Hi Bye, Mama! : Episode 3
Our not-so-ghostly-anymore heroine finds herself back from the dead, and faced with explaining things to her former family and friends. Understandably, she’s as disconcerted as they are by the situation, and confused as to what to do next. Obviously, fried chicken is a high priority when you haven’t eaten real food in four years, but with limited time and a child whose soul may be in danger, Yuri needs to find a way to use her newfound (and possibly temporary) real-ness to fix some serious problems.
EPISODE 3: “Realizing the beauty of life is only possible after death”
Back when Yuri was alive, she’d packed a bag one day and stormed over to Hyun-jung’s restaurant, having decided after a big fight with Kang-hwa that maybe she’d made a mistake in marrying him. Yuri had been furious that Kang-hwa refused to let her have her way on such a petty issue, but Hyun-jung had calmly reminded her that she’s the one who’d moved out over whether he should sit to pee, ha.
Yuri hadn’t realized until after her death that such things didn’t really matter. Now she knows that simple things like eating good food and being able to touch the person you love are what’s most important in life.
She’s hugging a crying Seo-woo at the park when she looks up to see Kang-hwa staring at them, shocked to see his wife alive again after four years. His legs give out and he lands on his butt, but when Yuri tries to leave, he jumps up and catches her. Kang-hwa’s eyes fill with tears to see Yuri right there in front of him, and he barely manages to ask how this can be happening.
After taking Seo-woo home to Min-jung and weakly explaining that his friend picked her up, Kang-hwa takes Yuri to a coffee shop. The atmosphere is awkward between them (as expected when your dead wife comes back to life), and Yuri imagines several possible ways Kang-hwa might react if she tells him the truth.
In one scenario, Kang-hwa is matter-of-fact about Yuri coming back from the dead and having 49 days to reclaim her place as his wife, which is totally cool with him except for that pesky new wife of his. In another scenario, he completely freaks out about the fact that Yuri’s been hanging around his family as a ghost.
In reality, Kang-hwa just watches Yuri chew nervously on her straw, which is an old habit of hers when she’s worried about him. Yuri is about to claim that she’s not who he thinks she is when Kang-hwa shows her his work ID that she doodled on.
He finally asks how this is possible, so Yuri goes with a half-truth — she says she remembers dying, then she woke up in the columbarium, and has no memory of the past four years. She pretends to think that maybe she did something good in the afterlife and got a 49-day vacation on earth as a reward. PFFT.
Meanwhile, Min-jung asks Seo-woo who picked her up from school, and Seo-woo says “a pretty auntie.” She stops responding when Min-jung asks how she hurt her hand.
Things get awkward again when both Yuri and Kang-hwa notice his wedding ring at the same time as he gets a text from Min-jung asking what’s going on. Yuri excuses herself and tries to run off, but Kang-hwa chases after her and asks why she keeps trying to get away from him.
She says she’s just flustered because she didn’t mean to run into him again, and asks for time for them both to think. Kang-hwa gets Yuri a hotel room and gives her his credit card in case she needs anything.
Downstairs, Kang-hwa goes around and around in the revolving door, unable to decide whether to go home, or go back upstairs to talk to Yuri. Yuri lies in bed thinking about how she got to hug her daughter for the first time today, and she snuggles into the blankets with a smile on her face.
Geun-sang and Hyun-jung bicker about whether he saw Yuri or not, which ends up as a hilarious food fight in front of their entire restaurant full of customers, ha. At closing time, Hyun-jung runs into Kang-hwa, who’s pacing nervously outside and ranting to himself about whether he should tell Yuri’s parents that she’s back from the dead, and how to break it to Yuri that he’s remarried.
He tells Hyun-jung that the person Geun-sang saw wasn’t a doppelganger, but Yuri, having come back to life. She just curses at him, understandably assuming that he and Geun-sang are messing with her.
Later, Min-jung asks Kang-hwa about the “friend” who picked up Seo-woo from school, and he’s so distracted that he doesn’t even hear her. She apologizes for losing Seo-woo today, but Kang-hwa stammers that it’s his fault for not telling Min-jung his friend would pick her up. Min-jung asks again who the friend is, and Kang-hwa just says vaguely that he’ll introduce them later.
In the middle of the night, Kang-hwa’s phone suddenly sounds several alerts that his credit card is being used. HAHA, Yuri has ordered just about every kind of food she can have delivered — jjajangmyun, pizza, fried chicken, and jokbal — and she also raids the hotel fridge for beer. She pigs out with abandon while watching dramas on TV, indulging herself after years of watching Kang-hwa and Min-jung eating delicious food while watching the boring news (Yuri: (to Kang-hwa) “You used to be addicted to dramas!”).
While Yuri eventually collapses into a well-earned food coma, the ghosts at the columbarium watch restaurant commercials on TV and complain that their families bring the exact same foods every year on their memorial days, hee. They realize that Yuri hasn’t returned in a while, and the family who spotted her yesterday pretend that they haven’t seen her, either.
