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: Hope 🔞

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Readers familiar with The Pawn’s Revenge might be surprised that I selected such a title, because when you read the sypnosis and see this panel, it gives you the opposite impression: dark, asphyxiating, destructive and hopeless.

However, when I read the latest chapter (chapter 21), I couldn’t help myself connecting it to hope, and as such to belief, aspiration and goal. And now, you might wonder how.

1. Kang Hyeon-Won’s memory

First, it is related to Kang Hyeon-Jong, , the missing brother from lieutenant Kang Hyeon-Woo. When the former confides his intentions to his brother (he would like to clean the corruption in the police forces and remove the dirty connections between authorities and the red-light district), the former appears integer, righteous, courageous and determined. This means, he is full of energy and aspirations to achieve his goal.

But what caught my attention is that when Kang Hyeon-Woo recalls his conversation with his brother, we see them discussing it on the top of a hill. Not only they have a perfect view over the city, but also the weather is quite nice. The sky is blue and there are a few clouds. Finally they are sitting in a park surrounded by nature. As you can imagine, in my eyes this scenery is not random at all. This scene is full of symbolism.

The presence of the hill with the perfect view over the city is an indication that Kang Hyeon-Jong had the bigger picture of the situation in his head. He knew what was going on: officer Ahn was working with the hostess Jeon Hee-Seong, and the latter had already planned something out of resent. In addition, he was well aware that many police officers were dirty. Therefore the sight over the city is a metaphor of Kang Hyeon-Jong’s thoughts. The existence of the recorded evidence and his words to his brother truly display Kang Hyeon-Jong as an idealist and pure police officer. He was full of hope and bravery. Moreover, a hill represents the climb to higher attainment, wider view of life or opportunities. Hence it is linked to potential and change either. And now the manhwaphiles can grasp that the detective’s selected place mirrored his state of mind. He was attempting to climb to the top to remove all the corruptive elements.

This perception was also reinforced, when Evy drew this panel combined with the idioms “chance” and “expose this case to the public”. Note the presence of the wooden plank in the bottom. It was, as if the perspective and the wooden plank were the stage, and the city in the background was symbolizing the public. In other words, the scenery was representing the detective’s vision. He was full of confidence and dream here. Moreover, since it is an open air area, you can breathe more easily. This signifies that the scenery oozes a certain relief, liberation and release. The brother could confide to his brother about his intentions and his latest information. He knew that the young detective was trustworthy and would support him. It represented a moment of relaxation for the investigating Kang Hyeon-Jong. Thus the readers see the machines as a symbol for relaxation and entertainment. Since the hyung was disclosing his discoveries and his evidence, it means that the younger brother was his pillar in his quest to clean up the police forces.

But there exists another element for this interpretation. The cloud is linked to future, dream and change, because clouds always move on and their form can change. Besides, since they are close to the sky, the clouds are connected to the gods, the former are bringing messages from the gods. That’s why in certain cultures, shamans would read the clouds and interpret these. And now, you understand why the author created such a scene. The cloud was embodying the detective’s dream and ambition. He was full of hope.

2. Hope versus fear and doubt

In that moment, I realized that the author used the sceneries to express certain ideas and emotions. Remember how Lee Je-Oh reacted after leaving his testimony to Park Gwang-Soo. He expressed his admiration about the murderer. (chapter 2) Note the similarities: We had a nice weather with clouds and a hill in the background. The male prostitute was also full of hope here. He could breathe in that moment, he had lost another violent tormentor to his relief. Therefore I came to realize the existence of the connection between dream and nature contrasting to the city represented as a chicken battery.

And these two scenes (chapter 21-2) lead me to the following observation. The weather and the place reflect the mental disposition of the characters. When Do Seong-Rok killed the first victim, it was night, dark and raining. (chapter 1) Furthermore, he abandoned the corpse in an abandoned area. This scene was quite oppressing and depressing which mirrored the perpetrator’s disposition. Let’s not forget that later the manhwaphiles could witness the murderer’s fears, when he had a nightmare. (chapter 6) Instead of looking up to the sky (a symbol for dream and hope), the criminal looked down. I could bring up another scene: (chapter 16) Both characters are looking down, both hurt and depressed. The prostitute is full of doubts and resigning to her fate. She will do anything in order to survive, and if it is necessary, she will betray and abandon her lover. She announces that she will be definitely ruthless and selfish. She is no longer expecting happiness and relaxation. It’s a fight for her. Besides, in that scene, the city looks lifeless, as there are no plant or people. I would even say, it’s suffocating, for the sky is so dark and clouded. It was, as if it functioned as a lid. As a conclusion, the weather and the scene reflect the character’s state of mind. The blue sky with clouds is linked to hope, while a raining dark grey day is associated to hopelessness, fear and doubts. Thus the town is related to suffocation, loneliness and resignation. Let’s not forget that the characters are all embodying animals (Lee Je-Oh is a goldfish and a dog, Do Seong-Rok is a dog, Jeon Hee-Seong is a snake etc…), but the problem is that they are all trapped in the Janggi game, that’s why they are not free and feel so oppressed. In my opinion, the Janggi board is in reality the city itself. Instead of representing civilization and progress, the town embodies despair, corruption and asphyxiation: death.

3. The couple in the bedchamber

And now, it is time to look again at the episode 21. If you compare the bed scenes with the protagonists, you’ll detect a huge change. The room and the sheets appear so white and pure (chapter 21), which contrasts to this scene for example (chapter 7) where grey was the dominant color. Contrary to the scene in episode 7, the main leads are no longer separated by the sheet, and they are facing each other. As you can sense, the color and the position mirror their increasing closeness and trust. I would say that the main couple is full of hope in that chapter. This is particularly perceptible in this image. Lee Je-Oh is already thinking about the future. He is confident in his skills and intelligence to protect his partner. The presence of relief and aspiration explains why the main leads are tender and caring towards each other. Here, you might argue that we don’t have the presence of nature, hence this contradicts my previous interpretation that nature is a signal of liberation and relief. However, I can refute this argument by pointing out that we don’t see the city here. In my eyes, the room has now become a refuge, a shelter of two wounded and lonely souls. Lee Je-Oh is no longer viewing the bedchamber as a place where he is held hostage. He is now cohabiting with the murderer. Thanks to him, Seong-Rok could sleep much better and wasn’t tormented by a nightmare, though he had killed Ma Jeong-Seok. To sum up, the bedroom shouldn’t be judged as a contradiction to nature. It is the place for privacy and relief as well. Furthermore, the better the bond between the killer and the male prostitute is, the clearer the room appears.

4. Kang Hyeon-Woo’s hope

Due to these last significations (the symbolism of the scenery and the bedroom as a shelter and place to relax and privacy), I come to the final scene from the chapter 21: Kang Hyeon-Woo in his bedroom. The latter is still full of hope as well despite the loss of his brother. He hasn’t given up on his dream and ambition. Consequently he makes this promise to fulfil his brother’s hope. Hence Kang Hyeon-Jong’s uniform hangs on the wall at the end of the bed. It symbolizes the detective’s goal: he is seeking for the truth and eradication of corruption. The bedroom is the officer’s refuge, where he can express his true thoughts and emotions. He doesn’t feel lonely, because he still has the brother’s uniform by his side. It was, as if the latter was still alive and by his side. And if you pay attention to the images, you’ll detect the indirect presence of nature: the wallpaper. It is slightly green and there are flowers. I tried to identify the flower, but I wasn’t sure. For me, it looks like a chrysanthemum which symbolizes longevity, fidelity, joy and optimism. Naturally, this flower has other meanings, but it depends on the color. A white one is offered to the relatives of the deceased as a sign of grief. On the other hand, a white chrysanthemum signifies loyalty and honesty. Striking is that the flower has the same color than the shirt Kang Hyeon-Jong was wearing, when he was confessing his last discoveries and dream. Consequently, I come to the conclusion that the flower in the background embodies the missing brother who is supporting Kang Hyeon-Woo in his quest to find the truth. One might argue that this can only be a coincidence, yet I can bring up the following point. Evy selected for each character a particular flower and color: But like I mentioned above, I am not certain about the identity of the flower on the wallpaper. It could be a dahlia too… If you have any idea or suggestion, feel free to leave a comment.

One thing is sure: the flower represents the brother and the light green could be seen as an allusion to the lieutenant’s actual investigation. He is only at the beginning of his quest: unveiling the truth. He is not aware that his brother’s former partner, Kim Seung-Tae, is also involved. (chapter 20) Though the latter desires to give the lieutenant the impression that he is honest and supportive, in reality it is the opposite. Since he asked the lieutenant for update, though he is quitting his job, this means that Kim Seung-Tae is actually asking for information. In my eyes, he belongs to the team facing officer Ahn and Jeon Hee-Seong.

Since the recorded evidence has not been used against officer Ahn, we can conclude that the opposite team doesn’t have it either, because they didn’t blackmail the former prostitute and her lover. In my opinion, the idealist Kang Hyeon-Jong made a huge mistake. While he was investigating his superior Ahn, he didn’t imagine that his partner was unethical too. Let’s not forget that when the hyung confided to his brother, he mentioned the prostitute’s resent against the brothel crowd. That’s why I think that he must have been digging some information about the origins for her animosity. Koo Jeong-Mo revealed that they did something terrible to her, indicating that this incident was quite important. In other words, Kang Hyeon-Jong must have discovered the existence of this terrible event. And if I recognized the flower correctly which embodies loyalty, this would explain why the officer went missing. He got betrayed by his partner, for he didn’t expect it. All his attention was focused on officer Ahn and the prostitute, because the two were more obvious.

And now, it is time to refer to the second meaning of the cloud. The latter is also related to secret and danger, as it hides the sun. This truly reflects the hyung’s past situation. He wasn’t aware of the deception surrounding him. Furthermore, I have two other reasons to suspect Kim Seung-Tae: the scar on his face and the black clothes, a symbol for death. So by meeting the younger brother, Kang Hyeon-Jong’s partner can hope to find evidences against his enemy and rival Ahn. And now, you understand why the conversation between Kang Hyeon-Woo and Kim Seung-Tae took place outside close to trees. The young officer full of energy and ambition represented a source of aspiration for the former police officer. The latter could get real results in order to get rid of his enemies. Once the officers supporting Ahn are removed, he can place people close to him so that the corruption and as such connections between the authorities and the red-light district remains unchanged.

