This is where you can read the manhwas. https://www.lezhinus.com/en/comic/sip_poison This manhwa is mature. https://www.lezhinus.com/en/comic/painter But be aware that this manhwa is a mature Yaoi, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes. If you want to read more essays, here is the link to the table of contents: https://bebebisous33analyses.wordpress.com/2020/07/04/table-of-contents-painter-of-the-night/ I also used briefly Doctor Frost again which I highly recommend to my readers. https://www.webtoons.com/en/mystery/dr-frost/list?title_no=371 If you want to read more essays about other manhwas, here is the link to the table of contents: https://bebebisous33analyses.com/2021/06/06/table-of-contents-of-analyzed-mentioned-manhwas/
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1. Castration or abandonment?
Anyone reading my previous analyses about Painter Of The Night will certainly recall that I had perceived the loss of the topknot as a castration. Why? In Joseon, the topknot was given to men the moment they became adults and this Coming-Of-Age ceremony took place just before a marriage. [For more read the essay “Coming Of Age”] In other words, no topknot meant no marriage and as such no responsibility and maturity. However, this is important to recall that the loss of the topknot was brought up in a different context. It was mentioned for the first time in the painter’s statement. (Chapter 1) When Baek Na-Kyum remembered his noona’s words about Yoon Seungho, he connected it to the loss of his future lover’s topknot. Here, the gesture had a different meaning. By cutting off his hair, the father was acting, as if he was abandoning his son. According to social norms, the hair was considered as a heritage from the parents. So if Yoon Chang-Hyeon had truly done it, the latter was showing that he was no longer considering the main lead as his son. While the rumor about the haircut gave the impression that the elder master Yoon was a honest and honorable noble, anyone can perceive the elder master’s action differently: the father is a coward, a selfish, ruthless and disloyal lord, especially the moment it is revealed that Yoon Seungho was abused sexually, physically and mentally. Let’s not forget that the protagonist used to live in the shed, for he was viewed as an animal. His situation reflected the father’s betrayal and abandonment. It doesn’t matter if he had been manipulated, because in the end, he made the decision to treat his son as a slave. He refused to send for a physician. To sum up, the loss of the topknot in this rumor would be judged as the epitome for cruelty and intolerance!! This shows that the loss of the hair in Painter Of The Night has actually many significations: castration, mercilessness and abandonment.
Then it occurred to me that the painter has been cutting off his hair all this time because of his noona. (Chapter 94) In this scene, the painter was rejected by the children, for he had no braid. Due to his hair dress, he was recognized as orphan immediately. The justification was that that way, the artist would appear more boyish. But by mentioning the loss of Yoon Seungho’s topknot, Heena was actually revealing that she knew the true signification of the haircut: abandonment and intolerance. Her words to her brother exposed her hypocrisy, though she attempted to portray the elder master as respectable. One might argue that when Na-Kyum was just a child, she had suggested the short hair, for she had good intentions. But after this experience with the children, the noona should have grasped the wrongness of her decision. She should have admitted her bad decision and stopped the painter from cutting his hair. Moreover, don’t forget that Na-Kyum was just a young boy, so the haircut must have been done by Heena herself. This shows that her gesture actually divulged her future behavior: she would betray and abandon the painter constantly (season 1, 2 and 3). At the same time, since the painter was seen with short hair in chapter 68 , this indicates that Heena kept cutting Baek Na-Kyum’s hair. So even in the past, she was betraying her brother, though the latter never realized it. The loss of hair could never be viewed as a sign of love or empathy, for it contributed to the painter’s abandonment issues and his self-loathing. He was suffering as an outcast and due to his girly features. The men in the gibang could mistreat him, for he had no long hair or topknot. Why? (Chapter 94) He had no parents or guardians protecting him which is true, for here he was exposed to violence. Heena, as the head-kisaeng, had not protected him at all, she must definitely have portrayed herself as powerless. Yet as a slave of the state, she was belonging to the king. So she had connections to officers and the court. In my eyes, the head-kisaeng made sure that the artist could never get a topknot, and as such he would never be able to become a “noble” or even a man. Hence Baek Na-Kyum was constantly called boy (Chapter 56) (Chapter 59) (chapter 66) and treated as one too. This observation made me realize that Heena’s belief could be used as an explanation for her action (cutting off his hair): she hates nobles so much that she didn’t allow her brother to have a topknot. But why would she do that? My idea is that deep down, she resented him, for he was a free man, while she was a slave. It went so far that he was encouraged to wear a white headband, the symbol for servitude, though he is no slave! To conclude, the loss of hair in Joseon should be perceived as a brutal and harsh punishment. Without a topknot, one is left unprotected, is not viewed as an adult. But this stands in opposition to Yoon Seungho’s action in front of Jung In-Hun’s home. (Chapter 101) Here, the lord had spared his friend’s life.
