“Who are you?” The significance of Masks in manhwas 👺 (second version)

Be aware that most of the manhwas I am using as illustrations are mature Yaois, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes. Please support the authors by reading the manhwas on the official websites. This is where you can read the manhwas. 

  1. BJ Alex / Dine with A Vampire / The Beast Must Die / Legs That Won’t Walk / My Suha / Painter Of The Night / Legs That Won’t Walk / The Blood Of Madam Giselle / The pawn’s Revenge / Unintentional Love Story are on https://www.lezhinus.com/
  2. ENNEAD https://www.tappytoon.com/en/comics/ennead-mature
  3. Under The Green Light: https://tapas.io/series/under-the-green-light
  4. True Beauty: https://www.webtoons.com/en/romance/truebeauty/list?title_no=1436
  5. Doctor Frost: https://www.webtoons.com/en/mystery/dr-frost/list?title_no=371

Here is the link, if you are interested in more analyses about these manhwas:  https://bebebisous33analyses.com/2021/06/06/table-of-contents-of-analyzed-mentioned-manhwas/

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In this essay, I won’t examine a certain manhwa very closely, but I will focus on the mask, its different forms and functions in manhwas. Yet, the highlight of this analysis will be BJ Alex. Now, you are probably wondering why I picked such a topic. While reading these stories, I often noticed the presence of a mask, though it was only palpable through the mind’s eye and not to the eye. The reason for their presence is quite simple. The use of mask is strongly intertwined with the protagonists and identity quest. Therefore there is this question in the title: “Who are you?” Many characters are using a mask to hide their true personality or thoughts from their counterpart. Before starting to study the different types of masks and their utilization in the different manhwas, it is important to look at the definition of mask.

“Mask: a form of disguise or concealment usually worn over or in front of the face to hide the identity of a person and by its own features to establish another being. quoted from https://www.britannica.com/art/mask-face-covering

1. Mask and acting

As you can note, the mask is related to acting, but also to protection. That’s why in certain cultures, during religious ceremonies the priest will wear a mask, for he will represent the deity or the spirit the participants are asking for help or protection. This is no coincidence that in the theater of ancient Greece, the actors were wearing masks too. They had two reasons for this. First, women were not allowed to play a role, so a man had to take over their part. Secondly, by covering their faces, they would hide and protect their true identity. In other words, the mask in a religious ceremony and in a theater play ensures that the spectators are not confusing the identities. They have to distinguish between the seem and real, and as such between the person behind the disguise and the character represented. In other words, the viewers are asked to accept that the people covered with a mask are not representing themselves, but a different person: a god or a character.

2. Mask as protection

As for the protection, I could use as an illustration the mask put on the mummy in the sarcophagus. It was to protect the deceased in the afterlife. And these two functions (hiding the identity and protection) have not changed at all nowadays. That’s why we have in BJ Alex, the main lead Ahn Jiwon hiding his face with a mask, while he is following his ex-lover. (chapter 55) He doesn’t want to be recognized, but more importantly he is determined to hide his true feelings from Nam Dong-Gyun, for he believes that he has no chance to be his lover again. Moreover, during the Corona pandemic, people are requested to wear a mask in order to stop the contamination.

3. The use of a real mask

3. 1 A necessity or a desire?

To sum up, the person behind the mask would like to cover his/her identity or his/her true personality, implying that this person will play a role, while the mask will serve as a shield too. This explicates why in The Beast Must Die, the protagonist hides his ASPD (Antisocial Personality Disorder) from others. If people knew that he was a psychopath, he would get isolated. His parents are already very distant with him, for they view him as a monster. Due this experience (he killed a dog and his mother caught him), he got aware that he was not allowed to act on his urges. For him, the mask is a necessity, as he is living in society. He doesn’t want to end up in jail. But is it the same for Nameless from Painter Of The Night?

The criminal puts on his mask, when he decides to kill the vicious servant. (chapter 54) He is switching his identity to become a killer. In this panel, the manhwaphiles see the transformation of the figure, as his face is already half-covered. He is no longer a joker, but not the ruthless murderer yet. However, when he kills the servant, he has the cover on. (chapter 54) By putting a mask, he is protecting himself too, for he is acting as someone else, therefore his heart can’t be wounded. In this case, it is more a desire, though in truth it is a combination of both. The “butcher” has to hide his true identity. So when he wears his mask in chapter 44, he is doing his job. He won’t be recognized, but also he won’t feel remorse. He has been paid for that and the mask is helping him not to get emotionally invested. On the other hand when Jihwa met him in chapter 51, the manhwalovers could perceive the low-born’s true personality which coincides with the absence of the mask. In that episode, he was literally naked in front of the noble, which explicates why he showed concern and care for his client. He let the noble express his worries. Let’s not forget that the jester is a person with a pure heart, when he is true to himself. Hence I come to the conclusion that the mask serves as a protection for the criminal’s mind and heart. And now, you comprehend why Nameless didn’t feel remorse for hurting the painter. According to me, in this scene, it was Kim who was scaring the painter. (chapter 66) This is important, because the mask had two purposes here: to hide the identity of the perpetrator, but also to slip into a role, No-Name’s, the assassin. The main lead’s face was covered and turned around. At no moment, the “butcher” could see the victim’s gaze and facial expressions. The mask helped him to be ruthless, while he threatened Baek Na-Kuym. He might feel pity, but that was it. (chapter 66) In that scene, the manhwaphiles thought that they were seeing Mumyeong, hence they imagined that Jihwa’s safety meant more than the artist’s life and possible scars. But if you take my theory seriously, this was Kim, then the words from the butler had a different meaning. He was hiding his action behind the nobles. Only after paying attention to the mask, I realized the existence of two masks. (Chapter 61) (chapter 61) Smiling mask versus threatening mask. The presence of two masks explicates why No-Name had the impression that after the painter’s return nothing bad had really happened. He was not aware of the butler‘s wrongdoings. Simultaneously, since the artist had not been killed, No-Name imagined that he had done nothing wrong. (Chapter 61) Hence the existence of the Joker’s mask outlines the criminal’s duality. He can be a ruthless killer, yet he can be gentle and caring too. At the same time, it implies the presence of a biased view.

But let’s return our attention to the scene, when Nameless stands up in order to eliminate the vicious servant. Putting the mask had another purpose in that scene as well. It was to scare Deok-Jae. And note that in that moment the domestic got paralyzed, when he saw No-Name putting his mask and approaching him. Observe the divergence between the two panels from chapter 54. When Deok-Jae recognizes the seriousness of his situation, the mask is covering the low-born’s chin. Scaring an enemy was another function of the mask in real History. Greek, Roman or Japanese soldiers would wear one in order to instigate fear in their opponents. The mask gave their enemy the impression that they were not fighting men, but demons. As you can see, it was to disguise their true nature.

3. 2. The mask: a source of power and magic

And this leads me to the following observation: the mask in different cultures is often associated to supernatural powers. When a shaman wears one, he can chase evil spirits, cure illness, predict events etc… it was, as if the cover contained divine powers. Hence this is not surprising that in ENNEAD, the god Seth loses his mask (chapter 73), the moment he is deprived of his powers. It was, as if he became a human. This is particularly perceptible, when he accepts the judgement of Maat and says this. Striking is that in this panel, the mask doesn’t appear as a source of advantage, rather as a hindrance. He couldn’t see and hear the consequences of his crimes due to the mask. He was blind and deaf. By removing his mask, he becomes human and can face reality: he is facing his sins and the suffering of his victims, their wounded soul.

