Hi Bye, Mama! : Episode 4
Opportunities keep arising for our heroine in her post-ghost life and it’s not long before she has a job, a way to see her kid everyday, and even access to her social media. But while Yuri’s learning the ropes of her new arrangement, her former husband can’t help but wonder what her purpose is back here on earth, and why she seems to be completely avoiding him.
EPISODE 4: “There’s Nothing That Won’t Happen to Me”
It’s December 23, 2015, and Yuri and Kang-hwa bustle around their home as they get ready for work. Yuri is dressed in the same maternity dress we’ve always seen her in, and Kang-hwa complains that Yuri shouldn’t be running errands for work since she’s pregnant. In the background, the news reports a deadly fire that broke out in a building, resulting in multiple deaths and injuries. It doesn’t seem to register with the couple, who cutely say goodbye to one another for the day.
Yuri narrates: “Nobody is born with the knowledge of their final day in the world. Countless deaths pass by, but if it isn’t happening to me, it’s considered someone else’s heartbreak.”
Yuri’s on the phone with her mother as she walks down the sidewalk, and hangs up just as she reaches the crosswalk. A guy doesn’t heed the crosswalk signal and darts into traffic to cross. Yuri mutters to her baby bump not to watch, but then it happens: a car swerves to avoid the man, and loses control before crashing into Yuri.
Yuri is barely conscious in the operating room, but she manages to watch the doctors deliver her baby, tears spilling out of her eyes.
Back in the present, Kang-hwa arrives at Seo-woo’s daycare just as Min-jung and Yuri lock eyes with one another. He’s saved an explanation when a daycare worker calls out to Yuri, but calls her Do-yeon, the name Yuri used on the application. Yuri takes the moment to escape, but first presses the toy Seo-woo left behind into Min-jung’s hands.
Kang-hwa and Min-jung hold Seo-woo’s hands while they walk home, and Min-jung asks if Kang-hwa did something wrong. There’s panic in his eyes, until she clarifies that she means the disciplinary action the hospital took against him. Kang-hwa’s response seems unconcerned, but his eyes widen again when Min-jung points out that the woman at the daycare looks a lot like Yuri. Kang-hwa starts as if he’s almost going to tell Min-jung everything, but then he backs off and instead asks if she had an appointment somewhere, looking at her full bag. Now it’s Min-jung’s turn to avoid the truth, and she blows it off as a small errand.
Back at the daycare, Yuri’s replaying her encounter with Min-jung in her mind. It seems to work in her favor though, as the daycare director decides to hire her because she looks like she’ll die if she doesn’t offer her the job, haha.
Yuri’s excited to be able to see Seo-woo every day and chase away the lingering ghosts, but her grin falls when she sees Kang-hwa waiting nervously for her at the hotel, a bag in hand.
Flashback time: Yuri and Kang-hwa are watching their dramas together, and Kang-hwa boos the male lead for remarrying so soon after his wife’s death. Yuri challenges Kang-hwa, and asks why he wouldn’t marry again if she died. He snuggles in and swears that he would just follow her into death (the dramatic irony here is so painful). Yuri reminds him that someone would need to take care of their baby, and Kang-hwa retracts his claim and swears that he’d raise their baby on his own. Yuri scoffs and asks if he’s trying to impress her. God, this hurts.
The flashback belongs to Kang-hwa, and in the present, this memory is clearly hurting him too. He asks Yuri how she found out about his remarriage, and she says she just did. He asks why she isn’t asking why he did it, but when she shoots that exact question at him, he fumbles and says that it just happened.
Yuri tells him that the correct answer should be that he had to move on with his life. Yuri then goes on, showing that she knows how he met Min-jung as classmates. Kang-hwa apologizes, and Yuri responds that he shouldn’t be since he didn’t do anything wrong, and that she’s not here to ruin his life.