2. The loss of the topknot: Symbol for forgiveness?
As you may have noticed, I often use other manhwas as a source of inspiration for my interpretations concerning Painter Of The Night. In the story “A Sip of Poison”, the main lead, the prince Nan-Woo (Chapter 23) cuts off the hair of the general Woo Jong Han, because he had committed crimes. First, he hid the fact that his sister had had a child before getting married to the emperor, which was actually a huge sin. The future Empress should have been a virgin. To sum up, he had committed treason, for he had allowed his sister to become Empress unrightfully. Then the field marshal had treated his niece as a slave violating social norms. (chapter 34) That way, he assisted his sister to become powerful by covering up for her crimes (silence and passivity). She had killed many people to hide her previous relationship and to increase her power. Striking is that the prince still spared Baek-Ha’s uncle, and this for many reasons. First, the latter had not only saved both protagonists, the empress’ illegitimate daughter Baek-Ha and the prince Nan-Woo, but also had admitted his sins. Secondly, he was thinking of his wife Baek-Ha who is kind-hearted. He knew that his death could upset his bride. (chapter 26) But there is more to it. Nan-Woo didn’t spare the man out of benevolence. (chapter 26) He had a role to play. By cutting off his topknot, the general lost his “power”, he became the prince’s pawn! Nan-Woo wished to use the uncle in order to get rid of the Empress. (chapter 23) That way, the protagonist wouldn’t even have to dirty his own hands. On the other hand, we could also say that Nan-Woo was forcing the Empress’ brother to undo his bad decision. (chapter 23) Since he had protected his sister Seo-Ha out of affection, it was normal that now he had to show no mercy towards her. By presenting Baek -Ha to Nan-Woo, the general was well aware that the future ruler would recognize the female lead’s origins due to her resemblance to her mother. Therefore, we could interpret that Nan-Woo had spared the general, for the latter had switched sides and expressed the wish to undo his wrongdoings.
