Hi Bye, Mama! : Episode 11
Don’t mess with the Bruce Lee of Yeouindo (or her brigade). It’s time for some comeuppance for the gossipy moms of their neighborhood, and I know just the squad to take care of it. But while the ladies are bonding while they deliver justice, a new exorcist in the neighborhood may be planning to disrupt this brief piece of joy Yuri has carved out for herself during her 49 day respite.
EPISODE 11: “The Share of Life Given to Me”
In 2015, Yuri and Kang-hwa talk over tangerines at the kitchen table, and Yuri offers to grant Kang-hwa one last wish for anything that he wants before their baby arrives. Kang-hwa’s wish is for Yuri to pick him up from work whenever it rains, since his mother was often too busy at work to pick him up when he was a child. Yuri agrees to his request, and then when Kang-hwa asks what she would like, she suggests a big diamond with a smirk.
But when rain strikes, Yuri feels a little too tired and lazy to pick her husband up. She rolls over on the couch to text her husband excuses. Kang-hwa doesn’t seem surprised to receive her messages on the bus, and he hustles home in the rain with only his bag to protect him. He arrives home drenched, and Yuri fusses over him in the entryway.
“Back then, each day arrived so naturally that I thought it was obvious the next day would arrive,” Yuri’s voiceover begins. On a dark rainy day later in the timeline, ghostly Yuri waits at the bus stop for Kang-hwa to arrive. But as a ghost she can’t offer him an umbrella and can only watch as he trudges home alone.
“If I had known that the next day wouldn’t arrive ever again, I wouldn’t have let each precious day just pass by idly.”
Back to the present, Yuri jumps in front of the speeding motorcycle to throw an elderly woman out of the way. The bike skids out and throws the cyclist to the ground, while Yuri lands with the woman safely in her arms. Yuri can’t help but think of her own deathly crash as the bystanders call for an ambulance.
Once at the hospital, the doctors swarm the cyclist while the older woman lies unconscious on a nearby bed. The doctors insist that the woman is just suffering from shock, but Yuri can see the woman’s spirit trying to rip away from her body and begs them to help to no effect.
Kang-hwa arrives then, turning Yuri around to face him. He takes a moment to realize that she’s okay, while Yuri guides him to the old woman to help. Kang-hwa takes a few vitals, and it’s enough to confirm that something is wrong and he sends the woman out to get a chest x-ray.
Kang-hwa gets water for Yuri and reassures her that the elderly woman will get surgery as soon as her family arrives. Kang-hwa asks how Yuri knew the woman was sick when all the doctors didn’t catch it, and Yuri plays it off as intuition.
Yuri stands to go before Kang-hwa asks too many more questions she can’t answer, but he calls out to her and asks her how her stomach is doing after the night before. He suggests she drink some honey water, and through flashback we see that this is a hangover cure he often pushed on Yuri when she drank too much. The little familiarity isn’t lost on Yuri, and she smiles softly before she reassures him that she’s fine.
Kang-hwa’s thoughts are still on the night before, and how he left her behind with Hyun-jung. Yuri, meanwhile, wilts when she sees Kang-hwa’s disciplinary action notice hanging on the hospital wall.
Meanwhile at Midondaek’s place, she shuts the door in the face of her new visitor with the eight ball cane. The ghosts giggle nearby that Midongdaek has a boyfriend finally. That is, until editor ghost Hye-jin recognizes the man as the famous exorcist Guk-bong, who has a 99.9% success rating of sending ghosts on to the afterlife. Nearby neighborhoods have been wiped of all their ghosts with him moving through, and now the ghosts aren’t so excited.
Guk-bong eventually gets past Midongdaek’s door and after some judgmental glances around her place, he announces his intentions to take care of Midongdaek’s columbarium and her abysmal rate of successful ghost ascension. And then even more pressing, Guk-bong would like to know what Midongdaek plans to do about Yuri… and her daughter. Oh no.
