[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Lovers of the Red Sky" Episode 5
By William Schwartz | Published on
After Ram quickly and predictably resolves the situation involving the art smugglers attempting to accost Chun-gi at the front door of the art competition, "Lovers of the Red Sky" is refreshingly mundane in its plotting. There are no gods to be seen as Prince Yangmyeong patiently explains the rules for the competition, and then the artists get right to painting. Important nuances like paper availability and brushstrokes are specifically noted in terms of the production of proper art.
Years ago I watched a drama called "Saimdang: Light's Diary" that purported to be about the famous artist Saimdang, best known for appearing on the South Korean equivalent of a fifty dollar bill. The drama consistently frustrated me by not actually discussing art at all, and frequently confusing different kinds of art genres as requiring the exact same skillset. Given that Ram is blind, yet inexplicably invited to observe an art competition, one might expect the same dubious logic here.
Not so! In fact, Ram's presence is eventually justified quite logically, with note being made that the artists are being expected to produce compelling sentiment on a moment's notice. While the art competition initially seemed like a possible pretext for Prince Yangmyeong to get close to Chun-gi, the prince acquits himself quite well in justifying the art competition's existence. He also makes it very clear that the purpose of the competition is for the entrants to be fairly adjudicated on the basis of skill.
This anachronism is briefly at odds when Prince Yangmyeong inexplicably and arbitrarily signals disgust with a specific piece. But that too proves compelling, as the characters, many of them new, proceed to discuss artistic form. Many even detect Prince Yangmyeong's ulterior motive, though only a few are able to discern its purpose. Most intriguingly at all, we get a late hint that Chun-gi is more important than she's been led to believe, for reasons yet to be clearly described.
I've already resigned myself to accepting the fact that whatever this ominous destiny is, it will have something to do with the gods, none of whom I consider to be interesting either as characters or as drivers for the greater plot. But ah, to live in the moment, with more down-to-earth masters of the art of painting! As the episode title indicates, we've got at least one more episode of the art competition before the divine drama returns. So I'm just going to enjoy it while I can.
Review by William Schwartz
"Lovers of the Red Sky" is directed by Jang Tae-yoo, written by Ha Eun, and features Ahn Hyo-seop, Kim Yoo-jung, Gong Myung, Kwak Si-yang, Kim Kwang-kyu, Choi Kwang-il. Broadcasting information in Korea: 2021/08/30~Now airing, Mon, Tue 22:00 on SBS.
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.