As a conclusion, the chapter 21 stands for hope, belief and confidence. That’s why I love this manhwa very much😍 and recommend it. The story might be dark and painful, yet the author manages to find the right balance between light and darkness. The killer is the perfect example. He has already dirtied his hands, yet many readers are not condemning him, for he is not doing it out of selfishness, greed and sadism. He was in reality manipulated by the prostitute. And remember my interpretation in “Janggi and life”. In my eyes, only the criminal couple and the detective Kang Hyeon-Woo will be able to destroy this terrible corruption: the revolution is on its way.

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: 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.

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: “Femme fatale”🔞

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

As you can imagine, in this essay, I’ll focus on Jeon Hee-Seong corresponding perfectly to the portrait of “femme fatale”. But what does it mean? The idiom comes from French and means “lethal/deadly woman”. In addition, if the manhwaphiles look up, this is what they will find:

Femme fatale: a woman who is very attractive in a mysterious way, usually  leading men into danger or causing their destruction quoted from

To sum up, a femme fatale is a sexually attractive woman who uses her female body as a weapon to defeat her male opponents exposing them to danger and their own destruction. However, the characters are not realizing their own situation, and when they become aware of her true nature, it is already too late for them.

Their fate is already sealed: death. Striking is that a synonym for femme fatale is siren. Why? It is related to the famous Greek story “Odysseus” from Homer, where the sirens tried to lure the protagonist Ulysses and his sailors to their death with their beautiful singing. With their voice, they would incite the sailors to jump into the sea so that the latter would drown.

  1. Jeon Hee-Seong: a new version of the siren from Odysseus

And this leads me to the following observation. A femme fatale is not just seducing men with her sex appeal, but also with her voice and words. In “The Pawn’s revenge” Jeon Hee-Seong is even presented as a siren, when she asks her lover to kill for her sake. (chapter 6) Note how she manipulates him. First, she diminishes her own position. (chapter 6) She is just a pawn, mistreated by men. Besides, they are living in a dog-eat-dog world, hence it is necessary to become ruthless, if they want to survive. (chapter 6) As she is powerless, she needs his help. Alone, she won’t be able to change her position. And with her description, she achieves to move the protagonist’s heart. He is willing to dirty his hands, if it signifies that he will be able to remain by her side. With her request, she is implying that he will find happiness by her side. Nonetheless, the innocent man is still hesitating, thereby he would like a confirmation from her. They will be together, if he follows her suggestion. Yet, she doesn’t answer to his question directly. As the manhwaphiles can detect, a femme fatale is strongly connected to the fake vow of pleasure and enjoyment.

The femme fatale entices, promises and eludes. […] [She] fascinates with her beauty and the inherent promise of happiness […]. At the same time, however, she is perceived as threatening. The danger emanates from the sexuality embodied in her and the involvement in a story full of intrigue.” quoted from Carola Hilmes, Die Femme fatale. Ein Weiblichkeitstypus in der nachromantischen Literatur. Stuttgart 1990“. (translated by me)

In my eyes, the former prostitute’s argumentation resembles to the beautiful singing of the sirens. And when the femme fatale grabs his hand (chapter 6), it was, as if a siren was grabbing the innocent man’s hand in order to drag him into the sea and as such into the darkness. (chapter 6) Moreover, observe the position of her legs, it definitely reminds us of a siren, as her legs resemble to a fishtail. Moreover, if I include the following panel, this perception gets reinforced. Her hair on the bed makes me think of hair under water. Sure, in this panel, she appears in Do Seong-Rok’s nightmare. However, we have to imagine that this situation truly happened. The main lead is realizing in his sleep that he has been tempted and is now in danger. This scene represents a turning point in Do Seong-Rok’s life, as he is slowly recognizing that his lover won’t keep her vow: she would save him, if he needed assistance. He wanted her to become his safety net and comfort. (chapter 16) And now, if you connect this promise with the siren’s temptation, you’ll realize what the abandonment signifies in truth: he will drown and die. He will lose his life and soul. 

2. A siren without eyes  

But let’s return our attention to the picture from chapter 6. Her mysterious appearance is reinforced with the absence of her eyes. In this picture, the protagonist got scared, as he was sensing that the beautiful woman was not like she appeared to be. For me, the black background and the absence of her eyes makes her look like a seductive monster. Simultaneously, it also reveals her fakeness, for the gaze is perceived as the mirror of the soul. Therefore, the panel illustrates that the character without eyes has in reality her own agenda. On the other hand, her words represent a warning, because they are actually reflecting reality. Notice the contrast between the expression “look at the state” and the absence of Jeon Hee-Seong’s eyes. Since there exists no gaze, it means that the main lead can’t see his own reflection in her eyes. With her words, he is reminded that he should use his own eyes in order to recognize his true state and feelings. He shouldn’t rely on the reflection of her gaze. And now, you understand why the killer got scared. For the first time, he was seeing his true self: he was a murderer due to her manipulations. Yet, in chapter 6, he is still in denial after the nightmare. That’s the reason why he rejects Lee Je-Oh’s offer to be his ally. (chapter 6)

This shows that the former prostitute could seduce the young and naïve man with her deceptive gaze, like the readers could witness it in this picture. She gave him the impression that she was admiring him, she would love him. Hence EVY drew such an image: while making love to her, the main lead could see a very positive image about himself. He imagined that he was seeing affection in her gaze and facial expressions (blushing), while in truth it was just a sexual reaction. Consequently, I deduce that a femme fatale is using her eyes to manipulate her preys and victims. The men are projecting their own emotions and desires onto the femme fatale. Moreover, this projection is often linked to fear. The male characters fear that they might lose control of the situation. That’s why officer Ahn gets nervous and doubts her relationship with Do Seong-Rok. (chapter 11) They are puppets of the femme fatale. This angst is truly palpable in chapter 6. Do Seong-Rok got scared, because before he had met detectives looking for Lee Je-Oh, Ma Jong-Seok and Choi Yeong-Gil and couldn’t get in touch with his lover. He felt totally vulnerable. He needed her presence in order to stay calm and find a solution to his problem: the existence of a witness.

3. Victim or perpetrator?

After reading the first two parts of this analysis, the readers have the impression that this is just a rhetorical question, because the answer seems evident. A femme fatale is a perpetrator. However, in truth this is far more complex. Let me give you an example. The first famous femme fatale is Eva. Why? It is, because after listening to the snake, Eva encouraged Adam to eat the apple from the Tree of knowledge. In other words, she “seduced” him to commit a sin. Since the original sin is perceived as a metaphor for sexuality, the woman will lure men thanks to her beautiful body. This explicates why during the Middle-Age, Church looked down on women, as they were judged as the descendant of Eva. In the clergy’s eyes, they were responsible for the eviction of paradise. That’s the reason why from 1450 to 1750, many women were condemned as witches. All the different Churches (Protestant, Catholic, eg.) saw in the female body a source of witchcraft. Let’s not forget that women can give birth and procreation was very mysterious to people back then. That’s why this is no coincidence that the former prostitute calls herself a witch. (chapter 16) Yet, if you pay attention to Eva’s role, she was herself a victim, for she listened to the snake and got tempted to eat the fruit.

3. 1. Jeon Hee-Seong: the snake or Eva?

In the manhwa, this character is compared to a snake, a symbol for evil and sin. This comparison seems to be correct due to her behavior in chapter 6 and 16. Striking is that in this image, the femme fatale seems to be associated to the Tree of knowledge, for she is hidden by the plant. It gives the feeling, both have somehow connected, as if she came from the plant. Here, she is explaining him about the game, a metaphor for the real world. They are living in a ruthless world, where the weak ones will get killed (social Darwinism). Since she is teaching him her knowledge, she appears to be the snake. On the other hand, if the manhwaphiles remember the detective’s words, they will realize that Jeon Hee-Seong became a prostitute, because she was forced. (chapter 9) Imagine, she had to sell her body, yet she would never be able to escape from this “chicken farm”, for the debts would always keep increasing. Koo Jeong-Mo calls her a snake, but he is a hypocrite. He might have not killed her, nevertheless he did something terrible to her. (chapter 11) He justifies his crime by saying that he just attempted to run his business. Just like his foe, he is diminishing his sin. On the other hand, his words truly outline his immorality and wrongdoing. If it was not murder, then what did he do to her? He calls her a snake, because she betrayed him. However, he was the one who backstabbed her first. There’s no doubt that she was forced to marry Choi Yeong-Gil, a violent man. (chapter 9) The former pimp suspects her for being the mastermind behind the murders. Nevertheless, the manhwalovers should keep in mind that she is his competitor too. She is now running her own business. If she was caught and accused, he would get rid of his rival. Since he backstabbed her in the past, it truly exposes that his comparison is only partially correct. As the former prostitute is not just a perpetrator, but also a victim, I come to the conclusion that the female character resembles more to Eva than to the snake.

4. A comparison of femmes fatales

I came to this aspect after looking for other “femmes fatales”. So far, I compared the figure from The Pawn’s revenge with persons from the bible and Odysseus. Both stories are very old. This is the list of “femmes fatales” I selected, though I could mention more:

  1. Carmen from Prosper Mérimée (19th Century)
  2. Nana from Emile Zola (End of 19th Century)
  3. Madame de Merteuil from “Dangerous liaisons” written by Choderlos de Laclos (18th Century)
  4. Lulu from Frank Wedekind (the theater plays are called: Earth Spirit and Pandora’s box) – End of 19th/Begin of 20th Century
  5. Brigid O’Shaughnessy from The Maltese Falcone written by Dashiell Hammett (20th Century)

4. 1. Vulnerability and Dependency

What do have these women in common? They are all weak and powerless. Vulnerability doesn’t necessarily mean that they are all poor. Madame de Merteuil belongs to old aristocracy and is as such wealthy. Brigid O’ Shaughnessy isn’t truly poor either. However, they are all living in a world ruled by hypocrite and violent men. I would even say that these female figures are all trapped. They have either no rights or are still caught in the past. Madame de Merteuil asks Vicomte de Valmont, her confident, to get revenge on her behalf. She wants to humiliate an ex-lover who has decided to marry someone who stands in opposition to Madame de Merteuil’s personality: chaste and innocent. The Marquise is well aware that her former lover is actually following social norms. Women shouldn’t feel sexual pleasure and should be submissive to their spouse. As you can see, the female noble hates her condition. As a woman, she is not able to live freely, as she has to rely on men. Furthermore, she has to hide her true self from others in order to maintain her good reputation. A woman’s reputation was vital back then. That’s why she seduces men in the end. With her sex appeal, she feels powerful and independent. At the same time, through her unusual behavior, she is able to fascinate men. However, none of her ex-lovers desire to break taboo, except her friend Vicomte de Valmont, for her sex partners will always choose social norms (faithful wife etc.)

