This is where you can read the manhwa. https://www.lezhinus.com/en/comic/painter But be aware that this manhwa is a mature Yaoi, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes. If you want to read more essays, here is the link to the table of contents: https://bebebisous33analyses.wordpress.com/2020/07/04/table-of-contents-painter-of-the-night
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1. Night flower
You are wondering why I selected this picture (pictures from video Nightflower) as illustration for this analysis, while the beholder can not see any flower. Yet, this is just a deception, for in front of the protagonist are scattered petals of a cherry tree. The way the pink petals in the study are displayed insinuates the end of Spring or in the worse case the destruction of nature. As you can see, this scene symbolized the slow ruin of Yoon Seungho’s soul or his fall into darkness and hell. Thus I conclude that the cherry tree and its flower represent the protagonist. Therefore it is no coincidence that at the end of the video, the couple was seen together in front of an orchard of blossoming cherry trees. Thanks to Baek Na-Kyum, the noble’s soul and heart got healed, he was able to be his true self again. Therefore the trees were in blossom. At the same time, the cherry tree has another signification.
“South Koreans consider cherry blossoms a symbol of beauty and purity. In Korean pop culture, these beautiful blooms have also been associated with true love. In fact, according to the female lead character in a popular Korean drama entitled Goblin, ‘Your first love will come true when you catch falling cherry blossoms’.” Quoted from https://symbolsage.com/cherry-blossom-flower-meaning/
To sum up, this blossom symbolize true love. Yet, the plant has other significations. First, in Japanese hanakotoba, is also used to identify someone as a ‘beautiful soul’ which is similar to the South Koreans’ perception. The flower is associated to innocence. Then due to the short-lived blossom, the tree is connected to mortality and transience of life which is a major theme in Buddhism. In other words, this flower is a reminder to live in the moment and revel in the beauty of life. My avid readers will certainly remember how I had connected the painter to the present, and how Yoon Seungho was slowly learning to enjoy the moment. This means that the painter encouraged his lover to move on from the past and his suffering. That’s how the noble could transform into a beautiful man again. As you can imagine, this scene announced that the couple had found true love. Another important aspect is that the main lead was no longer trapped in the bedchamber. Now, he was surrounded by nature. This indicates that the main lead can only flourish in nature. Because there he can breathe fresh air and smell sweet fragrance, he can reveal his talents, his fascinating soul. In my eyes, the orchard and patio both represent the protagonists. However, observe that the artist is meeting his lover during the night, as the moon is shining in the sky. This indicates that Yoon Seungho will only show his true self and skills to the painter during the night. With him, he will share everything, as he has nothing hide. Hence they meet in the pavilion. But wait… why did Byeonduck create such a scenery, when the beholder couldn’t witness the cherry tree blossom at the end of season 3? At no moment, we saw any cherry tree flowers. However, this is just a deception!! In truth, the cherry tree flowers were already introduced in season 3. 😮 And now you are probably wondering where.😂
2. The hidden cherry tree flowers
They were in the gibang, but more precisely in the annex. (chapter 96) One is on the shelf and (chapter 96) and the other on the table in the hallway. How is it possible, because this tree blossoms around March/April? The answer is simple. These were fake.
“During the Joseon era (1392-1910), the royal court never plucked any real flowers to decorate their feasts. Instead, they created artificial silk flowers, or chaehwa.” Quoted from https://www.korea.net/NewsFocus/Culture/view?articleId=118924
Striking is that the author of this article gave us the following illustration.
The manhwaphiles can certainly detect the similarities between this vase filled with artificial flowers and the one from the gibang. (chapter 87) (chapter 87) The chaehwa were present in the butler’s memories and the painter’s dream. Yet since these artificial flowers were used for royal feasts, I come to the deduction that these images represent the evidences of the king’s involvement and presence in Yoon Seungho’s suffering. But there is more to it. Since the fake cherry tree flowers were visible in the annex (chapter 96), where the couple confessed their love to each other, the manhwaphiles can grasp that the owner of this bedchamber is in reality the monarch. That’s the reason why the folding screen has peonies and there is this pipe on the small table. (chapter 96) The annex should be considered as the royal suite for the monarch.