As you can see, Woo Jong Han shows many similarities with the second lead from Painter Of The Night: he was an accomplice of the real culprit, as he never intervened. He is connected to the notion: pity, knowledge, silence and passivity. Because Seo-Ha was his sister, as a dutiful older brother, he felt obligated to protect her. He was not blinded by greed like his donsaeng. This explicates why on the one hand, he saved Baek Ha’s life, on the other hand he still treated her as a slave in order to hide his sister’s wrongdoing. He felt torn between his obligation towards his younger sister and his empathy for his niece, Baek-Ha. Consequently, it is no coincidence that he once warmed her feet with his hands after the young girl had complained about her cold feet. Moreover, she received an education contrary to all the other slaves. He was caught in the middle, exactly like Lee Jihwa who had an attachment towards the main lead, yet he was still bound by social norms to his father. He needed to protect the family’s reputation. So when I saw this scene, (chapter 23) I couldn’t help myself thinking of Lee Jihwa and Yoon Seungho. How could the latter view the loss of a topknot as a gesture of leniency? (Chapter 101) It is because he must have witnessed it himself in the past. I have already pointed out that Yoon Seungho would imitate people, especially his tormentors. So where did he learn from? I believe, Yoon Seungho copied it from someone… and this can only be “lord Song”. And now, the first loss of Lee Jihwa’s topknot can be perceived in a different perspective. The red-haired master was well aware that he had been spared, when he had lost his hair for the first time. (Chapter 101) He knew deep down that thanks to his friend, he had been able to escape the worst. Since he had been spared once, he was well aware that this time, the ruler would show no leniency and would ask for his head, as the main lead was no longer protecting him. Remember what the lord had whispered to Baek Na-Kyum: (chapter 88) (chapter 88) By cutting off the friend’s hair, he was showing that he was abandoning his friend. He was leaving him behind, and Lee Jihwa was forced to face lord Song alone. (Chapter 83) This time, he had not his father by his side either. The latter could not protect him too. I had already voiced this theory before, as it would explain why Lee Jihwa is masking the man’s face. And note that Nan-Woo from A Sip Of Poison cut off the topknot, as he is already acting as the future ruler. Another important detail caught my attention. Just before receiving his sentence, Woo Jong-Han made an oath, (chapter 23), he swore loyalty to the future emperor. This signifies that the topknot also symbolizes faithfulness, especially because it is connected to marriage. Thus I deduce that when Lee Jihwa lost his topknot for the first time, he was already judged as disloyal. Hence it is no coincidence when the antagonist screams that he would become the target of lord Song’s fury.
But the red-haired noble could never reveal the king’s meddling, as his relationship with Yoon Seungho was a secret. Hence he needed to blame someone: The Yoons! I had already exposed that the words from the noble with the mole were ambiguous and as such deceiving. (Chapter 59) First, lord Yoon could be a reference to the father and not only the son. Secondly, he implied that he had witnessed the scene, yet in reality he could have been referring to the outcome: the friend’s hair cut, just like the noona had only seen the hickeys on her brother’s neck. She had never witnessed the sex session. The noble with the mole assumed the perpetrator’s behavior, rage, based on the hair loss. Moreover, he could have been telling the truth: he had never seen Yoon Seungho so angry before, as the latter used to be weak in the past due to his social status: he was a male kisaeng due to his braid. This explicates why the noble with the purple robe would give an order to the host (chapter 8) He felt himself superior to Yoon Seungho, and never expected “disobedience” or “rage” from the protagonist. Striking is that the lord didn’t vent his anger onto him, he first smiled before grabbing him by the topknot. (Chapter 8) A simple change of hair dress had transformed the main lead. This exposes the gods’ intervention in this story. They let the man with the mole see the wrongness of his manipulations. Since he had stated that he had never seen the man so angry, his words became a reality in 3 occasions: chapter 8 like mentioned above, chapter 53 , for he was not present, chapter 57 in the inn. Here, he chose to run away, yet despite everything he still helped his friend Black Heart, for he was present in the gibang. (Chapter 69) Under this new light, this panel from Twitter get a total new meaning: The aristocrat knew about the true identity of “lord Song”, and he had indeed never seen the man so angry that he would cut off the topknot of a noble!! This means that the fate of the noble with the mole should be to end up as the lord’s new plaything. In other words, he takes over the main lead’s previous status. He becomes the male kisaeng and ends up living in the shed like the protagonist in the past where the pedophile vents his rage and resent him for his tricks. But we will see.