And if you compare her to Jeon Hee-Seong, you’ll notice the similarities. The latter wants to break free too. She would like to become truly independent, that’s why she is just using Do Seong-Rok, though she is well aware of his innocent and genuine side. She behaves exactly like Brigid. Both are women trying to make her way through a world run by ruthless, vicious men. So maybe manipulating is the only trick up their sleeve that they can use to survive this masculine, aggressive society. The only huge difference is that the Korean woman is using truth to manipulate her lover. (chapter 16) Note that she announces to the future criminal that she will be ruthless, selfish and she might even betray him in order to achieve her goal. To sum up, she is more paltering than lying by commission.

Then by comparing these femmes fatales, I recognized another pattern. Carmen, Nana and Lulu are powerless, as they belong to the lowest social class. Nana and Lulu are even prostitutes. Nana was somehow neglected and abandoned by her parents. She even ended up becoming a teenager mother. The famous French novelist wanted to outline through his main character that heredity and social circumstances would predestine her to become a femme fatale. She learnt through harsh experiences that sex is the power of the poor and weak. Once she discovered that she could use sensuality and erotic in order to get admiration and money, she internalized this rule. Nana was not truly calculative, as she kept making debts, while driving men to their death or ruin. She could no longer change her way of life. And Lulu had also a similar fate. The only huge difference is that she got married thanks to her backer. Lulu was married off to two men in turn by Dr. Schön, her mentor and lover. Both husbands tried to mold her in their image, and due to Lulu’s affairs, they both died. Lulu shot Dr. Schön and lived in Paris and London with his son Alwa, a writer. She began to sell her body again and ended up falling victim to the serial killer Jack the ripper. Note that the marriage doesn’t offer any liberty and protection to Lulu. Her husbands tried to form her. They projected their own desires and expectations onto her. This was the same case for Madame de Merteuil and Carmen. All the men in these stories expect from the femme fatale to be faithful, caring, genuine and loyal, while at the same time, they try to maintain their reputation intact. Schön was Lulu’s lover, yet he tried to marry a honorable daughter. As you can see, he felt that Lulu was not proper enough to become his wife.

This projection of sexual desires is quite recurrent. Therefore it is not surprising that officer Ahn questions her relationship to the killer. (chapter 11) He would like her to be faithful. There’s no ambiguity that he considers himself as her real partner. Yet, I don’t think that she is with him, because she is in love with him. She is treating him as her ally and support, as long as he helps her to get powerful and rich. Let’s not forget that he is trying to become a politician. I had already perceived the Korean prostitute as someone who was trying to climb the social ladder. For her, freedom means being powerful and wealthy. But she wants to be independent. And this interpretation was confirmed by the author herself. She told me that Jeon Hee-Seong desired to become a king!

Furthermore, there exists another parallel with Lulu. Jeon Hee-Seong was also imprisoned in her marriage. Not only she was forced to marry her violent husband, but also she couldn’t escape from this abusive relationship. Lulu kills herself her second husband Schön, while the latter tried to pressure her to commit suicide. Brigid also got rid of her “enemies”. Only death can liberate them. And this leads me to the following statement: their body might be used as a weapon, but not all of these femmes fatales are willing and capable to dirty their own hands. The Eva from “The Pawn’s revenge” prefers to delegate this to her lover. There’s a reason for that: it is more difficult to prove her culpability. Furthermore, she won’t feel remorse, as she was not directly involved.

4.2. The reason behind the existence of femmes fatales

The femme fatale is often connected to emancipation of women. The works from the 18th and 19th Century expose the conflict between sex drive and social constraints. At the same time, all the stories outline the hypocrisy of society and its patriarchalism. Men are allowed to have affairs, but for women it is out of question. I doubt that officer Ahn is single and intents to marry the former prostitute. They meet at a hotel, which represents a clue that they have more a sexual relationship than just a partnership. However, the problem is that all these women have learned that they need to act like men in order to survive: ruthless, selfish and immoral. None of them are able to recognize true love due to their sexual experiences. Consequently, I think that even if they are manipulative, these women shouldn’t be judged as entirely calculative. They are still led by their impulses. Therefore Nana keeps making debts, Lulu can’t stop having affairs and Madame de Merteuil ruins her only ally and accomplice due to her jealousy.

And now you comprehend why the Korean femme fatale used Do Seong-Rok. His innocence, his selflessness and empathy made him the perfect tool for her goal. At the same time, she is overlooking the male prostitute Lee Je-Oh. Since none of her targets has ever resisted her, she can’t imagine that Do Seong-Rok will distance himself from her.

4. 3. Their fate

And now, it is time to conclude this essay. The final common point of these femmes fatales is that they are all doomed to fail. This is particularly perceptible in the theater plays from Wedekind, the spectators can witness the rise and downfall of the protagonist. And if you compare their fate, you’ll notice that they all end in tragedy:

  1. Carmen and Lulua get killed
  2. Nana and Madame Merteuil become ill and lose their beauty. Nana even dies at the end. Madame de Merteuil is forced to go into exile.
  3. Brigid O’Shaughnessy is delivered to the police.

Since Ma Jong-Seok told Lee Je-Oh, he would eventually get some STD, it is possible that the femme fatale could face such an adversity. Moreover, the detective Kang Hyeon-Woo is already suspecting her and the latter is not corrupt, it is possible that she gets arrested, for officer Ahn was not able to protect her or even abandoned her. The final possibility is that she gets murdered, as she represents a witness and accomplice of Do Seong-Rok’s crimes. While examining her, I recognized another pattern: her scenes contrasts to Lee Je-Oh’s. In chapter 6, the manhwaphiles discover how she persuaded the red-haired man to dirty his hand, and in the same episode the male prostitute has a similar behavior. He is attempting to seduce Do Seong-Rok with his words and body. He even suggests to become his ally. And this observation truly reinforces my former statement: Jeon Hee-Seong and Lee Je-Oh will become rivals. One thing is sure: because the former prostitute is a femme fatale, she won’t get what she truly wants.

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.

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

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

  1. BJ Alex / Dine with A Vampire / The Beast Must Die / Legs That Won’t Walk / My Suha / Painter Of The Night / Legs That Won’t Walk / The Blood Of Madam Giselle / The pawn’s Revenge / Unintentional Love Story are on
  3. Under The Green Light:
  4. True Beauty:
  5. Doctor Frost:

Here is the link, if you are interested in more analyses about these manhwas:

It would be great if you could make some donations/sponsoring:  That way, you can support me with “coffee” so that I have the energy to keep examining manhwas. Besides, I need to cover up the expenses for this blog.

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

“Mask: a form of disguise or concealment usually worn over or in front of the face to hide the identity of a person and by its own features to establish another being. quoted from

1. Mask and acting

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

2. Mask as protection

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

3. The use of a real mask

3. 1 A necessity or a desire?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. The visage and make-up as masks

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

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

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

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

5. 1. The absence of eyes

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

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

5. 2. The presence of glasses

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

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

6. The mask wearers

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

7. BJ Alex: Mask and identity quest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pawn’s Revenge: The goldfish and the lamb – part 2 🔞 (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

Feel free to make some donations/sponsoring:  That way, you can support me with “coffee” so that I have the energy to keep examining manhwas. It would also cover my expenses for the blog.

In the second part Do Seong-Rok’s personality will be in the center of the analysis. Therefore it is necessary to study his relationship with the other characters, especially with Jeon Hee-Seong and Lee Je-Oh. Furthermore, I will compare the red-haired man’s behavior to Lee Je-Oh’s, because through the contrast the manhwaphiles can get more details about the murderer’s character. Moreover, I will give a possible explanation why the man with dyed hair saved Lee Je-Oh in the end. Let’s not forget the synopsis: “Why he rescued Je-oh is unclear, but a slick-talking manwhore was definitely not part of anyone’s plan.” Like it is mentioned, by letting the prostitute survive, Do Seong-Rok affected the game of Janggi, which neither Officer Ahn nor Jeon Hee Seong anticipated. The young man could only view the killer as his savior and feel indebted. Consequently, both protagonists got closer to the point that they became first allies and finally real sex partners.

1. The introduction of Do Seong-Rok

What caught my attention is the way Evy introduced Do Seong-Rok. Note that he is slowly inserted. First, we only see his foot, then his leg and hand. This is relevant, because it already outlines his mysterious nature. This is not just a question of anonymity. Notice that during the whole introduction, he barely talks so that the readers can’t perceive his thoughts. Moreover, he only speaks on two occasions. First, he calls Ms. Jeon and later he describes the actual situation: he has removed the first target: (chapter 1) Therefore this is no coincidence that the reason why the murderer didn’t eliminate the prostitute is obscure. In other words, the main figure is an enigma per se, and the readers are asked to discern his personality, whereas Lee Je-Oh’s character is so easily exposed.

Since the former has no face and no identity in the beginning, the manhwaphiles are wondering not only about the situation, but also about the person with gloves and his motivation. And observe that the author showed first his back (chapter 1), even before unveiling his face. It was, as if he was a ghost and he only materializes the moment (chapter 1), he uses the cellphone to call his lover, the mastermind of this murder. This explains why his face is only revealed, when he uses the pronoun “I”. (chapter 1) That’s the moment he starts existing. He only lives, when he is in contact with Ms. Jeon. Yet through his words, the readers can detect the nature of their relationship. Ms. Jeon is his superior and mentor (he calls her “teacher”/Seonsangnim/ in the Korean version), whereas in the killer’s mind she is his lover.

2. The true nature of Jeon Hee-Seong’s relationship with the killer

But this is only unveiled much later, when the manhwaphiles see a letter which ends with a love confession (chapter 8) But if you pay attention, you’ll detect the emptiness of this declaration of affection. First, there’s no name attached to the “I love you”. It is so anonymous. Furthermore, the love confession is at the bottom of the letter, totally separated from the content of the letter. The first scene in chapter 1 already illustrated the gap between these two characters, for Do Seong-Rok was speaking to her formally. The absence of the informal speech is a clue that they are not intimate and close in truth. And now, if you combine this with the “love letter”, you can only come to the conclusion that Ms. Jeon is the one keeping the protagonist at a certain distance. All this truly exposes Jeon Hee-Seong’s true thoughts. She’s using Do Seong-Rok’s naivety and innocence. With a few words and a letter, she could manipulate the protagonist to commit assassinations. What caught my attention is that the main lead was incapable to see through her lies. In chapter 6, she stated that she was willing to dirty her hands in order to survive, yet the next minute she asked her lover if he would kill for her sake. (chapter 6) This displays her hypocrisy. She is not willing to kill in reality and prefers someone else to take the fall. And this contradiction truly exposes her talent in manipulation, but also Do Seong-Rok’s lack of discernment. Because she is his superior, it explicates why the red-haired man is always the one calling her first (chapter 1 and 6). She only contacted him, when she realized the kidnapping of the male prostitute, exposing that she has the upper hand in their relationship, whereas the killer would like to get her support.

