Please support the authors by reading the manhwas on the official websites. 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 I am also using doctor Frost as reference again. https://www.webtoons.com/en/mystery/dr-frost/list?title_no=371
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Many manhwalovers were heartbroken, when they witness how the painter ran after Yoon Seungho in order to remain by his side. (chapter 105) Imagine that despite his rush, he was clear-minded enough to take the yellow scarf, a present that the noble had just bought him before. 😢 The item had more value than the mituri (shoes). Thus he was running in socks. His gesture displayed how much the lord means to the painter. He cherishes everything the lord does for him. At the same time, it indicates his heartache. He was so desperate and scared, for he felt that he was about to get abandoned one more time. (chapter 105) According to my follower @katamins, in the Korean version, this is what Baek Na-Kyum yells:
“My lord, let’s go together…you left me behind…let’s go toge-..“
One might argue that the meaning is the same, yet in the Korean version, the artist is emphasizing the “we” by employing the expressions “us” (let’s = let us) and “together”. He considers the lord as his family. Moreover, by repeating the same sentence, (chapter 105) it works like a spell or a prayer. The artist is clinching onto this phrase hoping that the noble is remembering his promise. The irony is that the low-born was smiling like a fool, (chapter 105) (chapter 105) masking his anxieties and huge pain… out of fear that Yoon Seungho would still reject him. He acted, as if nothing had happened: he had not hurt his hand, and the lord had done nothing wrong. The smile became the symbol of his agony which reminds us of Yoon Seungho’s. (chapter 83)
1. Smiling like a fool
As you can sense, this scene was a reflection from episode 85. (chapter 85) This means that Baek Na-Kyum was put in the same situation than his lover who wished to keep the artist by his side, but feared to open up to him out of self-hatred and guilt. The painter could get burdened or horrified by his revelations. Hence the painter’s reaction at the end mirrors the yangban’s in the study. Both were or are pleading the partner to stay by their side,. (chapter 85) (chapter 105) Nevertheless, their behavior diverges so much. The aristocrat couldn’t raise his voice or become violent by using his hand, because he could scare the artist and as such break his previous promise. Finally, by destroying the music box, he had already witnessed that he had pushed his lover further away. (chapter 85) At the same time, since he had been taught that no noble should lower himself in front of commoners, it is normal that he couldn’t beg Baek Na-Kyum on his knees. To sum up, the noble had to restrain himself extremely, his face and words were the only way to show his emotions and despair. And the artist sensed it, though the lord was not weeping. The proof is that when the father appeared, the artist changed his mind. He was no longer willing to leave, in fact he chose to look for his lover. (chapter 87) This shows that through communication, the lord had been able to affect the painter‘s mind and heart. On the other hand, we shouldn’t underestimate the lord’s flashback and Na-Kyum’s conversation with the butler which played a huge part in the artist‘s decision to vow loyalty to Yoon Seungho despite the secret.
And this is the same with the painter. The first visible difference is that the artist leashed out his anger mixed with agony, thus he started punching his partner. (chapter 105) Then I noticed that contrary to his lover, the artist asked the reasons for his decision. (chapter 105) Why did he change his mind? Is he responsible for this? As you can see, the painter came to voice his guilt and the remains of his deeply rooted self-hatred. (chapter 105) He must have committed a wrongdoing, he is responsible for the situation. He feels like a burden, for the lord had to take care of him each night. (chapter 104) They are no longer sharing the same bed, the lord is sitting by his side comforting him, when the young man has a nightmare. Under this new light, it becomes comprehensible that the artist was working in the backyard. (chapter 104) He wished to help, that way he wouldn’t be seen as a spoiled child. He has to justify his presence in the mansion. Who is he exactly that he is sleeping in the lord’s bed? I am suspecting that there is a rumor circulating within the propriety, a new version of this scene: (chapter 38) which I will explain more in details below. Thus the artist is making sure to cause no trouble to Yoon Seungho and the staff, especially the maids. Hence he folds the cover and clean the bedroom. (chapter 104) Then he washes clothes. He makes sure that he is no burden to anyone. Yet, my impression is that the staff is taking advantage of the artist’s goodness. That’s how they fuel his guilt and shame.