“During the 1392-1910 Joseon era, the peony was the most popular subject for flower-themed folding screens. The royal court used peony screens for a variety of events including weddings, funerals and ancestral rituals. The peony consolidated its symbolism of wealth and prosperity in Joseon era.” Quoted from http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/culture/2020/09/145_251790.html#:~:text=%22During%20the%201392%2D1910%20Joseon,and%20prosperity%20in%20Joseon%20era.%22
As you can see, Byeonduck gave us many clues about the identity of this room with all these little details. The chaehwa in the hallway and in the bedroom were the indications that this building belonged to the royal court. Under this new light, it becomes comprehensible why Baek Na-Kyum was so certain that the annex was empty. (chapter 96) If the king had announced his arrival, the kisaeng house would have been closed. My avid readers will certainly recall my previous observation linked to this drawing: (chapter 37). The streets were empty, when the monarch was in town. But during their Wedding night (chapter 93), the kisaeng house was open to anyone, the nobles were able to celebrate in the patio.
And now, it is time to examine the true meaning of these artificial cherry tree flowers. They represents not only fakeness, but also delusion. Why? It was, as if the king was able to control time and nature. While the true cherry blossom stands for brilliance, fragility and transience of life, the fake ones embody the opposite: eternity, no mindfulness and unbreakable. In case it got damaged, the chaehwa can be fixed. As you can see, I come to the conclusion that the pedophile stands for the artificial cherry tree flower. This blossom doesn’t reflect his true soul at all. Under this new light, the readers can grasp why in the video, there were scattered petals. Since there exist fake flowers, they can be present in the winter, as the video was showing this season in the beginning. Besides, the scattered petals indicated Yoon Seungho’s resistance and resent towards his tormentor. For the king, it was always Spring, as he could do anything he wanted.He knew no boundaries. He could hurt the teenager, for the pedophile confused genuine and fake fake cherry tree blossoms. If he got hurt, then he would get fixed. On the other hand, I am suspecting that the man wished a return to nature. Why? My reason is because of the publication. He would have sex at any time and place. Hence they are outdoors, close to trees. Nonetheless, this is just a deception, for the man did it in the kisaeng house. First pay attention that the small tree is close to the wall. Then we can see a naked young boy sitting on an old bearded man’s lap. And now compare it to this image from chapter 59: (chapter 59) This is the same place, but now the tree is much bigger. As a conclusion, the king stands for artificiality, dishonesty and civilization, though depraved. No wonder why the monarch imagined that having sex with the main lead would contribute to his immortality. It was because of the purity of Yoon Seungho’s soul. Nevertheless, I am still convinced that he also wished to get revenge on the Yoons and demonstrate his power.
3. The red flower
Nonetheless, in the kisaeng house, I had detected the presence of a different flower: (chapter 93) In the essay “Heena’s secrets”, I had connected the head-kisaeng to these red flowers. Hence the latter were facing the empty throne, when the main lead met his lovers’ noonas. (chapter 93) These red blossoms were an allusion to the ghost “head-kisaeng”. (chapter 19) (chapter 68) (chapter 69) But I had one problem. I was not sure about the kind of flowers. Hence back then, I had even requested the assistance of my avid readers. The latter should help me to identify the flower. More eyes are better than just two. All of them proposed the following plant: camellia.
This image shows a Korean Fire camellia, and the flower looks really similar to the ones drawn in Painter Of The Night. The moment I accepted this identification, I searched for the symbolism of this plant.
“Traditionally in China, the camellia was perceived as a union between two people. To explain further, the calyx part of the flower represents a man, while the petals symbolize a woman. Normally, the petals and the calyx separate when a flower dies. In the case of the camellia, the calyx and petals fall away together. For this reason, this beautiful blossom is believed to signify undying love.” Quoted from https://symbolsage.com/camellia-flower-meaning/
As you can see, this flower symbolizes eternal love, faithfulness, devotion and longing. What caught my attention is that in Latin, “camellia” signifies “helper to the priest”. 😮 And this fits the profile of the head-kisaeng who definitely preached Christianity in the gibang. (chapter 75) As the manhwaphiles are already aware of my theory. The learned sir used this religion to approach the kisaengs, as Catholic religion was imported from China through scholars. [For more read the essay “The kisaeng and the scholar”] ]Thus I came to the conclusion that the red camellia symbolizes Heena and Jung In-Hun, especially if you take this image into consideration. (chapter 68) The learned sir was standing in front of them in the hallway, and it was the same for the noona (chapter 69), for the latter was walking in the same direction. Besides, just before entering the corridor, the author had finally revealed the artificial flowers. (chapter 69) Thus I come to the conclusion that this building represents Heena’s realm, while the annex, separated by a wall within the kisaeng house, belongs to the “pedophile”.! As you can see, I don’t see her as a powerless kisaeng. Let’s not forget that despite their low social status, a famous kisaeng had connections to the royal court and even officials.