And now you comprehend why she compared him to a lamb, when they first met. (chapter 16) Right from the start, she could notice his inexperience with women and in life as well. She portrayed him as naïve and maladroit. (chapter 16) In that scene, she acted as a righteous and kind person which gave a false first impression to the future assassin. She made sure that he wouldn’t be caught with a prostitute, for he was still a soldier. In other words, she behaved like his savior. She was full of integrity despite her job. Consequently, the readers can grasp why the main lead got attached to her. Since she had showed respect towards him and had helped him, he felt gratitude. At the same time, she was able to impress the young soldier due to her social competences and discernment. She could judge him correctly: he had been living in a bubble so far, therefore he was lacking experiences (“too much discipline”). Besides, he got so mesmerized by her. (chapter 16) This panel exposes the man’s genuineness and purity, as he revealed his true thoughts so easily. I would say that he was easy to read like an open book. So he was seduced by her intelligence and her beautiful body. From my point of view, she wooed him by taking his side in this incident despite her criticisms. Let’s not forget that his colleagues not only were looking down on him, when he refused to follow them, (chapter 16), but they also left him behind. Then, when Jeon Hee-Jeong put the card in his hand, she gave him the impression that he had the freedom to come back to her. He had a place to return, when he had finished his mandatory service. (chapter 16) In other words, she didn’t abandon him, though she left him behind too. And this is important in my opinion, for it explains why the main lead chose to seek her company. She was the first person who accepted him with his flaws, but she didn’t truly leave his side. And this leads me to the following conclusion: Do Seong-Rok has abandonment issues.

3. Do Seong-Rok’s past

Exactly like Lee Je-Oh, he has been abandoned by his parents. (chapter 12) However, the father left a letter behind announcing that he would come back at some point, but it never happened. What caught my attention in this picture is the person reading the letter left by the relative. The house looks well-maintained and the woman is wearing an apron. Yet, she seems so cold and unfriendly due to the absence of a smile and the eyes. In the first version, I thought that he had not been abandoned in an orphanage, but he was confided to a particular person. However, it turned out to be wrong. The reality is that he grew up in an orphanage (chapter 27), yet the persons working there could never give what he truly wished: a family. This signifies that I had perceived the person’s attitude correctly. The personal could never give the affection and warmth he had been longing. On the other hand, From my perspective, Do Seong-Rok grew up in a family from the middle-class. This signifies that he never had to face financial struggles, on the other hand the absence of eyes in the woman exposes her displeasure. So though he received a proper education, he must have felt as a burden as well. This would explain why Do Seong-Rok lived in a bubble for a long time. Abandoned by his biological parent, he didn’t desire to annoy more people, especially the family who took him in. That’s why he felt the need to abide by laws and to be very strict. He didn’t want to stand out. For him, assimilation was a mean to get acceptance. Therefore you understand why Do Seong-Rok is a lamb, for “conformity” was like a safety net. Consequently, Lee Je-Oh and the murderer have both something in common despite the social gap: isolation, lack of warmth and acceptance. On the other hand, the huge difference in their social status explains why Do Seong-Rok is so inexperienced and naïve. He never had to struggle to survive. Thus this explicates why Lee Je-Oh is so street-smart, while the other is so clumsy. By abiding to laws, he didn’t have to use his brain properly. Furthermore, I believe that due to the abandonment he kept his distance with people… out of fear that he might appear as a burden. That’s the reason why he had no girlfriend, until he met the prostitute. Besides, it is also possible that in his childhood he could only meddle with people with a similar background, hence he never had to encounter people with terrible fates. But by entering the army, it changed, as he was forced to interact with people from other social classes and with a different mindset. This explains why Do Seong-Rok entered the red-district for the first time, when he was 22 years old.

But let’s return our attention to the conversation between the former prostitute and the future assassin. Jeon Hee-Seong created so many positive reactions in the main lead that he could only be fascinated by her. She acted the opposite to the woman in the picture with the letter (chapter 12) versus (chapter 16): smiling, willing to help and to talk to him. She was like a surrogate mother in my opinion. Their first meeting played a huge role and exposes the dynamic between these two characters. Since their initial meeting, the young man had the impression that she was a decent person whose intelligence and sensibility couldn’t shine due to her poor circumstances. That’s why he viewed her as a mentor. She knew much more about life than him. Striking is that she compared him to a lost lamb. This animal is the symbol for innocence, sociability, but also conformity (due to Panurge’s sheep) and sacrifice (the lamb embodies Jesus Christ). And if you pay attention to chapter 16, you’ll notice that Do Seong-Rok only entered the red-light district, because he was following his fellows. This truly outlines a certain compliance and obedience. On the other hand, once arrived there, he realized the purpose of their visit. Hence he refused to do the same, revealing his integrity. Thus it is no surprise that he values monogamy so much. Since he had his first sexual experience with Jeon Hee-Seong, he could only judge her as his companion and lover. Besides, when they met for the second time, she made him feel special. She was dedicating her free time to him. (chapter 16) Therefore it is not astonishing that Lee Je-Oh considers Do Seong-Rok as a dog. The animal symbolizes loyalty, unconditional love and protection. When I read the prostitute’s comment in this panel (chapter 9), I couldn’t restrain myself connecting it to Hachiko, the dog who continued to wait at the train station for over nine years for its master, though the latter had already died. And now, I would like to combine this thought with my interpretation from the first chapter. The man appeared as a ghost and only started existing, the moment he was talking to the former prostitute. Waiting is often perceived as the contrary to life. Why? While you are waiting, you are not able to make any new experience. And this reinforces my perception: the killer was not truly living while waiting for his lover. The vengeful ghost gets a voice, the moment the first task in Jeon Hee-Seong’s revenge is completed. Thus I come to the first conclusion that Do Seong-Rok’s personality is strongly attached to the ex-prostitute. In the beginning, he only speaks and acts according to her wishes. In other words, he is her pawn and puppet, which is even underlined by his words. In the crime scene, he barely talks, he doesn’t express his thoughts and emotions. Everything is revolving about her instructions.

Secondly, the manhwalovers can observe the parallels between the two introductions of the two protagonists. Both are facing a corpse (Lee Soon Cheol and a goldfish) and both characters have a similar reaction. They are neither shocked nor scared. They remain calm and indifferent. Yet what is more surprising is that in the two situations, the author let us see the corpse through their eyes. This is what Do Seong-Rok is seeing, when he looks at his victim, while the second panel represents the perception from the prostitute, when he discovers the dead goldfish. Striking is that Lee Je-Oh can’t help himself making a comment in his head, while watching the floating corpse. This is important, as it reveals his talkativeness. This explicates why we get so much information about Lee Je-Oh in the first chapter. This exposes his need of communication. The whole first episode unveils his inner thoughts and emotions. And this stands in contradiction to the serial killer. The latter doesn’t express any own thought and emotion at all. I would even say that he is not even thinking at all. Once he has put the pawn in Lee Soon Cheol’s hand, he calls his mistress in order to announce the success of the killing. It was, as if he was acting like a robot, since he only talks, if it is necessary. Moreover, his lack of empathy and coldness is particularly palpable, when he uses the pronoun “it” for the victim Lee Soon Cheol. With “it”, the murderer externalizes his view about the sufferer. He is no human, rather an object or an animal, especially if the manhwaphiles recalls Lee Je-Oh’s remark: “It’s dead”. The latter was referring to the goldfish. This pronoun “it” exposes the killer’s mentality. He doesn’t consider his action as a wrongdoing, the victim was definitely no human due to his past actions. But don’t get me wrong, the assassin is not a psychopath or a man without a conscience and heart. That’s why he didn’t kill Je-Oh, though he had planned to remove him at some point. So now, it is time to elaborate my theory about his reason for sparing the male prostitute. First, the snake was not aware of the real connection between Ma Jong-Seok and Lee Je-Oh. She only thought, the latter was just a worker (chapter 16), while in reality the usurer had some feelings for him. He needed to ensure that Je-Oh would remain by his side. That’s why the young man was constantly brought to the clients and his minions were asked to keep an eye on him. Because of this mistake, she never gave any instruction about the male prostitute. Consequently Do Seong-Rok had no idea how to deal with him. Simultaneously, when he kept an eye on him, he was reminded of Jeon Hee-Seong’s fate. He could only pity the male whore, hence he was reluctant to kill him. (chapter 1) That’s the reason why there’s an interrogation point in the picture. This explicates too why he murdered the minions in the prostitute’s absence. However, remember how the protagonist had yelled at Do Seong-Rok, imagining that the person in the car was working for Chief. This meant that the male prostitute had noticed his presence. That’s how the red-haired man noticed that the male prostitute represented a source of threat. Hence he chose to remove him. So he entered his flat and waited for his arrival, but what he didn’t expect is Ma Jong-Seok’s sudden visit. Furthermore, when he approached them, he saw that Lee Je-Oh was smiling and waiting for his entrance.(chapter 2) In other words, Lee Je-Oh could have decided to call the cops and report an intruder before entering his home, but he never did. In my eyes, all this contributed to confuse the killer. Somehow he realized that the prostitute had been helping him. Therefore he didn’t kill them in the flat. Since they were together, he had to kidnap them together. But as you can see, Do Seong-Rok had a weak spot for the main lead, but he was definitely less important than his lover Jeon Hee Seong. That’s why the main lead is not allowed to touch her belongings.