Guk-bong says that the deities sent an answer to Yuri’s predicament a while ago, and asks why Midongdaek has been ignoring it. Midongdaek swears she’s going to take care of it, but Guk-bong seems to think otherwise.
Midongdaek heads to the columbarium to gaze wistfully at Yuri’s urn. Yuri’s reaction to the thought that Seo-woo might become a shaman is on her mind.
Hyun-jung is also busy trying to sort out her feelings about Yuri’s situation as she sits on the steps of her bar. She’s startled out of her thoughts by Yuri’s mom, who happens to be passing by. Hyun-jung offers the woman some coffee, and they head inside together.
Hyun-jung makes conversation and says it’s been a while since Mom has been to the bar, since she’s been avoiding Kang-hwa. Mom says that while that was part of it, she was also afraid that memories of Yuri would haunt her there as well.
Mom mentions Yuri’s job at the daycare and as a pick-up helper, and then shares that Yuri hasn’t seemed able to talk about Seo-woo with her at all. Hyun-jung asks Mom if she’s happy, even though Yuri has been displaced from her life with Kang-hwa and Seo-woo, and Mom smiles serenly that she’s so satisfied, she could die that day without any regrets.
Yuri interrupts the two at the bar and shoots Hyun-jung a wary look. She asks Mom if Hyun-jung said anything strange to her, but of course Mom reassures her that it’s not the case. Still, Yuri gets her mother out of the bar as quickly as possible and offers to walk her home for dinner.
Hyun-jung follows the two outside and lingers at her steps, Midongdaek’s card in her hand and the memory of Yuri’s desire to stay alive at the forefront of her thoughts.
On the way home, Yuri delights in simply calling out her mother’s name and seeing her respond. Yuri asks if she’s being annoying, and Mom says that she loves hearing her daughter’s daughter. Especially, it seems, since while Mom remembered everything about what Yuri looked, eventually a day arrived when she couldn’t remember what Yuri sounded like anymore.
Yuri tries to reassure her mother that things like that are normal, but it’s clearly a painful thought for the both of them. Yuri stops when she spots a dress in a store window. Mom wonders if she wants it for herself, but Yuri wants to buy it as a gift instead.
Kang-hwa returns to his office to find Dr. Jang waiting for him. Dr. Jang seems hung up on the question of why Kang-hwa would agree to treatment now, when he resisted for so long. In flashback, we see that while Kang-hwa’s new psychiatrist thinks that something must have changed in his life recently, he doesn’t know what that change is.
Dr. Jang doesn’t address this concern directly though, and instead asks Kang-hwa why he didn’t sign the petition to restrict VIP priority at the hospital. Dr. Jang mentions that it was Kang-hwa who started the petition in the first place, while Kang-hwa retorts that he’s not required to sign it and that Dr. Jang was against in the beginning.
Now Dr. Jang presses him about treatment and what’s changed for him, but Kang-hwa refuses to tell him anything. He’s saved by an interruption from Geun-sang, who is here just a little too late to warn Kang-hwa that Dr. Jang was looking for him. But even after Dr. Jang leaves, Kang-hwa stares at the petition awaiting his signature on his desk.
Yeon-ji gets ready to leave her job at an eyeglasses store with a big smile, and her coworkers can’t help but point out how Yeon-ji’s been quick to head home lately. One coworker gasps when she realizes her little sister borrowed her clothes and got them dirty again, and while the ladies all complain, Yeon-ji can only smile as she leaves.
On her way home, Yeon-ji spots the same dress in the window that Yuri bought, and she goes in herself to purchase it as well. Once home, Yeon-ji places the bag on Yuri’s desk. Yuri is confused when she spots it, of course, because she bought the dress for Yeon-ji. Both sisters come out of their rooms at the same time, identical bags in hand.