This leads me to the following conclusion, Seth chose to hide his pain under his mask. He acted as a terrible god, for he had lost his own identity. When Seth discovered that everything in his “life” was fake (his family [chapter 35], his son, his title [chapter 35], his power over the desert [chapter 35]), he lost his identity. Osiris made sure to imprison his brother, because the former was lusting after him and had the impression that the latter would always escape his control. (chapter 35). At the end, he raped him in order to claim him. The latter got literally destroyed, hence he hid his pain behind the mask and chose to hurt others. (chapter 37) In other words, the loss of identity was the reason why Seth decided to hide himself under the mask. Who was he in reality? The god was so tormented by his tragic past, Osiris had hurt him with his actions and words. He made sure that his brother would doubt himself. Hence the mask became the only reason to keep living. This item helped him to hide his wounds, but also not to lose himself completely. Hence I conclude that the “evil god” wasn’t just blinded by his heartache, but also by his mask, for the latter hindered him to see the real impact of his terrible actions. (chapter 37)

As you can see, we have the functions I mentioned in the introduction: disguise, protection and identity quest. Therefore we could say that in ENNEAD, the mask is a source of power, yet represents a hindrance. While Seth becomes human (chapter 73), his son makes the opposite experience. He transforms himself into a god, Anubis, hence he gets a mask. (chapter 73) However, this signifies that he won’t see his wrongdoings too, he will be oblivious to the pain he is causing to others. This time, his blindness will be caused by his resent. While in the past, Anubis was a sensitive and gentle person, but no real god due to Seth’s curse, in chapter 73 he becomes Osiris’ true son, an evil god. Why do I judge him like that? It’s related to Osiris’ words. The latter is encouraging his son to feel hatred for the one responsible for his curse, Seth. Moreover, he asked his son to forget his past signifying that he should cut ties with his previous family. Therefore I believe that in the future, Anubis will fight against Seth and even Horus. Nevertheless, the wounded Anubis doesn’t realize that he has been manipulated by Osiris. The latter used his vulnerability and fear to approach him and appear as his savior. (chapter 73) Besides, Osiris was in fact accountable for his injury (chapter 37) and curse (though indirectly). The latter took possession of Anubis’ body in order to approach Seth. (chapter 37) In other words, the god of the afterlife used a disguise, though his brother had the impression that Osiris was real. Yet, one might argue that in that scene, Osiris was not wearing a mask. However, since he took possession of Anubis’ body, we can clearly see the presence of a cover. Let’s not forget that this terrible god is not allowed to leave the Underworld, hence he needs a subterfuge to enter the world of the living. That’s why I perceive it as a disguise. While the Egyptian god used Anubis as his vessel, Kwon Sungha from Dine With A Vampire took a new identity: he became Sooin’s bodyguard. As you can see, in both cases magic provided the villains a new occasion to deceive their target. And this shows that a mask can eventually cover a whole body, when it is to create a new “identity”.

4. The visage and make-up as masks

However, I would like to remind my readers that a mask in literature and especially in manhwas can also have many different forms… We shouldn’t reduce it to the use of a real mask. And this is also visible in ENNEAD. On the surface, the goddess Isis is wearing no mask, just like Ra or Hathor. Yet, note that they are all women. Secondly, if you pay attention to their appearances, you’ll detect the presence of a hair dress and make up, especially around the eyes. This is no coincidence in my opinion. These accessories should be perceived as a “mask”. The make-up and hair dress are a form of disguise. This becomes really obvious in the manhwa “True beauty” from Yaongyi, where the heroine Jugyeong Lim hides her insecurities and true self behind a make-up. This is the real and natural protagonist (chapter 7), while we have here the disguised heroine (chapter 0). This goes to the point that her boyfriend Sujeon Han has no idea how she really looks like. As a conclusion, the make-up and hair dress should be judged as a mask too. That’s why in traditional Chinese theater, the actors have painted faces. It was, as if they were wearing a mask.

5. The importance of the eyes in connection with a mask

Besides, let’s not forget the saying: the eyes are the mirror of the soul. Therefore the gaze reveals the true thoughts and emotions of the person to his beholder. While a person can control his facial expressions, it is impossible to control the gaze. (Doctor Frost, chapter 2) That’s the reason why the author Black Apricot didn’t drew a mouth, when she presented Song Ji-Sung here. (chapter 9). She wanted her readers and the main lead to realize the character’s true personality. The latter was upset, because Kwon Soo-Young was keeping his distance from him and it looked like, he had found a new protector/boyfriend. When the protagonist Kwon Soo-Young had met Song Ji-Sung for the first time, he had only paid attention to his smile. Therefore he had misjudged his personality. And now, if you contrast the previous panel with the following one (chapter 16), you’ll notice an important detail: The eyes are closed, when the character is smiling. In this situation, the figure was actually hiding his true thoughts, this explains why the main lead couldn’t correct his false impression about his future lover. He had no idea about his true nature, as the latter keeping concealing his true intentions, he was faking his emotions with his facial expressions. This confirms my interpretation: the face can also be a mask. For me, this character is like Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In this picture, Kwon Soo-Young got scared, when he saw this gaze and refused his lover’s advances. He is brutal, selfish and very manipulative. And now, you understand why in ENNEAD we had two different kind of masks: Seth and Horus are wearing real masks, while Osiris and Isis use their own face and make-up to conceal their true personality.

But closed eyes is not the only strategy to create a mask and as such create a certain deception. The nature of the gaze can be changed due to the make-up. As you can see, the hair dress and the make-up can be viewed as disguise… and remember that a mask is judged as a disguise. That’s why in ENNEAD, Isis is a real hypocrite and deceiver. She is similar to Seth, as she has been terribly wounded by Nephthys and Osiris’ betrayal, yet she chose to blame Seth. She decided to protect her husband’s reputation in the end. She prefers blaming the real victim of this tragedy. And this observation leads me to the next conclusion. It is no coincidence that Osiris is painted in green. (chapter 7) Sure, the color refers to his death, a decayed body, nonetheless the readers should judge the painting as a cover. Since he is using a whole body to disguise himself, this signifies that he is hiding his true personality and thoughts more than Isis or Ra. That’s why it is not surprising that this god is particularly scheming and deceptive.

5. 1. The absence of eyes

And note that in this image (chapter 73), the god’s face is not even visible, a sign of his deceptive nature and lies. He is not revealing his true plan to Anubis. What caught my attention is the importance of the eyes, since the latter are a reflection of the person’s true character. In other words, the absence of eyes in a manhwa can have a different meaning that just an indication of “blindness”. The absence of eyes is a clue for deception and manipulation. That’s why in the Pawn’s revenge, Jeon Hee-Seong is seen without eyes in chapter 6: The hair fringe and the shadow serve as a mask. In this scene, she used her body to divert her lover’s attention and hide her true intentions. She was inciting Do Seong-Rok to kill on her behalf. However, this temptation left such a deep impression that the main lead was tormented in his sleep later. His unconscious was telling him that he had been manipulated. As you can see, the absence of eyes in the manhwa can be viewed as the presence of a mask and as such a sign of deception. We have another example in BJ Alex: (chapter 10) The mask is a combination of shadow and absence of eyes. Here, Ahn Jiwon was remembering his first love and boyfriend, who faked affection and care for him. As a conclusion, the eyes symbolize honesty and naturality and its absence the presence of a mask.