The killer with a heart felt the murder of the guard justified and this is also confirmed in chapter 2, when the male prostitute considers his death as retribution for his bad behavior. According to the belief of the red-haired man, he is removing the persons responsible for Jeon Hee-Seong’s misery. Since police didn’t protect her, while she was abused (chapter 9) and no one listened to her side of the story, he feels entitled to get rid of them. That’s why in chapter 3, Do Seong-Rok got so upset with Ma Jong-Seok’s abnegation. In my eyes, his words must have triggered Do Seong-Rok’s memories concerning his girlfriend. The former prostitute made sure to portray her husband, the chief and the pimp as dark as possible, while she made herself appear as pure and innocent as possible. She was forced to marry Choi Yeong-Gil, yet the naive lamb couldn’t detect her lies. Let’s not forget that during their first meeting, she acted as the prostitute’s superior and chased away her minion. So she was no longer a simple victim, she was reinforcing the system of exploitation. She was already higher in the hierarchy. Secondly, like I explained in the previous essay, she was already possessing a parlor, when he husband got killed. She ensured to trigger negative emotions in the young man so that the latter would feel the need to kill her so-called oppressors. (chapter 16) That’s why I believe that Koo Jeong Mo is correct about his assessment of the former prostitute. (chapter 11) She is like the snake in the Bible, hence she is wearing a black dress with a red bra (chapter 16) or a red dress with a black bra (chapter 6). These colors are not random: they are linked to evil, blood and death. She seduced the innocent and pure Do Seong-Rok to sin, a new version of the original sin. My avid readers are already aware of the signification of the Fall of Man [read the essay A new version of Fall of man]. Eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge is a metaphor for the discovery for sex and sexuality. Hence the main lead loses his virginity with the prostitute. (chapter 16) Through her, the red-haired man discovers real life and as such pain. The manhwaworms should remember that after the expulsion from Eden, Eva and Adam discovered pain and death. And that’s exactly what is happening in the manhwa, though in my opinion Do Seong-Rok is a combination of Adam and Cain. Let’s not forget that Eva’s son killed his brother out of jealousy and resent. But since the snake views the young man as a lamb, this signifies that she has already planned to sacrifice him for her own interests. That’s why she tells officer Ahn that she has no real relationship to the murderer. (chapter 11) He is just her tool to achieve her goals: getting revenge but also getting powerful and wealthy. That’s why she didn’t give him a proper instruction how to get rid of the targets. Due to Do Seong-Rok’s lack of experience, Lee Je-Oh could notice the killer’s presence in the end. The latter has never been a schemer and a real strategist. (chapter 2) The reason for his mistakes is simple: he was an idealist lulled in an illusion, hypnotized by Ms. Jeon’s words. That’s why he had a nightmare (chapter 6), where he was slowly recognizing the true nature of her words. The nightmare was slowly bringing him back to reality making him recognize the true nature of his terrible actions. My explication is the following. He lived in an illusion, until he interacted with Lee Je-Oh. The latter represents reality and its real ugliness, while the former prostitute is viewed more like a goddess… she is an illusion. Hence the man with dyed hair treasured her belongings like sacred prizes. Furthermore, the connection between reality and the male prostitute is particularly perceptible in this image: (chapter 8) Besides, let’s not forget that after the nightmare, the protagonist gave a honest portrait of Do Seong-Rok. He is a sensitive murderer . (chapter 6). The black-haired man’s role is important, as he forces his ally to question the nature of his relationship with his girlfriend. (chapter 10) In chapter 18, he made him realize that he was now cheating on her and as such was no longer faithful. The longer Lee Je-Oh remained by his side, the more disillusioned Do Seong-Rok got about Ms. Jeon’s true nature. This is not surprising that at some point the assassin is no longer blindly trusting his goddess.

But this doesn’t mean that Do Seong-Rok has no redeeming qualities at all. He is also teaching the prostitute to value loyalty, trust and respect. Because of his blind trust and his weak heart, the black-haired man imagined that he was definitely superior to the killer due to his scheming nature. However, by playing a trick, the main lead got punished and was faced with reality too: he could get killed in the end. In other words, the murderer taught his ally to respect him too. Despite their quarrel, their trust didn’t get ruined. From my point, Lee Je-Oh will become faithful despite his past and job. Why? It is because of these words: (chapter 9) If he has a lover, then he will change his behavior. Therefore I believe that Do Seong-Rok will make the male prostitute discover that real love and selflessness still exist and are no chimera.

Since the male prostitute man embodies reality, this signifies that he forces the main lead to judge sexuality differently. He had a very romantic perception of sex and sexuality: heterosexuality and monogamy were the norms. Remember what I wrote above. He had internalized social norms in order to blend in the crowd and get acceptance. That’s why he had sex with a woman very late. But in the flat, he observes two men copulating, and slowly he gets attracted to Lee Je-Oh. This is not surprising that at some point he confuses both persons. In my opinion, this panel is important, because it explains the killer’s issues. On the one hand, he is reminded of his infidelity. Secondly, it made Do Seong-Rok slowly realize that the blush was not a sign for love, but simply for sexual arousal. He had imagined that she was in love with him with her reactions and words. But Lee Je-Oh as a mirror let him see the truth. He just had a sexual relationship with her in reality. So far, he had never questioned his own sexuality and had just followed the flow. There’s no ambiguity that Jeon Hee-Seong doesn’t envision that her pawn will prefer the male prostitute over her. She has no clue that he has already distanced himself from her. The beginning of their alienation was visible with the text containing a lie (chapter 8) and she is not even imagining that he has found an ally and is disobeying her words. She is so confident about her seductive skills and her beauty. This explains why Do Seong-Rok’s sexuality is gradually changing, though he tried to deny pleasure in the beginning. On the other side, since the prostitute has associated sex with power and violence, this is no coincidence that the killer feels aroused while strangling Ma Jong-Seok. Slowly, he is under the influence of Lee Je-Oh.

Striking is that in the manhwa, the killer is viewed either as a lamb, or as a dog, or as a god and finally as a grim reaper. What is he really? He is no god, for he makes mistakes and didn’t truly save the prostitute. (chapter For the snake, Do Seong-Rok was a lamb and her cannon. As for the dog, I find it very fascinating that Lee Je-Oh viewed himself as a dog. This shows their affinities in the end. They have something in common: both were abandoned and had no real home. Hence they lived somehow in seclusion. While the one became an outlaw (prostitution as a minor, stole a toy, stabbed Ma Jong-Seok), the other was living as a perfect citizen, following laws so that he wouldn’t get noticed and rejected. Finally, both have a conscience in the sense that they have a certain sense of justice. Both were and are seeking for a companion, both desire to feel needed and important. That’s why Do Seong-Rok got convinced to commit crimes. He thought, he could remain by her side.. he wanted to be her pillar, just like he asked her to be her savior. But she abandoned him too, when she told him this: (chapter 12), and the main lead could already sense it. In fact, she had planned a long time ago to betray him, the moment he had become useless. Remember that to her, people are like pieces of Janggi. In her eyes, Do Seong-Rok had always been the sacrificial lamb. (chapter 16)

From my point of view, Do Seong-Rok acts like a grim reaper who gives the death sentence for people who committed crimes. That’s why he is introduced as a vengeful ghost in the first chapter. This is no coincidence that he is wearing black during that night, as this figure is always painted with black clothes too.

grim reaper, death quoted from

quoted from

The most intriguing part is that the Grim reaper appeared, when the Black pest took place in Europe. Many people were dying and people thought that this was divine retribution for their sins. Temporal and religious authorities (King, Church) were questioned, especially the pope and its clergy. They were judged as corrupted which led to the creation of a new religious current: the floggers. They would flog themselves in order to beg for God’s mercy, but they would also commit murders and flog people, if they were judged as immoral and impious. And note the parallels between the real historical situation and the manhwa: In The pawn’s Revenge, authorities and society are portrayed in a very negative way: selfishness, greed, corruption and indifference are omnipresent. Therefore I am more convinced than ever that Lee Je-Oh will change Do Seong-Rok’s ultimate goal. This won’t be just liberation for the ex-prostitute, they will try to change the whole system in my opinion.

The fact that Do Seong-Rok is compared to different animals or figures truly displays the complexity of the character. From my point of point, the man with dyed hair has also been suffering like Lee Je-Oh, but he could never express it. This explicates why he conceal his thoughts and emotions. But due to his encounter with Lee Je-Oh, the former is slowly opening up. Hence he cries in front of the male prostitute or he confesses that he is aroused. (chapter 18) Thus I come to the conclusion that the killer was living in a similar situation than Je-Oh’s in his past: he was invisible to people and didn’t truly feel alive.

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: The goldfish and the lamb 🔞 – part 1 (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

Feel free to make some donations/sponsoring:  That way, you can support me with “coffee” so that I have the energy to keep examining manhwas. It would also cover my expenses for the blog.

As you can imagine, the title is referring to the two protagonists, Lee Je-Oh and Do Seong-Rok, for the young man viewed himself as a goldfish in chapter 1 and the other was called a lamb by his future lover Jeon Hee-Seong (chapter 16). In this essay, I am going to examine the two protagonists’ personality, though in the first part Lee Je-Oh will be in the center of the study, for there’s so much to say about him. However, this doesn’t mean that I won’t mention Do Seong-Rok at all, because I will examine how Je-Oh views the killer.

1. The aquarium and its signification

The first chapter begins with an introduction of the young prostitute. What caught my attention is this episode is the main lead had a fish as pet. (chapter 1). In this panel, the young man has the impression that he bought an aquarium, because he found the fish pretty, but notice that although they keep dying (this is the third one), he is still determined to keep a fish by his side. This is important for two reasons. It shows his loneliness and as such his need for company. Let’s not forget that Je-Oh has to reimburse the debt left by his father, so this signifies that his budget is limited. Yet each time a goldfish died, he still bought a new one revealing that he considered it at some point as a necessity to have a goldfish by his side. He is well aware that he doesn’t take care of it very well, he can’t help himself buying a new one. This incident exposes too that Je-Oh has no idea how to treat a companion properly, for he has been alone for a long time. As a conclusion, right from the start, the reader can sense the escort’s solitude and selfishness. He feels the need to detect the presence of someone by his side, yet he is not willing to invest too much time and emotions in it. A fish is the perfect solution, for the aquarium serves as boundary and a fish can’t be touched like a cat or a dog.

2 . The family picture

And now, it is necessary to look into the reasons for his behavior. He has always been on his own, since his mother disappeared from his life. We still don’t know if the mother is dead or she run away, though I am more inclined to believe in the first option. (chapter 16) Thanks to the image, we can detect that Je-Oh is missing his mother. This is perceptible, for the main lead still has a framed picture of his mother. Since he is smiling, this indicates that he was happy, as long as his mother was around him. However, the moment he was left alone with his father, the latter only viewed him as trash and burden. This explicates why he removed the father’s portrait from the picture. He really hated his father. He had many reasons for his disdain.

3. The relationship between Lee Je-Oh and his father

First, the parent showed no care and concern for his young son, hence he didn’t buy the toy the son desired. In my eyes, the father prioritized his own needs, even if in this scene he just wanted to buy a bug spray. As a good parent, he should have explained why he couldn’t buy the toy. Instead, he displayed no understanding and just made the son guilty. Besides, the relative kept insulting him, calling him filthy and dirty. (chapter 9) This incident at the convenience store explains why the young boy resented so much his father.

