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You are probably wondering about the meaning behind this title, for until now, food never played a role in the story. However, all these words have another common denominator. 😮 The trigger for this essay started, when I discovered the expression “brown-noser” while reading another manhwa. The definition of “brown-noser/brown-nosing” are the following:
Brown-noser: a person who tries to please (esp. one’s boss) so much that their nose turns brown from kissing their ass. Quoted from https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=brown-noser
Brown-nosing: If you accuse someone of brown-nosing, you are saying in a rather offensive way that they are agreeing with someone important in order to get their support. Quote from https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/brown-nosing
1. Brown-nosing and boot licking
This means that the person flatters or humors somebody in an obsequious manner for personal gain. Striking is that if you look for synonyms, this is what you find
- back scratcher
- boot licker
- teacher’s pet
- yes-person Quoted from https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/brown-noser
That’s how I discovered why Yoon Seungho started licking Baek Na-Kyum’s ass. In the essay “Painful departures”, I had written that the story was constructed like a kaleidoscope, thus it contained so many reflections. Each incident or notion will be reflected in each season twice and within the same chapter, just like there will be an allusion in the previous or next episode. One might say that in season 1, the manhwaphiles never saw the main lead licking the painter’s ass. So it looked like my interpretation was wrong. However, this is again just an deception. Why? It is because the lord was taking these expressions literally. 😂
The verb “brown-nose” has for synonyms “curry favor”, “apple-polish”, “suck up to”, “get on the right side of”, “to kiss someone’s feet” and “butter up”! https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/brown-nose https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/suck%20up%20to Under this new light, the manhwalovers can grasp the other common denominator between the “curry, apple and butter”. They are referring to hypocrisy, power and selfishness. However, in Painter Of The Night, these idioms get a totally new meaning. Yoon Seungho has long internalized that the exchange of favors is based on sex!! He had to do it personally. That’s the reason why he is taking the expressions literally and the painter is responding the same way. Here he is seen as a back-scratcher: (chapter 89) The lord’s back is covered with marks. Yet, he was not brown-nosing here at all, for he was rejecting the lord’s advances. And now, it is time to take a closer look to season 1.
2. Apple and fellatio
When I read the expression “apple-polisher”, I remembered this scene in the woods: (chapter 23) Baek Na-Kyum was seen holding an apple, here it looked like he was indeed polishing the fruit before eating it. Striking is that during that scene, valet Kim was interrogating him. He was acting, as if he was interested in him. It was, as if he was buttering up to Baek Na-Kyum. The purpose was to gain the artist’s trust so that at the end, he would listen to his advices.(chapter 23) However, the reality was that the valet was actually digging for information, spying on the main lead, so that he could create a new incident. As you can see, there were two apple-polishers in that scene, the painter and the butler. This was the reflection within the same episode. While Baek Na-Kyum was literally polishing the apple, the other was just cajoling Baek Na-Kyum in a figurative way. Yet, the former was not truly sweet-talking to the artist. He gave the impression that he was totally honest. And now, it is important to recall what happened to the painter in the next chapter. Jung In-Hun was kissing the painter’s hands.(chapter 24). He was flattering the painter with the hope that Baek Na-Kyum would spy on his account. But the scholar couldn’t succeed with his request. Why? It is because he only kissed the artist’s hands. He never licked his boot or his ass. We could even say that he did scratch his back, but in the wrong way: (chapter 24) In other words, he could never lower himself in front of the low-born. This was too much, explaining why the scholar failed with his request.