Kang-hwa assumes that means Yuri knows what she is here for and asks excitedly if she remembers how she came back to life. Yuri claims that she doesn’t but that she suspects that she’s here to do something. She doesn’t explain what, and instead asks about the bag in Kang-hwa’s hands, which holds a brand new phone for her.
At Yuri’s parents’ house, Mom wears a small smile as she looks at her own phone. The smile drops when Yeon-ji returns with the bag of supplements and no news about who left it. Mom still suspects Kang-hwa, but Yeon-ji says it’s definitely not him. Mom shoos Yeon-ji out and returns to her phone, where she scrolls through Min-jung’s photo stream of photos of Seo-woo.
Dad drags Yeon-ji to another room to ask for help: it seems he’s an avid fan of Min-jung’s photos as well, but Min-jung hasn’t updated her account for three months now. He asks Yeon-ji if she can ask Min-jung to update again, but Yeon-ji makes it clear that’s not happening. Dad expresses his frustration with not being able to see Seo-woo at all.
Yeon-ji suggests they scope Geun-sang’s account, since his kid goes to the same daycare. Neither expects the endless feed of OOTD posts, all with Geun-sang’s head cropped out. Heehee.
Geun-kang must sense them cursing him, because he picks at his ear as he helps Hyun-jung out at the bar. But it’s Kang-hwa’s confession that Yuri has come back to life that’s haunting him, and Hyun-jung is also grappling with the mysterious food delivery, especially because no one else really knows it’s one of her favorite places for eel. Geun-kang suggests a ghost culprit, and gets hit for it.
A woman at the bar calls for another beer, and Geun-sang quietly asks Hyun-jung why the woman keeps coming back when it’s so obvious that she dislikes her. Hyun-jung says it must be the food. The woman speaks up when she notes that Hyun-jung’s son is at the bar, and suggests that it’s a bad place for a developing child to be spending their time.
Hyun-jung doesn’t hesitate to tell the woman to mind her own business. She says that she’ll take care of her own kid, and the woman should do the same for hers. Later when they’re closing up, Geun-kang asks if Hyun-jung’s response was intended for him just as much as the nosy customer.
Geun-kang says that he recalls what his own mother did to her when Yuri died. In flashback, Geun-kang’s mother holds Hyun-jung back from attending Yuri’s funeral. Mom scolds that it will be bad luck to attend a funeral after just giving birth. Geun-kang comes to Hyun-jung’s defense, saying that Yuri was like Hyun-jung’s sister, and eventually Hyun-jung breaks away and heads to the funeral. But it’s not an easy thing, and she stops to cry into her sleeve.
Back in the present, Hyun-jung says that she understands how his mother felt, and she knows her own mother would have had the same reluctance. Geun-sang wants to give his wife a kiss, surprised by her understanding, and Hyun-jung returns to her old feisty self and bats him away.
In her hotel room, Yuri marvels at all the new updates to her phone. She logs right into her social media, where she discovers that Hyun-jung has been leaving her messages all this time. As she scrolls through though, her finger accidentally slips over the “like” button (this is a nightmare even when you’re not supposed to be dead!)
And sure enough, Hyun-jung’s phone buzzes with a notification that Yuri has liked her message. Hyun-jung drops her phone in surprise, while Yuri rolls around in her room begging for the chance to cancel the interaction.
Kang-hwa is having his own meltdown locked in his bathroom. He considers telling Min-jung what’s going on, but then immediately rejects that idea. He instead wishes that he had gotten to tell Yuri the truth about his new marriage himself.
And what have the ghosts been up to all this time? Tough guy ghost Geum-jae wonders which girl has left a love note on his spot in the columbarium, but a girl moves the note on to Sang-bong’s spot. The baseball players fanclub has amassed to mourn him, and Geum-jae is not impressed. He tries to intimidate Sang-bong, but Sang-bong’s not at all interested, as editor ghost Hye-Jin watches.
Yuri comes to visit Midongdaek, but the other ghosts are ahead of her in line for their afterlife counseling. Granny ghost Mrs. Jung wants to stay to see her daughter survive cancer, and of course Midongdaek approves her continued lingering.