Another important detail caught my attention: the noble with the mole judged the loss of the topknot as a harsh punishment (chapter 59) Furthermore, he associated it to abandonment too. (Chapter 59) Yet, observe the drop of sweat. This exposes that neither Min nor the noble with the mole were expecting that Lee Jihwa would be spared!! They acted, as if the loss of the topknot couldn’t be a sign of mercy. But observe what Lee Jihwa was recalling, when the “friend” was talking about abandonment. (Chapter 59) He was by the protagonist’s side! This means that lord Song had spared Lee Jihwa’s life, for he had been present, when Yoon Seungho was suffering. Till the middle of season 2, no one was aware of the fallout between Lee Jihwa and the protagonist. None of the incidents in season 1 was leaked to the outside, hence the “pedophile” was not officially aware of the red-haired master’s wrongdoings. But the loss of hair in front of the learned sir’s house becomes the proof that the main lead has now left his friend’s side. He will be blamed for his suicide. Therefore it is not surprising that the young master chose to run away. (Chapter 101) He knew that the ruler would show no leniency or understanding. Thus the noble with the mole’s karma should be to keep his topknot. That way, he will realize that if he had lost his topknot like Jihwa, his torment would be short-lived and as such it was a sign of mercy. But in this image, it doesn’t look like it. He will suffer for hours and even days before even losing his life. Now, he will be able to see and experienced how enraged or lenient the culprit for the loss of Lee Jihwa’s topknot was towards the antagonist.
The manhwaphiles should keep in their mind the following two rules: the painter’s fate mirrors the lord’s, since the story is constructed like a kaleidoscope. And now, look at this: (chapter 27) The painter had saved his teacher’s life, and later the lord had restrained himself from hurting the scholar in the courtyard despite Jung In-Hun’s lies and lack of respect (he had touched the man’s shoulder). (Chapter 30) Here again, the scholar had been spared. Then in episode 53, the painter had embraced the lord to stop him from killing Deok-Jae. This means that Yoon Seungho must have also saved people in the past by using his body, and this twice, for I had detected the presence of two circles: Yoon Chang-Hyeon and Lee Jihwa. That’s the reason why the father could survive the purge, and why Lee Jihwa only lost his topknot. And the heroine from A Sip Of Poison can serve as an example. (chapter 26) The red-haired noble was able to escape death thanks to Yoon Seungho. But Lee Jihwa had to hide from others that he had been punished by the king, hence Father Yoon and Yoon Seungho got blamed (chapter 1 and 59). And now, you have the explanation why father Lee accepted to receive the main lead in his mansion. (Chapter 1) As long as the latter was living there, the Lees had nothing to worry. The main lead was protecting them from the king. However, the manhwalovers should keep in their mind that Nan-Woo had showed mercy to the general for his own interests. He should become his helping hand in order to obtain the throne. Hence I come to the following deduction: neither Nan-Woo nor the “perpetrator” had cut off the topknot out of real leniency. This shows that for these characters, the loss of the topknot is not the symbol for forgiveness which is not true for the last incident with Lee Jihwa. (chapter 101) Why? It is because the main lead had no intention to use his friend as a pawn. There was no pledge of loyalty… in truth, in this scene, Yoon Seungho was truly cutting ties with the second lead.
But if the pedophile chose to employ the young master after the loss of the topknot, what was his role? In my opinion, it was to keep Yoon Seungho by his side. The pedophile had slowly recognized that he could never separate these two boys, and without him by his side, Yoon Seungho would still reject him. In my eyes, the main lead had followed his friend. Under this new light, the manhwaworms can comprehend why father Lee accepted to let the main lead stay in his mansion. He could secure his position, yet pay attention that despite the topknot, he was still dressed so poorly. (chapter 1) Even the headband was different. This was no coincidence. He should never develop confidence and act as a lord. That’s how I recognized the following pattern. In front of the painter who looked like a minor, the main lead was forced to act like an adult. Thanks to the painter, he was encouraged to mature. Simultaneously this meant that at some point, while living with the Lees, the elder master Lee had to be confronted with the truth: his son’s sodomy.
Under this new light, it becomes understandable why Heena and Kim called the main lead a bird of misfortune. (Chapter 86) The reality was that the pedophile was the bad omen, but they couldn’t insult the king. Hence the young main lead became the scapegoat, people couldn’t separate the pedophile from Yoon Seungho. The “mysterious lord Song” would never give up on the protagonist. No matter what he would keep him by his side.