Therefore the readers should pay attention to the characters’ gaze and eyes. This observation brings us to my next point.

5. 2. The presence of glasses

I came to this topic “masks” due to Painter Of The Night and Dine With A Vampire. In both stories, we have two characters wearing glasses, the scholar Jung In-Hun and the internist Kwon Sungha. While examining their characters, I made a connection between the glasses and their personality. I defined the function of the glasses as a mask, because both almost act the same, as vicious hypocrites. They hide behind their glasses and their fake smiles so that people misjudge them. And remember doctor Frost’s advice: Observe that each time the villains from the two manhwas smile, their eyes are closed. It was, as if they didn’t want their eyes to betray them and the glasses were a tool to redirect people’s gaze to their smile not paying attention to the eyes. This item serves as a guarantee that people would rather look at their smiles in order to mislead them. This explicates why people close to them are not aware of their manipulations. Not only Sungha’s girlfriend has no idea that he is two-timing, but also he chose her because of her social background. Baek Na-Kyum also fell for his teacher’s lies, as he could never see the scholar’s real gaze. However, the teacher reveals slowly his gaze and as such his true personality, that’s why in the chapter 29, the low-born detects his first betrayal, but he doesn’t realize his vicious and double-faced nature.Observe that the smile is less pronounced, giving the impression that it is vanishing. Simultaneously, the eyes are shown oozing a rather cold and heartless side. In the scene at the library (chapter 40), he’s finally able to perceive his own reflection in the scholar’s gaze, since the smile has totally disappeared. The gaze exudes coldness, despise and filth. Combined with the harsh words “you were born to be a prostitute”, the painter’s identity and personality are literally destroyed. The scholar has reduced Baek Na-Kyum to a prostitute, the lowest rank among the commoner. They have no rights and no real identity as they are forced to do what their clients want. (chapter 41) Hence it is not surprising that the protagonist remembers the cold gaze. His eyes were the other reason why Baek Na-Kyum’s heart was so wounded. He could sense despise and rejection. In other words, the scholar had used two weapons to hurt the main character: the gaze and the words. This connection between the smile and the eyes is visible in Dine With A Vampire too. As soon as the smile vanishes, the eyes become visible unveiling their true personality. That’s why it is not surprising that Kwon Sungha has the same behavior towards the main lead Joo Sooin. The former has also destroyed the protagonist and reduced him to a puppet. The villains keeps calling him a pervert. He was even worse than Jung In-Hun in the sense that he kept abusing him mentally and physically after the coercive persuasion. Both are hypocrites hiding behind their glasses and their gaze. Therefore they are portrayed as cruel and mean hypocrites. The other common denominator is their hatred and rejection for homosexuality. Kwon Sungha seems to be even worse than the scholar, as he is in reality a repressed homosexual. He has sex with Joo Sooin, but resents him because he sees in him the reason for his “perverted” sexuality. He rejects sodomy because of the Church and his mother. Both reject this sexual orientation. I could mention Carter Nathan from The Blood of Madam Giselle (the fake and the real (chapter 13) or Jung from Unintentional Love Story as well as selfish and ruthless hypocrites. In other words, the next time you read a manhwa, be careful with characters wearing glasses, they might be dangerous and their smile might be fake.

However, the manhwaphiles shouldn’t generalize, Mathew Rayner from Under The Green Light represents an exception. (chapter 16) The main lead explains that he chose to wear glasses, because he desired to avoid rejection and fear. He had noticed that the absence of facial expressions (smile) and his cold gaze would be misjudged by people. Here, Matthew used the glasses as protection. And this illustration reinforces my interpretation: glasses in manhwas have a huge importance in the end, they should be considered as masks too.

6. The mask wearers

But the example with the glasses illustrates that there exist two types of characters utilizing masks. The first ones are the villains and antagonists who are hiding their true personality in order to achieve their goal. They need people and good connections so that they can gain power or more money. As for the second category, they are the main leads trying to hide their own issues and wounds (Nameless, Mathew Rayner, Ahn Jiwon, Yoon Seungho, etc). For them, the mask is a shield, they are trying to protect themselves from torment and rejection. Their acting is not mainly to hurt others. And note that the moment Kang Moo from “The Beast Must Die” removed his mask, he unveiled his inner thoughts and emotions to his lover Lee Ki-Rin. The latter is the only one who can control him.

7. BJ Alex: Mask and identity quest

This manhwa is very interesting for two reasons. First, in BJ Alex, the author used so many different types of masks. I have already mentioned two of them: (the absence of eyes and the shadow in chapter 10, the normal mask in chapter 55) . Why are there so many? The reason is simple. The central topic of this manhwa is the protagonist’s journey to find his true self! Remember what I wrote in the introduction: a mask concerning a protagonist is always connected to identity quest.

So it is time to focus on the main character Ahn Jiwon. He is introduced wearing a mask, for he is broadcasting. (chapter 1) This is his second identity: BJ Alex. On the one hand, he desires to remain anonymous so that no one can recognize him in real life, on the other hand this signifies that he is living a double life. He would like to protect his privacy, but also his secret life as homosexual. That’s why he said this, when his relationship with Nam Dong-Gyun was revealed: As you can observe, a name and as such notoriety can also serve as a mask. The president of the council was admired by his peers, he was so perfect that some students even wondered, if he was human.

Here, I could also mention two other manhwas, where reputation was used as shield and mask: Yoon Seungho in Painter Of The Night and Park Do-Hyeok in My Suha. The latter utilized his grand-mother’s favoritism, for President Lee considers Park Jiwon’s father as a black sheep. Since Park Do-Hyeok’s father was obedient, she assumes that the red-haired grand-son is the same. Due to this privilege, the villain was able to create the perfect illusion, he is the perfect grand-son. That’s why he is also faking his smile and the president is not recognizing it. But why is reputation a mask? It is, because people often judge others on hearsay and first impressions. The social medias are the perfect example for superficial and quick judgement. But we have to question ourselves about Ahn Jiwon’s initial motivations to hide behind a good notoriety.

But let’s return our attention to the manhwa BJ Alex. Ahn Jiwon had the reputation of the prefect student , for he was always friendly and kept helping people. In the beginning of the story, he doesn’t even know the other protagonist very well, yet he is willing to take care of him, when the latter is drunk. The president is seen constantly smiling and has never externalized negative emotions (anger, violence…). This explicates why the uke was so shocked and confused, when he saw a brutal BJ Alex. The latter had discovered his secret, hence the former felt vulnerable. On the other hand, Nam Dong-Gyun wondered about Ahn Jiwon’s true personality. But the uke was not the only one who had no idea about Ahn Jiwon’s true character. The latter was also confused.