Back in the columbarium, editor ghost Hye-jin tells Sang-bong Geum-jae’s backstory. The guy was a notoriously cruel loan shark, who died one day when steel bars fell on him. All of his debitors were instantly released of their debts.
So of course during Geum-jae’s counseling session, he asks Midongdaek to help his mom find his ledger so that she can go collect his money. Geum-jae throws a tantrum when Midongdaek refuses to help him further punish the debtors, but even he passes counseling and gets to remain on earth.
It’s only after the big family of ghosts who refuse to move on all get their passes that Yuri finally manages to sneak in. Yuri’s looking for a talisman to banish the little boy ghost at the daycare. Midongdaek promptly prints off a talisman, haha, and swears that it works just the same as a handwritten one. Though Midongdaek isn’t sure that it will work on young ghosts.
Midongdaek congratulates Yuri on her plan to free her daughter of her ghost visions, attesting that it is a lonely life. She then wonders what Yuri’s plans are for getting her husband back, and Yuri won’t even consider the topic. She instead says that her plan is to leave for the afterlife as soon as she’s banished all the ghosts from her daughter.
Meanwhile, Min-jung and Seo-woo exist a psychological evaluation clinic. Min-jung asks Seo-woo to keep the visit a secret, and Seo-woo nods solemnly and then offers Min-jung a gummy bear. Min-jung refuses, saying Seo-woo knows she doesn’t like gummies.
Hyun-jung happens to be passing by and smiles big for Seo-woo. Seo-woo offers her a gummy, and she pretends to eat it happily. Hyun-jung tries to give Min-jung a greeting as well, but Min-jung moves along coldly. Hyun-jung takes notice, however, of the clinic they’ve just left.
Geun-sang continues to try to counsel Kang-hwa, and Kang-hwa continues to resist seeking treatment. But now he’s completely preoccupied with Yuri’s return. He asks his friend what he would do if Hyun-jung returned to life after dying, but Geun-sang had already remarried, and Geun-sang says that he’d surely be dead (so true).
Geun-sang can’t handle the question, so Kang-hwa takes it to the lunch table and asks the nurses. Kang-hwa is surprised to hear them say that they could get over their husband remarrying, but they would miss their child. They say that many young mothers have a phobia of dying, mostly because they don’t know what would happen to their children.
Yuri has officially started her job at the daycare, and it involves zero contact with the kids and a lot of vegetable chopping. She struggles through the work until there’s finally a break, and she wanders out to find the ghost boy. In the hall she stops at a photo board with all of the kids’ families, and lingers on the photo of Kang-hwa, Min-jung, and Seo-woo smiling together.
She thinks back to the night before, when Kang-hwa questioned her motivation for working at the daycare. She promises not to tell anyone who she really is, but Kang-hwa tells her that it’s not necessary and that he’ll just let her see Seo-woo.
It’s a good thing to say, but Kang-hwa isn’t aware of the ghostly vision Seo-woo currently suffers, so Yuri returns to her search. She spots the ghost boy running for the kitchen and follows him to his hiding spot in the fridge. She brandishes the talisman at him, but nothing happens. Yuri tries throwing beans next to ward off spirits, but it just elicits giggles from the boy. Her kitchen coworker rouses from her break and is surprised to find Yuri mindlessly throwing beans into the fridge and muttering to herself.
At a temple, someone visits the little ghost boy remains, the name Hyuk-jin’s on the urn. Yuri’s mother is there as well, and Midongdaek leads a service. A concerned woman asks about a mourner who is has been frequenting the temple, and Midongdaek says that we have words for widows and orphans, but nothing for a parent who loses a child, because it is an indescribable state.
Yuri’s mother leads a support group for grieving mothers there outside the temple. She tries to comfort them, as she shares that she too felt lost both with people who understood her pain and those who didn’t even know about her loss. She says they each have to find their own way of coping, and that by visiting the temple, she’s come to see how wrong it was to assume that nothing tragic would ever happen to her.