Everyone has to smile, because a flashback delivers a glimpse of the fights that used to break out between the two over clothes. Both Yuri and Yeon-ji stand with a piece of clothing in one hand and a pair of scissors threatening to cut the fabric in another. They each warn enough other not to take clothes without asking, and Yuri is the first to actually take a snip out of the blouse in her hand. Yeon-ji’s eyes grow wide before she lunges at her sister.
The flashback moves forward, when Yeon-ji was left with nothing but her sister’s clothes to comfort her. Ghost Yuri crouches at her side, trying to stroke her sister’s hair to comfort her.
But now the two stand together, wearing the same dress they each bought for the other, and Mom and Dad smile serenely.
Later that night, Dad wakes Yuri as he sits on the side of her bed. He doesn’t mean for her to see, but he begins to cry as he strokes her hair. Yuri is up to give him a big hug and the two of them cry. Mom and Yeon-ji watch from the doorway, and Mom mutters that Dad promised not to cry in front of Yuri.
Min-jung is in a great mood the next morning, and Kang-hwa can’t help but notice. He’s even happy to hear that she plans to be friends with Hyun-jung from now on, but his smile falters when she adds the Yuri look alike to her new friend list as well.
Meanwhile, Hyun-jung meets with Midongdaek at a cafe. Hyun-jung wants to know how much more time Yuri has and if there’s anyway for her to stay even if she doesn’t reclaim with Kang-hwa. Midongdaek doesn’t have solutions to offer, so instead Hyun-jung demands a promise that Midongdaek is certain that Kang-hwa leaving Min-jung for Yuri will keep her friend alive. It’s a promise that Midongdaek can’t keep, and the woman stutters as she tries to find a response.
Geun-sang walks Ha-jun to preschool, and just happens to spot his wife in the cafe with Midongdaek. He and Ha-jun make faces at the two women and Hyun-jung growls for them to leave. But then Sang-bong saunters into view, still trailing Geun-sang around, and now Midongdaek has to protest their interruption.
Midongdaek grabs Sang-bong by the ear and drags him back to the columbarium. They stop short, however, when they realize that the new exorcist has beaten them there.
The ghosts cower and Guk-bong prowls around, until he stops at Hye-jin’s urn and says that she’ll be the first to go, since she was a suicide. The ghosts throw Sang-bong out in front as another option, and that’s when Guk-bong declares that Sang-bong’s death wasn’t a suicide at all. Sang-bong hangs his head as Guk-bong pronounces his death the most wrongful and cruel.
Outside the daycare, the mothers swarm Yuri as she arrives to gossip about Seo-woo. Yuri promptly returns that while she’s noticed that Seo-woo is slow, she’s seen other children at the daycare who are even slower. The women lean in to hear, and Yuri names each of their own children before strutting into the daycare.
But once inside, Yuri discovers that the mothers’ gossiping has reached the children. Little Mi-so whispers the secret she overheard from her parents in everyone’s ears, that Seo-woo’s mother is abandoning her.
And Mi-so’s mom is still gossiping as her husband drives her around that morning. She means to share the news about Min-jung’s divorce plans and Hyun-jung’s husband hunted down by Sang-bong fans to her closest friends, but she manages to share it with the entire daycare mothers group instead. Oh man.
Yuri is already upset with the mothers when she arrives at Hyun-jung’s bar, and the text message only fuels it further. Meanwhile, Min-jung pauses for a moment, and recalls Yuri’s previous encouragement to stick up for herself rather than ignoring everyone.
And that’s how Min-jung ends up at Hyun-jung’s bar, ready for battle with her comrades, haha. Geun-sang hears about the battle plans from Hyun-jung by phone and groans about his wife always fighting. Kang-hwa tries to make fun of him, until Geun-sang points out that he has two problems now, because Yuri and Min-jung are also on the warpath.
The first step on the warpath is Yeon-ji’s eyewear boutique to select badass sunglasses for each lady. Their all-black ass-kicking ensembles are complete, and the three march off to attack the kids cafe where the mothers have gathered.
Kang-hwa sighs about Yuri to Geun-sang, and the two recall how even Yuri and Hyun-jung’s first meeting was a fight.