What caught my attention is that Ahn Jiwon is not only hiding his identity, he is also hiding his true self from his fans. Note that during the streaming, he told old or possibly fake stories, until he met Nam Dong-Gyun. His interaction with the other main character affected his broadcast so much, for his stories felt more real, genuine and exciting. Besides, observe that in the picture above, Mingwa didn’t drew his eyes. This is relevant, because it truly exposes Jiwon’s life. He is soulless, signifying that he isn’t true to himself in reality. Why? It is related to his childhood. Due to his neglecting parents who always favored the eldest son, the main lead was forced to live in his brother’s shadow. But the worst is that his parents never looked at him. This explicates why the parents in all the panels are represented without eyes. This signifies that the protagonist was never confronted with his own reflection. (Doctor Frost, chapter 11). That’s why he became an empty man in the end. He has no idea about his true self (his likes and dislikes). He was forced to follow his parents’ requests and his brother’s shadow. This emptiness is palpable in chapter 49, when the main lead confesses this:

All these observations lead me to conclude that Ahn Jiwon had not only be wearing one mask in fact, but minimum 3!! We have

  1. the mask BJ Alex (chapter 1)
  2. Then he became a second version of his eldest brother: (chapter 49) Since the adults kept criticizing him, he imagined that if he copied his brother, he would get recognition and acceptance. In other words, he forced himself to become a second version of his brother. But even copying his hair dress and tastes, he was doomed to failure, for the parents had already categorized him: he would always be inferior to their eldest son. He realized gradually that this wasn’t right, for his parents still didn’t perceive his true identity. That’s why he feels drowning, when he loses his mask. He doesn’t have the impression to exist.
  3. Furthermore he had imagined, if he was popular at school, his parents would change their mind about him through the comments from people (other parents, teachers, students). (chapter 49) That’s why he chose a third mask: he tried to be admired at school. He was caring and considerate towards his fellows. However, since he had made this rational decision, in his mind he was acting. Hence he didn’t truly enjoy this situation. (chapter 49) He felt that he was forced to smile. Besides, I believe as he was fake, this admiration was quite superficial in his mind. Therefore he didn’t feel truly loved. That’s why at some point, he wondered if he would ever be loved… However, the readers should interpret this question differently: he was asking indirectly, when his true self would be recognized by someone. And the one who made him discover his true sexual orientation was unfortunately a player. That’s why the main lead was so devastated and hurt, when he discovered that his relationship was based on deception and fakeness. So after being sent to the army, Ahn Jiwon chose to act like in the past. He became a role model as a student, yet he could no longer hide his homosexuality. Hence he led a double life.

Through his interactions with the other protagonist, Ahn Jiwon was forced to recognize that he needed to drop the mask BJ Alex. In the presence of Nam Dong-Gyun, the dark-haired man came gradually back to life. The break-up and their last sexual encounter, where the uke refused to look at him, made him realize that he was in reality Ahn Jiwon and not BJ Alex. The latter was just a role and not his true self.

Because of the uke’s frankness and sincerity, the main lead was forced to feel emotions. And this leads me to the following observation. The author even used panels to illustrate a mask. (chapter 08) In this scene, the charater is disguising his true thoughts. The black and red are representing his emotions: he is irritated, because he needs to have sex with Nam Dong-Gyun. Note how Ahn Jiwon is avoiding his counterpart’s gaze. The figure is acting, his mask is his face and the presence of the colors symbolizes the repressed and hidden thoughts and emotions. Mingwa colored one picture in chapter 51 marking a turning point in the protagonist’s life. For the first time, he was acknowledging his feelings and as such his own desires. This picture represents the removal of one mask. He is slowly living for real, but in this chapter he still hadn’t found his true personality. The other mask (his reputation as good student) was still existent. Besides, he still believed that his smiling and caring attitude were just an act, while in truth he was genuine and caring. But due to his past, he had already internalized that this was just an act. And now, you comprehend why the latest episodes from BJ Alex are in color. The main lead had finally found his own identity and place.

As a conclusion, the masks in manhwas can be represented in many ways: real masks, absence of eyes, glasses, make-up, facial expressions (Painter Of The Night, chapter 54), colors, reputation, etc. The protagonists are often hiding their true thoughts and emotions due to their past, while the villains are using masks to deceive people.

Feel free to comment. If you have any suggestion for topics or manhwas, feel free to ask. If you enjoyed reading it, retweet it or push the button like. My instagram-tumblr-twitter account is: @bebebisous33. Thanks for reading and for the support, particularly, I would like to thank all the new followers and people recommending my blog.

Painter Of The Night / The Beast Must Die: The Joker – part 3 (second version)

This is where you can read the manhwas. https://www.lezhin.com/en/comic/painter   The Beast Must Die: https://www.lezhin.com/en/comic/beast_en  But be aware that these manhwas are mature Yaois, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes.

So far, I had compared Min to a snake, a wolf, a crow and a magpie, however my analysis of this character didn’t do him any justice. The moment I recognized the affinities between Min and The Joker, I came to realize the lord’s true personality. He doesn’t just want to replace the main lead as the new alpha among the nobles, more importantly he takes pleasure in ruining friendships and as such causing pain to others. As a conclusion, I noticed that he enjoys destruction. Therefore I stated in the first part that Min had a nihilistic mindset:

“In philosophy, nihilism is the complete rejection of moral values and religious beliefs. It is such a negative outlook that it denies any meaning or purpose in life.” https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/nihilism#:~:text=In%20philosophy%2C%20nihilism%20is%20the,existing%20political%20and%20social%20institutions.

Due to this association with The Joker, I had the following realization: lord Min seems to suffer from a mental disorder, and to be more accurate, from an Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD). The distinction between “sociopath” or “psychopath” is here more or less irrelevant because in the end, the specialists always diagnose such patients as a person suffering from ASPD. Then if you make some research about The Joker’s personality, you will discover that even psychologists and psychiatrists tried to determine his mental issues, that’s how fascinating this supervillain is.

Here, the author Arash Javanbakht M. D. is referring to the character from the movie Joker (2019)

But what caught my attention is that The Joker’s mental disorder changes according to the stories, like the author Scott A. Bonn Ph. D. pointed out. https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/wicked-deeds/201911/is-the-joker-psychopath Therefore, it is important to determine the identity of The Joker I am referring to. I have to admit that since Min’s behavior reminds me more of The Joker from The Dark Knight, that’s how I came to the diagnosis of an Antisocial Personality Disorder. If you read the article mentioned above, the author confirms that The Joker’s profile (The Dark Knight, 2008) does fit the characteristics of a psychopath. But since our topic is Min’s personality, it is relevant to describe the symptoms of such a mental disorder. I am just quoting the following symptoms from two websites, other sites showed similar info:

  • socially irresponsible behavior
  • disregarding or violating the rights of others
  • inability to distinguish between right and wrong
  • difficulty with showing remorse or empathy
  • tendency to lie often
  • manipulating and hurting others
  • recurring problems with the law
  • Hostility, significant irritability, agitation, aggression or violence
  • general disregard towards safety and responsibility (quoted from) https://www.healthline.com/health/psychopath#signs /