The next morning, Geun-sang and Kang-hwa get yelled at by Dr. Jang for hiding Kang-hwa’s so-called operating room claustrophobia. He tells them that the disciplinary committee is holding a meeting and that he’ll try to get Kang-hwa off with a warning. He doesn’t seem very hopeful, especially when Kang-hwa runs off as soon as he figures out that he won’t be allowed to see patients today.
Geun-sang chases him down and demands to know why he’s acting so weird, but when Kang-hwa says that Yuri is alive again, he’s not surprised that Geun-sang doesn’t believe him.
When Yuri wakes up, she realizes that she’s already burned through two of her allotted days. She decides that it’s time to get serious and do something about the ghosts harassing Seo-woo.
The ghost family are back at the hotel where Pil-seung, their surviving son, spent the night with a woman. While they wait for him to come downstairs they discuss how to find Yuri again, and their plan not to tell the other ghosts that she’s human again. They know the others will bombard Yuri asking for favors, and she won’t have time to help the family.
They swarm around Pil-seung as soon as he enters the lobby (and LOL, his “big” sister teases him about his overnight activities), but of course he can’t see or hear them. He gets a pained expression on his face and heads to the restroom with his entire family following him.
Naturally it’s the same hotel where Yuri spent the night, and when she gets to the lobby, there are ghosts everywhere. The family spot her and beg her to help Pil-seung, but Yuri pretends not to see them until the mother drops to the floor wailing. She can’t ignore a mother’s sorrow, so she ducks into the men’s room where Pil-seung is tragically stranded without any toilet paper. LOL.
Poor Pil-seung is trying to decide between re-purposing the used tissue in the trash can or sacrificing a sock, when the heavens open up, the angels sing, and a full roll of paper flies into his stall. Along with this blessing from the spirits comes a voice bellowing, “Wipe thoroughly! Clean it well!”
Kang-hwa goes from the hospital straight to the hotel, but Yuri is no longer in her room. He asks at the front desk, but the concierge says that she turned in her room key and left.
Now that Yuri has admitted she can see the family, she’s stuck with them. They follow her to the park, where she explains that she’s serving her 49-day judgment period in a living body as punishment for cursing out the deity. She can stay if she finds her rightful place in that time, but unfortunately, her husband has remarried.
The family offers to keep her secret from the other ghosts. Yuri exclaims that if the others find out she’s alive, they’ll waste all of her time asking her to do them favors. Unfortunately, she says this loudly enough that every ghost in the park hears her, and soon she’s surrounded by spirits demanding that she pass on messages to their loved ones.
The columbarium ghosts follow the shaman Midongdaek to a temple and watch her perform a ceremony, hoping for some food when she’s finished. While they wait, one ghost asks newcomer Sang-bong if he’s really gay like the post-suicide rumors claim (ha, his face). Midongdaek stops in the middle of her chanting and threatens to send them all to the next plane of existence if they don’t shut it.
Overwhelmed, Yuri makes a run for it. The ghosts follow her out of the park, down the street, and through a market. Yuri manages to hide and lose them, but as soon as she pokes her head out, she sees her mother and hides again. She follows Mom in secret, noticing that her knees are bothering her, and a few minutes later Kang-hwa’s phone pings that his card was used to buy vitamin supplements.
Kang-hwa figures out that the supplements are for Yuri’s mom. He calls her sister and tells her to give everyone some calming medicine because they’re about to get a shock, and says he’s on his way. Her parents refuse the medicine and figure out that Yeon-ji was talking to Kang-hwa, and Mom threatens to kill her if he shows up at the house.
When he arrives, Yeon-ji meets him at the gate and tells him that nobody has come over. He sees a bag with the vitamin supplements by the gate and gives it to Yeon-ji, muttering that Yuri must have already stopped by. He leaves without telling Yeon-ji who he was expecting.
Yuri heads to the daycare, and the first “person” she sees is the little ghost boy. He tentatively approaches when he realizes she can see him, and she tells him gently that if he stays, he might hurt someone. She offers to take him somewhere else to play, but the daycare worker comes out to confront Yuri.
She somehow blames Yuri for her own failure to check her credentials before letting her take Seo-woo yesterday, and while they’re talking, the ghost boy scurries back inside. Yuri sees a notice on the door that the daycare center is hiring a kitchen assistant and feigns interest in the job as a way to get inside, and of course the daycare worker lets her in without asking for ID again.
Yuri has to wait to speak to the director, because she’s busy with the nosy moms, who complain about how strange Seo-woo has been acting lately. Yuri overhears them bad-mouthing Min-jung for not listening to their concerns, but she’s distracted by Seo-woo, who silently slips a hand into hers and gives her the sweetest smile (I’m convinced this is the most adorable child on the planet).
