The Pawn’s Revenge: Promising break and broken promises 🔞

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(chapter 34) In episode 34, the criminal Do Seong-Rok announced to his partner Lee Je-Oh that he was releasing him. He was free to go, he could return to his true home. But why did the red-haired man push away his lover? Anyone reading the manhwa will certainly reply that he did it to protect the prostitute. He had just received a message from Jeon Hee-Seong telling him that the police would arrest him soon (chapter 33). This explanation is naturally correct, but as you can imagine, the main lead‘s choice is far more complex. I would say that he was not truly aware of the motivations behind his behavior. This will be in the center of this analysis. But for that, I need to elaborate the reasons how Do Seong-Rok came to trust Jeon Hee-Seong in the first place. In the essay “The goldfish and the lamb – part 2“ I had portrayed Do Seong-Rok as naïve, but now I can explicate more precisely why the main lead came to trust the witch first. The author Evy gave us more insight at the end of season 1 and in season 2. As the title lets it transpire, promise stands in the center of this essay.

1. Empty words

What caught my attention is that the red-haired man had been abandoned in an orphanage with the following message: (chapter 12) The father employed the idiom “promise“ which is a synonym for hope. By leaving such a note behind, not only he gave hope to his son, he would come back to fetch him, but also he gave the impression that he was very serious about his intention. Why? It is because the message was written. It was, as if he had written a contract, where he committed to keep his promise. The note became the symbol for hope and commitment. At the same time, this signified that the note would contradict the expression “empty words“. Therefore it is not surprising that Seong-Rok kept thinking about his biological family, and had many questions. (chapter 38) He was clinching onto this promise. He was not an orphan, he had just been entrusted to the orphanage for the time being. Thus he waited. The problem is that this “contract“ had no name, hence it was void. The main lead never realized it. But as time passed on, the pressure on him kept increasing, as his family had not appeared yet. Slowly, he was cornered. If he had spent more than 12 years without his family, then he was truly an orphan. That’s the reason why he pressured the director of the orphanage and discovered the identity of his father. The latter had definitely sponsored the orphanage in order to lessen his guilt. That’s the reason why the woman knew about the identity of the relative. So when he saw where his father was living, he recognized the falsehood of the note, but he was in denial, till he saw his father. The latter saw his son as a threat, thus he showed his displeasure. (chapter 38) But to silence him, the relative approached him and begged him to keep his distance from him and his family, for he could hurt innocent people (his wife and his younger son). The father’s behavior exposed to Do Seong-Rok that he had been truly abandoned, and this right from the start, as he was an illegitimate son. His father had married into a wealthy family. His merely existence embodied shame and guilt. (Chapter 38) This is important, for it destroyed the main lead’s self-esteem in a certain way. He didn’t feel needed at all. It was, as if his existence had no meaning. This impression got reinforced, when the father gave him money to send him away. (Chapter 27) He had only got to his side to push him away. When the father returned to his family, the young boy could sense that he had no one by his side. Not even the orphanage, which had covered up for the father’s cowardice.

From that moment on, he had no goal in his life. (chapter 27) The hope had kept him alive, but now without any hope, what could he expect from life? Nothing… he was not wanted or needed.

And now, the manhwaphiles are probably wondering why the father left such a note in the first place. Why did he give hope to his son, when he never had the intention to return? In my eyes, the father did it to lessen his remorse. That way, he would create a fake image about himself. He was not a bad person, he had never meant to hurt or abandon his son. Consequently, he had made sure that his son would live in comfort. However, the result was that the man ruined Do Seong-Rok’s life, for the message created the illusion that he had indeed a family waiting for him. This explicates why the protagonist said this: (chapter 27) He was still hoping, but his despair was always present. Since water is a synonym for life, this means that as an orphan he could live in comfort (exoneration), but he was still missing warmth and affection. There’s no ambiguity that he must have kept thinking about them the whole time. Therefore it is not surprising that for his birthday, he wished a family (chapter 27) and not a console or video game. Furthermore, for the son, it meant that he would never be adopted! How could Do Seong-Rok get adopted, if he had been left with such a note? To conclude, the promise in the note was in reality fake. It stood for empty words. Simultaneously, it ruined the main lead’s life, for it pushed him to question his own existence. Why was he born in the first place, if he was not loved or needed? The son got traumatized, when his relative turned his back on him after begging him to vanish from his life. It was, as if he had been abandoned a second time. Do Seong-Rok felt lost, his existence had no meaning at all. Hence it is not surprising that he chose to destroy the letter. (chapter 27) It was, as if he was cutting ties with his biological father. In addition, since Do Seong-Rok associated the paper to a promise, this means that he came to the idea that a promise should be expressed in words and not written. At the same time, he learned a terrible lesson: (chapter 38) He would never make an empty promise. If he can’t keep a promise, then it was better to never promise, for it would create an illusion and disappoint the person who was clinching onto the promise.

2. Do Seong-Rok’s “promising“ meeting with the femme fatale

What caught my attention is that as a soldier, he got abandoned by his comrades too. (Chapter 16) He was also left behind, and contrary to the past, this time he was saved by Jeon Hee-Seong. (Chapter 16) She protected him from committing a wrongdoing. She talked to him, and showed an interest in him. (Chapter 16) She even gave him her address to contact her after he had left the army. (Chapter 16) This panel even stands in opposition to this one: (chapter 27) As the manhwalovers can sense, the femme fatale behaved the exact opposite of the father. She didn‘t push the main lead away at all. She even recognized him after the separation, so he had left an impression on her. Thus we could say that she gave a meaning to the protagonist‘s life. She even paid an expensive hotel for their encounter. He felt recognized first, then appreciated before feeling needed. Therefore it is not surprising that Do Seong-Rok desired to protect her, (chapter 16) and was even willing to risk his life for her. (Chapter 16) He was by her side in the street, and he didn’t mind being seen with her. She only pushed him away, when she was cornered implying that she had no other choice. She had to marry Choi Yeong-Gil if she wanted to escape prostitution. In other words, we could say that she never rejected the main lead. She insinuated that he was her source of joy in her life. (chapter 16) So technically, she announced that she was leaving him officially, but not emotionally. That way she pushed the main lead to remain by her side, while giving the impression that she was leaving him behind against her own will. She had no other choice. Striking is that in that scene, the prostitute spoke the truth, when she portrayed herself as ruthless. Her justification was that she was a poor victim. (Chapter 16) She would do anything to save herself, even use him for her own benefits. The latter didn’t mind, for in his eyes, he was helping himself. (chapter 16) She was still giving a meaning to his life. He would act like a knight in shining armor who needed to defeat his enemies. (chapter 16) However, when she suggested the murder, the main lead put a condition on his assistance. (Chapter 06) But striking is when the main lead asked her this, he never requested from her that she signed a paper or a contract. This promise was just oral. This was related to his trauma: the left note with the fake promise.

3. The siren’s fake promises

On the other hand, similar to his father, Jeon Hee-Seong left a short message. (Chapter 9) Contrary to the father, she confessed her love to him. That way, she created the illusion that her love was sincere. As you can sense it, the fake love confession had the same function than the father‘s message. It gave hope to the main lead. This is no coincidence that the protagonist was acting, as if he was waiting for the return of his lover. (Chapter 9) But exactly like in the other message, the love confession contained no name at all. It was totally anonymous, therefore the love confession was fake too. In my eyes, Do Seong-Rok learned the following lesson: a love confession should never be written too. That’s the reason why he cried after he realized that she was already betraying him. (chapter 16)

In other words, Do Seong-Rok was put in the same situation 10 years later. The only difference is that this time, the love confession was the motivation for the main lead, while the promise of rescue had been just exchanged orally in the bar. He naturally believed that her affection was genuine, this was the implied condition for his help. The main lead never requested a contract for the promise due to his traumatic past. He had already made the experience that such a promise could be like empty words. But naturally, the protagonist was not entirely stupid. He had strongly internalized that a person can only make a promise, if the latter can keep it! Hence Jeon Hee-Seong was forced to give him an insurance. This was the recorded phone call from Seo Sang-Joon proving that he had been responsible for Lee Soon-Cheol’s death. (chapter 40) However what the criminal didn’t know is that he had been played by the femme fatale and her lover. That’s the reason why the protagonist was by her side, when she received Sang-Joon’s call. (chapter 40) Another evidence for this theory is that the man with a short temper had the car which actually belonged to Do Seong-Rok. The woman knew about the convict’s bad temper and anticipated his reaction. He was supposed to wound or kill Lee Soon-Cheol, then Do Seong-Rok’s task was to eliminate the others before putting the whole blame on the convict. That’s the reason why the murderer used a stone to assassinate the witch’s husband. Their plan was to frame Seo Sang-Joon, well aware that the red-haired man would become a murder suspect in order to redirect the investigation from her. Both were aware that she would get suspected first, for she had a strong motive.

What caught my attention is that the woman is often seen by the main lead’s side. (chapter 16) (chapter 24) (chapter 40) This is important, for it corresponds to the main lead’s biggest wish. (chapter 27) If she was by his side, she would never turn her back on him. But thanks to Lee Je-Oh, he discovered that her presence by his side was just an illusion, for she was rarely by his side. He had warned him before. (chapter 9) He kept reminding him that the woman was not reliable or even trustworthy. (chapter 28)

Striking is that after having sex with him, she never faced the young man. She turned her back on him, a sign that she was not honest at all. Her facial expressions would have betrayed her, while her words would reflect her true thoughts. (Chapter 16) Her words in the bed were actually ambiguous: a reproach or a compliment? That‘s the reason why the protagonist couldn‘t detect her deceptive nature. She was speaking the truth the entire time. And after meeting Lee Je-Oh, the red-haired man was forced to face reality. Hence his past with the woman came to haunt him. Gradually, his unconscious forced him to see the reality of his choices and actions. He had been manipulated and become a killer. In his first nightmare, the woman was portrayed without eyes (chapter 6) while revealing her intentions. (Chapter 6) Then when Sang-Joon called the femme fatale, she might have been sitting next to him (chapter 40), but observe the gap between them. She was still not facing him. Besides, I would like the readers to pay attention to the window in the background. The frame symbolized their separation. They were not really together, as there existed a thin wall between them. Moreover, the prostitute was even talking to the convict, so in reality she was not focusing on Do Seong-Rok. Therefore, it is not surprising that Do Seong-Rok saw the truth on the sofa, while he was facing her. (chapter 27) He was forced to face reality, she was only feeling compassion for him. When she visited him in the mansion, he looked at her properly for the first time: (chapter 27) She had the same facial expressions than his father. She was abandoning him. This is no coincidence that right after he questioned her about the depth of her affection. (chapter 27) He was testing her. He could detect her deception, for she never replied to his interrogation. (chapter 27) She attempted to divert his attention by criticizing him, something which sounded so natural. And her departure (chapter 27) reminded him of his own father’s desertion. As a conclusion, after rescuing Lee Je-Oh, the main lead discovered his lover‘s true personality. She wouldn‘t keep her promise, for she had never loved him. He realized that her promises were always fake, just like her insurance. The former prostitute had never committed herself to him, she had never been by his side, while he had helped her this entire time.