And indeed, they met at the newsstand, just two fangirls desperate to get their hands on the latest magazine. Yuri’s wearing her H.O.T. jacket, while Hyun-jung wears her Sechs Kies jacket. Haha. In the present, Kang-kwa recalls that while Hyun-jung is the Bruce Lee of Yeouido, Yuri is the Gandalf. This is amazing. Of course, that leaves the question for them: who is Min-jung in all of this?
Geun-sang suggests sidekick, but the Min-jung who arrives at the cafe is anything but a sidekick. While Hyun-jung grabs the first mom she can find in a headlock, Yuri locks another in the fingerpainting room and hoses her down, and Min-jung beats the third with a plastic toy bat. Again, this is amazing. As Hyun-jung releases one mom, Yuri grabs her up and releases her captive to the next round.
Vengeance is exhausting, and all three women look exhausted as they gather around a grill for meat and drinks afterwards. But Hyun-jung manages a thumbs up, and soon Yuri and Min-jung join her and they’re clapping and smiling in triumph. Yuri and Hyun-jung note how tough Min-jung was and declare her their boss. Yuri and Hyun-jung take the titles of leader and the head, ha.
Min-jung asks if Yuri and Hyun-jung had rehearsed their fight since they worked so well together and they share their first encounter with her over the magazine rack. Yuri guesses that Min-jung was the type who only studied and never chased after a boy band. But in a new version of the flashback, we can see while Hyun-jung and Yuri fought, quiet Min-jung snuck in wearing her Y2K jacket and scooped the magazine up.
Kang-hwa and Geun-sang are still debating which role each woman would fill in their girl gang, suggesting throwing out famous Chinese military leaders like General Guan Yu for Hyun-jung, Zhang Fei for Yuri, and Zhuge Liang for Min-jung. Geun-sang still thinks the ladies hanging out together is a bad idea, but Kang-hwa just sighs that Min-jung likes them both.
Geun-sang turns the blame on Yuri for asking them to stay quiet about who she is and what’s happening, and he says that Hyun-jung can barely sleep she’s so worried about the whole thing.
But for now, the ladies are content to drink, eat, and congratulate one another on their victory. Hyun-jung does duck out for some air though, and once outside, she takes another look at that text in the group chat. She watches Yuri and Min-jung chat together happily through the window.
Inside, Yuri asks how Min-jung managed to hold back until now, and when Min-jung says she coped in her own ways, Yuri immediately responds with, “by drinking alone.” Min-jung wonders how Yuri can seem to know her better than she knows herself, and Yuri says that kind people have a hard time seeing themselves because they’re too busy caring for others.
Hyun-jung returns and Yuri takes her turn for the restrooms. Hyun-jung takes her opportunity to ask if it’s true that Min-jung is getting a divorce, and she says no. Hyun-jung presses whether she was ever considering it, and Min-jung confesses that she did for a while. She says that she had married Kang-hwa even when everyone told her not to because she loved him too much. But once in it, she discovered that it was hard to make a family out of one that had been previously damaged. Min-jung says that there’s a place in Kang-hwa’s heart where she can never go, and that it was hard to accept that.
But even so, Min-jung says that she couldn’t go through with it because she loves Kang-hwa too much. And Hyun-jung recalls when Kang-hwa and Min-jung first started seeing one another. Kang-hwa was in her bar, and Hyun-jung encouraged him to pursue this new nurse in his life. He asks what he’s supposed to do, just date her, and Hyun-jung tells him that he’s allowed to move on.
Not much later, Hyun-jung spots Kang-hwa with a bouquet of flowers, and she can guess where he’s headed. She doesn’t make a big deal though, even as he hides them behind his back from her, and a smile spreads slowly across his face.
