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A tale of forbidden desires beneath the brush strokes



Painter of the Night unfolds a tale of stark contrasts and forbidden desires set against the backdrop of historical Korea. As we delve into the intricate web of characters, with each bearing its unique complexities, join us as we unravel the layers of Painter of the Night, where artistry meets desire in a society that veils its passions and explores the multifaceted dimensions of this acclaimed work.

What is Painter of the Night?

What is Painter of the Night?

Painter of the Night is a manhwa created by Byeonduck, which has been concluded with 133 chapters. Byeonduck both wrote and illustrated this work, which first debuted in 2019 and was published by Lezhin Comics. The official book release in Japanese by Frontier Works took place on March 22, 2021, while PinSin Publishing released it in Traditional Chinese in 2020. In Korean, Lezhin published it on August 25, 2021.

The initial season, from May 14, 2019, to April 18, 2020, encompasses chapters one to forty-four. The second season, ran from July 25, 2020, to April 17, 2021, covering chapters 45 to 76. The third season, which ran from August 27, 2021, to April 30, 2022, comprised chapters 77 to 102. The fourth season was released on February 17, 2023.

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Painter of the night manga

Painter of the night manga

Set in Korea during the historical Goryeo or Joseon eras, the narrative unfolds in Hanyang, the capital of the Joseon kingdom (present-day Seoul). The storyline revolves around a noble named Yoon Seungho, who urges Baek Na-kyum to persist in creating erotic paintings despite Na-kyum’s initial reluctance.

Na-kyum’s existence is marked by stark contradictions. Gifted in capturing the intricacies of the human form, particularly the male physique, his brushstrokes elegantly convey sensuality, revealing desires and vulnerabilities hidden beneath the surface. Yet, this talent becomes a burden in a society that deems such art obscene, punishable by death. Na-kyum is compelled to live in secrecy, selling his creations under a pseudonym, haunted by the constant fear of exposure.

As Na-kyum contemplates abandoning his craft, Seungho disrupts his world. A wealthy and influential noble with an insatiable appetite for pleasure, Seungho discovers Na-kyum’s hidden talent and becomes captivated. Coercing the young artist into becoming his private painter, Seungho lifts Na-kyum from poverty into a gilded cage of luxury and isolation.

Within Seungho’s opulent mansion, Na-kyum’s life takes on a dreamlike quality. Showered with opulent gifts and tasked with creating art that fuels Seungho’s desires, Na-kyum navigates a world laced with danger. The power dynamics between them are fraught with tension and manipulation, as Seungho’s possessiveness and unpredictable nature keep Na-kyum on edge. Meanwhile, Na-kyum’s growing feelings for Seungho threaten to disrupt their delicate balance.

While Painter of the Night features undeniable and often explicit eroticism, it serves as a potent tool for exploring deeper themes. The manhwa delves into human desire complexities, the corrupting influence of power, and the transformative nature of art. Na-kyum’s journey becomes one of self-discovery, grappling with his identity, artistic calling, and the price of his talent.

Byeonduck’s masterful storytelling is complemented by stunning artwork, meticulously crafting panels with rich colours and intricate details. Characters are expressive and captivating, emotions leaping off the page. The use of light and shadow highlights sensuality and danger.

Painter of the Night is not universally suitable due to its graphic content and mature themes. However, for those willing to explore its depths, it offers a unique and unforgettable experience. Challenging societal norms, it explores dark corners of human desire and celebrates art’s power to ensnare and liberate.

The manhwa’s historical accuracy is praised, with Byeonduck meticulously researching Joseon Dynasty clothing, architecture, and social customs. Characters, particularly Na-kyum and Seungho, undergo significant transformations. Controversial for explicit content, it is also commended for a positive portrayal of LGBTQ+ relationships.

The manhwa unfolds across various seasons:

  • Season 1 spans 44 chapters (1 to 44).
  • Season 2 encompasses 32 chapters (45 to 76).
  • Season 3 comprises 26 chapters, along with a review (77 to 102).
  • Season 4 is ongoing, currently featuring 17 chapters (103 onwards). Additionally, there are 4 AU’s (Alternative Universes) and a Q&A Special contributing to the ongoing narrative.


Yoon Seungho

As the eldest son of the Yoon family, Seungho actively seeks out Na-kyum due to his interest in the artist’s paintings. Describing himself as impatient and capable of violence, especially with a sword, Seungho has a reputation for promiscuity. He expresses to Na-kyum that he would never be involved with a peasant. Seungho manipulates Na-kyum, even bringing someone from Na-kyum’s past, In-hun, to coerce compliance.

Baek Na-kyum

Abandoned as a child and raised in a Kisaeng house, Na-kyum is a talented painter who once created erotic art under a pseudonym. After a period of drinking, Seungho brings him back to paint. Initially hesitant, Na-kyum showcases his skill by painting scenarios from memory. Despite tearing his creations, he finds joy in painting for the benefit of his teacher, Jung In-hun.

Lee Jihwa

Featured in a painting with Seungho, Jihwa encounters Na-kyum again and wonders if Seungho is looking at him or the artwork. As a noble, Jihwa expresses jealousy towards Na-kyum, pouring water on his paintings as a result. Born on August 25, Jihwa stands at a height of 181cm.

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Located by Seungho to control Na-kyum, In-hun is a poet and literature teacher. Unaware that he’s essentially captive to ensure Na-kyum continues painting, In-hun forms a negative impression of Na-kyum’s situation. Born on December 12, In-hun stands at a height of 185cm.

Yoon Seung-won

Referred to as the younger master, Seung-won informs Seungho of their father’s worsening illness by letter before visiting in person. Determined to proceed despite any obstacles, Seung-won updates Seungho on their father’s condition.


Given the task of delivering art supplies to Na-kyum, Deok-jae feels mocked as he observes Na-kyum playing while others work in the backyard. He notes that Na-kyum is well-fed, enjoying snacks and expensive clothes provided by the master.


Known as the “No Name Assassin,” Meumyeong is a street beggar and assassin hired to target Na-kyum. As he awaits the opportunity, Meumyeong occupies his time by being intimate with a woman.


A lord who learns that In-hun has passed the first round of civil service examinations with Lord Yoon’s support. Suspecting Seungho’s feelings for Na-kyum, Min mocks him for falling for someone he considers low-born. Despite being beaten by Seungho in response, Min harbours a crush on Na-kyum.


Na-kyum’s noona from the Kisaeng, dressed in a Hanbok with braided hair. Curious about a painter staying at Seungho’s residence, Heena stands at a height of around 5’7.

How to read Painter of the Night

Painter of the Night

There are two primary ways to access Painter of the Night: through official and unofficial channels.

  • Lezhin Comics: The endorsed platform for Painter of the Night is Lezhin Comics. You have the option to purchase individual chapters or subscribe for timely access to new releases. While it’s a secure and ethical way to support the creator, it involves paying for the chapters.
  • Tappytoon: Another authorised platform offering Painter of the Night is Tappytoon. Similar to Lezhin, you can buy chapters or subscribe for access. Keep an eye out for promotions and discounts they occasionally offer!

Unofficial methods

  • Scanlation Websites: These platforms scan and translate manga and manhwa chapters, providing free access. It’s essential to note that scanlation is unauthorised and often infringes upon copyright laws. Additionally, the quality of scanlations may vary, ranging from poorly translated to error-riddled.
  • Fan Communities: Online forums and communities dedicated to Painter of the Night frequently share links to scanlations or unofficial translations. While this may offer free access to the story, it’s not recommended due to copyright concerns and the potential risks of malware or viruses.

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