Yuri leads Seo-woo away so she can’t hear the moms, who have moved on to unfounded speculation that Min-jung is a gold-digger. In fact, Min-jung has a meeting with her lawyer, who tells her that she doesn’t have sufficient grounds to divorce Kang-hwa. She goes to the hospital, where she hears from Nurse Jung that Kang-hwa is being evaluated by the disciplinary committee and may even be fired.
Meanwhile, Kang-hwa looks for Yuri at the daycare, and the sight of Yuri and Seo-woo playing together makes him tear up again. He decides to leave them alone and walks away, but he gets a text from Min-jung saying that she’s picking up Seo-woo, and it snaps him out of his funk.
He calls Min-jung and says he’ll get Seo-woo, but she says she’s almost at the daycare. Kang-hwa recalls that Min-jung once found a picture of Yuri, so she knows what his former wife looks like. Panicking, he turns and runs back to the daycare in the hopes of stopping Min-jung from seeing Yuri.
Unfortunately, Min-jung gets there first, and Seo-woo pulls out of Yuri’s arms to go to the woman she believes is her mother. Yuri follows Seo-woo, and she locks eyes with Min-jung, who seems to recognize her. A breathless Kang-hwa bursts in, but it’s too late.
Every year on Yuri’s birthday, Hyun-jung puts out a plate of her favorite fried foods and a mug of beer. She tells Geun-sang that she can’t give Yuri birthday gifts, but she can make sure she’s not lonely. She doesn’t know that Yuri is there with her, smiling at her friend sadly.
Yuri’s mother keeps her room exactly as her daughter left it, even keeping the clock full of fresh batteries and changing over the calender. Sometimes she goes in to cry alone over her loss, though she’s not alone, because Yuri is there to hug her and tell her mother that she loves her.
Yuri narrates: “Perhaps the most beautiful thing we can feel in our lives is telling someone we love that we love them, and thanking someone whom we’re grateful for.” Now that she’s alive, she can’t visit her mother or her friend, but she can finally give something to them after years of taking. She leaves vitamin supplements on her mother’s porch and food for Hyun-jung outside the restaurant, and she smiles as she watches them from afar.
With the backstory established and Yuri’s return to the living confirmed, this episode seemed to settle a bit more into the humorous logistical issues of returning from the dead. I love the way the show doesn’t try to pretend that Yuri’s situation isn’t darkly hilarious on several levels, because it really is. I could see why someone who hasn’t been allowed to participate in life for four years would crave fried chicken and beer, or stay up all night catching up on dramas, because that’s definitely something I could see myself doing. I can also foresee a lot of shenanigans now that the ghosts know Yuri is alive, and they’re going to work her to the bone getting her to settle their unfinished business.
That’s not to say that there’s not a lot of bittersweet pain for Yuri to go through, especially since the man she loves, and who obviously still loves her, is married to another woman. And Yuri has been gone for years — it’s not like she could just step back into her life even if Kang-hwa was still single. There are four years of loss, grief, trauma, and absence between them, and it’s impossible for them to just pick up where they left off. I agree with what @abirdword said about Yuri’s grief being tempered, because she’s been there the entire time, watching Kang-hwa grieve, pick himself up, and move on (at least to a point).
Yuri has had time to accept Kang-hwa’s new family and the fact that another woman is raising her daughter, so it’s natural that her first concern (and really, the reason she’s back in the first place) is worry for her child’s well-being. But Kang-hwa is completely thrown for a loop by Yuri’s reappearance, for all the reasons that Yuri isn’t. He’s had one day to process the fact that his dead wife is back now, with no warning, no precedent, and no idea where to go from here. His helpless flailing makes complete sense, because there’s absolutely no protocol for the situation he’s found himself in.
One thing I feel pretty sure about is that the solution to Yuri’s predicament isn’t just for her to step back into her role as Kang-hwa’s wife and Seo-woo’s mother. First of all, there’s Min-jung to consider, and we still don’t know much about her other, than that she was willing to take on a grieving man and his motherless child but is now contemplating divorce. Second, Yuri and Kang-hwa need to think about what’s best for Seo-woo, who has only known one mother for her whole life and is old enough to be strongly affected if Min-jung were to be suddenly replaced. And third, there’s the obvious fact that to the rest of the world, Yuri is dead. She can’t just pop back into existence and pick up where she left off.
I find it so sad that in many ways, Yuri is more separated from her loved ones now, than she was when she was dead. While dead, she couldn’t touch them or talk to them, but she could be there with them as much as she wanted. Now that she’s alive, she’s got to stay away from the people she’s most connected to (at least for the moment — I’m assuming they’ll find out about her return eventually). But it says a lot about the kind of person Yuri is that she sees this as a blessing, her chance to give back to those she hasn’t been able to give to for the past four years. She may not be able to see them in the way she’d like to right now, but she can give her mom supplements for her knees, and send food to her best friend, and play with her daughter. It makes me happy that Yuri is getting the chance to appreciate what’s important in life now that she knows how easily those things can be taken away.