On the other hand, Jeon Hee-Seong was well aware that Do Seong-Rok was very sensitive to lies, thus she never used lies by commission. That’s the reason why she never replied to his question about her affection for him. Her manipulations were different. Either she lied by omission or she used paltering, revealing the truth in delay or she mixed a truth with a lie (chapter 27). As a reminder, commissioner Ahn is not the leader of the enemy, he has already abandoned the group leaded by Koo. The witch is hiding the fact that she is representing the third party. But let’s return to our main point, the instruments of Jeon Hee-Seong’s manipulations.

I also think that the messages from the cellphone played a huge role in the deceptions as well. Do Seong-Rok had the impression that he was still close to her, as he was still in contact with her. (chapter 11) Therefore Lee Je-Oh stopped his lover to respond to her phone calls. He was well aware of the signification of the phone calls. Note that after the kidnapping of Lee Je-Oh, he tried to text her. This is important for two reasons: the texts could hide the true emotions and thoughts of the characters. If Do Seong-Rok had called her during that night, his voice would have revealed his emotions and hesitation, the phone call would have betrayed him. The femme fatale had adopted such an attitude a long time ago. She preferred texting him so that her manipulations wouldn‘t be detected. She wouldn’t be forced to act, her strength was to remain as natural and genuine as possible in front of the red-haired man. Hence her words were often connected to criticisms. (chapter 27) But because of Lee Je-Oh‘s presence, the red-haired man was put in a situation where he had to deceive Jeon Hee-Seong, and that‘s how he discovered the truth little by little. She was throwing him away, for Ahn Jae-Oh could offer her wealth and power, while he had nothing to propose to her: (chapter 38) This scene is important, for it indicates that the killer has adopted Jeon Hee-Seong’s mind-set! Life is like Janggi, and he is just a pawn in the big game.

4. Lee Je-Oh’s promises

The irony is that the prostitute had a totally different childhood. He had been neglected and pushed away by his father constantly! (chapter 9) He had strongly internalized the slap on the hand as a sign of rejection. Therefore it is not surprising that Do Seong-Rok’s words in episode 9 brought him back to his childhood reliving a certain trauma. Moreover, because the father was neglecting him, the young boy was left to his own devices. Thus he stole the knight in the shop. He learned through his father, that he needed to become proactive, and not wait for someone’s help. If he desired to have his wish fulfilled, he needed to act on his decisions. Furthermore, if he had accepted his father’s reproaches, then he would have become suicidal. Who can bear hearing constantly that you are a “shithead”, a “bastard”? No one… the insults from the father encouraged Lee Je-Oh to reject such insults and to retaliate in the end. He never accepted his living conditions. (chapter 26) This explicates why Lee Je-Oh fought against Ma Jong-Seok either. He might have been aware that the pimp had developed an affection for him, but he could clearly see his dishonesty and hypocrisy, for he was not helping him at all. The latter took advantage of the situation. Thus he could detect the falsehood of Jong-Seok’s promise right away in the prison. (chapter 10) Consequently, I come to the deduction that Lee Je-Oh was raised to make up his mind. He learned through his bad experiences that life was cruel, and he should never expect anything from anyone. On the other hand, in order to live properly, he needed to have goals in a short-term, and once he made his choice, he would stick to it. Yes, he stands for real promises, but not for illusion or dreams. His words are never empty and never written. He embodies reality. Under this new light, the manhwaphiles can grasp why Lee Je-Oh perceived the murderer as a god. (chapter 4) Only a god could show pity and assistance towards a prostitute, not humans.

But let’s return our focus on the prostitute’s promises. You see Lee Je-Oh making deals all the time. He is always serious. It started with this: (chapter 6) He would be his ally. (chapter 12) He promised that he would never betray him again. Then later, he declared himself that he was Do Seong-Rok’s business partner. (chapter 28) Then he put conditions to this deal: (chapter 28) And once he met the convict Sang-Joon, he introduced himself as his boyfriend. (chapter 29)

But why would he clinch onto the killer like that? The latter had indeed saved him, freed him from his condition as a prostitute. He had viewed him as a human before anything. He had not forgotten the man’s words in front of the pimp: (chapter 3) He had been the first person who had helped him. He would even feed him and take care of him. He would cook for him, dry his hair or give him a bed. For the first time in his life, he felt appreciated and treasured. He discovered gentleness, concern and warmth. Not even Ma Jong-Seok would treat him like that. (chapter 21) He could sense that Do Seong-Rok was on his side, though the latter still had a girlfriend. That’s the reason why Lee Je-Oh refused the rejection from Do Seong-Rok in front of the mansion. He knew deep down that the man had a reason to act this way. Even when he had treated him roughly in the car, he was well aware that the man was not entirely himself. Therefore it is not surprising that Lee Je-Oh announced his determination to snatch the killer from Ms. Jeon away, for the red-haired man had not respected their deal, their promise. (chapter 34) He had broken his promise, hence Lee Je-Oh would turn his words into a reality.

One might wonder why Do Seong-Rok didn’t explicate his situation before, why he didn’t ask the main lead for help. He had two reasons for this: (chapter 33) In his eyes, the protagonist wouldn’t be able to keep his promises. All these words were empty. How could he take Lee Je-Oh seriously, when the young man had been living in a cage for so long? He had no idea that Jeon Hee-Seong had played a huge role in the man’s misery. (chapter 26) Through this wrong choice, Lee Je-Oh discovered the treacherous side of this woman. Because of her, he suffered a lot. He was trapped in hell for 3 years. (chapter 26) She had deceived him with a fake dream, as if he could liberate himself by stabbing the pimp. So since the prostitute was strongly connected to Ma Jong-Seok, Do Seong-Rok could witness how miserable Lee Je-Oh’s life was. (chapter 7) Though the character claimed to have fought back, he never viewed it. Thus in his mind, the prostitute was powerless. That’s the reason why he didn’t trust the man’s statement: (chapter 32)

Besides, Do Seong-Rok couldn’t protect his lover, thus how could he keep Lee Je-Oh by his side? He would put him in danger, thereby he couldn’t make any promise at all. (chapter 32) He didn’t desire to generate hope. And now, you comprehend why Lee Je-Oh chose to accept the break-up after hearing his lover’s explanation. (chapter 34) He knew that Do Seong-Rok was thinking of Lee Je-Oh’s best interest. (chapter 34) The protagonist needed to show Do Seong-Rok that every words he had said to him were true and genuine. He was a man of his word, he would assist him. He would keep his promises. Though he left his side physically, he was still thinking about him. And it was the same for the suspected murderer. This break was necessary for Do Seong-Rok to perceive the main lead’s strength and power. He was intelligent and even cunning enough. He was forced to face the reality of his situation. Jeon Hee-Seong would never visit him in jail, for this would be seen as a sign for her involvement.

Through his past experience with Jeon Hee-Seong, the black-haired man knew that the woman was a scammer. He proved his oppa that he would protect him no matter what. (chapter 39) And he finally did it. He is now Do Seong-Rok’s boyfriend, and the latter is now called “oppa” in front of others. Though they are now separated by the window, they are in verity standing on the same side. (chapter 39) They are taking care of each other. He brought him new clothes, while the other offers to pay the fine. Their attachment reached its peak, when the main lead stroke his lover’s hair. (chapter 39) He could feel the warmth and affection despite the presence of the glass. He might have debts and no connection, yet with his cunningness, he was still able to ruin Jeon Hee-Seong’s plan. So a pawn still has a value. Each piece in Janggi is indeed important. And now, you are probably wondering how Lee Je-Oh ruined her “perfect crime”?

In my opinion, her intention was to let Seo Sang-Joon and Do Seong-Rok to take the fall. That way, she would be left out of the equation. The two men had worked together. That’s the reason why she asked her future husband Ahn to manipulate the file. (chapter 36) What she doesn’t know is that a promise was the cause for the destruction of her plan. How so? (chapter 31) If Seo Sang-Joon had not made a move on Lee Je-Oh and caused trouble, the prostitute would have never seen this scene: (chapter 31) The convict was scared of jail! He was really distressed in front of Lee Je-Oh. (chapter 31) The prostitute is well aware that this man just needed to get scared and cornered, then he will commit suicide. As you can see, the femme fatale’s promises are all linked to illusion and downfall, while the dark-haired man embodies reality and real promises.

Thus I couldn’t help myself smirking, when I read Lee Je-Oh’s following promise: (chapter 16) 😉I believe that he is wrong. His reaction was natural. He had never seen a man crying before. He only had met dishonest, angry and violent men. Note that Lee Je-Oh never said what he had on his mind. He kept his thoughts to himself, hence his words never became a reality. He still embraced the man. This means that he will fall for this kind of moronic love!! 😎 He was already getting more and more jealous towards Jeon Hee-Seong. Though the young man keeps describing Do Seong-Rok as his weapon (chapter 21), he still values him as a human. Without him, he has no protection. He is the new knife the femme fatale chose to dump, the new version of this scene (chapter 26). The only difference is that back then, she won, while now it is the opposite. To sum up, Lee Je-Oh embodies actions, promises and reality, whereas Jeong Hee-Seong stands for the opposite values. She will never get involved herself directly.

Before closing this essay, I would like to reveal a thought I had concerning the evolution of this story: Do Seong-Rok has a wealthy father (chapter 38) but neither Lee Je-Oh nor Jeon Hee-Song are aware of this. Back then, the father tried to buy his son’s silence with a few bucks … but technically, he could blackmail his father to get some money in order to pay his lover’s huge debts!! By doing so, he would be able to help his lover to escape from Koo’s claws. On the other hand, I believe that Do Seong-Rok and Lee Je-Oh are fighting the injustice and prostitution in this city, as they are now on the verge of becoming the femme fatale’s enemies.

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Painter Of The Night/The Pawn’s Revenge: The witch and the lustful spell (part 1)

This is where you can read the manhwas. But be aware that these manhwas are 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 of Painter Of The Night: As for The Pawn’s Revenge, this is where you can read other essays:

Warning: I used the German version Snow White “Schneewittchen” as basis. Hence I translated myself the quotes.

Everything started with this panel: (chapter 22) The protagonist starts viewing himself as the main character from the fairytale Snow White. Hence he comes to the conclusion that since he is Snow White, then there must be a hunter and a witch, the famous stepmother of Snow White. (chapter 22). That’s why he believes that Do Seong-Rok is the huntsman, while Jeon Hee Seong is the witch, because the former didn’t kill him. The former prostitute had planned to get rid of the young man, as he represented a source of danger for her. That’s why she ordered the killing to her lover. Soon after the release, an user asked Evy who was the Prince in this story. The author replied by denying his existence in this story.