And when you compare this to Min’s behavior, you’ll notice the similarities which I will outline now. First, he breaks laws and social norms without feeling remorse (chapter 52). Then he violates the rights of his host in chapter 43, when he proposes the assassination. Since this is not Min’s pavilion, this means that his friend’s house is transformed into a conspiracy place. This will play a huge part in the future, as I am anticipating a purge. At another party, he violates again the rights of his host by mocking and insulting him: chapter 52, 53 54 . I could also add that he disregards the painter by suggesting his murder (43, 56) or by treating him like a sex object (chapter 33/52). Moreover, he often lies (chapter 36 , chapter 43 . All these examples expose that he manipulates his surroundings constantly. He influences Jihwa by giving him the idea of the murder (chapter 43, chapter 56 ). He pressures Yoon Seungho to bring the artist to their party so that he can taste him (chapter 33, chapter 52). Observe that although Black Heart is often seen with other aristocrats (chapter 8, chapter 33 chapter 43, chapter 52), he doesn’t care about them. In fact, he uses them for his own benefit. Remember that he took the opium from his acquaintance (chapter 52). Then he ruined his “friend”‘s party by causing a ruckus, while the other wanted to have some discreet fun. I would even say, he manipulates the masses by making requests, which the other nobles can’t truly reject. Note that neither in chapter 33 nor in 52, the aristocrats stopped Black Heart from talking and even supported his request: the main lead should bring the commoner to their sex party. As a conclusion, he uses his influence over the other aristocrats to get what he desires: have sex with the painter. This displays his true power as manipulator. No one is capable to stop him, not even Yoon Seungho, the alpha king among the local aristocracy. (chapter 52). This is understandable, as during that night, Yoon Seungho was totally vulnerable and tried to hide his weak disposition with his clothes.

And now you understand why Min enjoys being in Yoon Seungho’s company. If he is capable to manipulate the main lead, then Black Heart will consider it as a proof that he is far superior to the main lead, whom he considers similar to him. That’s the reason why he told his acquaintances that Yoon Seungho was so easy to understand. (chapter 52) This explains why Black Heart continues targeting the main lead with his tricks (chapter 52/53/54). Not only he simply can’t get enough, but also he is determined to prove his supremacy. The manhwaphiles comprehend now why in chapter 66, Min even visits directly the protagonist’s mansion on his own indicating that he has been keeping an eye on Yoon Seungho. Observe that for the first time, he comes alone, unlike in chapter 8 and 52. He must have heard about the painter’s disappearance and desires to witness Yoon Seungho’s pain. For him, this would represent the best proof of his skill as manipulator. But to his disappointment, Baek Na-Kyum is not dead. This mask exposes his lack of empathy and his joy for imagining that the main lead is suffering (“difficulty with showing remorse or empathy“). Since his plan failed, he is disappointed. Therefore he enters Yoon Seungho’s mansion. However, pay attention to the last picture which indicates that Min is thinking about Jihwa and his disobedience. The red-haired noble didn’t act like planned. In my perspective, his thoughts indicate that Min will make Jihwa pay for his “disobedience”. At the same time, I believe that Min is already thinking about his next move, this is the other reason why he enters the main lead’s house without a proper invitation (a new version of chapter 12). This image serves as another evidence for his continuous disregard for social norms. And this chapter 66 represents a turning point in my opinion, as it exposes Min’s impulsiveness to the best. Since he didn’t get Yoon Seungho’s defeat by afflicting pain on him, he needs to cause another uproar and inflict pain on Jihwa, who didn’t follow his “order”. Note that Black Heart just reversed the roles, showing that he doesn’t care who wounds whom. His main focus is pain. By revealing the secret, Black Heart is hoping that Yoon Seungho will retaliate against his childhood friend because of the kidnapping.

Striking is that the author zooms on the character’s mouth and chin, revealing that Min has the intention to hurt Jihwa through the main lead. I noticed a certain pattern: Byeonduck always focused on Min’s mouth each time Min envisioned to hurt someone. Remember this panel from the episode 53:

This was just before the character kissed Baek Na-Kyum. The zoom on his mouth was announcing Min’s mischief. He had planned to irritate the host and desired to annul the painter’s action. The artist’s embrace had stopped the “vengeful ghost, the beast”. But Black Heart wanted the main lead to continue with his violent and irrational behavior in order to be entertained. Note the contradiction between his words (“not the sort to stop simply because someone asks you to”) and his action: he doesn’t ask anyone but steals a kiss from Baek Na-Kyum while separating both protagonists. Hence I come to the conclusion that for Black Heart, the commoner had been a killjoy in that scene. And now, it makes perfect sense why Min chose Jihwa as his pawn in the end. He had witnessed how the latter could turn Yoon Seungho into a “monster” and found it so entertaining and funny that he decided to recreate the same situation. This observation explicates why Yoon Seungho put Jihwa and Min in the same bag in chapter 57. Min knew how to provoke the main lead thanks to Jihwa.

But let’s return our attention to Min’s mischievous plan. Observe that in chapter 66, he is doing the same thing again: He says the exact opposite of his true thoughts. While begging for the protagonist’s mercy, he is hoping for the opposite reaction. However, his plan can’t work like in chapter 53 because of the painter’s presence. The reason for this is simple. The lord is embracing the unconscious commoner underlining the importance of the hug. Although Baek Na-Kyum is unconcious here, just his presence is now strong enough to stop Yoon Seungho from getting violent and enraged. Baek Na-Kyum is so vulnerable that the lord can only focus on him, whereas it was the opposite in chapter 53. In other words, this episode marks Min’s defeat. He is not able to manipulate Yoon Seungho like in the past and the painter represents his antidote.

And now, you are wondering why I consider this episode as an evidence for Min’s impulsiveness. It is related to the guardian and Deok-Jae’s death. Min is not aware that a servant among the main lead’s staff has already been killed, therefore he doesn’t realize the consequence of his revelation. Min’s thoughts are always revolving around entertainment and ruckus, hence he doesn’t pay attention to details. He has no idea of the consequences of his intervention. We could already perceive his impulsiveness in chapter 52 , when he revealed himself the planned assassination in front of Baek Na-Kyum. However, back then he wasn’t caught, as neither the painter nor the powerful protagonist paid attention to his words. And instead of learning from his mistakes (f. ex. the murder didn’t occur like planned or the punches he received from the main lead for his provocations), he continues irritating Yoon Seungho. He notices that the latter is no longer denying his feelings in front of him, hence he can’t humiliate him like in chapter 54. Consequently he has to search for another trigger in order to provoke the owner of the mansion. But here, he fails again, as the artist is more important than Jihwa’s wrongdoing. Yoon Seungho is already more focused on his own misdeeds, the afflicted abuse on the painter: the violent sex marathon, the insults and the sequestration. Consequently he has no time for his uninvited guest. He ignores him and leaves him behind, but this won’t do for Min, hence he unveils a secret: Jihwa’s participation. But he fails again, as Yoon Seungho is only seen with the following reaction: Since the chapter 66 stands in opposition to the episodes 53/54, it becomes obvious that the main lead will react differently. He won’t act on his emotions, he learned his lesson due to the painter. He punished the commoner, although the latter was innocent, too blinded by his rage and pain. That’s why I think, we should consider the chapter 66 as Min’s ultimate defeat.

Another affinity to the symptoms for psychopathie is that Min shows a disregard for safety and responsibility. First, he was willing to provoke the protagonist, although he saw that the noble had almost killed a servant with his beating. He chose to irritate him again, risking his own life. That’s why he got slapped so violently that the door was destroyed. But note that Black Heart didn’t feel any pain and showed no tears, instead he started laughing and showed pleasure. But even after receiving the slap, he continued provoking the host thereby the main lead started punching him so many times. Yet at no moment, he asked the lord to stop from hurting him, he kept laughing. However, there exists another explanation why Min kept provoking Yoon Seungho. But this aspect will be elaborated later.

