scene, the characters have switched their position: Yoon Seungho is no longer doubting the artist’s sincerity and loyalty, for he could witness with his own eyes the abduction and the sexual assault. Yet, the painter is in tears, because he is already missing his lover. The tears doesn’t just represent agony, but also longing. What caught my attention is that the drawing is very similar to this image: (chapter 78) This means that the lord is smelling his partner’s hair helping him to remain strong and calm. He is now trying to memorize his lover’s odor so that he can forget this stench, a remain from the past: (chapter 86) This can only help him to defeat his “opponents”. Finally, in different analyses, I had already interpreted that Baek Na-Kyum was embodying memory, whereas the lord stands for truth. The image is actually a reference to recollection and as such honesty. There is no ambiguity that both men are trusting each other, but the painter is crying, for he fears for his lover’s life either. Yoon Seungho is leaving him in order to protect him in my eyes. And this leads me to the following deduction. When the lord is about to leave, Baek Na-Kyum is not left in the dark contrary to episode 97. He knows the whole truth, for the lord must have confessed to him. We could say that he is not leaving without a word (chapter 97). Furthermore, this signifies that the artist doesn’t need any longer to rely on the explanations from others. Thus the artist will keep his promise (chapter 88), though he won’t be by his side physically! They are no longer relying on the butler and his “information”. The trick played at the end of season 3 won’t work on Baek Na-Kyum any longer. He will no longer be swayed. And the promise made by the lord is the reason why the painter will remain loyal. He will stay at the place he is living and wait for his lover’s return. He has no question either.
Many manhwalovers might be unhappy about this evolution, for they love watching the couple living together. But keep in mind that this is totally necessary, because this will push Baek Na-Kyum and Yoon Seungho to create paintings and even poems. This can only incite them to recall their past moments together. A new version of this scene: (chapter 23) (chapter 24) In other words, this announces the return of Yoon Seungho’s passion for painting! And it is the same for the painter. The erotic picture should reflect their love for each other, created based on memories. At the same time, this can only push the noble to demonstrate his talents to others refuting all the negative rumors about him: he is intelligent and possessing his whole mind. Furthermore, this can help him to reminisce his tragic past, what led him to his downfall and suffering. This signifies that he will be able to confront his past and his memories. He will be able to identify the rape, and Kim already exposed the truth to Yoon Seungho, when the former suggested him to ensure the painter’s consent. This shows that Kim was well aware of the sexual abuse, but he chose to never divulge the verity. On the other hand, the pedophile thought in the past that the young master would never forget him due to his position, thus he had no problem to leave Yoon Seungho behind and make no real promise. Departure was never painful for him… hence this quote (“Promise me you’ll never forget me because if I thought you would, I’d never leave.”) will become a reality for the mysterious lord Song, but it is already too late. In fact, the gods punished him by making Yoon Seungho suffering from amnesia. He is not attached by loyalty to the pervert.
Yoon Seungho’s vow with Baek Na-Kyum diverges so much to the monarch’s behavior from “Sun, Moon and Talia”. The latter broke his promise on so many levels. First, he hid the queen’s existence to the protagonist. But this doesn’t end here. He left her behind without making sure that her family was protected. He thought that this secret would guarantee her safety. However, in the story, the king couldn’t help himself revealing the secret and that’s how the queen discovered his betrayal and infidelity. I would like the readers to keep in mind that back then, polygamy was considered as a huge sin in Europe. Note that at the end, the legal wife was the one who brought the “princess” to the kingdom and this for a trial. So where was the king? He was often busy eating! We could say that he didn’t keep his promise out of laziness and even naivety. He allowed that Talia was accused of infidelity and witchcraft, for she had seduced him. He only appeared at the end of the fairy tale. He only voiced regret and put the blame on the queen, while in reality he was the main culprit for this situation.
“The king suddenly appeared, and finding this spectacle, demanded to know what was happening. He asked for his children, and his wife — reproaching him for his treachery — told him that she had had them slaughtered and served to him as meat. When the wretched king heard this, he gave himself up to despair, saying, “Alas! Then I, myself, am the wolf of my own sweet lambs. Alas! And why did these my veins know not the fountains of their own blood? You renegade bitch, what evil deed is this which you have done? Quoted from https://sites.pitt.edu/~dash/type0410.html
The manhwalovers can detect many similarities with Painter Of The Night. The ruler will never recognize his crimes and even wrong decisions. He neglected Yoon Seungho, but chose to put the blame on others. First, the young master, then the patriarch Yoon Chang-HYeon, the kisaeng, “No-Name” and finally Lee Jihwa. At some point, it will be the butler’s turn. On the other hand, since no one of them was willing to recognize their own fault and involvement, they preferred blaming the victim, for the latter was the only one without a voice. Thus Yoon Seungho is accused of being consumed by lust, he was neither faithful, while in truth, he had no saying from the start. (chapter 57) That’s the reason why I believe that when an incident occurred during that night (chapter 83), the main lead was framed. He got accused of a crime, whereas he had been the true target in reality. There is no ambiguity that the abusers doubted the protagonist’s loyalty and integrity, for they were themselves untrustworthy. They all knew that they had lied and deceived the young master at some point.