Let’s not forget that in the hallway, Yoon Seungho had made the following request to Baek Na-Kyum. (chapter 27) In exchange for saving Jung In-Hun’s life, Baek Na-Kyum was forced to do a fellatio. We could say that the artist was sucking up to the owner of the mansion. But the fellatio is not just an exchange of favors. It is also associated to forgiveness. At the tailor’s shop, the painter had blushed because of Yoon Seungho, The latter had embarrassed him. Thus the lord made the following suggestion: (Chapter 39) This was his way to apologize, though here he was teasing his lover. These were the principles he had been taught, therefore it is not surprising that he applied them for the painter. And now, you comprehend why in episode 71, Yoon Seungho sucked the painter’s phallus in the bathroom, he was also currying the artist’s favors. His goal was not to be pushed away, to be accepted. (chapter 71) He had wronged the painter so many times, that the blow-job was not enough. Thus he licked his ass in the bedchamber. He was hoping to seek his forgiveness. (chapter 71) It was, as if he was lowering his head, the kowtower. In this episode, the lord was on his knees in front of the painter, and this twice. One in the bathroom (chapter 71) and the other time in the bedchamber. (chapter 71) However, his nose didn’t get brown, as the painter is a pure and innocent person. 😉 That’s how I realized why Baek Na-Kyum was sent to the bathroom. His role was to divert Yoon Seungho’s attention from Kim so that the master would forget to ask for the butler’s punishment. In other words, the valet used the low-born to seek his master’s favors. This shows that Yoon Seungho had been taught that the blow-job and the ass-kissing are the means to obtain forgiveness.
And remember what I mentioned previously, the notion “suck up to or kiss ass” will continue to appear in the next episode. This is no coincidence that the author drew such a panel: (chapter 73) He was licking the painter’s foot so that he could keep thrusting. Don’t forget that during the whole night, he behaved like a servant… the one who was “sucking up to Baek Na-Kyum”. (chapter 72) On the other hand, the latter scratched the lord’s back for the first time during that night. (chapter 72) This was the reflection within the same episode, yet the “back-scratcher” was not doing it for his personal gain at all. We couldn’t say that he was currying favor or buttering up Yoon Seungho. He believed that he was just a servant and nothing more. From the outsider’s perspective, he was treated indeed like a favored servant, though in truth Yoon Seungho viewed him more like his new master and lord.
3. Baek Na-Kyum and Kim’s sucking
Episode 71 with the ass-kissing was the positive reflection of chapter 45.
Striking is that in chapter 45, we have an allusion to the teacher’s pet: (chapter 45) In this scene, the lord was acting like a teacher, and the painter was supposed to do a blow-job in exchange for a favor. But since the painter was heartbroken, he was doing it absent-mindedly. Thus the roles got switched. After the noble licked the painter’s ass, and masturbated him anal, the painter was able to confess his pleasure: (chapter 45) This shows that the lord was slowly “currying favors” to Baek Na-Kyum. And this is no coincidence that Kim brought the ink and brushes to the mansion. (chapter 45) Once again, he was acting, as if he was buttering up to Baek Na-Kyum and indirectly to the host. But the reality was that everything was done for Kim’s interest…. On the other hand, we could say that Yoon Seungho was not really different from his surrogate father, for in that scene, Yoon Seungho was more thinking about himself than the painter’s. Yet, there is a slight nuance, the lord was sensing that the painter was not himself. He was talking to him, so licking the painter’s ass was not just done in order to obtain the painter’s support. His true goal was to be noticed and looked by the painter. He desired to have a true exchange of thoughts. Interesting is that by licking briefly the painter’s ass, he indeed succeeded, Baek Na-Kyum started thinking about him afterwards. The irony is that Yoon Seungho was just applying what he had been taught. That’s how I discovered the other reason why the main lead is not suspecting the butler of treason. Contrary to Yoon Chang-Hyeon or the pedophile, Kim was never seen asking Yoon Seungho for sexual favors: no fellatio or no ass-kissing. But this is just a deception, for we could clearly see that the butler is connected to the sex parties: (chapter 33) (chapter 52) He was the one who separated the couple. Because of his intervention, the painter deserted the mansion and got sick afterwards. Then in chapter 50, he revealed the argument between Baek Na-Kyum and Jung In-Hun. Striking is that in that scene, he was standing on the lord’s left side!! (chapter 50) No wonder that Yoon Seungho got furious. Simultaneously, while Kim was acting, as if he was defending the painter’s interest and as such feeling sorry for the painter, this signifies that he was no longer sucking up to his own master. Therefore, it is not surprising that the lord scolded him. (chapter 50) In fact, he should have “buttered up” his master and not pitied the painter. And now, you comprehend why the main lead misinterpreted Kim’s behavior. In his mind, the valet was actually “apple-polishing” to the painter. He had somehow “witnessed” it in the woods. But he had misjudged the situation, in reality he had caught Kim spying. (chapter 23) Unfortunately, the lord was not perceptive at all.