And now there’s only one symptom left from the list: “Hostility, significant irritability, agitation, aggression or violence“. So far, we never saw Min becoming irritable or violent, which explains why I didn’t even realize myself his true personality: he is a psychopath. But if you pay attention to my previous observations, you’ll notice a certain MO. He just uses his pawns to hurt others and enjoys seeing people aggressive and in pain. From my perspective, Min will never employ force directly, but prefers using people in order to voice his hostility and aggression. He will never dirty his hands, which stands in opposition to the Korean Batman, Nameless. Yet this doesn’t mean, Black Heart isn’t aggressive at all, quite the opposite. I will name two examples in order to prove my interpretation. Note that Min manipulates Jihwa to have the painter killed soon after Yoon Seungho humiliated Black Heart in the woods. (chapter 41) Don’t forget that he calls the vicious man “a mouse”, a real insult to someone who sees himself as superior and talented. Then the night after the beating, Min waits for Jihwa in front of his house and urges Jihwa to murder the painter. However, this time he adds that he wants to taste the painter before and note that here, he is mentioning the punches he received from Yoon Seungho. As the manhwaphiles can detect, Min is here retaliating against the main lead for hurting him. He will make him suffer much more: not only he will lose the commoner, but also the latter will get raped: a double affront. However, just like before, he prefers using the childhood friend so that he can avoid to take any responsibility. If something happens, then only Jihwa will pay for this. We should remember that Min never wrote anything concerning a crime. The idea he proposed was at his friend’s place, and the idea of the rape was also mentioned on the street with no witness.

In the last panel, his smile made me think even more of The Joker than before. He takes pleasure in inciting crimes and imagining people in pain. And now, if you recall The Joker’s behavior in The Dark Knight, you’ll note some similarities. He wants to prove to Batman that even good men can turn into criminals. The Joker is the reason why the famous prosecutor Harvey Dent turns into Two-Face, because he wants to denounce the hypocrisy of Gotham society and its rules. That’s why The Joker keeps breaking laws and committing crimes. He abhors society and its norms, hence he is determined to destroy it. And now, you understand why Min chose Jihwa as his pawn and target in the end. He knew that Jihwa could trigger Yoon Seungho’s violence, he was determined to prove that he could turn a rather innocent man into a criminal.

Furthermore, after reading the following quote,

“When psychopaths view others as prey, their lack of feeling and bonding to others allows them to have unusual clarity in observing the behavior of their intended victims. As demonstrated by the Joker in The Dark Knight, psychopaths are unencumbered by the anxieties and emotions that normal people experience in interpersonal encounters. This is because psychopaths are unable to form emotional attachments or feel real empathy with others, although they often have disarming or even charming personalities.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/wicked-deeds/201911/is-the-joker-psychopath

the manhwalovers will notice that Min considered Yoon Seungho as his prey very early on. In my opinion, this conversation played a huge part in his decision: Min realized the importance of knowledge. Jihwa knew his friend well, hence he was able to awake the “beast” in the main lead. Besides, he could notice that Jihwa had an immense influence on the main character. He could wound him, yet the latter wouldn’t cut ties with him. Note that in that scene, Min never said a word, yet he was observant and realized that Yoon Seungho had a weakness: “in the most wretched of states”. That’s why he chose to get closer to the protagonist, willing to become an uke, if it was necessary for his plan. He needed to discover more about his prey and the best place was to get closer to Jihwa and Yoon Seungho, slowly and silently exactly like a snake. However, I believe, the real war between the two semes started in chapter 41, which caught my attention during the first season. The hand on the main character’s waist was a sign that the psychopath planned to “screw” the main character. (chapter 41) Not only he showed his desire to submit Yoon Seungho, but also he acted, as if he was superior to him. He asked questions and even criticized the main character for his behavior: he was creating a ruckus, exposing his hypocrisy, as Black Heart loves uproar.

After showing point after point that Min’s personality shows many signs of ASPD, it is important to understand the real nature of this mental disorder. After comparing him to The Joker and reading the first part of this essay, you have the impression that people suffering from ASPD are all criminals and they are potential serial killers. However, it is not true, because this mental disorder doesn’t necessarily mean that the affected person is a killer. If you pay attention to Min’s words, he keeps talking about fun and scandal. This observation leads me to the following explanation: The Arousal Theory of Motivation. This psychological conception tries to elaborate what stimulates people.

“Each person has a unique arousal level that is right for them. When our arousal levels drop below these personalized optimal levels, we seek some sort of stimulation to elevate them.” https://www.verywellmind.com/the-arousal-theory-of-motivation-2795380

Since Min keeps seeking entertainment, it shows that he is a person with an abnormally low arousal. Therefore he needs strong stimuli, like violence and attention. And now, you understand first why Min is often seen in company with other nobles. He needs to attract their attention, hence he challenges Yoon Seungho in chapter 33 or in 52. It is the same on the street, when he smokes the opium so openly. It occurs at his friend’s place as well (chapter 43). Notice that he is the one who talks the most and proposes the murder. What caught my attention is that despite the objections from one noble and Min’s friend, the vicious man is able to give a whole speech why Jihwa should have the artist eliminated. No one stops him talking, indicating his skills as orator but more importantly this displays that he likes being in the center of the attention. However, as you can imagine, attention is not enough for him. He needs stronger stimuli than just admiration. He feels the urge to see pain and blood. And this made me think of the other manhwa entitled “The Beast Must Die” written by Lee Hyeon-Sook.

Striking is that we have in the image the same topics: Joker/card, mask and blood. And this is naturally no coincidence, as the protagonist is a psychopath too, in other words, another Joker.

In this manhwa, the main character Lee Ki-Rin approaches the rich but mysterious student Kang Moo. His reason is his thirst for revenge. His sister Lee Seorin was a victim of a gang rape, but since the perpetrators were never prosecuted, the sister killed herself out of despair. The culprits were students coming from wealthy and influential families and members of an organization called “secret fraternity”. Because Lee Kirin had no idea about the identities of the culprits and only knew that they belonged to that “secret fraternity”, he decided to get close to Kang Moo in order to investigate and get revenge for his sister’s death. While Lee Ki-Rin believes, he is manipulating Kang Moo, the readers can quickly realize that the opposite is happening. Kang Moo is the one who let Lee Kirin approach him in the end. What Lee Kirin doesn’t know is that Kang Moo is a psychopath. The latter has always hidden his mental illness in front of people. Even the members from that “club” had no idea except Lim Joohyuk. There’s a reason for that. When he killed a dog for the first time as a child, he saw his mother’s rejection and disgust. Striking is the importance of the gaze again. As a child, the boy sensed his mother’s negative judgement and rejection. However, this incident didn’t stop him to lose his “urge” for blood. Therefore he started to have hobbies like collecting dead bodies, taking pictures of dead creatures and even hunt. As you can detect, in that story Kang Moo has an abnormal low arousal and needed stronger stimuli, as time passed on. This reminds us of Min who keeps looking for entertainment and commotion. Note that Min’s violence has gradually increased: from sex as a symbol for fight, he went to a verbal challenge (chapter 33/41), then it escalated to a murder (43), then to a beating and gangrape (52/53) and finally to a combination of murder and rape (56). And in The Beast Must Die, the protagonist is well aware of the consequences of his behavior. If he killed someone, he would ruin his life. (chapter 32) The manhwaphiles can sense the similarity in the vocabulary: for Min, it is fun/entertainment, while Kang Moor keeps talking about “pleasure”. Since Kang Moo recognized the repercussions of a murder, he chose to fight against it contrasting to Min’s attitude. And there’s reason for that: Min’s social status and historical period. The latter is a noble and can use his superiority to hurt commoners and even break laws, because aristocrats are not prosecuted like low-borns. Secondly, I believe that his family and his surroundings played a huge role. Observe that the nobility is portrayed as corrupt and decadent. Besides, the manhwalovers should remember that Min’s MO is to manipulate others, therefore it reveals that the character had found a way out how to outlive his “urge and need”. He could commit small wrongdoings, as he knew that he wouldn’t get punished for this. But if he had to hurt another noble, he had to use someone else. And this exposes the similarities between Kang Moo and Min. Both are well aware that certain things are not allowed, yet they try to find a different way to move around the rules and laws.