And this leads me to the following conclusion. The separation is necessary, since the story is going in circle. Back then, the “pedophile” couldn’t stay by the young master’s side due to his duties. Thus he could only appear, when he was “hunting”. This means, the painter is put in the same situation than his lover in the past. However, the huge difference is that Yoon Seungho came to hate the mysterious lord Song! He never wished his return… However, since he had lost the notion of time, he could only live in fear. That’s how he came to develop insomnia. This explicates why the man trained the protagonist to have a sex marathon, for his time in Jemulpo was limited. Thus I deduce that the pedophile never bid farewell to Yoon Seungho and barely talked to him as well, unless he gave orders. In my eyes, he relied on others: Yoon Chang-Hyeon the kisaeng, Yoon Seungwon and Kim. Yet, deep down, the perpetrator was well aware that he was abusing the young master. But he chose to close an eye, until an incident occurred. That’s the reason why he could never trust the male kisaeng in the end. As a conclusion, season 4 symbolizes the opposite to the past: acceptance, love, faith, closeness, verity and transparence despite the return of darkness. This explicates why the illustration is quite “easy” to interpret despite the blackness.
3. Interpretation of the second panel
It is possible, if you compare the image to others. This picture contrasts so much to this one:
- prank – seriousness
- light – dark
- smile – tears
- Yoon Seungho made sure that the painter stayed by his side, he even stopped him to retrieve the music box, while now the lord has the opposite intention. He is now the one leaving the painter.
- The small gap between the main leads indicating that despite their closeness, there still existed a wall between them. This displays that in the new illustration, the distance is no longer existing. Both are fully trusting each other. The lord must have confessed what happened to the painter at the end of season 3, and the painter must have also explained how he came to leave the mansion. In other words, both revealed many secrets concerning the last incident,
That’s the reason why I come to the following deductions. They are biding farewell outside. The painter followed him to the door. However, here the lord is not suicidal at all. In fact, the promise represents the source of strength for Yoon Seungho. The latter has to remain alive in order to protect Baek Na-Kyum, definitely a new version of this scene: (chapter 11) However, there is no ambiguity that the painter can only fear for his lover’s life. The closed eye contradicts the haunted gaze in the shaman’s house. (chapter 102) Despite his closed eyes, he is now able to discern the truth, and it is the same for the painter. Their Third eye is now fully awakened.
But the most important detail is the lord’s kiss on the artist’s eye. The lord had already done it in the past. When he kissed the artist there for the first time, the latter was unconscious. (chapter 21) This gesture symbolizes the epitome of the noble’s affection and the desire to give “happiness”. Then in the bedchamber, he did it in order to console his partner. (chapter 82) With his kiss, he was asking for his forgiveness. This means that the kiss on the eye serves as reassurance and comfort either. Thus we had this scene in the study: (chapter 84) The lord had kissed his lover there, because he was voicing his attachment and desire to redeem himself and to comfort the artist. As you can see, it was a combination of all the previous significations. Yet, the lord had not grasped the “gravity” of his “wrongdoing”. Thus the kiss was associated a certain playfulness in the study. As a conclusion, this image symbolizes the reality. Both are aware of the truth, willing to face it together. The lord is attempting to console his lover, to reassure him that everything will be alright. He is sorry, for he is making him cry again, but this separation is necessary. It was, as if he was seeking Baek Na-Kyum’s forgiveness. He is honest and serious. He is now capable to face reality. But there is more to it. The new image contrasts to this one too:
- light -dark
- happiness – sadness
- sun – moon
- the hand with a foot – the couple’s faces
This contrast confirms my previous signification: this happy moment in the painter’s childhood had been short-lived, because he had been left in the dark. While he was with the scholar and was happy, something terrible must have happened to someone close to the painter. It reinforced his guilt and abandonment issues. Besides, I had already outlined that this scene must be connected to a departure, a “farewell”. [For more read the essay “Baek Na-Kyum’s foot“] In the past, I had assumed that it was related to Heena, but it could be linked to the gibang in general. Another kisaeng could have vanished suddenly. That’s how I realized why the painter came to love the moon and night! I recognized that many wounds in the painter’s life had occurred during the day: (chapter 94) (chapter 94) (chapter 34) (chapter 11) (chapter 19) He came to feel more safe during the night, until he met Yoon Seungho in season 1. From that moment on, his night life got slowly affected. That’s how he discovered that night could be associated to pain and agony too. Yet, deep down, he still felt safe by the noble’s side. As you can see, the new illustration is reinforcing my theory that this image is not just mirroring a happy moment in the painter’s youth. The latter actually symbolizes illusion and deception, whereas the dark panel oozes reality and honesty.
And all this leads to the final conclusion: the last common denominators between Sleeping beauty and Yoon Seungho are vengeance, greed and jealousy. That’s the reason why Talia came to be arrested and falsely accused. Nonetheless, none of the characters realized this. The cursed princess in the Perrault’s or the Grimms’ version had no idea about the intervention of the witch/fairy who had felt insulted either. This is the reason why the Yoons’ reputation got ruined. The couple can only discover these elements, when someone witnesses such a scene and reports it to the “schemers”, and as such to the “mysterious lord”. The latter can only be upset, for the young man has never acted this way with him.
“Promise me you’ll never forget me because if I thought you would, I’d never leave.”
Yoon Seungho can leave his lover’s side without fearing his sudden vanishing. He is exactly thinking like Milner. However, these words stand in opposition to the butler’s philosophy: (chapter 51). Hence the butler could perceive this promise as a betrayal from Yoon Seungho. The latter is slowly forgetting the valet, he is no longer seeking his assistance and his side.
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