4. The night of Yoon Seungho’s relapse
And this leads me to the following observation. When Yoon Seungho kissed the painter’s ass in season 3 again, it was not done for personal gain. (chapter 80) He enjoyed seeing the painter’s facial expressions and reaction. He looked so shy and pure. (chapter 80) However, during that night, three people were trying to bootlick someone figuratively speaking: the new version of Deok-Jae, Kim and the messenger. Let’s not forget that before the arrival of the messenger, the painter made the following request to the butler: (chapter 79) One might say that he was currying favor to the butler, when he asked the butler about the music box. But what did Kim do? He brought the item to the bedchamber. (chapter 79) But this is not what the painter had actually requested, since the butler said this “I thought”. He had taken the initiative on his own. In my opinion, the painter had just asked that the music box should be brought back to the study. However, Kim brought the expensive present to the bedchamber for one reason. He expected the arrival of the messenger. We could say that he was “ass-kissing” the painter in order to obtain his trust. Kim definitely imagined that Yoon Seungho was sleeping. As you can see, this scene was the reflection of Yoon Seungho’s action in chapter 80. (chapter 80) While Kim had asked the painter’s to clean his face himself, the lord was cleaning the painter’s ass himself. Or we could say that he was polishing the painter’s apples, for he has an apple-shaped buttock. 😂 This clearly indicates that Kim has never washed Yoon Seungho himself. In other words, while Yoon Seungho was totally selfless here, this was not the case for the valet. And this is no coincidence that right after, the new version of Deok-Jae appeared in front of the door calling his master. He was faking loyalty and dedication. (chapter 80) Here, he was acting, as if he was sucking up to Yoon Seungho, but his gaze betrayed him. In my opinion, he had been deceived by the butler, for the latter expected that the painter would open the door. This situation was reflected within the same chapter. Notice what the messenger said to the young master in the study: (chapter 80) He was implying that his father had to bootlick an official in order to hide the incident. And how did the lord react to this? He not only asked the servant to do him a fellatio, but also made an allusion to the sexual favor: (chapter 80) His father must have kissed someone’s ass. But as you already know, Yoon Chang-HYeon is not someone who will do such a thing himself. And this shows that he has definitely used his son in order to obtain favors in such a way. Yoon Seungho had to do fellatios and let people lick his ass for his father’s sake, as he was a uke in the past. This is not surprising that the messenger received such a beating in the end. (chapter 80) He gave an order to the main lead, he threatened him. But actually, he was just a servant. He was not treating Yoon Seungho correctly. Interesting is that he showed more courtesy and respect to lord Lee than Yoon Seungho. (chapter 82) It was, as if the man was hoping to obtain father Lee’s support either. Another interesting aspect is that when the butler approached the wounded emissary, the former was definitely brown-nosing. (chapter 82), until he heard that the scholar Lee had approached father Yoon. On the other hand, his introduction didn’t fool the courier, for he was aware of Kim’s meddling. (chapter 82) In my opinion, Yoon Chang-Hyeon had followed the butler’s suggestion. Since the painter would always sleep in the study alone, he envisioned that the messenger would suggest to the artist to meet Heena. The man could fake that he had been sent by his noona. He was dressed up for that reason!! Observe that the color of the hanbok is similar to this one: (chapter 94) Thus I had this sudden idea. What if the messenger was receiving his karma for beating the painter in the past? Remember how I had deducted that these two men could have been disguised as nobles!! And this new perception would fit my interpretation. But let’s return to our main topic. The courier refused the obsequious and submissive remarks from the butler. He was no fool, for he knew that because of his “plan”, he had become the biggest victim of Yoon Seungho’s wrath. This explicates why the author never revealed the father’s words, because the manhwaphiles would have discovered the valet’s plan and as such betrayal (chapter 82) This means that if father Lee or Yoon Chang-Hyeon are cornered, they could be forced to “ass-kiss” the king.