2. Ignorance and secrets
The irony is that the main lead was keeping the artist in the dark about his crime for this exact reason: GUILT. He didn’t desire him to feel responsible. (chapter 104) This intention was again verbalized in the gibang. (chapter 105) In the Korean version, this is what Heena says:
Heena: “So Nakyum doesn’t know a thing? Thank god he didn’t see nor hear a thing about that awful matter”
The painter is left in the dark about the massacre in the shaman’s shrine. The kisaeng and the noble are both following the principle from Kim: Ignorance is a blessing. They imagine that by choosing secrecy, they are able to protect the artist. But the silence and secrecy are the exact reasons why Baek Na-Kyum feels like a burden! He was not allowed to talk about the circumstances of his misery. (chapter 104) He was told not to question what he had heard… he should simply consider everything like a nightmare. However, this method is actually wrong.
“Keeping secrets limits responsiveness by preventing people from acting naturally and sharing freely. […] People who have studied the psychology of secrecy explain that secrets create “motivational conflict,” where the goal to avoid the social costs of the information being revealed conflicts with the goal to connect with others and maintain intimacy by sharing the information. Because keeping secrets can undermine social relationships, secrecy can lead to isolation and feelings of loneliness in extreme cases. Holding secrets also takes energy. It’s tiring, and sometimes impossible, to keep a secret. The exercise of will and vigilance in being careful with what one says uses emotional and cognitive resources and can leave a residue of negative feelings, like guilt.” Quoted from https://medium.com/s/story/how-does-keeping-secrets-harm-us-91978aefed77
Under this new perspective, it explains why Kim aged so much within 10 months!! (chapter 07) (chapter 104) Not only he knows about the lord’s traumatic past, but it is the same for the painter. In addition, we have another explanation for Yoon Seungho’s insomnia and dissociative state. (chapter 57) Not only the latter was turned into the scapegoat for the downfall of the Yoons, but also he was not allowed to reveal the incident, the so-called treason. Why? It is because if he had spoken, the truth would have come to the surface. He was simply a victim. And now, the schemers and accomplices are repeating the same MO. Who suggested to Yoon Seungho to say this to his lover? (chapter 104) Naturally, Kim, because he is now the only one in the mansion who knows his past. Besides, why do you think that the lord’s past is coming to the surface as a nightmare? It is because he was incited to repress everything. But since the painter is going through the same experiences, this is not surprising that the noble’s memory is triggered and the past emerges again.
Thus when I saw this image (chapter 105), I couldn’t restrain myself thinking of the lord and his past martyrdom. Keep in your mind that the artist share the same destiny with his lover. This means that a similar scene must have occurred in his youth: (chapter 27) Put yourself in the young man’s shoes. You suddenly witness how the whole family is moving houses and leaving you behind! This must have been terrible for Yoon Seungho. One might argue that Kim stayed by his side, so he was not alone. But it is false for 2 reasons. The white bearded servant had been working in the mansion (chapter 27), when the other domestics left the propriety. This was his memory. Besides, like the servant confessed to Jung In-Hun, a huge part of the staff got replaced. This means that the lord was suddenly surrounded by people he didn’t know. Because my theory is that the young man was treated as a male kisaeng, this signifies that the new staff could never view the main lead as a noble. Besides, despite the betrayal, the elder master and Yoon Seungwon were his real family. Finally, Yoon Seungho had no saying in this, and I can imagine that the reason for this decision was not explained immediately. This must have been a huge blow for him as well. He must have felt lost and homeless. The result was that from that moment on, he became more dependent on the butler. And we have to question ourselves what the butler did with this huge responsibility, when the elder master moved to the second house.