The latter was himself no role model for the son: selfish, brutal and indifferent. Furthermore, since the boy chose to steal the toy in order to have his wish fulfilled, it explicates why the main lead will become a criminal in the end. (chapter 9) Note that the young boy was smiling after the theft, he didn’t see it as a real wrongdoing… let’s not forget that the father bought things from the supermarket and always put it on tab, but never paid back the debt immediately. (chapter 9) The young boy could only learn that it is no big crime, if he doesn’t pay the figurine. The irony is that during that incident, the father couldn’t put the bug spray on tab, as the shop owner refused to due to the huge amount of unpaid bills. This incident reveals that the father was already deeply indebted. Simultaneously, due to the harsh scolding and insult, the main character learned that he needed to act behind his father’s back in order to achieve his goal. He knew that his father would never do anything for him, since he represented a source of annoyance. For the father, Je-Oh was a burden.

Their estrangement could only increase, as time passed on. Therefore this is no surprise that the father decided to kill himself and leave the mountain of debts to his son. (chapter 1) When the main character discovered his father’s suicide, he only showed calmness and indifference. (chapter 1) The suicide was the peak of the father’s abandonment and neglect. That’s the reason why the student wasn’t shocked or upset and kept smoking in front of his father’s corpse. And now, you understand why the young boy hated his father.

He was the reason for his misery. Striking is that in the convenience store, the father predicted the boy’s future personality: he would be a jerk. Yet, these words reveal that the relative didn’t feel responsible for his education at all. With his statement, he was putting the whole blame on his own son, while in reality the man was refusing to educate the boy properly. In other words, Lee Je-Oh should be considered as a orphan who had no good role model in his youth. The manhwaphiles can grasp why he stole the toy or why he started smoking, though he was still a minor. There was no one around him who showed concern and care for him.

4. Lee Je-Oh’s fate as prostitute

But despite his harsh childhood, he was still somehow integer. When he was confronted with the debt, he begged the moneylender that he would repay the loan by taking regular jobs. (chapter 17) He was willing to be responsible for his father’s mistake, though he despised him. The reality is that he was forced by Ma Jong-Seok to sell his body. Because of this terrible experience and the indifference of people, the teenager learned that he would never receive any help. He was on his own, that’s why he tried to rebel and escape on his own from the claws of the pimp Koo Jeong Mo and the moneylender Ma many times. However, each time he failed. This exposes the main lead’s resilience and strength, but also his disillusion about society. Hence in my opinion, he bought a fish to make up for his loneliness. Besides, the goldfish was also in a similar position than the main lead’s. It also had no companion and had no one to rely on. This explicates why at the end the goldfish died, as Je-Oh was not helping it, like for example he never renewed the water from the aquarium. Consequently the water was full of dust. The fish had to learn to survive in that hostile environment, just like the main lead had to survive on his own. And now you comprehend why the prostitute viewed himself as the dead goldfish. He could never seek comfort from people, as the latter would always treat him as trash. The presence of the goldfish already implied Je-Oh’s longing for a companion. That’s why it is not surprising that he is trying to woo the serial killer. He is longing for real warmth, therefore he sought Seong-Rok’s embrace in chapter 15. Then this observation made me realize why the protagonist’s life was similar to the goldfish’s.

Unlike the prostitutes working in the red-light district, the main lead was living in a flat on his own. He would get picked up by Lee Soon Cheol or Choi Yeong-Gil or even Ma Jong-Seok and brought to his clients 3 times a day. This clearly displays that the young man had a different clientele. In my opinion, he was more working for people with money. And this explains why Jeon Hee-Seong didn’t know Lee Je-Oh’s true place in the end. In her eyes, he had the same position, as he was selling his body for money. She was surprised to hear that the loan shark would pick up himself a prostitute and wondered this situation. (chapter 16) This outlines that though the protagonist was treated like trash by his employers, he had a particular position. My explication is that Lee Je-Oh started working as a whore, when he was a minor, hence this couldn’t be exposed so openly. Secondly, his clients are mostly men(chapter 1), and since they are married, I believe that they hide their homosexuality. Furthermore, if you consider that he only had maximum three clients a day, this meant that the young man was a special escort. That’s why I believe, the main lead was sent to serve a different clientele than Jeon Hee-Seong in the end. This would elucidate why her husband asked the main character not to get caught and create a scandal. (chapter 1) Consequently, I conclude that he was definitely having sex with rich people. And if you take into consideration Chief’s behavior, you’ll notice the parallels between the “bunch of horny men” who felt guilty by having sex with the young man: Ma Jong-Seok only confessed he had some feelings for the main lead the moment he was facing death. He hid his “emotions” behind his behavior. That’s why he raped him 3 years ago and tasted him in the second episode and used a pill to achieve his goal. In my opinion, the Chief was not willing to admit his attraction to Je-Oh and used his position to sleep with him, whenever he wanted.

5. Death, sex and violence

But what caught my attention in the scene with the fish is Je-Oh’s attitude towards his pet. First, he showed not only a certain indifference, but also fascination towards the dying pet. He was neither desperate nor afraid of death, but he was not repelled by the scent of the dead fish. Furthermore, he even touched the corpse. And these gestures made me think that the main lead was very fascinated by death (chapter 1). And this led me to suspect that Je-Oh could be suffering from necrophilia. In the first chapter, he showed this tendency. Then he witnessed how Seong-Rok was strangling the usurer in episode 18, he got fascinated and aroused as well. This scene is important, for it shows that he is not a real necrophile.

“Pseudo-necrophilia was defined as “a transient attraction to a corpse, but corpses are not the object of his sexual fantasies. He prefers sexual contact with living partners. This group includes sadistic, opportunistic, and transitory cases” (p. 155).

Yet, the scene in chapter 18 confirmed my impression that Je-Oh enjoys corpse and violence, for it is a synonym for power. After living as a whore for three years, the main character has already internalized the association of sex with violence. Let’s not forget that he was raped by the moneylender, when he begged Ma Jong-Seok in the past. Then we see the latter giving Je-Oh some drug in order to make him obedient. (chapter 2) Therefore you comprehend why the main lead claimed to his kidnapper that he had been raped. (chapter 3). He wasn’t just trying to manipulate the red-haired man to get rid of his abuser, he was also telling the truth. The protagonist didn’t have sex with the usurer willingly. Thus the manhwalovers can understand why the main lead is now reacting sexually, when he sees someone getting strangled or punched. For him, violence can no longer be dissociated from sex. The only difference is that, now he is no longer the victim, hence he can enjoy this. The manhwaphiles could detect this in two occasions. First, in chapter 3 he enjoyed so much how the serial killer was punching the usurer that he got an erection. (chapter 3) Then, in episode 17 he felt excited, when the moneylender was begging for his life. His words expose the connection between pleasure and power again. The violence is present here, as Ma Jong-Seok is getting threatened and humiliated: let’s not forget that he is on the verge of losing his life. As you can observe, the main lead’s sexuality is already linked to violence and corpse. And now, you can comprehend why he is so fascinated by the serial killer Seong-Rok. He embodies everything that he likes: strength, power, violence, but also a certain sense of innocence, sensitivity and justice. (chapter 3) This explicates why the prostitute didn’t stop the moneylender from strangling him during their duel. He counted on Seong-Rok’s good heart and pity to protect him in the end.

6. Lee Je-Oh and Do Seong-Rok

We have another scene, where the young man expresses his admiration for the red-haired man. In his eyes, he was a god (chapter 2) (chapter 6), until Seong-Rok rejected this idea. I do think that the young man was honest, when he admired his “savior” for his sensitive and loyal side (chapter 6). For the first time, the young man was witnessing a person’s vulnerability, indicating that the killer needed comfort and reassurance from someone. And remember that until now, Je-Oh has only experienced selfishness and abuse from his guardians (his father, Choi Yeong-Gil, Ma Jong-Seok). No one next to him has ever showed a weakness or asked for assistance from him. Even his father, who was struggling financially, chose to act as a strong person. The latter only displayed coldness and harshness towards his son. Hence if the murderer is a sensitive person, it means for the “hostage” that Seong-Rok could need help. And observe how the prostitute tried to show his future ally how much he needed his aid. That’s why he played this trick in chapter 10 too. This was not just a question of revenge or survival, for the first time Je-Oh had the impression to have found a purpose in life. There was someone who was strong, but also vulnerable at the same time implying that the latter would have to rely on someone. Besides, Je-Oh felt indebted towards his savior. Thanks to him, he had become released from his prison. With these words, you can observe, “help” plays a huge role in Je-Oh’s mentality. That is the reason why he desires to be by Seong-Rok’s side in the end.

The killer is the only one who seems to ask for his support unconsciously. Striking is that the young man mentions “home” for the first time in front of the red-haired man. (chapter 12) From my perspective, he was not talking about his own apartment, but about the farm, where he was held captive. He wanted to leave the room, where he had been tied up. The mansion had somehow become his home, for he had the murderer by his side. And this clearly shows that the prostitute was slowly viewing Seong-Rok more and more as a relative and companion.

The manhwaphiles could witness that so far, the prostitute was just trying to survive. But after meeting Seong-Rok, his life changed. The latter saved him by killing his abusers , though the red-haired protagonist kept rejecting this role. And now, you comprehend why Je-Oh is eyeing at Seong-Rok. The latter has already shown a weak spot towards the young man. He didn’t let him die by Ma Jong-Seok’s hand (chapter 3), then he showed him a special treatment by letting him sleep in the same room. The latter could take a shower and got clothes. No one had ever paid attention to his needs before. He might say that he dislikes love, yet in front of Seong-Rok in tears, he feels himself moved. (chapter 16) Furthermore, in chapter 11 he already expressed a certain desire to have him. And this panel is interesting, as it reminds us of the scene at the convenience store. It was, as if Seong-Rok was a toy and the protagonist felt the need to steal him. Let’s not forget that he was already looking for a partner unconsciously before meeting his savior. The evidence was the goldfish. By connecting the scene with the toy and this picture, the readers can detect what the prostitute will do in the future. He will use any mean to obtain Seong-Rok as his lover. The knight on the red horse should be perceived as a metaphor for the killer. Notice the parallels: A riding knight is often linked to heroism and rescue. The main lead still views him as his savior despite their argument.

