TLDR: Rating: 06/10 - One cannot change his/ her fate, and following it can be rewarding. Pretty scenes and artworks but too much magic reliant.
Based on a book titled Hong Cheon Gi (the same author as “Sungkyunkwan Scandal” and “The Moon Embracing the Sun", which were also adapted into famous dramas), Lovers of the Red Sky is a story about fate and how rewarding it can be at the end. I was already a fan of Ahn Hyo-Seop (a mix of Nam Joo-hyuk and Park Chan-Yeol) but the res eye on him in this drama was spectacular.
In the times of King Seongjo, after a lot of massacres and sacrifices, the shaman and the king's men were able to seal the demon in the former king's portrait. But this also somehow resulted in draughts and famine in the land. A shaman Mi Su, promises the King rain if they can successfully pull off the rain ritual for which they chose the ex-public servant's son Ha Ram (Ahn Hyo-Seop).
On the day of the rainmaking ritual, the portrait in which the demon was trapped is burnt by accident and the demon enters Ha Ram's body. To delay the destruction, the demon and his eyes which he uses to curse bystanders are separated. Ha Ram loses his sight whereas Hong Cheon Gi (Yoo Jung) who was born blind on the same day as Ha Ram, regains her sight. Only those eyes belong to Ma Hwa's or the Demon.
Ha Ram grows up blind under King's protection to become Scholar Ha, who reads stars. He also possesses a secret identity, Ilwolseong, which he uses as a front to get his revenge on the royal family for separating his family and killing his father. But reuniting with the Cheon-Gi awakens the demon within Ha Ram. After a few sightings, the palace officials start preparations to seal off the demon once again. But to go ahead with the ceremony, they need to recruit the divine painter, which turns out to be Hong Cheon-Gi. Almost around midseason, the drama slows down, we see Ha Ram and Cheon Gi realise each other's identity, saying goodbye to each other to follow their own paths with different goals. Ha Ram wants to get revenge for his father's death and Cheon Gi wants to save her father.
But as the story goes, Ha Ram realises it was not ht King responsible for his father's death but the demon whom his father was trying to banish. King's team with Prince Yangmyeong tries to re-seal the demon in Hong Cheon-Gi's painting. During which Hong Cheon Gi loses her sight but regains it once the demon is sealed.
Throughout the drama, there are (a lot of) divine interventions by Samsin and the tiger spirit, who seem to be always close to Ha Ram and Cheon Gi.
All in all, the drama has a happy ending for everyone but Prince Ynagmyeong who lost his love interest to Ha Ram and has to fight with his elder brother to ensure peace in his land.
Reasons to watch this drama
Details of the Art
Hong Cheon Gi being the first female painter of the Joseon dynasty, and who has been interested in art ever since she was little and blind gives us a lot of insights into the art style of that time. Throughout the drama, we see a lot of details about the process of making the king's portrait. Materials used, prep and finishing touches, etc.
Emotional connections with different characters
Weird at times, all the characters seem to be connected to each other one way or other. I have always had this complaint about the dramas, they always show seem to connect all the characters somehow together which is not at all possible in the real-life circle of friends or even enemies. Anyways, in this drama, I liked this part because even though Hong Cheon-Gi's life seem to be depressing and she had hit rock bottom, support from her friends, colleagues, the teacher even the Prince at times helped her get up and try again.
Reasons you may want to skip this drama
Too much magic
I hated the fact how much the whole storyline relied on magic. If the magic was some superpower of the lead characters I would have been able to accept it. But this was someone else pulling the strings through magic to let things happen, which just posses the question, you could have done everything with magic in that case.
Rating: 06/10 - Loved the story context and concepts. But not something I would go and rewatch again and again.