But like pointed out in an earlier analysis, Black Heart and his friend were definitely the reason why the red-haired master had to lose his topknot. From my point of view, this is related to this night, (chapter 1) and Lee Jihwa had no idea about it. Hence the painter got framed. On the other hand, Black Heart and his friend had to spy on Lee Jihwa in order to know about his ignorance concerning their “prank”. At the same time, they could only get intrigued, why the mysterious lord Song would behave that way, though he had been treating the main lead as a male kisaeng. Towards Yoon Seungho, he was quite selfish and cruel. The discrepancy in the treatment (mercy versus ruthlessness) could only surprise the young nobles. And this observation led me to the following question. Why would Heena mention the topknot to her brother in order to manipulate him? The kisaeng was well aware that he had witnessed the sex party in the kisaeng house, for this image represents a memory from the artist. It is to divert his attention: he should never connect Yoon Seungho to the braided man!! If he had a topknot, then he could never be the one doing the fellatio to the man with the purple hanbok!! But if the painter had pondered a little more, he should have realized his noona’s lies. She mentioned the loss of a topknot, but yet the smiling hell-raiser still had a topknot: (chapter 1) Moreover, we shouldn’t overlook the publications with the braided man: (Chapter 1) Baek Na-Kyum was not supposed to recognize the identity of the man having sex with the bearded man. From my point of view, Heena made sure to confuse her brother. Lee Jihwa’s humiliation became Yoon Seungho’s stigma. He became the culprit. Since in the past, the main lead had been blamed for everything, the perpetrators and accomplices chose to follow this “tradition”, because so far, they had been able to cover up their crimes. But thanks to the painter, it is no longer possible. Why? It is because the painter’s hair dress will serve as a mirror of truth: the absence of a topknot due to the braid and the hair cut will be perceived as an evidence for abandonment, cruelty and huge wrongdoing. This won’t be seen as a gesture of mercy or leniency by the two protagonists, for they suffered because of it!! That’s the reason why I am thinking that the pedophile’s karma should be the loss of the topknot which he viewed as a gesture of mercy and tolerance. But without the topknot, he is actually “castrated”, and as such humiliated for he can not wear his golden sangtu. Yet, contrary to Lee Jihwa’s haircut, the loss of the topknot should not be judged as the symbol of mercy and forgiveness, in fact, the lord would officially cut ties with him. That’s how the mysterious Lord Song would be taught an important lesson: he was a huge hypocrite and a violent and ruthless pervert.
3. The tool for the loss of the topknot
Once again, A Sip Of Poison inspired me. The prince Nan-Woo asked his assistant Yoon (chapter 23) to give him a knife: (chapter 23) before grabbing Woo Jang-Hon by his topknot (chapter 23). Hence the hair fell between the men. (chapter 23) And now, let’s return our attention to Painter Of The Night. Compare the position of the aristocrat’s topknot after Yoon Seungho had punished his friend. (chapter 101) It was behind him!! Thus I deduce that he had used the sword, when Lee Jihwa had approached his friend. But wait… in season 1 and 2, Byeonduck drew scenes with a knife:
- Chapter 18: And what had happened before? Yoon Seungho had dragged his friend by the topknot before stabbing the amateur spy. This is no coincidence.
- Chapter 57: When this chapter had been released, I had assumed that this must have happened, when Yoon Seungho had lost his topknot! As you can see, I had already connected the knife to the loss of the topknot incident.