What caught my attention is that there are more references of Snow White in this manhwa, like for example the presence of the shared apple. (chapter 24) Thanks to The Pawn’s Revenge, I came to recognize that even Painter Of The Night has so many common denominators with this fairytale. (chapter 23) That’s the reason why I decided to compare the two manhwas with Snow White. This means, I’ll also explain why they diverge. But for that, it is necessary to explain the fairytale Snow White and its functions.

1. The fairytale Snow White and its purposes

Actually, the focus of this fairytale is the daughter-mother relationship creating some rivalry and jealousy. Though there exists so many stories about this topic (for more read this article, only two are famous, the fairytale written by the brothers Grimm (19th Century) and the version from Walt Disney, “Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs” (1937).

1. 1. Grimm versus Walt Disney

But the famous psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, who considered tales as very important for the child’s development, looked down on the version from Walt Disney calling it “empty minded entertainment”, as the creators had modified too much the Grimms’ story to the point that it had softened and robbed the meaning of this fairytale. Why did he say that? It is because the darkness from the Grimms’ version had totally disappeared. The stepmother in Walt Disney’s version doesn’t eat the lever and lung of a boar boiled in salt in order to keep her beauty, or she doesn’t asphyxiate Snow White with a lacing strap. The jealousy had turned into more in a rivalry and competition because of beauty. Besides, the movie focused on fated love too, for the prince met Snow White as a child. As you can see, the prince plays a bigger role in the movie. For Bruno Bettelheim, only the Grimms’ version is the true one, as it truly deals with the oedipal complex.

The oedipal complex is when a young daughter feels jealous of her own mother, she is unconsciously attracted to her father. But since having such feelings is forbidden, she projects her own jealousy onto her mother. That’s why the daughter feels that her mother is jealous of her. The darkness from the child is now personified by the “mother”. I need to add that the German authors turned the mother into a stepmother in the second version. For Bettelheim, the fairytale helps a child to overcome the negative emotions (oedipal complex, jealousy, rivalry), it also helps him/her to understand the world around by giving him/her a meaning to life. Furthermore, it explains to the young daughters the future transformation unconsciously: it announces the adolescence and adulthood through sexuality. We have to imagine, when Snow White lives with the dwarfs, she is protected growing up in an environment free from sexuality. So when the Queen offers the apple and both are eating from the same apple, Snow White discovers sex and temptation. The apple is a reference to the bible. And now, you comprehend why I choose such a title. The Queen is a witch introducing Snow White to sexuality. As you can see, Bruno Bettelheim judged the fairytale from the point of view of a psychologist. Yet what he failed to realize is that fairytales have other functions.

1. 2. Fairytale and History

First, fairytales were not written for just children, but also for grown-ups. They were supposed to teach lessons to the adults.

They were meant to entertain adults while they were spinning, sewing, repairing tools, and doing chores late at night. John Updike tells us that fairy tales were the television and pornography of an earlier age, and a story like that is revelatory about the true uses of enchantment.” quoted from

How to deal for example, when a lord betrays or abandons a servant? Here, I would like to outline that the notion “family” is strongly connected to the house, and as such a household including the staff. Imagine that Snow White is a maid. Remember that the Queen acts as a lord, the head of the house, so when she orders Snow White’s execution, the young girl can only escape from this terrible fate thanks to the hunter’s fake generosity. This story shows that a servant or even daughter has no right, the lord can do whatever he wants. He won’t get sanctioned. And this remark leads me to the following statement. Bettelheim didn’t recognize that fairytales actually reflect history and the society of their period.

And now, you comprehend why the Disney version was less brutal, more romantic and the Dwarfs were portrayed as rich but hardworking miners. When the American author released the fairytale, marriage in America is associated to love. There exists the myth about fated love too. In addition, American society is promoting free market economy and hard work: American dream. Therefore we see the Dwarfs working so hard in the mine while singing. In the other version, it is just said casually. The parents are supposed to protect their children from any kind of violence, the children have even rights. Consequently the cruelty was removed. Moreover, motherhood is considered as sacred, while in the past, it was different. In the 18th Century and even before, parents didn’t ponder on how to raise their children properly. There were neither psychologist nor pediatrician nor educationalist. The children just needed to learn how to act and dress according to their social status. They were treated like small adults. However, slowly from the end of the 18th Century on, government and as such society started perceiving children differently, as a tool for their own politics. Napoleon created lycées (high schools) in order to increase his army. He promoted education, while in truth he misused it for propaganda and indoctrination. My point is that when the brothers Grimm published Snow White, people treated young children differently than in 1937 in the United States. In Germany, adults used fear to control the children!

Die gar traurige Geschichte mit dem Feuerzeug von Heinrich Hoffmann
This is a story from the Struwwelpeter written by Heinrich Hoffman. As you can see, the girl plays with the matches. Her disobedience leads to her death. She gets burnt. The lesson is that if you should listen to your parents’ words because if not, you can die. These lessons are quite gruesome but reflect the mentality of that period. Fear is used as a tool to get submissive students.

Secondly, violence was a way to expose the children to the brutality of their world (there were many revolutions in Germany in 19th Century). But there’s more to it. And we have a proof that Snow White from the brothers Grimm reflected the society of the 19th Century: the presence of a lacing strap.

But the old woman quickly laced and laced so tightly that Snow White lost her breath and thought she was dead.”

It was a reference to the corset. Young girls would try to lace their corset so tight that they could faint. This was one of the lessons in Snow White: “Don’t lace the corset to tight, because you could have the same fate than Snow White!” This explicates why Walt Disney didn’t include this scene in his story. The corset had vanished from fashion a long time ago. How did I realize that old fairytales are a mirror of the past? It is because when I was a P. A. of a History professor, I was asked to translate his essay about the definition of House and Foreign in late Middle Age and early modern times, and he used the fairytale “Town Musicians of Bremen” from Grimm as an example. The servants were indeed part of the House, once they were old, they would be thrown out of the mansion. The house was a synonym for family, like I mentioned above. During the Middle-Age, European cities, like Bremen, became more and more powerful leading to their emancipation from lords. Bremen like other cities became independent, hence the city councils could hire hire their own musicians. Though this fairytale was written in the 19th Century, it let transpire the social norms and mentality from a previous period. That’s why I came to the conclusion that Snow White must also reflect society from the 19th Century. I could give you another example.

In the Grimms’ version, the presence of sexuality was hidden, because it was symbolized by the apple. Since religion occupied a huge place in the 19th Century, people knew the bible. Consequently they could comprehend the message. But the moment Snow White ate the apple, she discovered sex. But note that she fell into a deep sleep right away. Once she woke up due to an accident occurring during the transportation of the coffin, Snow White had already found her husband, the prince. The latter had selected her as his bride, as he couldn’t forget her. The prince had even asked for the dwarfs’ permission.

Then he said to the dwarves, “Let me have the coffin, and I will give you what you want for it.”

In other words, this fairy tale was promoting marriage of convenience and the interdiction of sex before marriage, while in the Disney version we have the opposite message. Since the prince kisses the protagonist, before he marries her, it implies that sex can occur before marriage.

Thus even if I consider that The Pawn’s revenge and Painter Of The Night are new versions of Snow-White, they can only be different. Now, sexuality, sexual education and homosexuality are no longer a taboo. That’s the reason why there is no hidden message concerning this topic. As a conclusion, the stories will reflect Korean society or modern society as such. The stories will teach lessons to the readers and give meaning to their life, but only if they decide to ponder about these stories.

This truly exposes that Grimms’ and Walt Disney’s Snow White is just a mirror of the past. But don’t get me wrong: these fairytales are still useful. First, like Bruno Bettelheim, they help children to forge their own identity and to navigate in the world as moral compass. Since the characters are black (evil) or white (good), the children can easily differentiate between right and wrong. Simultaneously, the fairytales prepare them to recognize that reality is more complex. We have the perfect example in Snow White (Grimm) with the huntsman.

1. 3. The lesson taught by the huntsman

It seems that people only remembers him as a good-hearted man, as he had pity and disobeyed the Queen’s orders. But what many don’t know or overlooked is that the huntsman embodies cowardice and selfishness. In truth, he is just a weak-hearted person and a hypocrite.

“And because she was so beautiful, the hunter took pity on her and said, “So run along, you poor child!” The wild animals will soon have eaten you, he thought, and yet he felt as if a stone had rolled from his heart, because he did not need to kill her.

He acts kind and benevolent in front of Snow White, while in reality he envisions that she will die. At no moment, he wants to save her. She survives, because he doesn’t want to feel guilty and fate is on her side. This means, he just refuses to become responsible for her death. Others will do it for him. That way, his Queen won’t notice that he disobeyed. And notice that the moment the stepmother discovered that she had been played, the huntsman’s disobedience was not punished. Why? It is because she didn’t discover it right away. She ate the lung and lever believing that these were the parts of Snow White.

As you can see, the fairytale was teaching the meaning of fake kindness, cowardice and hypocrisy. But the irony is that in the latest movies, the huntsman was turned into a hero! In addition, it also exposes the “powerlessness” of the Queen. The huntsman could fool her due to her obsession. Simultaneously, it teaches that disobedience doesn’t lead to a death sentence. Here, I would like to point out that after the end of World War II, many German soldiers or guards from camps of concentration claimed that they didn’t dare to disobey. They just followed the orders they had received as a justification for their misdeeds. The reality is that it was just a myth. Historians could prove that no one got executed or no one was forced to become a guard in a camp of concentration.

1. 4. Definition of a fairytale

Because of these parallels between The Pawn’s Revenge, Painter Of The Night and Snow White, I wondered if the manhwas could be considered as fairytales. The presence of violence or sexuality can not be judged as evidences that they can not be fairytales, for they are considered as old form of pornography, destined to adults too. So what is the definition of fairytale?

The story must contain the following elements:

  • The presence of magic and supernatural beings: witch, animals acting like humans, fairies etc.
  • The characters are seldom given a precise identity. The characters are portrayed very briefly. They are associated to features, like for example, the Queen embodies vanity, superficiality and jealousy.
  • The existence of trials, the heroine has to go through different bad experiences in order to grow and mature.
  • The place and times: They are usually not defined in order to give a timeless dimension.
  • The ending: People usually think that all the fairytales have a good ending, but this is not true. The fairytales from Andersen (The little Mermaid, the little Match girl) have often tragic ending.