This explicates why Je-Oh is so fascinated by the killer. The latter was the only one showing pity and concern for him, while the so-called normal people were using him as a sex toy or a confessor. (chapter 9) All of them were treating him, as if he was inexistent. His clients never paid attention to his feelings, when they confessed their sins. Moreover his masters treated him like trash. And this signification makes the readers realize that the killer’s lover Ms. Jeon will become Je-Oh’s true enemy and rival, for the former will claim Seong-Rok as his own. That’s why in chapter 18, he makes the red-haired protagonist feel guilty. He knows how much Seong-Rok values loyalty and faithfulness. In my opinion, he would like him to question his feelings for Ms. Jeon. He had already attempted to undermine her loyalty and outline her selfishness, when he said this: his lover was never by his side and had somehow abandoned him. With the word “almighty”, he displayed her true nature to the red-haired man: she is no god, just a woman. These words had an effect on Seong-Rok. Thanks to the prostitute, the serial killer recognized that he had been manipulated. He could already detect her lies, when she claimed that she would rescue him at some point, for he realized the similarities between his parents’ promise and hers. And in order to get closer to the murderer, Je-Oh asked him for his name while calling “oppa”. This is important, as this conversation exposed the increasing trust between the perpetrator and the “hostage”. Seong-Rok was viewed as human with a name, and the young man introduced himself. He was definitely seeking his closeness.

7. Honesty and hypocrisy

What caught my attention is that unlike the femme fatale, the protagonist never hides his thoughts, unless he plans a trick. He is brutally honest which contrasts so much to the people surrounding him. All of them were or are hypocrites. Choi Yeong-Gil criticized the prostitute for showing no concern and sadness over the death of Lee Soon-Cheol(chapter 1), while in reality the former had showed no respect to the deceased himself too. Ma Jong-Seok claimed to have feelings for the main character (chapter 17)(chapter 17), yet until now he had mistreated Je-Oh, as if the latter was a pet. Thanks to Seong-Rok, the prostitute could feel free for the first time, though he was a hostage. Imagine the irony of the situation. This is not surprising that the prostitute rejected the usurer’s offer. The main lead was truly aware of Ma Jong-Seok’s hypocrisy. He knew that this was an empty promise, visible through the points of suspension and the question. The main lead was not naive: the loan shark would always prioritize money over Je-Oh, once he had escaped from the jail. Let’s not forget that the usurer was living a good life according to the main lead’s words.

8. Lee Je-Oh’s mistake

Due to his harsh childhood, the main lead was able to discern people’s nature: selfishness, indifference and coldness. That’s why Je-Oh became cold-hearted as well, which reminds us of the goldfish. The latter is a cold-blooded animal, it is not driven by passion which definitely fits the main lead’s personality. Even when he was hurt by Seong-Rok’s words, he didn’t retaliate under an impulse. He planned carefully the scheme making sure to manipulate the usurer properly. But here he made a huge mistake: he underestimated Seong-Rok’s determination and resent. He never imagined that the latter would punish him and could even kill him. The killer taught the young man a harsh lesson. For the first time, he truly feared for his life. (chapter 12) He realized that Seong-Rok’s words had been true. He might have felt pity for him, yet he never truly intended to save him. Simultaneously, the young man learned to respect his “ally”. He shouldn’t be looked down. He learned to show respect to his ally and partner, something totally new to him.

9. Lee Je-Oh’s true personality

Another rather positive aspect about the main lead is his intelligence and good sense of observation. Striking is that he was aware of Seong-Rok’s presence, even before Ma Jong-Seok and his assistant noticed it. (chapter 2) Both were totally blind. The usurer didn’t even recognize that the door of Je-Oh’s flat was opened. Due to his sharp senses, the main lead knew that someone was in his house, but he remained silent, as he was hoping that the murderer would help him by eliminating the loan shark. This truly shows that Je-Oh is an opportunist, he can see which situation benefits him more. Simultaneously, it also shows that the protagonist is a gambler, willing to risk his life, though he had a reason to envisage that the killer was not targeting him. Do Seong-Rok had never approached him before, while Lee Soon Cheol was already dead, yet the murderer had been observing him for a while and Je-Oh was aware of that.

As a conclusion, I deduce that the main lead is reckless, but quite street-smart. He understands humans quite well, he is patient and a good listener and planner. He knows how to manipulate people, but due to his social position, he was never able to show his qualities. And this leads me to the following deduction, the main lead is indeed similar to a goldfish. Although this type of animal is famous for having a bad memory (3 seconds), the reality is that they have a much better memory and are considered as quite intelligent. Besides, let’s not forget that a fish symbolizes freedom, as they are usually living in the ocean. But I have to admit that when I read the first chapter for the first time, I couldn’t help myself thinking if Je-Oh could be in fact a different fish. Since he had a firelight in his hand and imagined burning the world, I started associating Fire and fish, hence this came to my mind: Firefish

Photo by Ayman Zaki on

This is a devil firefish or called common lionfish. These creatures are actually wonderful, yet at the same time dangerous, as their sting contains a violent poison which can kill a human. But there’s another reason why I am thinking that Je-Oh resembles more a lionfish than a goldfish. First, it looks like many people in The Pawn’s revenge are fascinated by him despite treating him like trash. A lionfish will attract more people’s admiration than a simple goldfish. Notice that Ma Jong-Seok couldn’t keep his hands off from him. Even Seong-Rok is somehow mesmerized. Furthermore, the loan shark got stabbed by the prostitute, reminding us of the sting of the lionfish. The fish is not aggressive per se, yet if it feels in danger and bothered, it will retaliate. And now imagine this. If he was in truth a “lionfish”, then he would be perfect to lure the victims. Remember that he is supposed to lure Koo Jeong Mo. He would be acting like a siren. Because this type of fish is quite uncommon in an aquarium, contrary to a goldfish, it would explain why people would be seeking his services. By meeting the “lamb”, the disillusioned and realist prostitute found someone who had a heart, though he was a killer.

As a conclusion, Lee Je-Oh is more than a goldfish. He is quick-witted, patient and is sensitive enough to understand people’s attitude. Though he has never met Ms. Jeon personally, he could judge her perfectly. She was just using Seong-Rok’s emotions and naivety. He doesn’t dislike violence, as long as he is not the one suffering from it. He can manipulate people, yet he is often quite honest. Despite resenting society for its indifference and selfishness, the protagonist definitely wished deep down to find a companion. And he found one in Do Seong-Rok, who seems to be so different from him. That’s why in the second part, I’ll examine the other main lead.

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: Revolution or revenge? 🔞 (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

Feel free to make some donations/sponsoring:  That way, you can support me with “coffee” so that I have the energy to keep examining manhwas. It would also cover my expenses for the blog.

One might wonder how I came up with such a question, when the title of this manhwa is clearly stating that it is about the revenge of the protagonist Je-Oh and indirectly of Seong-Rok. Moreover, the main lead makes the following statement: reminding us of the famous quote: “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” a symbol for revenge. Besides, in chapter 17 the author created two panels containing so many similarities reinforcing this idea that Lee Je-Oh was getting revenge by siding with the serial killer Do Seong-Rok. (chapter 17) (chapter 17) As you can observe, the positions between the main lead Je-Oh and Ma Jong-Seok had been switched. The latter, the blond-haired man, was the protagonist’s owner due to the debt left by Je-Oh’s father. The latter had preferred killing himself than reimbursing the credit with a huge interest. The vengeance becomes more visible, when the readers discover that the chief has been brought to the location, where Je-Oh’s father committed suicide. (chapter 1) (chapter 17) This means, in chapter 17 Ma Jong-Seok is going through the same experience than the main lead. He fears for his life and begs for Je-Oh’s mercy, exactly like the main character did three years ago. The only difference is that back then, the teenager’s death was to be taken figuratively, for he was forced to prostitution in order to pay his father’s credit. By becoming a whore, the young man lost his rights as a human. From that moment he was considered as trash indicating that he was standing at the lowest social rank. I would even say, he became in truth an outcast, which the manhwaphiles can observe in the following metaphor: (chapter 1) Lee Je-Oh viewed himself as a goldfish living alone in an aquarium full of dust. Instead of living among people, he was isolated and trapped in an aquarium underlining his exclusion. Due to the debt and his job as prostitute, he was weak and vulnerable, but he never lost his fighting spirit, as he wanted to live. He was trying to survive in a hostile environment, full of pain and loneliness.

So when the chief realizes that he is on the verge of losing his life for real, he hopes to escape this terrible fate by first appealing to his executioner’s conscience and heart. If he commits a crime, then he will lose his “humanity”. This is no coincidence that the chief talks about righteousness and as such humanity. Let’s not forget that the latter is a synonym for benevolence and kindness. Facing death, the hypocrite starts treating Je-Oh as a human and no longer as his pet. This doesn’t escape the main lead’s attention who points out his hypocrisy. He has behaved like a man without any conscience and heart until now. And this explains why at some point Ma Jong-Seok confesses to like Je-Oh. The moment the loan shark views him as a human being and no longer as whore, he can admit to have some feelings for him. The irony is that even in captivity, the chief kept insulting the young boy and never treated him like a human being. (chapter 3) (chapter 5) He kept treating him as his tool. The main lead had to listen to his order and show loyalty and obedience. Sure, he was definitely stressed and desired to survive, well aware that Do Seong-Rok could kill him at any moment. But he acted like that even before the abduction and sequestration. (chapter 2)

However, what caught my attention in chapter 17 is that the prostitute starts mentioning all the people suffering from the loan sharks. He criticizes Ma Jong-Seok for being responsible for the death of so many people. With his ruthless job, he sentenced people to their death. In other words, the violent moneylender is a murderer, though he never pulled the trigger himself. (chapter 17) And his words truly exposes that Je-Oh is not just killing the loan shark for a personal vendetta, in truth he is resenting him and society for its injustice and corruption. No one felt pity for these persons committing suicide, though they had been cornered by moneylenders. The chapter 17 gives us a clue that Je-Oh is thinking more than just about himself and pure revenge. Moreover, he mentioned to his partner that he hoped with their alliance to obtain his freedom. (chapter 11) And this aspect is very relevant, as liberty is one of the national mottos from French revolution (freedom, equity and fraternity).

But I have to admit that the idea of revolution came up very early on for two reasons. First, in the initial episode, we see the main lead dreaming of burning the world: (chapter 1) This truly exposed the deep resent the main character had for the society he was living in. We have to imagine that he was just a teenager, when he became an orphan, yet no authority worried about his fate. He had been indeed abandoned and betrayed by society and authorities. And here, it is necessary to bring up the definition of revolution.

Revolution: 1. an overthrow or repudiation and the thorough replacement of an established government or political system by the people governed. 2. Sociology. a radical and pervasive change in society and the social structure, especially one made suddenly and often accompanied by violence.,Compare%20social%20evolution.