Striking is that Kang Moo never committed a crime, until Lee Seorin committed suicide. She was the trigger for him to change his behavior. While he claims in front of his future victim that she was just an excuse, (chapter 32) the readers shouldn’t take his words as face-value. In my opinion, he felt a similar emotion than Lee Kirin (revenge), because Lee Seorin was the first person who showed understanding and no rejection, when he removed his mask and revealed his true personality. (chapter 33) . What caught my attention is that Kang Moo is voicing his fear indicating that he was well aware of his own mental issues. Moreover, it also outlines his despair… he desired to escape from this, but didn’t know how to. Lee Seorin comprehended Kang Moo’s anxiety, therefore she tried to encourage him not to give up, by supporting him that he could continue maintaining a normal life, if he truly wanted it. And now, you grasp why Kang Moo snapped, when he heard about the circumstances of her death. It was his club that was responsible for her suicide. Naturally, when Lee Kirin asks him if he loved his sister, the psychopath can’t answer that question, since he is unable to grasp his emotions. (chapter 34). However, there’s no doubt that the protagonist had an affection for Lee Kirin’s sister. I believe to perceive an evidence of his attachment to her, when he mentions the suffering of a victim of gang rape. (chapter 56) Sure, in this scene he is threatening Mr. Jang to organize a gang rape on Mrs. Hong’s daughter, because the man with the glass was also menacing his lover Lee Kirin. Yet, the fact that he mentioned such a crime indicates that he didn’t forget the crime Lee Seorin suffered from and he could understand her pain. And there’s another proof that Kang Moo is not truly emotionless. It becomes even more obvious that he loves the main lead too. It is shown in two different occasions. First, he states that he will never let Lee Kirin go. (chapter 34) And latter, he requests from his lover to help him to “stop the beast inside him”. That’s his love confession, although Kang Moo doesn’t truly comprehend the true signification of his words. At some point, he begins to grasp that he has changed and is relying more on Lee Kirin which makes him nervous. This shows that Kang Moo has some problems to accept his love for Lee Kirin. However, this manhwa truly indicates that a person suffering from ASPD is capable to live a normal life and to feel love, even if this patient is not expressing it in the normal way. Furthermore, in this story, Kang Moo tries to use others in order to dirty less his own hands so that the members from “secret fraternity” kill each other indicating that this is not just to enjoy pleasure. Let’s not forget that at the same time, he helps a friend who is getting abused by her fiancé. So he is not a serial killer per se. He is determined to punish “scums” while committing crimes. Yet he believes that he uses revenge as an excuse. To sum up, the story is not just about a psychopath following his urges to kill, but rather the battle of a psychopath who struggled to lead a normal life, but gave in the moment he lost the person who supported him.

As you can sense, I like this story, because the real villain of this story is not the abnormal one, but the ones who are supposed to be mentally sane and normal. The secret fraternity was perverted by one member so that the 5 members started committing crimes and never got punished. (chapter 1). Here, they hunt someone for fun. Besides, I would like to mention here the k-drama “It’s Okay not to be okay” with Kim Soo-Yun and Seo Yea-Ji. In this terrific drama, the main lead is a famous writer suffering from ASPD and the so-called normal people are actually portrayed in a rather negative way as well: they insult, exclude and hurt the persons suffering from a disorder or disability. This shows that authors in South Korea are trying to change the image about mental disorders and plead for more understanding and open-mindedness. In “The Beast Must Die” and “It’s Okay Not To Be Okay”, the characters help people to comprehend that the boundary between normality and abnormality is thin and I would even say, illusory. Lee Kirin desired to get revenge, yet he doesn’t feel sorry for the death of the culprits, but no one is questioning him. It becomes a different story, when a psychopath is involved. The detective will do anything to catch Kang Moo, but finds excuses for Lee Kirin. But observe that he is not diagnosed as a psychopath. As you can sense, there’s here a double standard. Normal people even call for violence and revenge due to their anger and pain, that’s why there’s still death penalty in so many countries. As a conclusion, being diagnosed as a psychopath doesn’t mean that they are no human and people should treat the patient like a monster. Being excluded from society is not the correct answer, like Kang Moo sensed it. He felt the condemnation in his parents’ gaze hence he felt abandoned and lonely.