According to this definition, The Pawn’s revenge can’t be considered as a fairytale, for there is no magic. But I would like to point out that The Pawn’s revenge still contains some “supernatural elements”. Lee Je-Oh compares the serial killer to a grim reaper (chapter 1) or a god. Then the characters are often associated to animals: dog, mutt, snake, horse, pig, elephant, chicken (chapter 2). Furthermore, the figures in this story are perceived as living pawns of Janggi. (chapter 12) Finally , I compared Jeon See Heong to a mermaid (chapter 6) bewitching her prey. On the other hand, the figures have a precise identity. The time and the place are quite defined. As for Painter Of The Night, it looks like the same. We know the birthdays of Yoon Seungho and Baek Na-Kyum and there’s no magic or supernatural elements. Yet, we sometimes see the presence of magic and a lustful spell. Imagine, in this scene we have the impression that the painter’s spirit summoned the Ghost Seungho to approach him. Striking is that this repressed desired got fulfilled. While he had his eyes closed, the lord approached him. Another positive aspect is that the time and space are not defined. It’s just Joseon period, but that’s it. The mention of Hanyang can not be seen as transgression, because remember that there exists the fairytale Town Musicians of Bremen. The town has no name. Byeonduck said that her manhwa was not a historical story, but she found her inspiration in History. Besides, the trials of the two protagonists are more in the center, while Lee Je-Oh and Do Seong-Rok have already struggled, before the story starts. Consequently, Painter Of The Night resembles a lot more to a fairytale than The Pawn’s revenge, though the sentence “once upon a time” is missing.

On the surface, this comparison seems pointless, yet I wanted to expose that these stories might not entirely correspond to a fairytale, they still resemble to Snow White. Just like the fairytales, the manhwas can have a deeper meaning, for they serve the same purposes: Teach lessons to adults, incite the readers to question their own society and social norms, develop a better understanding of psychology, encourage them to become more committed, less indifferent to injustice, more thoughtful and not judge people too quickly.

1. 5. The ingredients of Snow White

In order to be able to contrast the stories to the fairytale, it is necessary to list all the elements present in Snow White from the brothers Grimm. Besides, this version resembles more to the manhwas due to the sexual content. Seduction and temptation are more obvious. Nevertheless, I will not just list the characters and the relevant items present in the fairytale, but also the topics while giving some explanations:

  1. The 7 Dwarfs: owners of mines
  2. The presence of a witch (The Queen as the stepmother in the original story)
  3. The huntsman
  4. Snow White: Dark hair, white skin and red lips.
  5. The prince: a symbol for marriage
  6. The mirror of truth
  7. Arrogance and vanity: She keeps looking at her own reflection in the mirror. She feels entitled to be the most beautiful.
  8. Hidden fears and anxieties: The Queen still doesn’t believe her own eyes, hence she needs a confirmation from the mirror of Truth. In reality, the mother is full of insecurities, that’s the reason why she desires a confirmation.
  9. Reflection and critical thinking: She doesn’t ponder about the reason why the mirror of Truth is telling her that Snow White is more beautiful. She doesn’t distinguish between seeming and being.
  10. Jealousy and rivalry
  11. Oedipal complex
  12. Guilt and responsibility: Because the hunter didn’t want to feel guilty, he refused to follow the order. Yet he didn’t save her as well. Notice that the stepmother and the hunter desired to put the responsibility on others. The Queen blamed her step-daughter for her failure, whereas the huntsman desired to delegate the dirty work to others (animals). Both showed no true remorse in the end. The Queen failed in her quest, because she never reflected on her own actions. She is definitely responsible for her own failure and misery.
  13. Loyalty and betrayal: While the Queen betrays the daughter, the huntsman does the the heroine and the Queen. He is only loyal to himself and his own interests. Despite the discovery of the scheme, she doesn’t punish him, she vents her anger on the protagonist. On the other hand, Snow White still has a good impression of the huntsman.
  14. Neglect: the father seems inexistent and he doesn’t intervene.
  15. Obsession and blindness: The Queen is determined to become the fairest that she doesn’t understand what the mirror of Truth is telling her. She misunderstands the message: the mirror of Truth is telling her that “Schneewittchen” has the better personality. She is a 10000 better than the Queen, as she is more kind and selfless. The Queen doesn’t recognize her true personality.
  16. Abandonment: Notice that Snow White is sent away to woods in order to get murdered. This gesture symbolizes abandonment and betrayal. But the Queen is not the only one to blame. The father doesn’t seem to miss her disappearance as well. He neglects and abandons his daughter.
  17. Selfishness and fake altruism
  18. Death and murders
  19. Hypocrisy: Snow White never discovered the huntsman’s true personality.
  20. Cowardice
  21. The presence of justice and injustice: While the huntsman escaped a punishment, the Queen was sentenced to death: “Iron slippers had already been heated over a fire, and they were brought over to her with tongs. Finally, she had to put on the red-hot slippers and dance until she fell down dead“. This means that the real perpetrator was only caught many years after the crimes. And it is, because the huntsman had told her what the Queen had ordered him to do. She relied on his testimony. But the protagonist never discovered the true thoughts of the huntsman. Yet, like I mentioned above, the hunter was not innocent. He might have committed no big crime towards Snow White, yet he was definitely a sinner and had not a good heart. According to our actual laws, the huntsman has perpetrated a wrongdoing: non-assistance of a person in danger. The moral of this fairytale is that true justice will never happen immediately or even worse: there exists no real justice.
  22. Ambition and Greed: Her quest to be the most beautiful exposes her greed. In fact, her fight is pointless, as she can’t fight against aging. She is already doomed to failure.
  23. Unconscious/conscious: Here, I would like the readers to keep in mind that according to Bruno Bettelheim, the fairytale was speaking to children’s unconscious, while the adults can learn lessons from this story consciously.

And now, it is time to analyze how similar the manhwas are to Snow White.

2. The Pawn’s revenge

As this essay is already long and to outline the similarities, I will put the common denominators to bold. Simultaneously, I will follow the list developed above by examining the main figures.

2. 1. The 7 Dwarves

Since the 7 Dwarves are owners of mines and seem to be very rich, I couldn’t help myself connecting these supernatural creatures to the following characters: Contrary to the fairytale, they embody not innocence, generosity, selflessness and chastity, but the opposite: sex, hypocrisy, corruption, selfishness, ruthlessness and immorality. They are not owners of mines, but they possess brothels which reminded me of chicken farms . They don’t live surrounded by nature and among animals, but in the city. The animals are the humans, they are treated like chickens. In other words, they stand in opposition to the dwarves of the fairytales: corruption, urbanization, poverty and misery. They don’t work themselves, but let others work for them like slaves. Yet they act, as if they were normal citizens abiding laws. This explicates why Ma Jong-Seok hides his affection from Snow White. He can’t be labelled as homosexual. The dwarfs, associated to different vices, symbolize the negative aspects of free market economy and the problems, when the government is not strong enough or too corrupt to stop such an evolution. I could even say, we have here the negative reflection of Snow White and the 7 Dwarves from Walt Disney. Motherhood is no longer sacred, the kids are exposed to any kind of abuse. Snow White is now held captive in the mansion of the dwarves! He is exposed to exploitation, the perverted version of Grimes’ version. In the fairytale, the young girl was supposed to take care of the house in exchange of protection, here we have the opposite: Enslavement. The male prostitute has no choice. But what they didn’t realize is that the witch would betray them. Hence I consider the apple as the tool the witch used to get rid of her rivals! The fruit served as a diversion, she was busy listening to their affairs so that she could develop her plan to climb the social ladders.

2. 2. The witch

Since Jeon Hee Seong was the one who introduced Do Seong-Rok to sex, she can definitely be seen as the witch and evil queen. She seduced him with her experience and insight. She could read him like an open book. She knew that he was so pure and innocent, hence she compared him to a lamb. Her resemblance to the evil mother explains why she is seen with the apple. However, unlike the fairytale, the fruit doesn’t symbolize sexuality, but betrayal. She is actually spying on the boss of the red light district and his minions. She behaves exactly like the Queen, as she is not longing for warmth and love. But her wish is still different, as she wishes power and wealth. Yet, they resemble each other, as both felt somehow powerless. In the fairytale, the absence or passivity of the king, Snow White’s father, gives me the impression that the evil Queen could have been a neglected wife, and the lord selected her as his new wife, out of convenience. He needed to have a wife by his side, and couldn’t remain as a widower. She was treated like a trophy explaining his absence. But because he married her for her beauty, it signifies that she had no power. Her appearance was her source of strength, and now you comprehend why she became obsessed with her image. If she lost her beauty, she would become even more powerless than before. She had nothing else to do. Jeon Hee Seong was forced to marry Choi, and while the Queen from Snow White was neglected, the witch was abused by her husband. So both were unhappy in their marriage and life. This explains their desire to get power in their own way. As the manhwaphiles can detect, both witches have something in common: ambition and greed, though Jeon See Heong uses her beauty differently. She is aware of her own attraction and has no fear or insecurities. She doesn’t need a mirror to tell her how beautiful she is. Her body is her tool, not the mirror. Yet both have another aspect in common: they try not to do the dirty work themselves. Both hire a killer, the only difference is that due to the huntsman’s betrayal, the Queen learned her lesson. She had to do it herself, if she wanted to get rid of her rival. And this leads me to the following observation. The witch from The Pawn’s revenge has two reasons to use others for her dirty work. First, she is no queen, hence she could get charged with murders. Secondly, if we use the fairytale as a parallel, she could have a similar mindset than the huntsman. She doesn’t want to feel burdened by guilt, notice that she is never facing the consequences of her order and decisions. She didn’t see the corpse of her dead husband and the gambler Lee Soon-Cheol. She just communicates through a cellphone. Besides, even Do Seong-Rok felt uncomfortable after killing two people. Hence I perceive Jeon Hee Seong as less bloodthirsty than she appears to be. She could be more of a coward.

On the other hand, in the manhwa the witch is still relying on her lover, Do Seong-Rok. She got angry, when she realized that he had disobeyed her and let him become responsible for Lee Je-Oh. However, it is just a matter of time, until she gets aware that Do Seong-Rok is no longer bewitched by her. In chapter 26, he can no longer have sex with her. Hence we have a parallel with the fairytale: the allusion of aging and change. The woman is no longer attractive to him, because he has perceived her true nature. She manipulated him and he got aware that she was fake. With this, we would another similarity with the fairytale, the distinction between seeming and being. He realizes, that her promises were all an illusion. In this scene, the manhwaphiles can sense her witchcraft.