Back at the daycare, lunchtime is hectic. But Yuri’s just glad to finally see Seo-woo, and totally gives her extra helpings of food. Her coworker leans over to share that she’s glad to see Seo-woo settled in, and that there was one particular mother who was really pushing to remove Seo-woo from the class, supposedly for the sake of the other kids.
After lunch the kids play a game where they gather up party hats on the floor. Poor ghost Hyuk-jin wants to play, but he can’t pick up anything in the real world. Seo-woo defies the daycare workers’ instructions and holds a hat out for Hyuk-jin, and then calls out the dead boy’s name as she chases after him. The workers exchange worried looks.
Min-jung sits at home with the results of Seo-woo’s evaluation, and things don’t look good. The report shows social skills, cognitive abilities, and reading comprehension all underdeveloped.
At the daycare, the workers wonder if they should tell someone about Seo-woo and her preoccupation with Hyuk-jin. Meanwhile, Yuri notices something else on the family photo board–Hyuk-jin and his family, and she realizes he might not even know he’s a ghost.
As afternoon arrives, the pandemonium of the daycare begins to wind down as parents arrive to pick up their kids. But the video doorbell never reveals Hyuk-jin’s mom, and the ghost grows more sullen as his playmates dwindle. Yuri bends down to smile at Hyuk-jin, who just wants to see his mom.
At Midongdaek’s place, her son yells at her to stay away from him and his family. He says that he can’t let his five year old son meet his grandmother while she’s a shaman who attracts ghosts. Yuri arrives just in time to scold the man for speaking to his mother that way, and she warns him that while he might look down on ghosts now, he could be one himself at any time.
Yuri leaves Midongdaek’s with new advice regarding Hyuk-jin. Midongdaek says that as soon as a baby ghost gets what they want, they’ll automatically ascend. Armed with this new knowledge, Yuri asks the director of the daycare if they can return the family photo to Hyuk-jin’s parents.
Yuri’s impatient, but Hyuk-jin’s mom finally arrives, and it’s one of the women from Yuri’s mother’s support group. The woman pauses at the front gate, overcome with anguish, but eventually rings the doorbell.
Hyuk-jin’s face lights up when he finally sees his mother at the door, and he races for her. But when Hyuk-jin’s mom looks down, it’s Seo-woo who stands in front of her. Seo-woo holds out the toy truck she’s been playing with, and the underside reveals that this was Hyuk-jin’s toy. Hyuk-jin’s mom can’t help but ask Seo-woo, “Is there someone there?” And though she doesn’t see it, Hyuk-jin gives his mother a hug.
Yuri watches as Hyuk-jin trots after his mother, and from the stairs she overhears from the daycare staff that it was Hyuk-jin’s mom who had been the one insisting that Seo-woo be removed from the classroom.
On her way to the daycare, Min-jung passes Hyuk-jin’s mom. The woman calls out to Min-jung, and apologizes to her for her previous behavior, though Min-jung doesn’t understand the change of heart.
At the restaurant, Geun-sang finally pulls up the CCTV to check for his wife’s supposed thieves. Meanwhile, Yuri leaves the daycare, but she runs into someone who stops her in her tracks. In front of her stands Hyun-jung, who covers her face in shock. At the restaurant, Geun-sang’s staring agape in the same pose as he watches Yuri appear on the CCTV footage. Flashes of their friendship fly by, as Hyun-jung stares in shock at her friend.
In 2015, Kang-hwa and Yuri visit their friends in the hospital after Hyun-jung gave birth. Everyone teases Geun-sang for being a drama queen, but he says he’s just overcome by his new status as dad and couldn’t stop crying when he first saw his son. Geun-sang congratulates Hyun-jung for doing a great job “at her age,” and that wins him a kick to his manhood, ha.
As they leave, Kang-hwa and Yuri tease each other and make a bet over who will cry first at the sight of their child. And then that day arrives, and Kang-hwa stands alone as he sees his daughter for the first time through the hospital nursery glass. His eyes are red, but he doesn’t cry a single tear. He retreats in his funeral attire, and ultimately wins their last bet.