- However, note that the weapon was used to threaten the painter (chapter 66)
That’s the reason why I am assuming that when Lee Jihwa lost his topknot for the first time, the mysterious lord Song must have used a knife and cut off the young master’s hair. Hence Byeonduck created such a picture where Lee Jihwa was put in a similar situation: (chapter 18) It was to trigger his memory. I am even assuming that the butler must have given lord Song the knife before while remaining in the shadow. But I also think that after the incident with the loss of the topknot, the pedophile must have also threatened him. If he were to reveal anything about this incident and his identity, then he would lose his head. So imagine Lee Jihwa’s reactions in chapter 101. (chapter 101) He had now faced a sword and not a knife contrary to the past. Therefore it is not surprising that the young master got so scared and chose to flee. Lee Jihwa had betrayed lord Song by telling an anecdote from the past. He had more or less leaked the name “lord Song”. (chapter 83) (chapter 101) For the first time, he had been confronted alone with the sword directly. There was no one and nothing to protect him. When Yoon Seungho had barged in his bedroom, Lee Jihwa had fled behind the folding shield. Furthermore, his father and the domestic were also present. (chapter 67) This shows that till season 3, Lee Jihwa had never been exposed to real justice. There was always someone ready to intervene for him. And now, you comprehend why the red-haired master felt no remorse to blame his friend for his humiliation in the past. He must have thought that if he had not been in his bedchamber during that night (chapter 59), he wouldn’t have lost his topknot. Moreover, he could also use the other incident in the bedchamber as a justification. If Yoon Seungho had not dragged him there… (chapter 83) This explicates why Lee Jihwa said this to Black Heart and his friend: (chapter 59) The antagonist had witnessed his friend’s humiliation and suffering in the past, just like Yoon Seungho had been present, when the first topknot incident occurred. From my point of view, the lord must have even protected Lee Jihwa. But the problem is that Lee Jihwa was just receiving his punishment in delay for the stolen kiss and his lies (chapter 77) He had kissed him without his consent, thus he got “castrated”. Let’s not forget that the main lead was forced to become a male prostitute, an uke, for he had not been able to perform, to have an erected phallus. On the other hand, Lee Jihwa had done nothing wrong in the bedchamber (chapter 59), for he was consoling his friend, so the loss of the topknot appears as a harsh punishment. Moreover, it looks unfair, for the real perpetrators and accomplices got scot-free. Yet, this is just an illusion. Min and his friend were punished too. They got “castrated” too!! How so? It is because from that moment on, they were not allowed to treat Yoon Seungho as a uke, a male kisaeng. (Chapter 1) This means that the painter’s vision was turned into a reality. That’s the moment Yoon Seungho got turned into a seme. Now, Black Heart and the noble with the mole should become his “playthings”, which signifies that they had switched positions. In my opinion, the pedophile had decided to no longer share his “companion” to others. As you can see, they got punished too, but since this was not painful, they never realized that they were receiving their karma. This was a symbolic “castration”. Under this new approach, it becomes understandable why Min was so obsessed with Yoon Seungho, why he wished to “fuck” Yoon Seungho in a figurative way. This is what he had desired in the past, in the gibang, but he had failed. Thus we have this gesture from Black Heart in the woods. (Chapter 41) Due to the incident in the kisaeng house, Min had lost his privileged position with the king. Hence he got jealous. He could no longer screw” the protagonist, while he had to watch the lord’s slow ascension. To sum up, the loss of Jihwa’s topknot led to the “symbolic castration” of the infamous couple: Min and the noble with the mole.