And since Jeon Hee Seong has already chosen Ahn Jae Oh as her official partner due to his social position, it becomes understandable why her relationship with Do Seong-Rok was doomed to failure. I would say, since the police officer is on the verge to become a congressman, the protagonist could only appear weak to her. His strength were his loyalty and blinded trust. Consequently Ahn reminds me of the king from the fairytale, while I perceive Do Seong-Rok not just as the huntsman, but also as a second Snow White. First, he had dark hair and a white skin like the protagonist. Secondly, he was as pure as Snow White. But since he was neglected and had abandonment issues, he longed for maternal warmth and love. In the Korean version, we see his father promising to come back, an indication that he had no mother. Hence I judge, Do Seong-Rok’s relationship with the witch was a form of an oedipal complex. She served as a surrogate mother, that’s how much he longed for a mother and family. The manhwaphiles will realize the common denominators: neglect and abandonment perceptible in the beginning of the fairytale. Secondly, note that Do Seong-Rok had changed the color of his hair, when he met her again. That’s why I deduce that the card she gave him should be perceived as the apple from the fairytale. (chapter 16) With her appearance, her words and this card, she casted a spell on him. That’s why he was so full of lust during their second encounter. The red hair could be judged as the indication of the lustful spell. Simultaneously, this color implies the loss of virginity and the beginning of adulthood. The most fascinating is that in the bedroom, two colors are prevailing: red and white, which coincidences to the red and white side of the poisoned apple from Snow White. The witch’s beauty was so strong that he had to transform himself. (chapter 16) This was his desire to resemble her, to get closer to her. Since he was a man, the witch didn’t see him as a rival. This explicates why she didn’t feel jealous at all. But for me, there’s no ambiguity that she filled the void left by the missing mother. Hence, since he was having sex with a surrogate mother, this can not be considered as the real discovery of sex. I conclude that when he met Lee Je-Oh, he discovered real sexuality. That’s the reason why he can no longer have any erection with the Queen. If we judge The Pawn’s revenge as a fairytale, then it teaches, homosexuality is a normality. He didn’t know about this, until he saw the male prostitute having sex with the pimp and felt aroused.

Moreover, by sleeping with him, Jeon Hee-Seong somehow committed a sin. Let’s not forget that she was already married. The woman embodies evil, for she promotes cheating, betrayal, murder, selfishness and avidity. Her ambition is to become the Queen of the red light district. This means, the readers are witnessing the raising of the evil mother, who is on the verge of becoming the Queen! But due to her greed and ambition, she doesn’t realize her own blindness. Her arrogance makes her overlook the male prostitute, Lee Je-Oh. She trusts too much her beauty, and believes to be smarter than others. Thus her arrogance is the reason why she will fail in the end. She showed her true face to Do Seong-Rok too soon, when she showed her anger, because the huntsman had disobeyed her order. The man could see a glimpse of her true personality. Due to his past experience, he had learned his lesson. In addition, she is underestimating the power of love. Thus she had planned to betray and abandon her lover, but she doesn’t anticipate the killer’s betrayal. Exactly like the stepmother, she is not reflecting on her own actions. She didn’t pay too much attention to her words over the phone and the consequences. The absence of critical thinking will be another reason why she is doomed to fail: too obsessed to reach the top. She has the impression, she is almost there, the presence of the ring offered by Ahn is the proof of her success. And now, you can see why I saw so many parallels with the fairytale.

2. 3. Snow White and the huntsman

Naturally, this is not surprising that Lee Je-Oh considers Do Seong-Rok as the huntsman. The latter’s actions resemble to the ones from Snow White. Yet, unlike the hunter, the red-haired man has not a weak heart, but a good heart. He is not a coward or a hypocrite. He can feel pity, and doesn’t fear to dirty his hands. On the other hand, he has nightmares, as his unconscious is telling him that he made the wrong choice. And in this scene, we have the presence of conscious and unconscious. He shouldn’t have listened to his lover’s suggestions, but he is still in denial. That’s the reason why he keeps starring and looking at the letter with a fake confession. Hence I believe that contrary to the hunter, he feels some remorse, as he senses that he has been tricked. In my opinion, by sleeping with her, Do Seong-Rok got tainted by her darkness. This explicates why when he strangled Ma Jeong-Sok, he had an erection. And remember that in the Grimms’ version, we had the presence of a lace in connection to Snow White. And this reinforces my interpretation that the killer is actually more a combination of both characters: the huntsman and Snow White. He has become the “perverted version” due to the Queen’s influence, he is her step-son. Striking is that Lee Je-Oh is giving him another interpretation of his wrongdoings: he liberated him from his prison and misery.

2. 4. Snow White and the mirror of Truth

Since Jeong Hee-Seong resembles a lot to Lee Je-Oh, he appears to be indeed the real Snow White. Exactly like Do Seong-Rok and Snow White, he has dark hair, a white skin and red cheeks. Moreover, similar to the Grimms’ version, the main lead has been neglected and abandoned by his father.

Their fate seems similar, yet there is a huge difference. The male prostitute learned not to rely on others. When he tried to free himself, he didn’t ask for help, he stabbed Ma Jong-Seok himself. However, he was encouraged to use the knife by the witch, that’s how he discovered her true personality. Her beauty can no longer bewitch him. Striking is that he could already perceive her true personality, even before knowing her true identity.

In my opinion, Lee Je-Oh is actually a combination of the mirror of Truth and Snow White. Through his comments, he is confronting Do Seong-Rok and forcing him to reflect on his actions, questioning his relationship with the witch. But notice that he has a similar attitude with other characters. He confronts Choi Yeong-Gil with his hypocrisy and negative attitude. Just before the pimp is killed, he confronts him with his true personality and sins. He is responsible for the misery and death of many people. Once cornered, the “dwarf” is forced to confess his affection to Lee Je-Oh. Both dwarves had something in common: hypocrisy. Hence you can comprehend why I come to the conclusion, Lee Je-Oh is the mirror of truth. He embodies honesty and loyalty, just like the protagonist, he longed for a home and family.

Hence the huntsman’s “jail” corresponds more to the house of the dwarfs from the fairy tale. It’s the place where love, trust and innocence are protected. Since I have already predicted a revolution, I believe, Lee Je-Oh will give another sense to Do Seong-Rok’s murders. They will try to destroy this corrupted world full of selfishness and greed. That’s how Lee Je-Oh will become the witch’s rival. He will ruin her plan due to his sense of justice. The manhwaphiles will certainly remember that the fairytale is centered on jealousy, rivalry and competition. The young boy was already jealous that he felt the need to steal the killer. Right after having sex with him, he considers Do Seong-Rok as his boyfriend. He compliments him and caresses him, giving him the warmth and affection the killer had been longing.

What also caught my attention is that both Snow Whites are “corrupted”. While the one kills, the other lies, schemes and steals. This stands in opposition to “Schneewittchen” from the Grimms’ version. It is comprehensible, because both protagonists got tainted by their parents. Lee Je-Oh’s father was selfish and had no sense of responsibility, while Jeon Hee Seong desired to use the main lead’s weaknesses (isolation, lack of experience and innocence) to her advantage. This signifies, both are the products of bad parenting and a ruthless and selfish society. So if the two Snow Whites start working together and keep killing others in order to clean society, what will happen to this city? Chaos. But Lee Je-Oh would see it as delayed justice.

2. 5. The absence of the Prince

Why did Evy say that there was no prince in this story? My explanation is the following. Since the prince embodies “marriage” and in South Korea, homosexual marriage is not allowed, there can’t be a prince. Secondly, since I have already portrayed that the two protagonists have two functions, this signifies that both could also be perceived as the prince. They both free each other, as they give each other what they need. In the episode 27, Lee Je-Oh decided to lie to Kang Hyeon-Jong in order to protect his lover. He gave him an alibi and used the video as an evidence. This means that from now on, he is now responsible for Do Seong-Rok, just like the latter is now accountable for Lee Je-Oh’s survival. And since there’s no justice in this world, I believe that the prostitute Snow White will take matters into his own hands and give justice to others. Remember that Snow White sentenced her stepmother to death! This signifies that she gave justice herself.

As a first conclusion, though The Pawn’s Revenge doesn’t correspond to the definition of a fairytale, the manhwa and Snow White are really similar due to the topics and characters. It truly shows that such stories are a great source of inspiration. Then the readers should question themselves why the city and its inhabitants are portrayed in such a negative light. From my point of view, it is related to the huge political scandals South Korea had to face like for example with the president Park Geun-hye, and the economical boom with the development of new districts which doesn’t lead to a diminution of poverty. Then, there was the Sewol ferry incident, where many students died, while the captain and the crew abandoned them. This terrible event caused a huge mistrust in the authorities and the adults’ hypocrisy and selfishness. As the manhwaphiles can detect, I view this story as a mirror of our modern society: the failure of parents as role model, the disintegration of families… Simultaneously, it teaches the same lessons: recognize hypocrisy, selfishness and the importance of reflection. Lee Je-Oh could become the killer’s ally, the moment he recognized his own mistake. He imagined his intelligence made him superior, he underestimated the huntsman’s strong will. He might have felt pity, but he was not a fool, rather a dangerous man because of his strength. He mistook his innocence for stupidity. That’s why Snow White is superior to the witch.

As you can imagine, I won’t write the comparison with the Painter Of The Night here, for the analysis is already so long, however I would like the readers now to ponder on the following question: Who is the witch with her lustful spell, Snow White, the mirror of truth, the 7 dwarves, the huntsman and the prince in Byeonduck’s work?

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 reddit-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.

The Pawn’s Revenge: A perfect plan?🔞 (second version)

This is where you can read the manhwa.  But be aware that this manhwa is a mature Yaoi, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes. Besides, this manhwa is categorized as HARDCORE.  Here is the link, if you are interested in more analyses about this manhwa and others

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When the episode 24 was released, I couldn’t help myself connecting this panel with the following one (chapter 21) As you can detect, both have so many similarities: a memory, an open area, the blue sky with clouds, two people close to each other, a very confidential conversation, a plan and a clear view. When I analyzed the second panel [read for that the essay “Hope”], I described that this image represented a dream and as such a hope. Kang Hyeon-Jong explained his plan to his younger brother, and envisioned that an open space was the perfect place for secrecy. In a park, no one would ever suspect them to have such a project (getting rid of corruption among the police and its connection to the red-light district). However, we all know that the police officer’s dream got ruined, for he went missing. There’s no doubt that he got killed, because he got betrayed.

As you can imagine, this image oozes the same atmosphere. Do Seong-Rok and the former prostitute are “hoping” that everything will go well with their plan. By killing Jeon Hee-Seong’s enemies, the serial killer has the impression that he will free her so that they can be together. Because of the parallels, the manhwaphiles can already sense that their dream is doomed to failure, since Kang Hyeon-Jong’s vision never came true. This signifies that their “dream” is in fact just an illusion. Why? I believe that first we can get some answers by comparing both panels again. Yet this time I will focus on the divergences. Then in the second part, I will elaborate their “perfect” project more concretely.