Under this new light, it becomes comprehensible why Byeonduck released such panels on Twitter: Baek Na-Kyum is now imitating his lover. He is also licking the lord’s boot/foot. However, contrary to the signification, he is actually making love to his companion. This has nothing to do with selfishness and hypocrisy. We could even say that at the end of season 3, Yoon Seungho had become the teacher’s pet, the yes-man towards Baek Na-Kyum: (chapter 92) He could never refuse his lover’s requests. Thus in the gibang, he encouraged the painter to stay in the gibang. (chapter 93) It was, as if he was seeking the kisaengs’ support. Thus he chose leniency towards these women, though the latter had insulted him. At the same time, he was not hoping to receive any flattery from the noonas. He was the one “sitting on the painter’s right side”. (chapter 93) To conclude, the lord had been “tamed”, he was apple-polishing Baek Na-Kyum, but not in a negative way. It is the positive reflection of Kim who will act behind people’s back, and definitely use sex for his own advantage. We have the perfect example with the 2 sex marathons. He always let the painter suffer in order to cover up his own wrongdoings. But by allowing the main lead to act this way indicates that he was not helping Yoon Seungho. What people thought as assistance was in truth “brown-nosing”.
Under this new light, it becomes comprehensible why Yoon Seungho questioned the painter’s fellatio in the annex. (Chapter 95) In his eyes, the lord didn’t need it, for he was already aroused. Remember in the beginning of the story, Lee Jihwa had to prepare his lover (Chapter 3) Secondly, the painter was in the position not to ask for favors, to suck up to Yoon Seungho. In their relationship, the low-born had the upper hand. Finally, Baek Na-Kyum had done nothing wrong before, so he didn’t have to beg for the main lead’s forgiveness. That’s the reason why the lord was actually rejecting the blow-job!! (Chapter 95) But his teacher taught him this: the fellatio is there for pleasure and sensuality. (Chapter 95) It is the expression of affection and love.
5. The night in the shaman’s house
In my opinion, we should see it as a reflection of Yoon Seungho’s past. Min was also associating sex to favors. (chapter 101) The painter had to do a fellatio to lord Jang in exchange for protection. (chapter 101) The artist was not acting like the teacher’s pet, (chapter 101), hence he needed to receive some lesson. In their eyes, Baek Na-Kyum should have licked their boot, sucked up to them… due to their power and social status. Therefore, it is not astonishing that at the end, they were executed. Why? It is because Min and the others could never “curry Yoon Seungho’s favor”. (chapter 102) Without the painter, the lord had no reason to continue living. Baek Na-Kyum was his source of joy and of strength. Without him, he was powerless. And this leads me to the following observation. Since we have a situation of brown-nosing concerning Black Heart in the shaman’s house, this signifies that we should have a reflection earlier in season 3. And now look at this: (chapter 92) In that scene, Min was indeed “flattering” his ex-sexual partner, while he was rather dismissing the painter. (chapter 92) He was also indirectly currying the lord’s favor. This was the reflection of the night in episode 52 either. However, contrary to season 2, Yoon Seungho had the upper-hand, as the painter had already sided with him. But one might say that this perception of “apple-polishing and buttering up” stands in opposition to my previous statement: sex is like a battle, a fight where there is only one winner. But that one doesn’t exclude the other, since Min had also tried to eliminate Baek Na-Kyum before changing his mind. This truly shows that we had two different philosophies, yet both were evolving around sex. This truly outlines that someone was “consumed by lust” in the end.