But it is time to return our attention to the knife and the loss of the topknot. First, it is relevant to remember the following rule. Baek Na-Kyum will through the path than the main lead’s. Since the painter has been constantly cutting his hair, he never had the chance to get long hair and as such a topknot. And the lord was in a similar situation. He only got his topknot very late… but the only difference is that he had a long braid the entire time. This hair dress was the symbol of his servitude. (chapter 57) Hence the author drew slaves with braids constantly. (chapter 77) And now, you comprehend why the pedophile cut off Lee Jihwa’s topknot! The latter had been blamed for the lord’s change of hair dress. (chapter 59) Because of this, Yoon Seungho had become a lord, a noble. That’s the reason why we are not able to distinguish the main lead’s hair dress properly, neither in the last picture and in this one: (chapter 57) The hair was short or not? Now, I don’t think so. The mystery of Yoon Seungho’s suffering is linked to the hair dress, yet the readers shouldn’t realize it too quickly. According to me, he still had the braid, until the doctor questioned why Yoon Seungho still had no topknot. (chapter 57) Don’t forget that in each visit of a physician, the latter would question the butler: (chapter 33) (chapter 55) And who had given him the topknot? Naturally… Kim! Because he didn’t want to be perceived as someone who was violating social norms. However, there is no ambiguity that he hid his responsibility. That’s how Lee Jihwa and his “servant” got framed. They were responsible for giving the main lead the new hair dress. On the other side, I still believe that Yoon Seungho must have lost his hair too, but only once to the difference of Baek Na-Kyum! My reason is simple. Since the painter and Lee Jihwa lost their hair, and Yoon Seungho’s destiny is mirroring his lover’s, it signifies that the lord’s hair must have been cut too. But who did it? Let’s not forget that when Yoon Seungho punished his friend in front of the scholar’s home, (chapter 101) the loss of the topknot had four significations: admission of a sin, mercy, forgiveness but also ABANDONMENT! He was cutting ties with his childhood friend. So he must have known the last meaning, but from a different source, as the first incident represented a sign of leniency. Consequently, I ended up with the following theory. Yoon Seungho must have cut off his own hair, yet he had been manipulated by Kim. Let’s not forget that the painter continues cutting his own hair and there is no sign of trauma linked to such an event. He had been encouraged to lose his hair by his noona. From my point of view, this must have happened between these two scenes: (chapter 77) and this one (chapter 83) The length was almost the same, yet 3 or 4 years had passed in the main time. Let’s not forget that this scene represents the patriarch’s abandonment (chapter 77) and Kim had also experienced rejection from Yoon Seungho (chapter 77) in that scene. For the butler, this gaze could be judged as betrayal and abandonment. Under this new perspective, it becomes comprehensible why the main lead was encouraged to blame and resent his father. If this theory is true, Kim pushed the main lead to cut off his braid, he did it out hatred and anger towards the Yoons. This would mask his own manipulation and culpability too. At the same time, the pedophile could benefit from it. The main lead was now an orphan, thus the bearded man could use him like he wished. I have an evidence for this interpretation. This is what Baek Ha said to her husband: (chapter 23) Being slave meant being orphan. The pedophile could feign ignorance about the main lead’s true origins. If he truly cared for him, he just needed to ask this: papers! (chapter 24) This shows that in Painter Of The Night, all the elders were depraved and violent hypocrites. Like mentioned above, the pedophile had a huge interest to keep the main lead as his slave, thus he was turned into an orphan and asked to keep a braid. And Yoon Seungho’s mother could do nothing, for the son had cut off his own hair, a huge symbolic act. He was no longer considering her his mother. But because of his status as slave, the pedophile could never trust the main lead. Then the suicide from the mother put an end to this farce. Hence lord Song could tell his sex partner that he had become the head of the Yoons and let him “have” the properties, while it was never his intention to let him become responsible. If he had become a lord, he could escape from his claws. He needed him to remain in an infantile and dependable state.
Since I detected that rumors often become a reality, I deduce that after the lord’s vanishing, Heena’s words will come to the surface and become the verity: (chapter 1) While in the past the father could judge this grapevine as positive, for he was portrayed as a honest and respectable man, the town folks will perceive him as the opposite: cruel, depraved and selfish. And this because of the false accusation: (chapter 94) By framing the elder master Yoon, Kim can deny any responsibility in the loss of hair of Yoon Seungho and in the messenger’s death. It was the father’s doing. The nobles like the Lees and Yoon Chang-Hyeon are now accountable for the corpses. In the gibang, Yoon Seungho never killed anyone and he even spared his friend, though the latter had kidnapped Baek Na-Kyum. Finally, the town folks are now aware of Lee Jihwa’s homosexuality and his relationship with the protagonist. So I believe that people will jump to the conclusion that father Yoon had turned his elder son into a sodomite and sold him him to the Lees which is not false too. The king has a reputation to maintain and he needs scapegoats in order to hide his involvement and his crimes from the past.