While the ladies are out, Kang-hwa is busy parenting. He and Seo-woo play with stickers, and Seo-woo jumps up to retrieve a family photo. She places a magical girl sticker in the corner, and when Kang-hwa asks who that is, Seo-woo declares clearly, “Cha Yuri.” And yeah, a flashback arrives to remind us that Yuri has been at Seo-woo’s side for the girl’s entire life, as ghost Yuri crouches at her daughter’s side while Seo-woo plays on the playground. The family ghosts calll out Yuri’s name, and Yuri runs to them while Seo-woo’s follow her.
Kang-hwa does a double take but when he asks Seo-woo to repeat herself, she says the same name just as clearly. Cha Yuri.
This time in the past, Yuri and Kang-hwa are having an argument. Yuri has asked Kang-hwa to get the tools to hang their vacuum on the wall for days. Each time Kang-hwa has put it off, and now the vacuum slumps on the floor right in the doorway. Yuri pouts and tries to bend Kang-hwa’s will, but he just goes into the other room and closes the door.
The room is dark now, and Kang-hwa is alone. The vacuum still sits in the middle of the doorway, never hung up.
Kang-hwa narrates now, a voiceover that mirrors Yuri’s from the beginning of the episode:
“If I had known the time given to us was this short, I would have treasured every insignificant moment. But life left some more time for me.”
As Kang-hwa speaks, the camera sweeps over the console table to feature the many photographs Kang-hwa has of his time after Yuri, times when he smiled and was happy spending time with Seo-woo and Min-jung.
Seo-woo, you’re so cute as you drop such a big bombshell on your Dad. And this bit of information had better lead to a big shake up, because I’m well past ready for some truth, both for and from Kang-hwa. We know he loves both of the women in his life right now. But it’s not clear what he wants for his future anymore, and it’s time for some clarity.
The new development with Seo-woo opens up a question that I’ve been wondering about for a while. For everyone else, Yuri’s return is new. But for Seo-woo, Yuri has been a consistent presence in her life since she was a baby. Yuri has been there to cheer her on and pay attention to her even when others couldn’t. So what happens to that relationship if Yuri ascends?
The arrival of the new exorcist, I suspect, will also start looking at this problem from a new angle. I was completely surprised to hear he’s interested in Seo-woo as well as Yuri. Does he think that his job is also to make sure Seo-woo stops seeing ghosts, or is he here to reinforce Seo-woo’s path to becoming a shaman?
So far the question has always been about either ascending to the afterlife or returning to earth as a human, but I wonder if there’s a third option where Yuri becomes a ghost again. Midongdaek has been very lenient with her ghosts, and many of them have been able to stay by their family members for a long time, even longer than Yuri has lingered so far. Is allowing Yuri to become a ghost again a way for her to stay with her daughter, if Seo-woo can see ghosts for the rest of her life? With a strong-willed ghost mom like Yuri, Seo-woo may be protected from malevolent spirits, and still have the benefit of seeing her mom at her side. Of course, Yuri will return to the heartbreak of not being able to hold her daughter again, or laugh with her mother. But if it’s ghost world or nothing, maybe it’s an alternative that works?
This is the point in a drama where the need for 16 episodes often comes up, and I do think in this case it might have been better to limit this show to a shorter run. I think they’ve done a great job keeping the lingering feelings of relief and tragedy balanced, but it feels like all they have left to harvest from the past is Kang-hwa’s pain, and that’s starting to run out of gas. It needs some sort of forward momentum, because he’s been stuck in limbo for too long. The set up is all there, and it’s officially time to deliver on the difficult feelings.
I knew that we were leading to some reveal related to Sang-bong’s death, and it looks like we’re going to close in on that mystery soon. If he was murdered though, by his sports club or some proxy, I’m not sure that Yuri is up to the task of taking on the bad guys. I mean, she can totally destroy a group of catty moms, but gangsters may be a little too much. Perhaps that’s not what’s necessary though for Sang-bong to come to terms with death. He’s only ever seemed concerned with his family, not the truth of his death, so if it’s about comforting a mother who has lost a child, Yuri might be able to offer some support.