1. Comparison between the detective and the prostitute’s project

1. 1. The beach

First, the place diverges. The protagonist is with Jeon Hee-Seong at the beach. This is no coincidence, as the beach symbolizes new beginning. The reason is simple. It’s because the water washes away the sand and allows the sand underneath to have its new beginning on top. This means that the moment their project is finished, the couple is supposed to start their life anew.

1. 2. The ocean

Secondly, both are facing the ocean, while the brothers were facing the city. It was, as if the couple desired to leave the civilization and to return to nature. They would leave everything behind, as there exists nothing else next to them. They are alone and carrying no possession. On the other hand, the detective’s wish was to clean the city with his brother’s support. We have the impression that the protagonist and his companion have no real aspiration except escaping from their “prison”, whereas the detective, associated to the mountain, is full of idealism and ambition. Imagine that he plans to purge the whole organization alone, a huge task for a simple human. But as you know, the villainess Jeon Hee-Seong is actually far from being contented and humble. Like the author has already revealed it, her flower is snapdragon embodying greed and ambition. This aspect is even reinforced with the choice of color, purple.

Purple: “pompous and arrogant, fraudulent and corrupt, delusions of grandeur and the social climber.” Quoted from

And this truly shows that the chosen place for the confidence, the beach, is actually a deception planned by the former prostitute.

Striking is that the ocean is a symbol of power, strength, life, mystery, hope and truth. It is also referred to as being the tears, or sorrow, of God. These associations can be perceived with the following legend. Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty and love, was born from the ocean and its foam, as a drop of blood and semen fell from the sky into the ocean. The titan Cronus had severed his father’s genitals and flung them into the sea. Her birth reflects life, mystery but also power and strength.

Simultaneously, the ocean is also related to chaos. Remember that the goddess’ birth is linked to blood and violence. But the chaos is also explainable, as the ocean is boundless and ungovernable. This signification is important, for it already announces the prostitute’s huge mistake. She thinks, the beach is the perfect place to manipulate her lover, making him believe that they have a future together: they are facing the limitless ocean, a symbol for freedom. But she is overlooking one aspect: the ocean can be a synonym for destruction represented by hurricanes and tsunamis. That’s why I come to the conclusion that the ocean embodies Do Seong-Rok. Remember how Lee Je-Oh viewed him as a god and admired his force. (chapter 1) I would like the reader to keep in their mind that even in Janggi, the protagonist is acting as a cannon, hence he is definitely no ordinary pawn. For her, the young man is still an innocent and pure lamb, easily manipulated, that’s why she said this to her ally Ahn: (chapter 11) In her mind, he is just a worker and not a boyfriend. She is unaware that by turning him into a killer, she will change his nature. He can no longer be a lamb or even a simple pawn. That’s why he gets an erection while strangling Ma Jong-Seok. (chapter 18) He has become a weapon, and as the ocean, she can never control him. As you can see, if you interpret such an image, you can already anticipate the evolution of the story and realize the villain’s errors. Besides, pay attention to the place of the biggest cloud. It stands next to the main lead. The cloud often represents hope, but it also embodies danger, because it covers the view. And now if we combine the ocean with the cloud, we have a hurricane, the chaos!! This observation really outlined the villain’s mistake one more time. She is not realizing her lover’s true nature. And we have another clue for Do Seong-Rok’s dangerousness: The color yellow! This pigment is often associated to positive features like optimism, cheerfulness, logic and wisdom. [For more information:] But what is less known is that this shade is the color of deception, physical illness (jaundice, malaria, pestilence) and caution. That’s why we have the yellow signal light for example and the yellow tape for a crime scene: (chapter 1) This negative association comes from the Middle-Age in Europe, where Jews and prostitutes were forced to wear some yellow on their clothes reflecting their social status. This pigment was a warning, and this justifies why in French (yellow=jaune) and in English there exist many negative expressions with yellow: “rire jaune” (two-faced laugh) or “jaune cocu” (cuckold yellow) or “yellow belly” (coward). Therefore yellow represents deception, betrayal, adultery, arrogance, vanity and jealousy. And note that Do Seong-Rok is indeed committing adultery with the main lead, (chapter 18) though now the roles have been switched. In episode 25, Lee Je-Oh is already treating Do Seong-Rok as his boyfriend and has the impression that his lover will cheat on him with Jeon Hee-Seong. That’s why he gets upset. And now, you comprehend why the femme fatale’s dream is an illusion. She thought, she was deceiving her pawn, while in reality she didn’t recognize her own misjudgment. Her delusion of grandeur is the cause for her future defeat.

1. 3. Their position

Another difference is their position. (chapter 24) The villainess and her pawn are standing, while the brothers are sitting. This is relevant, for it indicates that the detective and his Kang Hyeon-Woo are resting. By confiding to his brother, the future victim is taking a break, trying to release his stress and getting some comfort and support from his relative. On the other hand, the couple is standing indicating a certain tension. They are attempting to relax, but they can’t due to the pressure. They are about to start their project.

Another divergence is that the main characters are touching each other, their physical intimacy is even reinforced, as both are holding hands (chapter 24), while the brothers are just sitting next to each other with a certain distance. (chapter 21) However, this doesn’t reflect the real nature of their relationship. The siblings are indeed very close, as Kang Hyeon-Jong is confessing his true desire and wish. That’s why his brother mostly remained silent, this was his way to express his support. (chapter 21) And when he spoke, he expressed his concern for his brother. This signifies that safety mattered more than his dream back then.

Now, you can grasp why there exists this physical intimacy between the former prostitute and the future serial killer. It serves a purpose: to mask their distance, which is actually perceptible through their words. On the surface, it looks like they are working together in this, however this is just an illusion. Note that the killer is bearing the whole burden (“It’s something that only I can do” and repetition of the personal pronoun I), while the femme fatale is supposed to risk her life by using something. In other words, she only needs to do one thing. This interpretation is even reinforced by her fake concern in the next image. (chapter 24) Her so-called comforting words truly display that only Do Seong-Rok is getting his life in danger, as he will be the only one prosecuted. This means, the serial killer will divert the attention of the investigation and the prosecution office from Jeon Hee-Seong. The woman’s gentle gesture is actually masking the high expectation she has from her “lover”.

1. 4. The sky

What caught my attention is the presence of darkness in the blue sky, while the black was only present as a frame in the other picture. This announces that their plan has nothing pure, for it is related to murders and as such death. Secondly, I interpret that this darkness indicates the presence of manipulation. The red-haired man is actually deceived by his lover, it was, as if the magician had created a fake vision of their hope and dream, while behind the blue sky and clouds the reality is waiting for the future murderer. He will become a scapegoat, but he is not realizing it.

1. 5. Their clothes

What caught my attention is that the villainess and the deceased police officer’s pullover has the same color: beige. Yet, this is not visible from behind, for she is wearing a black jacket. The appearance of beige is no coincidence, because this color is associated to loyalty and responsibility.

“Beige: is practical and reliable, conservative, constant, unchanging and loyal”. Quoted from

Here, I would like the manhwaphiles to pay attention to the femme fatale’s clothes. Her choice of color is never random, they always reflect her intentions. She uses the colors to mask her true thoughts and deceive her counterparts. That’s why she was dressed like that in chapter 25: Her bun and her clothes gave the impression that she was just an average married woman, but when she visited her so-called boyfriend, she had dressed up. Her long hair was left in the open, an important sign for seduction, just like the white shirt exudes purity and innocence. (chapter 25) At the same time, the black skirt embodies mystery and seduction.

But let’s return our attention to the clothes she was wearing at the beach. So when she had the beige pullover on, she wanted to exude reliability and fidelity. That’s the reason why she asks her companion to trust her, just like she trusts him. In addition, beige is a devirated shade from brown, and brown symbolizes sincerity, warmth and protection. However, brown and beige can serve as deception and can definitely be associated to hypocrisy and fakeness. And now, you understand why the scene at the beach was just a vision, and not a real wish. The villainess used her body (the hand and her clothes) to convince Do Seong-Rok to set the plan in motion. The former prostitute had the impression, she had developed the perfect plan. She would get her freedom, but she would be able to achieve her dream: getting power and wealth, (chapter 23), while she would let the young man take the fall.

2. Jeon Hee-Seong’s perfect plan

Actually, she is well aware that she will become the prime suspect. Even Koo Jeong-Moo was already suspecting her after Choi Yeong-Gil’s disappearance. (chapter 11) That’s why she is well aware that she needs to find someone to become her scapegoat. But who would be so stupid to do her dirty work and even trust her? Only a person blinded by her intelligence, her terrible situation (a fragile prostitute who got forced to get married to an abusive husband) and by his thirst for affection and warmth: Do Seong-Rok.

2. 1. Truth

What caught my attention is that her manipulations are based on truth. She told him for example that her life was so terrible that from now on, she would do anything for her own sake, she would use every trick, and even the main lead. (chapter 16) And observe that the future assassin was willing to accept this terrible situation (chapter 16) He would be her tool. And don’t forget that in that scene, she was trembling on her knees, a sign of huge vulnerability, which could only move his heart. He felt that she needed him, that’s why he accepted to follow her plan. I could use another evidence that truth is her MO. She confided to him this (chapter 23). For the pure man, her words sounded normal and natural. She didn’t desire to be stigmatized as a prostitute, she just wanted to be part of the society. However, in truth, she meant something else. By climbing up the ladder, she was aiming at a higher position: becoming the king of the red-light district. That’s why it is important to even question people’s intention, when they speak the truth. Nevertheless, when he decided to follow her perfect plan, he had one request: she was the only one who could save him, if it became too hard for him.

And now, it becomes understandable what he meant with this promise. It is related to her plan. (chapter 24) Once he has been prosecuted and he is proven innocent, he can’t be charged with the same crime. But just because this rule exists, this doesn’t mean that this will be applied in this case.

2. 2. Evidences and witnesses

And now, you comprehend why he killed Lee Soon-Cheol first. The latter was in possession of the videos compromising Jeon Hee-Seong. (chapter 24) These videos were her weaknesses, therefore the main lead needed to find and erase them. We don’t know for sure that he was tasked with this request as well. That’s my assumption, because she stated that she wanted to erase her past, and the footage was part of her terrible past. Once her husband was removed, she would be able to get rich thanks to the property situated in the redevelopment.

And now, you are wondering what the former prostitute was supposed to use. She just needed to keep a paper showing that she rented a car for Do Seong-Rok. She anticipated that the detectives involved in the investigations might look for a lover. (chapter 24) She desired to lead the detective to Do Seong-Rok and the pieces of Janggi left on the body would serve as a clue for his involvement in the assassinations. This explicates why Lee Je-Oh wondered about the reason for leaving evidence next to the victims an. (chapter 13) The femme fatale has power over his life, because she could reveal the truth. That’s her promise, if his situation worsens, she can save him implying that she has an evidence that could prove Do Seong-Rok’s innocence. However, she knew that once her husband dies, she will become a suspect. Thus she needed the main lead to divert the attention from her. Her plan was to redirect the investigation towards the red-haired man.