As you can see, when I saw the image of this immense fire, I thought of the second meaning of the definition. Je-Oh is creating a fire in order to change society, that’s why people are burning. They are the ones who profited from this system. This idea got reinforced, when another important detail caught my attention. While reading the manhwa, I couldn’t help myself thinking about the story entitled “Animal Farm” written by George Orwell and published in 1945. Why? In the first place, the characters in the manhwa are constantly compared to animals. It was, as if they were no human in reality:

  • First, we have Je-Oh considering himself as a goldfish, but later he compared himself to a dog:
  • The loan shark called the main lead a mutt (chapter 2), while Je-Oh used the same expression for Do Seong-Rok. (chapter 6) Mutt is a synonym for dog. In the prostitute’s eyes, the murderer is in truth a dog waiting for his master. (chapter 8)
  • Later Chief Ma Jong-Seok compared the main lead to a rat, as he saw him as a betrayer (chapter 10), while he associated his minions to chickens. (chapter 2)
  • Then the boss Koo Jeong Mo ruling over the red-light district described the mastermind Jeon Hee-Seong as a snake:
  • The moneylender Ma Jong-Seok was insulted as a pig by Do Seong-Rok, (chapter 3) when the former complained that the main lead had lied, when he stated that he had been raped.
  • The snake Jeon Hee-Seong seduced an innocent lamb, the future killer Do Seong-Rok (chapter 16) and called her former employer a fox (chapter 11)
  • Then even in the game janggi, we have animals: the horse (chapter 13) and the elephant. (chapter 13). The loan shark is supposed to be the elephant in the game, while the horse is Choi Yeong -Gil. (chapter 13) Imagine, this city is not inhabited by humans, but by animals: chickens, a goldfish, a pig, a fox, an elephant, a horse, a dog, a mutt, a rat etc.

Secondly, with the allegory “Animal Farm”, the author portrayed the Russian revolution. In this story, the animals in the farm were suffering under the owner Jones, hence the animals led by the pigs rebelled and took over the farm. This revolution had been triggered by the old Major’s hope. He dreamed of a world where animals would be equal and free from the tyranny of humans. After the revolution, the pigs got more and more power so that at the end, the pig Napoleon, representing the dictator Stalin, imposed his ruling over the other animals. Who opposed him or was of no use to him was eliminated. The irony is that the story ends, when the exploited animals from the farm could no longer distinguish between the pigs and men. Their living conditions were even worse than before.

But, there are other similarities between these two works than the presence of animals. Certain panels made me think of the famous allegory. (chapter 2) Here, Hongok-Dong is presented as a paradise, while in reality there’s only poverty and misery. This poster reminded me of the last commandment in the farm. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” This served as propaganda in order to legitimate Napoleon’s dictatorship. In other words, the banner from that Korean city made me think of propaganda. By showing such pictures, the inhabitants are lulled into in the illusion that everything is alright, whereas in reality there exists only selfishness and indifference due to corruption and injustice. Secondly, the pictures about the red-light district (chapter 2) (chapter 16) make me think of a farm, and more precisely of chicken batteries:

And let’s not forget that Ma Jong Seong compared Choi Yeong-Gil and Lee Seon-Chol to chickens. 😉 (chapter 2) Secondly, the fact that Do Seong-Rok views the usurer as a pig (chapter 3) reminds me of the dictatorship of the pigs from Animal Farm. Let’s not forget that the man could enjoy life, while his borrowers were forced either to kill themselves out of despair or to work like slaves for him. Je-Oh criticized him for taking all the money he was earning through prostitution. (chapter 2) This situation is quite similar to the life of the pigs at the farm.

Usually, people compare the world to the jungle, where the only strong ones can survive. But we have to remember that in this story, life is presented as a game (chapter 6), as Janggi. That’s why I believe that the city is like the animal farm, as Janggi is limiting the world. The animals are represented by a piece of chess. The only difference is that we also have wild animals, unlike the English novel. The killer is a player of Janggi, he is the one who uses the different pieces (chariot, cannon, pawn etc). This Korean chess game was introduced to the serial killer Do Seong-Rok by his lover Ms. Jeon Hee-Seong. She manipulated her partner by letting him think that she was a poor prostitute, abused by her husband. (chapter 16) Striking is that she told her partner that she was just a pawn in Janggi, though she views herself as King. There’s no doubt that she faked her situation in front of the main lead. She might have sold her body in the past, yet when she met again the criminal, her life had improved. She was already owning a parlor (chapter 11), when the naive lover killed her husband. But why did she ask Seong-Rok to eliminate so many people (Ma Jong-Seok; Choi Yeong-Gil, Koo Jeong Mo and Lee Seon-Chol)? (chapter 1) Even if it is implied that she resents her husband and Koo Jeong Mo (chapter 11), she has another motive. It is, because she is planning a revolution in my opinion, but not the same type than Je-Oh’s. She wants to overthrow the established system and take it over quietly, which corresponds to the first meaning. Let’s not forget that when Hitler became chancellor, he called this event “national revolution”. In my eyes, she wants to become the head of the red-light district, but hide her connections. She desires to climb up the social ladders by using the actual system. She is not fighting for freedom, but for wealth and power. Since she has deeply internalized that in this world only the strong ones can survive, she is making sure to belong to the winners. That’s why she has the officer Ahn as partner. The latter is trying to enter politics and has connection to politicians.. (chapter 11). The femme fatale purchased land in Hongok-Dong so that she will get rich, when the redevelopment starts. (chapter 9) But in order to achieve her goal, she has to erase her past as a prostitute. She needs to eliminate people who know her from her origins. And this leads me to the following observation: since this world is described as a game of war (chapter 6) , it means that people are judged as enemies and potential threats, which need to be removed. But more importantly, when the femme fatale compares the weak to a prey, the readers can perceive that she is a believer of social Darwinism. (chapter 6)

Social Darwinism, the theory that human groups and races are subject to the same laws of natural selection as Charles Darwin perceived in plants and animals in nature. According to the theory, which was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the weak were diminished and their cultures delimited while the strong grew in power and cultural influence over the weak. Social Darwinists held that the life of humans in society was a struggle for existence ruled by “survival of the fittest,” a phrase proposed by the British philosopher and scientist Herbert Spencer.” quoted from

This truly exposes Jeon Hee-Seong’s mentality. She doesn’t advocate changes or reforms, quite the opposite. This theory is used to justify political conservatism, imperialism, and racism and to discourage intervention. This explicates why Nazism was advocating social Darwinism. Enemies (Jews, Sinti, Homosexuals, handicapped people, democrats eg.) were considered as parasites and cockroaches, which needed to be eliminated. And now, you understand why the perpetrator used before a game where the hostages had to kill each other, only the winner would be able to live. (chapter 3) He was applying this theory, yet deep down he desired that the main lead would seize this opportunity to get revenge on the usurer. (chapter 3) As you can detect, the red-haired man was pushing the hostage to get revenge on his abuser.

On the other hand, we can also sense the presence of social Darwinism in Je-Oh’s speech: Ma Jong-Seok is portrayed as a bloodsucking parasite (“leech off of”): (chapter 17) He is slowly adopting this theory, while in chapter 3, he counted on the criminal’s pity and heart for saving his life.

The presence of this theory explicates why people in this manhwa are portrayed as animals. It is much easier to kill “animals or insects” or even remove “pieces of a game” than humans. If they are no human, then the perpetrator can not be considered as a murderer, thereby he doesn’t feel remorse. Though Je-Oh has now a similar perception than the femme fatale and the killer, this doesn’t mean that they have the same goal. That’s why I believe that the real third party will appear soon: Do Seong-Rok and Je-Oh will truly team up, because their goals will be the same. Right now, they are just allies. Why do I think that they will have the same purpose? It is, because the red-haired protagonist became a killer in order to liberate Jeon Hee-Seong. This explains why the murderer felt pity for the male prostitute. He saw in him another victim of the system, hence he didn’t kill him. He kept wondering what to do with him, consequently his picture contained an interrogation point. (chapter 1) Moreover, the killer punched Ma Jong-Seok out of resent, (chapter 3) after hearing how the usurer looked down on the main lead. Since he was just a whore, he had no right to survive. The red-haired man hated so much that Je-Oh was insulted for his “profession”.

But the serial killer is slowly realizing that he has been played by his lover, the snake Ms. Jeon. He dirtied his hands in order to free her, not realizing that she was using him as his cannon. Besides, now the protagonist knows the name of the mastermind and her relationship to the serial killer. Like I had mentioned it before, Ms. Jeon desires to erase any trace about her origins and plans. So the male prostitute already represents a threat to her plan. On the other hand, the woman has no idea about this, because in her eyes, he is just a pawn. But like the red-haired main lead pointed out, (chapter 13), a pawn can be powerful, once used well. Since Je-Oh is accepting to use violence for his freedom, this signifies that he will fight for a change. That’s why I believe that he will create a revolution, shaking up the whole system, where until now only rich and powerful people had rights, while weak ones were left unprotected, for the police were corrupted and congressmen are only working for their own interests. As a conclusion, you can now comprehend why for me The pawn’s revenge is more than just revenge, it’s about “slavery”, inequity and injustice. Humans are neither pieces of Janggi nor animals, no matter what they are: poor or rich, healthy or sick. The problem is that both types of Revolution bring chaos and death too.

Since the novel Animal Farm from Georg Orwell is referring to Russian revolution and the instauration of Stalinism in USSR, I couldn’t help myself thinking about Anarchism and Nihilism, two strong movements existing in Russia. First, the nihilistic tendency is perceptible with the fire in chapter 1. Then Anarchism is centered on the belief that government is harmful and unnecessary, as it contributes to injustice and inequity due to capitalism. That’s why the anarchist Mikhail Bakunin (1814-1876) desired to abolish property, but unlike in Communism where property was in the hand of the Proletarian government, he proposed this:

the means of production should be owned collectively, though he still held that each worker should be remunerated only according to the amount of work he actually performed” quoted from

Furthermore, Bakunin was an advocate of a violent Revolution, contrary to the French anarchist Proudhon who believed that the existing society could be changed through reforms. The Russian thinker was definitely more radical, which explains why at the end of the 19th Century, Russian anarchists targeted Alexander II. and other representatives from Russian Monarchy. For them, these people were the symbol of inequity, slavery and injustice. By killing people, the terrorists wanted to show their desire to change their society radically. And now, you comprehend why we had this picture in the first episode. For me, it announces huge changes brought by violence. An individual is trying to get rid of a system responsible for his misery. Let’s not forget that Anarchism is advocating individuality and absolute equity (not just equality in rights, but socially). In other words, this movement was against the existence of social classes. And these observations lead me to the following deduction: Je-Oh will change Do Seong-Rok’s ultimate goal, though the method will be the same. They will target people, but the prostitute will go after the persons responsible for the misery in Hongok-Dong: corrupted politicians and officers and as such Jeon Hee-Seong, who wants now to use this system to become powerful and rich.

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