3. Ignorance and rumors
The lord and Heena assume that the painter has been able to repress this terrible night, and he knows nothing about the lord’s crime. But the moment whispers reach the painter’s ears, he can only feel terrible. (chapter 104) He is treated like a noble, while his lover is acting like a servant. Besides, is it true that the painter knows nothing? Let’s not forget that in the trailer, the manhwalovers discover the existence of a rumor circulating. But who is spreading the rumor and where? Since this phrase appears in connection with the staff (maids and servants) in the courtyard, I come to the conclusion that the authors of this gossip are in the domain. “Fellows” indicate that they are speaking among themselves. But I have two more clues proving that the traitors are the domestics. First, observe how they call the protagonist: Young Master Yoon. So far, people in town only calls the protagonist lord Yoon (chapter 45) (chapter 45) or lord Yoon Seungho (chapter 39) or my lord. (chapter 76) Only the staff addresses him as “young master”. (chapter 103) (chapter 103), and this since season 3. This coincides with the meddling of the Yoons. The servants treat him, as if he was not an adult, no real lord. But they are wrong, because he is wearing the topknot with the gat. Hence he is a lord. Finally, only people close to the couple could know about the painter’s tragedy. , because in the village and town, there exists another gossip: (chapter 104) Thus I conclude that the gossip from the trailer is spread among the staff on purpose. They wished Baek Na-Kyum to hear it so that he will feel responsible, especially after hearing this. He is responsible for the lord’s lunacy. Under this new perspective, it explains why the painter is leaving the bed and working. He wishes to prove the words wrong. On the other hand, I think that Yoon Seungho also heard a grapevine in the domain, but a different one: (trailer). “He has many enemies”. How did I come to this idea? It is because he is addressed as Yoon Seungho! By underlining the painter as his weakness, the author of this rumor wishes to separate the couple. If he were to place the painter elsewhere, not only the latter would no longer be targeted, but also the lord would have no longer any weakness. Since there is always a reflection within the same chapter, I conclude that a second grapevine was spread in episode 104. This happened, while the lord was away. Thus the painter smiled like a “fool”, when he saw the lord: (chapter 104) As you can imagine, for me the maids were the perpetrators, a new version of episode 79 (here, the woman implied that the artist was responsible for Yoon Seungho’s insomnia, thus the painter has a drop of sweat on his face, a sign for shame) and chapter 98 . To conclude, I don’t believe that the artist is ignorant. Besides, it is possible that he saw the trace of blood on his lover’s face, then remember what the servants told their master in the courtyard: (chapter 103) Finally, the staff has every reason to get rid of the artist, for he is the witness of their wrongdoings. They definitely played a major role in the “prank”. They didn’t learn their lesson.
But let’s return our attention to the comparison between 85 and 105. Both are also a reflection of episode 29, the scholar’s betrayal. The latter brought back the painter for his own selfish interests. (chapter 29) This time, the one smiling like a fool (chapter 29) was Jung In-Hun who acted, as if he knew nothing and had seen nothing. (chapter 29) However, I have already pointed out that he was present, when the rape took place, for he knew where Yoon Seungho would meet the artist: the pavilion. And what have all these episodes in common? The first thought would be to say: abandonment and betrayal. The painter in front of the gibang felt “betrayed” and abandoned, but what shocked the lord so much was when the artist started blaming himself: (chapter 105) He never expected this from his lover, as he desired to get the exact opposite. As you can see, the prayer “let’s go home” didn’t work, but the self-blaming had a much stronger effect. On the other hand, what made the lord change his mind was the reminder from the painter: their mutual love confession. (chapter 105) We have to imagine that the painter wanted to say that he regretted to have opened his heart to the protagonist. Thus he said this: (chapter 105) “I had known, I would have never confessed” Nonetheless, he never finished his phrase, for in reality, he had no regret!! He was sure that he had made the right decision. It is because he had pondered a long time about this. He had observed his lover. That’s the reason why he mentioned their mutual love confession and as such their promise to stay together. And this brings me to the next observation. All these scenes have another common denominator: BAD DECISIONS!! The lord had made the wrong decision to entrust the painter to the kisaengs. Thus he came to regret this. He had made his lover cry, and even wounded him, though he desired to do the opposite. Therefore it is not surprising that he apologized to his lover. (chapter 105) This shows that the painter is showing him what true love and loyalty are. Moreover, he is teaching to make good decisions.
But what is a good decision?
4. Good decision versus bad decision
I have to admit that the trigger for this essay was the new chapter from my beloved manhwa “Doctor Frost”. After reading the psychologist’s statement (chapter 246), I realized why Yoon Seungho suffered so much. Self-made decision implies a conscious choice. It is made deliberately and thoughtfully, considers and includes all relevant factors, is consistent with the individual’s philosophy and values. As you can see, it implies knowledge. This definition exposes that making a choice for the sake of another person without his consent or knowledge can never be a good decision. One might argue about this, because children are too young to make decisions. In Doctor Frost, this man (Doctor Frost 246) decided to support a terror attack, and justified this by saying that this was for his daughter’s sake. But like the counterpart pointed out, he questioned his decision. Was it truly his choice, or was he simply following the leader’s suggestion? As you can see, the daughter was used as an excuse, it was never for her sake. This shows that children are the exception, besides they are often raised by two parents. Thus they are making deliberations together. But like the author revealed in Twitter, Yoon Seungho’s mother hated her husband so much that she neglected her eldest son. The patriarch made decisions on his own, but observe that it was always for the Yoons’ sake. This means that the father never took his son’s well-being into consideration, he never asked him about his opinion. He imposed his will, but he listened to others, like we could see in different occasions. (chapter 57) He fed his son with the drug prescribed by the physician, though the latter stated that he had no idea about the illness. Then he listened to father Lee’s complains and reproaches. He never questioned the intentions behind his actions and words. (chapter 82) Here, the red-haired bearded man was encouraging the elder master Yoon to return to the mansion and claim his rights. Finally, the young master admitted this to the messenger: (chapter 80) If someone stroke his ego, he would follow their advice and never doubt their words.