But as you can imagine, she has already planned to throw him away, once she got rid of all her enemies. When she stated (chapter 24), she implied that she was risking her life. On the other hand, she was actually lying. She is not truly compromising herself, as renting a car for a person doesn’t represent a crime. Yet, the true intention is to incriminate the young man.

Do Seong-Rok is becoming a serial murder, because he has already eliminated three people. Striking is that the former prostitute could say that he is just a delusional lover and even a psychopath, and the pieces of Janggi would serve as an evidence. Besides, she has Ahn by her side serving as protection, so her plan is still perfect.

2. 3. Far from perfection

But she made many huge mistakes, like I had already mentioned in the first part. But I will include other errors. First, she never told her lover how to eliminate the targets, that’s how the protagonist got aware of the killer’s presence. He could have been arrested much sooner, if Lee Je-Oh had revealed his observations. Secondly, she showed her true face, when she yelled at Do Seong-Rok. She declared that now, the main lead was on his own… something she had always planned. That’s how the assassin started mistrusting her and relying on Lee Je-Oh. Since the latter has recognized her identity(chapter 25), and has even realized her true goal thanks to Do Seong-Rok’s confession (chapter 23), he will change the game and do anything to protect his lover and weapon. (chapter 23) Unlike the female prostitute, the young man made the terrible experience by scheming very early on. He learned that he shouldn’t underestimate the killer’s strength and strong will. Hence he came to realize that he should treat his ally with respect. (chapter 12) Do Seong-Rok might not be clever, but he is not weak either. Actually, his major flaw is his innocence, for he is not cunning enough. And remember what I wrote above: she misjudge her lover’s true personality. Therefore she will recognize her error too late.

Furthermore, now the protagonist Lee Je-Oh represents a source of threat for Jeon Hee-Seong. He is an important witness and could testify against her.

Moreover, she is also making another mistake: she is underestimating emotions and affection. Her power over the serial killer was strong, for the latter was in love with her. But as soon as his admiration and affection vanish, her manipulations are no longer effective, and she loses her control over him. Their relationship is already falling apart. First, the main lead is forced to lie to her on different occasions. She even believes that the male prostitute has been removed. Secondly, their alienation is already announced with the following panel: (chapter 25). Notice the color of the sky: it is evening twilight, a huge symbol for a doomed relationship. And we have the presence of dark clouds and the presence of yellow… everything is signalizing the presence of a danger. Her perfect plan is on the verge of getting ruined, as the male prostitute will discover her identity. Because of him, her relationship with Seong-Rok can only be doomed.

Finally, since she is just judging her lover as a worker and pawn, she is not viewing him as a part of her life. He is just an accessory, whereas the male prostitute has a different perception of Do Seong-Rok. He considers him not just as a weapon, but also as a real boyfriend. I have to admit that I view the two protagonists as an entity. Lee Je-Oh is slowly becoming the brain (chapter 23), while the serial killer will become his arm and hand! Besides, don’t forget my recent interpretation. Do Seong-Rok is linked to the ocean, and the manhwalovers will certainly remember how the male prostitute viewed himself: (chapter 1) A fish!! I am well aware that a goldfish is not living in the ocean, but I doubt that the male prostitute could ever afford himself an expensive fish from the ocean. Besides, in the essay “The goldfish and the lamb – part 1”, I had already explained that for me, the young main lead reminded me a lot of the devil firefish / common lionfish.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pexels-photo-8029749.jpeg
Photo by Ayman Zaki on

As you can see, my previous interpretation seems to be confirmed. Since Lee Je-Oh is a common lionfish and the other is the ocean, they are a perfect match.

In addition, both protagonists have a similar disposition. They are starving for affection and have a huge sense of justice… Lee Je-Oh truly perceived Do Seong-Rok’s intentions behind the murders: liberation from slavery, whereas Jeon Hee-Seong used Do Seong-Rok’s empathy and generosity for her own dream: power and wealth! Due to the young main lead’s past experience and cunningness, Lee Je-Oh will be able to anticipate the villainess’ “perfect plan” and protect his boyfriend. Thereby, the femme fatale will slowly realize that this dream of her was just an illusion, and she was a victim of her own delusion.

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.

The Pawn’s Revenge: Janggi and life 🔞

This is where you can read the manhwa.  But be aware that this manhwa is a mature Yaoi, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes. Besides, this manhwa is categorized as HARDCORE: 🔞  Here is the link, if you are interested in more analyses about this manhwa and others

In chapter 6, Jeon Hee-Seong compared Janggi (Korean chess) to real life. For her, humans resemble to the pieces of the chess board, where the weakest are doomed to disappear. Striking is that many chess players have a similar approach than her. They all see many similarities between real life and chess.

Benjamin Franklin: Chess teaches foresight, by having to plan ahead; vigilance, by having to keep watch over the whole chess board; caution, by having to restrain ourselves from making hasty moves; and finally, we learn from chess the greatest maxim in life – that even when everything seems to be going badly for us we should not lose heart, but always hoping for a change for the better, steadfastly continue searching for the solutions to our problems. or from the same author: “Life is a kind of Chess, with struggle, competition, good and ill events.”

Charles Buxton: “In life, as in chess, forethought wins.” quoted from

Allan Rufus: Life is like a game of chess. To win you have to make a move. Knowing which move to make comes with IN-SIGHT and knowledge, and by learning the lessons that are accumulated along the way. We become each and every piece within the game called life!

1. Jeon Hee-Seong’s perception about Janggi and life

What caught my attention is these men have a different mindset than the character from The Pawn’s Revenge. They have a rather optimistic attitude, whereas the former prostitute seems only to see death. It is a dog-eat-dog world, and if you want to survive, then you need to become ruthless as well. This negative attitude is really palpable, if you contrast it to Allan Rufus’ quote. The latter views the game and life as a place, where people gain knowledge through experiences. Thanks to the practice and increasing maturity, the person is capable to change or anticipate the next moves. In other words, with the training, people can make a different decision. Furthermore Benjamin Franklin, who has a similar approach, adds that even bad events should be considered as lessons and as such a source of motivation to improve the situation. Both authors promote hope, whereas the femme fatale advocates disillusion and defeatism. Hence, for the Korean figure, life is perceived as an endless battle and nothing more. This signifies that in her eyes, life contains no happy moment and has nothing to offer. Since she compares it to a constant war, this signifies that only power matters, as it guarantees survival. I would like to point out that EVY confirmed in a tweet that the femme fatale plans to become a king. This truly reveals that for the former prostitute, dominance is her ultimate goal in life. In her mind, strength symbolizes life. Thereby for her, love has no meaning. Moreover, I also think, she doesn’t believe in values like affection, friendship or respect. The evidence for this the following. Note how many times she utilizes the idiom “kill”, while the male authors outline the importance of insight (“insight”, “foresight”, “forethought” “vigilance”) and wisdom (“knowledge”, “knowing”, “insight”). In other words, while Jeon Hee-Seong is focusing more on action (killing), the other players (Franklin, Buxton, Rufus) privilege pondering and reflection. She is already aiming directly at her final goal: removing the former king and replacing him.

Her pessimistic mindset is particularly perceptible, when she describes the role played by the pawn. (chapter 6) In her eyes, it has no value at all (“the most useless”), whereas the protagonist and student Seong-Rok views the soldier differently: (chapter 13). The latter can be influential, but it depends on its position and the way the general uses it. Sense the contrast between these two descriptions outlining her narrow-mindedness in the end.

In my opinion, her words about the soldier truly expose that the femme fatale is acting under the influence of emotions (fear, resentment, greed). She is not just trying to arouse pity in her lover, her description about real world and Janggi reflect her true thoughts: dark, brutal and painful. That’s why the title of this manhwa is also referring to her, and not just to the two protagonists. She is a pawn and desires to get revenge by becoming powerful. Striking is that many famous intellectuals associate revenge to weak people.

Juvenal: “Revenge is always the weak pleasure of a little and narrow mind” (Roman poet from 2nd Century AD)

Albert Einstein: “Weak people revenge. Strong people forgive. Intelligent people forget.”

Since I described Jeong Hee-Seong as disenchanted and pessimistic, I can’t help myself judging the femme fatale as a weak person in the end. She is definitely short-sighted, as she can no longer be moved by genuineness and affection. Besides, in her eyes, love can not procure protection and power. I have the impression, she views affection as a vulnerability. Let’s not forget that she was backstabbed, hence I deduce that she has become immune to loyalty. All this would explain why she manipulates the red-haired innocent man and why she plans to betray him too.

Her desire to become powerful and as such to get rid of her former “colleagues” is stronger than anything else, therefore Lee Seon-Cheol (chapter 1), her husband, Ma Jong-Seok (chapter 18) are removed within a short time. This explicates why the detective Kang Hyeon-Woo suspects her right away. (chapter 8) But why is the femme fatale neglecting reflection, knowledge and foresight in Janggi?

2. The causes for her negative attitude about Janggi and life

From my point of view, the former prostitute has the impression that she knows everything about life. Through her bad experiences, she believes that she has already understood how life works. I would like to point out that Do Seong-Rok got mesmerized by her due to her insight. She could recognize his personality (chapter 16) and his occupation within a few minutes, when they met for the first time. In his eyes, she appeared as an intelligent woman full of wisdom and experiences. This explicates why he listened to her explanations so carefully, when she was about to manipulate him to kill for her. (chapter 16) And that’s how she definitely views herself too.

3. The consequences

But her attitude is the reason why she will fail. First, she has never heard about the concept of “lifelong learning”. Life is always teaching lessons to people till their death. Secondly, she is overestimating her abilities. Because she understands humans due to her observation skills, she believes that her manipulations will always be effective. However, she is misjudging the importance of love and loyalty, as she is just a disillusioned woman. And pieces from Janggi are different from humans, for the latter have emotions and can think on their own. The pieces in the game board will never switch sides and as such betray their general and king. In real life, it is different. People can change. From my perspective, she is diminishing the significance of change. Do Seong-Rok was an obedient puppy, for he imagined that she loved him. However, once she lost her temper (chapter 12) and showed no loyalty towards him (chapter 12), the young man could only recognize that she was lying to him. (chapter 12) She has no idea about Do Seong-Rok’s past experience (the fake promise and abandonment).

To sum up, because she thinks, she knows everything about men and life, in her mind, she no longer needs to gain more insight, and as such be more prudent. For she has internalized that weak people are just pawns that can be easily discarded, she is already viewing her lover Do Seong-Rok as such. For her, he is just a tool, and once he has fulfilled its functions, she can sacrifice him. That’s why she describes him in a very rational way to her second lover officer Ahn. (chapter 11) The red-haired man is perfect for her plan, as his eyes and hands are focused on the game. But what the female character failed to realize is that in Janggi, there exists different pieces: the elephant, the horse, the general/king, the pawns, the chariot and the cannon. Do Seong-Rok is not a pawn in reality.