And now, you understand why Black Heart is often surrounded by people and is even close to the noble with the mole. I believe, he sensed that he was different, but he could never reveal his true self. This explains why his friendship with the noble with the mole was so calm and so harmonious. Hence Jihwa expressed his admiration for their relationship. But their relationship was in reality fake, because Min could never remove his mask. His friend might have sensed his lies and his “Black Heart”, nonetheless I doubt that Min truly confessed his true thoughts in front of the aristocrat with the mole. Moreover, their bond changed the moment Min met the painter. For the first time, Black Heart was attracted, hence he looked at Baek Na-Kyum, while having sex with Yoon Seungho. Furthermore, he saw genuine attraction in the painter’s gaze because of Yoon Seungho. Let’s not forget that Min considered the protagonist as a person similar to him. The commoner was not attracted due to his power or wealth but by the person himself… meaning that he didn’t care about his bad reputation and bad habits. That’s how Min got fascinated by the artist. Since he saw the pure desire in Baek Na-Kyum’s eyes during the intercourse (chapter 8), the aristocrat imagined that he could get the same gaze, if he had sex with the painter. And that’s how the love triangle started. He wished to be gazed like Yoon Seungho was. since he viewed such a pure gaze, while the protagonist was having sex, Min associated the painter’s stare to sex. This explicates why the former is so obsessed with sex and keeps desiring to taste the artist (chapter 33, 52, 56). He couldn’t forget that gaze. I can imagine that he must have called it an obsession, which is an idiom Kang Moo utilized to describe Lee Seorin’s affection for her brother. With this approach, it becomes comprehensible why Min tells Jihwa that Yoon Seungho has been bewitched by Baek Na-Kyum. In reality, he is describing his own thoughts. In other words, he is projecting his own thoughts into the protagonist. He explains his desire and obsession with witchcraft, because he feels vulnerable. That’s his way to confess his love in my opinion. Just like Kang Moo, he can’t say these words (“I love you”), as he has no idea what he feels and what love is. With this interpretation, it becomes comprehensible why Min suggested the painter’s murder in the end. If he can’t satisfy his urges (taste the painter) and he is still thinking about it, then he needs to get rid of the source of his obsession. Because the moment the painter disappears, Min will be able to move on. Witnessing Yoon Seungho’s pain will compensate him for the loss. Therefore, the manhwaphiles can comprehend, why Min still associates Baek Na-Kyum to death. Deep down, he fears the painter, as he senses that the former represents a source of danger for him. He can become his weakness. And the best way to remove this is to manipulate Jihwa to commit the crime. I also think, Min had already detected that he couldn’t do it himself. For me, the character’s thoughts are actually mirroring Min’s true state of mind. Once again, he is projecting his own emotions “fiery in his jealousy”, “too weak at heart” into Jihwa. In fact, we could say the opposite. Jihwa’s heart was strong enough to resist negative emotions. That’s why Byeonduck chose to reveal Min’s thoughts in this chapter. Black Heart is someone who is always projecting his feelings and emotions into others, because he can’t deal with them himself. We had a similar phenomenon, in chapter 43. What Jihwa envisioned in chapter 43 represented Min’s thoughts in reality as well. Min was witnessing how Baek Na-Kyum was escaping from him: first a paramour, now a mistress. There’s another evidence for Min’s attachment to the painter. Like my reader @Lahuno66666 pointed it out correctly, Min is always talking about Baek Na-Kyum, exactly like the main lead. Note that in each chapter Min appears, he always mentions the artist: (chapter 8), chapter 33 , chapter 36 , chapter 41 chapter 43 , chapter 52 , chapter 53 , chapter 54 , chapter 56 , chapter 66 This outlines the importance of the painter in Black Heart’s thoughts. Thanks to her observation, I realized that Min has a similar mentality than Yoon Seungho. Both were confusing the mind with the heart. While Yoon Seungho was in denial of his feeling as he had the impression, he had no heart, the vicious noble is unable to distinguish his heart from his mind due to his ASPD. Furthermore, his so-called “obsession” (love) has never been noticed by the nobles, because when he talked about Baek Na-Kyum, he always talked about Yoon Seungho as well. The latter misunderstood Min’s actions and words. He just thought that Min was just jealous of him, while in reality the source of his envy was the artist. We shouldn’t forget that in chapter 8, Min chose to remain by Baek Na-Kyum’s side , while the main lead was having sex. This truly indicates that the commoner was much more intriguing and alluring than sex. The manhwaphiles should remember my remark about The Arousal Theory of Motivation. Min decided to remain inactive and observe the painter, exposing how much entertained and attracted he was towards Baek Na-Kyum. IT stands in opposition to the sex Yoon Seungho was having: Min was so fascinated by the sexual arousal in the painter’s gaze that he let the nobles alone! Note that he wasn’t even talking in that scene!! It contradicts so much to Min’s usual behavior (talkative, laughing, committing wrongdoings). This displays the artist’s real power. No wonder that Min tried to catch his attention in chapter 52, while the painter was standing at the door. When he saw the new painting, he must have felt so bothered that he felt the need to mock his host and the artist. And now, it becomes comprehensible why Min chose to walk on the picture, when he was in the artist’s study. He felt the urge to destroy the image, as he desires to be the one portrayed in that painting. This explains why the next morning when he talks about the Baek Na-Kyum’s assassination and rape, he remembers the drawing. He would like to be the one in that painting. As you can observe, Min was behaving like the main lead, all his thoughts and emotions were revolving around the painter, that’s why he felt bewitched. However, since he always mentioned Yoon Seungho with the painter, no one noticed his obsession. Jihwa couldn’t, because Black Heart was always talking about the commoner in such a negative way and had even suggested a murder and a rape. How could he notice that Min was in love with Baek Na-Kyum, when he was trying to hurt him? The red-haired noble’s blindness is understandable, because he was doing the same thing to his childhood friend. He would hurt him in the name of love.

Since Min is suffering from ASPD, it explains why Min is causing pain to others. For he is devoid of any feeling, he can only sense them, when he sees them in others. And now, you can understand why he is seeking pleasure and fun all the time. He needs pain and fun in order to feel something, in order to feel alive. But exactly like Kang Moo, the more time passes on, the more he feels this emptiness and his urges keep growing. And the painter became the trigger for Min to become more aggressive and reveal his true face. His jealousy and envy could only worsen. First, he tried to use the support from the other nobles to satisfy his immediate urges in chapter 33, but the main lead refused to share the commoner with him. That’s the moment he decided to remove Yoon Seungho from his throne. He saw how daring Yoon Seungho became, he would even fondle the artist at the tailor shop. I can only envisage that this event must have caused some jealousy and envy… That’s why he challenged Yoon Seungho properly this time and touched his waist. However, he was defeated with an insult: “a mouse”. And remember that at the end of the scene in chapter 41, Min wondered how good the artist would taste. For me, it is clear that Min was so annoyed by this defeat that he wanted to retaliate, like “if I can’t have Baek Na-Kyum, then no one should have him”. As a conclusion, Min is already in love with the painter, but his “love” is associated to so many negative emotions that Black Heart can’t deal with them. Due to his love which he explains with witchcraft, he feels weak, powerless, jealous, greedy, ruthless… and now, you understand why when I compared him to Nameless, I came to the following observations: Min is selfish, jealous, manipulative, poisonous, ruthless, greedy, dishonest and even disloyal. All these feelings are in truth related to Baek Na-Kyum. That’s why Min is able to insult Baek Na-Kyum (“witch”, “charlatan”) and order the murder on the person he is obsessed with. Min can’t accept that he is captivated by a low-born. He needs some abstruse explanations for the emotions he is feeling. In other words, he is in denial!

Because of this new revelation, it becomes necessary to examine once again the chapter 53/54. He kissed the painter, because he couldn’t resist the temptation. He got so jealous that the painter would embrace a vengeful ghost and even accept a slap without getting upset. Imagine, he saw how Baek Na-Kyum was willing to embrace the main lead with all his flaws: rage, brutality and his terrible reputation. Another reason for getting jealous!! At the same time, he felt the need to mock Yoon Seungho due to his jealousy and envy. He had to make him suffer, because he was “suffering” himself. And now, the readers can grasp why Min was even willing to risk his face. He couldn’t contain his negative emotions, he felt the need to provoke the “monster”… In reality, he was mocking himself. How could he feel captivated to the painter? I can even imagine that he accepted the punches, because these could serve as a wake up call. And now, you understand why Min felt the need to retaliate against Baek Na-Kyum and Yoon Seungho the next morning. He sensed that he needed more than before to remove the artist, as his desires for Baek Na-Kyum kept increasing, and as such his envy and jealousy had become insufferable. As you can observe, Min is a really complex character. To reduce him to a psychopath is not correct. Sure, it helps the readers to comprehend his personality better, however by analyzing another psychopath, we could definitely perceive his true thoughts and emotions.

My final word is the following: Psychopath or not, such people shouldn’t be judged like beast or monstrosity, because in reality, normal people can become murderers or criminals. Don’t forget that Holocaust was only possible due to the participation of “willing helpers” who were actually normal and sane. However, we can criticize and condemn people and characters for their wrongdoings. Ordering a murder or a rape is a crime, therefore Min is indeed a criminal psychopath.

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