4. The reason behind the loss of the topknot
And before closing this essay, I would like to point out another similarity between A Sip Of Poison and Painter Of The Night. Though Baek -Ha is the daughter of Nan-Woo’s enemy, the prince couldn’t hurt her in the end, for she saved him: (chapter 33) (chapter 33) She not only treated his wounds, but also helped him to overcome on his guilt. He felt responsible for his brother’s death, for Nan-Woo had attempted once to commit suicide on the battlefield, and his brother had sacrificed himself to protect him. He was definitely plagued with remorse, self-loathing and shame. And that’s exactly what Baek Na-Kyum has been doing too: by simply loving him so selflessly and purely. Finally, Baek-Ha’s fate made him realize the Empress’ immense culpability. She was so greedy and selfish that (chapter 34) she had abandoned her own child! Thus he was freed from his hatred and guilt. Nan-Woo was able to perceive the wrongness of this social norm which was common in Joseon: the child is responsible for the parents’ sins! (chapter 33) Being an orphan outlined her innocence. And since I have already connected Baek Na-Kyum to the mysterious lord Song, I am quite sure that the painter will have a similar attitude than Baek Ha: (chapter 33) He will feel responsible for Yoon Seungho’s martyrdom. And if he is truly his son, his abandonment can serve an evidence of his innocence. On the other hand, the readers shouldn’t forget that his surrogate parents, Jung In-Hun and Heena, played a role in lord Yoon’s torment as well. Thus he can only indebted towards his husband.
Chyomchyom and Byeonduck explained perfectly why the protagonists would suffer so much: ambition. (Doctor Frost, chapter 225) With this picture, the manhwaphiles can detect the presence of the endless vicious circle, the ouroboros, which I had described as a kaleidoscope. The absence of empathy in both stories was the reason why no one stopped the main perpetrators. Woo Jang-Hon felt guilty, for he had raised his younger sister who had become a monster. Kim felt deep down guilty, but chose to reject his responsibility by putting the blame on others. Out of fear, he preferred hiding his wrong decisions and later wrongdoings. And now it has become his MO. This distinguishes him from the general who chose to put an end to his guilty conscience and paid for his crimes.. (chapter 34)
To conclude, the loss of the topknot has many significations: punishment, castration, loss of power, servitude, guilt, abandonment, absence of protection, cruelty, betrayal, but also freedom, loyalty, leniency and forgiveness. As you can see, the gesture is associated to opposite notions: servitude versus liberty, betrayal versus loyalty etc…. as it depends on the perspective.
Thanks to Yoon Seungho, Lee Jihwa was able to free himself from his guilt and he could liberate himself from social norms (peers pressure, his father’s expectations,) and his shame due to his sexual orientation. Before losing his topknot, he had admitted his sins to his friend and it also indicated his loyalty towards Yoon Seungho. And this was the same for the general. The latter could finally find peace in his mind and redeem himself. Yet, now, he is no longer a powerful general, he is just the puppet of the prince. However, the moment the red-haired aristocrat lost his topknot, he was no longer the king’s puppet. Therefore he was no longer useful for the mysterious lord Song. That’s the reason why the antagonist got aware that he shouldn’t expect any forgiveness or mercy from “Captain Hook”. No matter what he would say, he would be suspected of a crime (chapter 101) and this because of the first incident with the topknot!! Since Black Heart and the noble with the mole had been able to avoid punishment after this incident in the kisaeng house (chapter 1), he assumed that he could repeat his actions!! But he got proven wrong, for he ended up losing his life.
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