Under this perspective, it becomes comprehensible why Yoon Seungho became the bird of misfortune. He became the scapegoat, for neither Kim nor Yoon Chang-Hyeon accepted to take their responsibility. They had made this decision for Yoon Seungho’s sake!! (chapter 77) Since it backfired, then the protagonist was responsible for everything. And this is what Kim has always been preaching in season 1, 2 and 3: it was the best for Yoon Seungho, or Baek Na-Kyum etc. Nonetheless, since he let others make the decision, he was able to escape “responsibility”, thus the elder master Yoon was blamed for everything. (chapter 86)
The butler’s interventions are based like this: It was for the painter’s sake, or for the lord’s sake, or for the elder master’s sake… One might argue that the valet questioned the lord’s decision to send the painter back to the gibang. (chapter 104) But he simply employed reverse psychology.
“Reverse psychology is a manipulation technique that involves getting people to do something by prompting them to do the opposite. Reverse psychology can take various forms, such as forbidding the target behavior, questioning the person’s ability to perform the target behavior, and encouraging the opposite of the target behavior.” Quoted from https://effectiviology.com/reverse-psychology/
And this is what father Lee was doing too, when he visited Yoon Chang-Hyeon. Besides, we shouldn’t forget the power of the grapevines in the mansion. To conclude, making decisions for the sake of others can never be a good decision!! Therefore it becomes understandable why the painter’s request in the study was a bad choice in the end. (Chapter 85) Yoon Seungho was coerced to open up. If he did not, he wouldn’t be forgiven. Naturally, the painter meant it well, yet the main lead was pressured to reveal his „bad action“. The main lead feared his negative judgement and rejection. We could say that the artist had made this request for the lord’s sake, however this was not a conscious and long deliberated decision. And now, you comprehend why the main leads suffered both so much!! Yoon Seungho’s mother neglected her eldest son, but she kept her distance from her husband. They never talked to each other, and as such never made decisions together. And it was the same for the painter. The kisaeng Heena was the one who made the decision without the noonas’ consent and her brother‘s opinion.
5. Heena‘s bad decisions
Secondly, making decisions because you were manipulated, can not be considered a self-made decision. And what did Heena do? She made decisions for Baek Na-Kyum, but she never asked for her brother’s opinion or her colleagues. She made her decision based on her impressions and belief! (chapter46) Even in season 4, she has not changed her mind-set entirely. (chapter 105) She is still viewing the painter’s decision as a bad choice. But she is simply wrong, for the painter listened to her advice and after deliberations, he chose to open his heart. His confession was not made in the heat of the moment. (chapter 62) The lord’s vision (chapter 62) became a reality (chapter 105), though he never expected to be like that: a gaze full of pain and anxiety. To conclude, this night in the barn embodies “bad decisions”. Everything the lord did was under the influence of his unconscious. His abandonment issues clouded his judgement. Yet, despite everything, the noble made one good decision during that fateful night: he chose to never let the artist go!! (chapter 63) Because the painter has always been betrayed and abandoned himself too, such words could only move the artist. There was someone willing to be by his side and to give him a home. Therefore it is no coincidence that the artist brought up these words from that night. (chapter 105) They left a deep impression on Baek Na-Kyum.