I’m telling you, it’s all about the prologues and epilogues here. It’s heartbreaking enough to see Kang-hwa stand before his newborn drained and emotionless, but to also witness the only moment in life when Yuri got to see her daughter born, and the tears she was able to shed for the both of them before she died… Yeah. I cried a lot. And this is only the second week.
More and more, Yuri’s 49 days feels less a test for Yuri and more an intervention to get Seo-woo on the right path. While the other mothers’ interest in Seo-woo is clearly selfishness disguised as performative concern, the evaluation results show that Seo-woo is falling behind her peers. While Yuri sees her ghostly presence as the cause for Seo-woo’s trouble, I’m interested in seeing how Min-jung takes responsibility for this new information, or how she possibly places responsibility at Kang-hwa’s feet as well.
Because while Kang-hwa rallied to keep both himself and Seo-woo alive in those first years, he’s also been distant, cold, and demanding. There’s a chill in Min-jung’s interactions with Seo-woo as well, like when she’s unwilling to even pretend to accept Seo-woo’s gummy offerings. The mystery remains as to whether this is how it’s always been, or if this is the final result of a slow decline.
Min-jung’s photo feed feels like a significant hint towards a happier time for the family. Up until three months ago, both Yuri’s mom and dad were both enjoying the regular photo updates of Seo-woo via her feed. Now, the feed has remained quiet for months, just as quiet as Min-jung has been. She doesn’t seem like a bad person, or like someone who was in it for the money. And that photo feed suggests that she may love Seo-woo very much. I wonder if she perhaps fell for Seo-woo, and then later had to wrangle with the fact that Kang-hwa was not willing to come around for either of them.
Hyun-jung made her parenting ethos very clear: take care of your own, and let others take care of theirs. When it comes to Seo-woo, it feels like the question might be, who is responsible when the parents aren’t stepping up to take care of their own? I’m hoping that Yuri’s here to show everyone how much Seo-woo needs them in her lives. Starting with her parents, but also those grandparents and family friends hiding at the edges just dying to love her.
Yuri’s found a kind way to send ghosts on their way, and may prove more effective than Midongdaek at the job. But little Hyuk-jin was easy to access. How does she plan to get into her old apartment to get rid of that apartment ghost they have lurking?
It’s interesting that right now Yuri doesn’t seem at all interested in trying to stay. She’s at least pretending to be satisfied with just undoing the harm she believes she’s caused. And that means doing her best to ignore poor Kang-hwa. It’s a total slap in the face for him, since he’s spent the last four years doing nothing but think of Yuri. To find that her concern is wholly somewhere else is unsettling. I suspect that he might be fearful right now that she’s here to punish him for moving on without her, but as Yuri continues to ignore him, I wonder if that fear will turn to frustration.
The nurses at Kang-hwa’s hospital make a powerful case to help him better understand why Yuri doesn’t seem that happy to see him. They say that they’d feel like a stranger to their husband if he had moved on, while still feeling vitally attached to a child.
But I still wonder if that is really the case. As more flashbacks flood in, we see that Yuri and Kang-hwa had one of those rare, passionate relationships. Yuri watched Kang-hwa suffer, and then also watched him move on. Just like Kang-hwa pushed down his feelings about the accident, I think Yuri may have compartmentalized her grief as she watched her true love move on without her. I like that Midongdaek is around to keep bringing the topic up, and I’m hoping it will eventually allow Yuri to get back to her own feelings, even if she doesn’t end up sticking around after her days are up.
Yuri has managed to keep her ghostly lingers a secret so far, but I’m betting it’s going to be a lot harder to keep secrets from Hyun-jung. Let’s all remember to hydrate for next week’s heartache and inevitable sobbing. And maybe by then Hyun-jung will convince Yuri to use Kang-hwa’s credit card to buy some new clothes.