3. The pieces of Janggi

Striking is that the black-haired woman describes herself as a pawn to her lover Do Seong-Rok. (chapter 6) This means, she portrays herself as vulnerable, implying she needs the protection of a more powerful piece. However, since she gives Do Seong-Rok instructions(chapter 13), this signifies that her true role in Janggi is different. She is the player. Consequently, she is sitting on the one side and takes the pieces. (chapter 6) That’s why I come to the conclusion that in the game itself, she represents the general/king and Do Seong-Rok’s part is to protect her and help her to defeat her opponent. In her eyes, he is her pawn and she is the player. But like I mentioned above, in Korean chess, we have more than just the pawn: the horse, the elephant, the counselor/the guard, the chariot and the cannon (chapter 13). That’s why I tried to identify the killer’s true role in the game board.

3. 1. Do Seong-Rok in the game board

In my opinion, he is the cannon, while his girlfriend is the player. First, since the cannon represents a weapon, it fits Seong-Rok’s role perfectly: he is a killer. Secondly, the cannon in Janggi is the only piece that can jump over other pieces. That’s the reason why it becomes useless, if there are no other pieces to skip over. And this function (jumping over) reminds me of the kidnapping. The killer abducted Lee Je-Oh and Ma Jong-Seok, though the latter was his real target. This kidnapping resembles a lot to jumping over, especially after Lee Je-Oh got spared. And note that the black-haired man is now considered as an ally to the killer. In addition, Do Seong-Rok plans a second abduction: Koo Jeong-Mo. (chapter 13) The moment the protagonist has eliminated all her targets, he will become useless. Consequently, I deduce that when Jeon Hee-Seong plays chess, she is the “king” and Do Seong-Rok is the cannon.

3. 2. Jeon Hee-Seong’s team

As for officer Ahn, I believe, he is her chariot, because he is the one who will procure her connections and power, the moment he becomes a politician. Compare it to the description about the chariot. (chapter 13) Because officer Park is working under officer Ahn, this signifies that he is definitely one of her pieces too: I am inclined to judge him as the horse, though there’s no real guarantee that this is correct. Why? It is, because Park is covering up for Jeon Hee-Seong by giving information to officer Ahn. Besides, the latter mentioned this: (chapter 11). “Some of my guys” is a reference to the lieutenant Park. And remember that the role of the horse is to create a bridge for the cannon. Let’s not forget that Park Gwang-Soo is not really trying to investigate the whole matter, as the victims are all involved in the red-light-district. A real investigation would lead to unveil the corruption among Mijeong police.

I have to admit that I am not very familiar with Janggi, hence my comparison could be lacking. EVY😉😘 might even correct my interpretations, since she has always read my essays and given me information. But one thing is sure. Though the former prostitute calls herself a pawn, she is definitely not acting like one. That’s why she abandons her boyfriend Do Seong-Rok. He is now on his own, since he didn’t follow her instructions correctly, though later she tries to diminish her words by renewing her previous promise: she would ensure to save him. (chapter 12) The beginning of the alienation between the red-haired man and his girlfriend is important, because this announces the creation of a third party. While the head manager of Hongok-Dong Red Light District jumps to the false conclusion that Jeon Hee-Seong represents the third party, he is not realizing that she is just trying to replace the first team. Jeon Hee-Seong plans to maintain the collaboration between Mijeong police and the red light district, yet the involved parties will be changed.

3. 3. The first team

As the victims represent different pieces of the Janggi, this means that they are embodying a team. Koo is the horse, Ma is the elephant, Choi the guard and Lee Soon-Cheol the pawn. However, two pieces are missing in this team: the chariot and the cannon. Since the the head manager of Hongok-Dong Red Light District meets officer Ahn in order to beg for his support(chapter 11), this signifies that Ahn has been working for this team too. In my opinion, he plays the same role than in the other team: he is the chariot. As for the cannon, I will unveil his identity below. But since we have a whole team, this signifies that there’s a general. Consequently, there exists someone behind the victims, the king and player of the game board. To sum up, Jeon Hee-Seong is playing against a person, whose identity has not been revealed yet. How ironic is that when I was writing this essay, the special episode confirmed my theory: The “not yet” is the player using Koo Jeong-Mo and the others as his pieces. Jeon Hee-Seong entered the game and started a war against the first team. She could win over officer Ahn by appealing to his feelings. She revealed the injustice she was exposed too. That’s why Ahn asks Koo Jeong-Moo about the reason for targeting him. (chapter 11) Ahn could understand her motivation. However, she disguises from him that she is stimulated by her greed and ambition too.

3. 4. Do Seong-Rok’s future team

The irony is that the moment Do Seong-Rok took an initiative, his role in the board game got affected. Though Jeon Hee-Seong gave him instructions, she never gave him any concrete indication how to remove her enemies. In other words, the protagonist was more than just a cannon. Striking is that in the beginning, the male prostitute associated him to a god (chapter 2) and a grim reaper, and this connection is no coincidence. This exposes that Do Seong-Rok became himself a player, when he started acting on his girlfriend’s behalf. He had to ponder how to approach and attack his victims. Hence in my eyes, the main lead represents a king/general too.

That’s why we see him facing Jeon Hee-Seong in chapter 6. Note that she asked him to kill in her name and if he did, he would be able to remain by her side. (chapter 6) It was, as if with the killing, he would go to her side, as in that scene he was facing her.

From my point of view, this scene in chapter 6 is important, as it somehow announces that they will become rivals and fight against each other. One might argue, the fact that the killer was sitting in front of his girlfriend is just random and has no real signification. Nevertheless, I would like to point out that right in the beginning, the murderer placed people like on a board game. For me, this is another clue that Do Seong-Rok is not just a cannon, but a player himself. (chapter 1). It was, as if he was observing a game and predicting moves. Furthermore, he observed Lee Je-Oh for a long time and questioned his role in this team. This truly shows that the main lead was pondering a lot. I would like the readers to keep in mind the advices given from the chess players: foresight, forethought, prudence and vigilance. Moreover, there exists a interrogation point in the image of the male prostitute, which shows that the main character was thinking about Lee Je-Oh’s role in that game. Furthermore, the former could impose himself through his strength in front of Lee Je-Oh. (chapter 12) The latter made the mistake to overestimate his situation and his skills. He imagined with his observation skills and schemes he could prove his superiority and loyalty, but the red-haired protagonist punished him for his “betrayal” and “arrogance”. The red-haired man embodies physical power and is the final authority. Finally, if you observe the way Do seong-Rok taught his new ally Lee Je-Oh about the game, you’ll sense that their position reflects the actual situation: they are sitting on the same side in front of the game. (chapter 13) which contrasts so much to the scene with the former prostitute in episode 6. Since Lee Je-Oh is giving advice to the young criminal (like not leaving any evidence (chapter 13) or not answering Jeon’s calls, I view him as a guard and counsellor. At the same time, he is offering his help to capture the pimp Koo. Hence I consider him as Do Seong-Rok’s horse too. As you can observe, the red-haired man and his lover will play different roles in Janggi. However, right now the two main characters are still working for the femme fatale, but it is only a matter of time, until they build their own team and work for their own survival and ultimate goal.

Besides, let’s not forget that I have already predicted a revolution (chapter 1) from the male prostitute, for the latter has still a strong sense of justice. He has never forgotten the victims of Ma Jong-Seok. (chapter 18) And strangely, Benjamin Franklin was also involved in American Revolution:

War is when the government tells you who the bad guy is. Revolution is when you decide that for yourself”. (Benjamin Franklin)

With this quote, it becomes obvious that at some point, Do Seong-Rok will realize that his girlfriend is no angel either and the so-called bad guys (Koo, Ma, Lee and Choi) aren’t the only ones responsible for the existence of the Red Light District. (chapter 8)

3. 5 The special role played by the lieutenant Kang Hyeon-Woo

This is the only character I haven’t mentioned so far. However, I believe, he will play a major key role in the story. Why do I think so? My reasoning is that the young police officer doesn’t belong to any team. He represents a source of danger for officer Ahn, hence the latter got worried, when he heard about his presence. (chapter 11) According to his reaction, the manhwaphiles can deduce that the detective has lived himself in the city before moving out to Seoul. In other words, he is coming back to Mijeong and is determined to remove corruption in the city and police. Since Player 1 (Not Yet) will be aware that officer Ahn has already sided with Jeon Hee-Seong, there’s no doubt that he will try to use Kang Hyeon-Woo to target Jeon Hee-Seong and her helpers. An investigation about the murders in the city is definitely necessary for the player 1. However, since the lieutenant chose to leave the city in the past, this signifies that he suffered himself some injustice in the past and as such was a victim of the king from team 1. Therefore Kang Hyeon-Woo has to ensure that he needs to unveil the whole truth.

Simultaneously, I have the impression that Do Seong-Rok and Lee Je-Oh might use the detective for their own advantage too. Let’s not forget that Ahn judges the lieutenant as a threat. (chapter 11) It is even possible that the femme fatale decides to use the detective for her benefit too, when she believes that it’s time to get rid of Do Seong-Rok. That’s why I believe, the detective will be the lose cannon in the board game. From my perspective, each time they will try to take advantage of his desire for truth and justice in order to divert the attention from their own crimes and wrongdoings.

And now, it is time to summarize the discoveries/interpretations I made about the different teams:  

Player/GeneralNot YetJeon Hee-SeongDo Seong-Rok
HorseKoo Jeong-MoPark Gwang-SooLee Je-Oh
ElephantMa Jong-Seok? 
Guard/counselorChoi Yeong-Gil?Lee Je-Oh
Chariot? (Officer Ahn)Officer Ahn 
Cannon(Kang Hyeon-Woo)Do Seong-Rok (Kang Hyeon-Woo) Do Seong-Rok (Kang Hyeon-Woo) 
PawnLee Seon-Chool Lee Je-Oh (lure Koo) 

As you can notice, the team members can definitely switch sides and the characters can play different roles in the board game. From my perspective, the readers will witness the rise of Lee Je-Oh, his influence over Do Seong-Rok will keep increasing.

I am predicting this due to the character’s personality: he is observant, intelligent and can react quickly to new situations. Therefore he can anticipate moves from the others. As a conclusion, both original pawns, Do Seong-Rok and Lee Je-Oh, will take revenge on the persons responsible for their suffering. That’s why EVY chose this picture as an illustration for her story: And at the end, they will “destroy” this world, just like in the picture. Their reason is simple. They are not aiming at gaining power and wealth. For them, freedom and love matter more.

PS: Dear @EVY, if there are some errors, you can notify me. I tried to fill the blanks.

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