But let’s return our attention to the head-kisaeng. (chapter 105) Note that she employed the expression “believe”. This is no coincidence, for it displays her narrow-mindedness. Finally, note that in episode 97, her conversation with her brother was truly a bad choice. She lied to Baek Na-Kyum, she was extremely stressed, scared and angry. (chapter 97) And why did she act like that? She justified that it was for the painter’s sake, and she knew more than her brother. The reality was that it was for her own sake. She was definitely cornered, for she feared repercussions. Moreover, she pushed her brother to follow her advice. And now look at what the noona said in front of Yoon Seungho:
Heena: “So Nakyum doesn’t know a thing? Thank god he didn’t see nor hear a thing about that awful matter”
She is glad that her brother didn’t witness her conversation with Min (chapter 99) and her “fake death”, but as you already know, I think, he heard her during that night. Note that the painter didn’t meet his noona Heena during that day. Since Heena and the staff played tricks so that Baek Na-Kyum ended up going to the scholar’s house, it is not surprising why the staff is putting the whole blame on the painter. However, who is responsible for this? Naturally, the staff, Kim and Heena. The latter made bad choices blinded by her arrogance and prejudices. Thus I deduce that Yoon Seungho learned a good lesson in front of the gibang. He should never make a decision without consulting his partner. (chapter 105) From my point of view, both need to learn to make decisions TOGETHER!! But in order to do so, the two main leads need to listen to each other and communicate. And this is what truly happened in episode 105. The young noble discovered the painter’s low self-esteem and his guilt. That’s the reason why I believe that Yoon Seungho will decide to talk about the scholar. The lord suspects the learned sir, for he thinks that he is still alive. (chapter 105) This signifies that the noble will decide not to follow the noona’s advice: (chapter 105) But by learning about the learned sir’s past, the protagonist will realize that he only knew a side about Jung In-Hun.
On the other hand, since the head-kisaeng agreed (chapter 105) with the noona’s statement, the painter looks happy with Yoon Seungho despite the tears, it looks like the noona is slowly coming to terms with her brother’s relationship. But I have to admit that I believe that her “decision” is just short-lived. First, in season 2, the noona had accepted to let her brother stay at the Yoons’ (chapter 69) But then she had changed her mind after hearing the menace from the servant. However, I have three other reasons to expect a change of heart from the head-kisaeng. First, Heena is the younger reflection of the butler. The manhwaphiles shouldn’t forget that the valet had almost come to terms with the painter’s presence (chapter 65), but the ruckus caused by the kisaeng had provoked a change of heart in the valet. Then, the lord had made the following condition to the kisaeng: (chapter 105) The lord is keeping his lover by his side, as long as nothing happens to him. So if he gets into trouble… she could achieve her goal, the painter is returned to her. But the most important clue is for me the bowl! (chapter 105) While many jumped to the conclusion that this was the medicine sent by the physician, I had a totally different impression. For me, this bowl was used to write a letter!! First, the color is different from the normal “medicine”. (chapter 23) Most of them look dark brown and not black. (chapter 36) (chapter 77) Besides, it never leaves traces on the edge. (chapter 36) The points on the border are the traces left by the brush. She wrote a letter. And I have another evidence for this: (chapter 36) The painter used white bowls while painting. On the other hand, the lord wrote a letter during that time. As you can see, in episode 36, we have the combination of painting, seduction (touching) and medicine… exactly like in episode 105. The artist tried to paint a lucky charm, a tiger, but he didn’t finish it. He got interrupted… which is very similar than in chapter 36. So the letter should represent another common denominator.
This means that Heena made the decision to write a letter before meeting Yoon Seungho and witnessing their interaction in front of the gibang. Finally, let’s not forget that the kisaeng was always brought up in connection with letters:
- Chapter 68:
- Chapter 69:
- Chapter 91:
- Chapter 97:
Naturally, I can not guarantee 100% this theory… besides, I can not tell the content and the recipient of this message. And if this theory is correct, the head-kisaeng did something which will have repercussions about her „decision“: let the painter live with Yoon Seungho. This means that she will be forced to question her past decision. Was it made deliberately and thoughtfully, did she consider and include all relevant factors, or did she act based on her instincts? In my eyes, Heena has always made such decisions. Every choice was based on hunch, but more precisely influenced by her prejudices and fears. Thus she is projecting her MO (chapter 105) onto Yoon Seungho. Will she come to regret her action or not? One thing is sure, the painter accepted the sincere apology from his lover. How could he not forgive him after calling „Nakyumah“ and embracing him! (Chapter 105) (chapter 105) Both left the gibang together, while the artist was removing his tears. And this leads me to the final observation.
By forcing the painter to remain silent about the last incident, the schemers and accomplices are not realizing that their actions will bring light to Yoon Seungho‘s suffering and its origins. In other words, by burying one truth, they are digging another grave… the secrets from the first past!! (Chapter 76) By making the same decisions, it is not surprising that the same deed can never succeed. It was not a real self-made decision. They simply followed a pattern.
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