Striking is that the fate between calyx and petals are linked to each other. They wither together. For my theory is that Jung In-Hun died, I can only deduce that Heena’s fate is to follow her idol. I had already predicted this outcome, for she had faked her execution in front of Jihwa and the other nobles. [For more read the essay “Heena’s curtains”] Yet, all of them vanished! So no one has witnessed her murder.
But since the red camellia embodies Heena, this is not surprising why Baek Na-Kyum felt very close to her. She represents everything what the artist was longing for: love and acceptance. Keep in mind that red camellias symbolize love, passion, and deep desire. And we all know that the artist has a strong libido due to his huge heart. He is definitely a passionate person. The irony is that the head-kisaeng was not a real red camellia, she was artificial. That’s how the artist got deceived in the end. Striking is that when the painter met Yoon Seungho, he discovered a new plant: the orchid! (chapter 75)
4. The hidden orchid
However, the lord couldn’t remember painting this plant. (chapter 75) Why? It is because he had connected it to punishment. He was recalling a different incident. (chapter 36) This means that while he painted on the artist’s stomach, his hand was drawing automatically. For him, they were just brushstrokes with no real meaning. However, I don’t think so, because he could paint it perfectly right away. This signifies that he must have drawn the orchid very often in the past. To sum up, the orchid has a huge value for the main lead. But there is no plant in his bedroom and library. The author revealed us the location of the orchid: by Yoon Chang-Hyeon’s side. (chapter 82) This is no coincidence that next to the plant, the owner placed the brushes. Does it mean that the father took it away in order to obtain something from his son? But there exists another possibility. first. it is relevant to know the symbolism of this plant.
An orchid is the perfect medium to convey positive sentiments and emotions. These special, delicate beauties are renowned for their meaning as a symbol of pure love, beauty, luxury, and toughness. Quoted from https://www.petalrepublic.com/orchids/
As you can see, it is also connected to love. So why isn’t Yoon Seungho missing the orchid, if the flower is a treasure for him? My explanation is the following. This flower represents the main lead’s mother. That’s the reason why he would paint it so often. However, this plant had to be removed, because it would have triggered the main lead’s memory: the suicide of his mother. At the same time, it also explicates why Yoon Chang-Hyeon has the plant in his study. It is a reminder of her deceased wife. Hence I couldn’t help myself wondering if the narration from Yoon Seungho was reflecting the whole truth. (chapter 36) We shouldn’t underestimate the lord’s amnesia and brainwashing. His memories were definitely manipulated so that he would put the whole blame on his father, covering up the participation of many helping hands. This means that Heena stands with the fake camellia for fake nature, while Yoon Seungho’s mother, represented by the real orchid, symbolizes real nature. Thus I come to the deduction that thanks to their encounter, both main leads are rediscovering landscapes and as such the world. Therefore it is no coincidence that the couple was totally honest to each other in the mountain. (chapter 102) They were surrounded by nature. And contrary to the learned sir who walked through the rice fields (chapter 70), the lord went deep into the forest. (chapter 102) Controlled environment versus wild nature!! We had the perfect example in the pavilion of the noble with the mole: the bonsai. (chapter 43) Hence I come to the conclusion that Jung In-Hun, the king and Heena are connected to civilization, control and eternity due to their believes, while the couple embodies the opposite value: wildness, nature, ephemerality and the vulnerability of human nature. One might argue about this, for the learned sir was seen in front of the pavilion. (chapter 10) However, the manhwaworms shouldn’t overlook that in that precise scene, he encouraged his pupil to defy his host. (chapter 10) He was not advocating the values of a real scholar. In truth, the painter is actually the one associated to the lotus. He is cleaning the mansion from the polluted environment. [For more read the essay the lotus and the snake].
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