6. The Yoons
This means that Yoon Seungho can only discover the butler’s betrayal, when the latter no longer acts, as if he was buttering up to Baek Na-Kyum. But so far, the lord never discovered it. Even when he thought that the artist was dead, Kim gave him the hanbok. This could only reinforce the impression that Kim liked the artist. (chapter 102) On the other hand, Baek Na-Kyum is slowly sensing the valet’s disloyalty towards the aristocrat. (chapter 86) Since the lord could see through Jung In-hun’s true personality, I believe that it is the painter’s duty to grasp the valet’s treason. In my opinion, since he caught Kim having sex with the maid, it is only a matter of time, until he realizes his true personality. In chapter 77, valet Kim had thought that he could rekindle with the owner of the mansion, hence he brought him tea and the medicine. He envisioned that if he acted like a loyal and dedicated servant, he could regain Yoon Seungho’s support. (chapter 77) In other words, he was buttering up to the young master. But observe that in that scene, he never lowered himself in front of the young man. He didn’t go on his knees or he didn’t bow to him either. This attitude exposes the valet’s true personality. He considers himself better than Yoon Seungho and Baek Na-Kyum, refusing to admit any crime or mistake. In that scene, he never said YES! In fact, he kept contradicting his master. (chapter 77) Under this new light, the avid readers can understand why he contacted the patriarch in the end. He knew that Yoon Chang-Hyeon would listen to him, for he had been brown-nosing him for years. And the color brown of his shirt is no coincidence. Observe that when the father visited the mansion, he was wearing brown and red… (chapter 86) He envisioned that his elder son would return him the seat and as such he would become the owner of the family mansion again. Why? It is because of the main lead’s words in the library. His so-called respect towards the father was just fake. That’s the reason why the father imagined that he just needed to show up and he would get the mansion back. However, in reality, he should have sought his son’s support, and as such kiss his ass in order to achieve his goal. But the man has never done it himself. He has always been used to being fawned and ass-kissed that it is not surprising that he barged in the mansion. And this is the same for Yoon Seung-Won. The latter might have sent letters in order to obtain his brother’s support, but we can’t say that he was sucking up to Yoon Seungho. Thus it is no coincidence that at the end, the latter advised his brother to follow the father’s principles. (chapter 37) Here, he was implying that Yoon Seung-Won should do fellatios and other things in exchange for favors.
After these observations, I come to the conclusion that the sexual actions are not only reflecting the lord’s brainwashing, but also they are revealing what will happen in season 4. The more the couple will follow these principles (apple-polishing, boot licking, ass-kissing, sucking up, teacher’s pet, yes-man…) in a literal way, the more we will see the negative reflections of these actions in the other characters. The butler and the other antagonists will try to curry favors to the pedophile at the couple’s expense. And now, here is the question. Who will do it, fellatio and other things in exchange for favors? Yoon Chang-Hyeon? Yoon Seung-Won? Kim? Or Heena? As you can imagine, I am inclined to think that this should be Heena. Why? I can not forget the scholar’s words in the library: (chapter 40) Moreover, according to me, she used the young master Seungho and her brother to avoid sex. Furthermore, I would like to point out that when the kisaeng argued with her brother, this is what she said to her brother: (chapter 97) Here, she was referring to favors. Yet, shortly after she proposed this to her brother: (chapter 97) It is clear that the agreement was not selfless. No nobleman would spend money and energy for nothing. The noona was hiding the content of the deal to her brother, the negative reflection from season 1. And now, you comprehend why I am sensing that since her deal was to sell her brother in exchange of favors, her karma should be that she has no other mean than to sell herself in order to survive, as she is now on her own. And if this truly happen, this can only reinforce her resent and hatred towards the couple. But we will see, if Heena is the one “sucking up” in season 4.
Finally I would add that though Baek Na-Kyum kept saying “no no”, deep down he meant “yes, yes” and the perfect example was during the second Wedding Night: (chapter 73). But keep in mind, this is related to the painter’s education. He had been raised not only to hide his homosexuality, but also to reject sexuality as such. Naturally, in reality a no means no and nothing else.
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