Hi Bye, Mama! : Episode 9
This episode is all about the mamas and their strong love for their kids. It’s what the entire show has been about, really, and it continues to be the most heartwarming aspect. That’s not to say the other family and friends should be forgotten — time and time again, they only prove that this is their story just as much as it is Yuri’s.
EPISODE 9: “Goodbye and Hello to Your Light”
In 2013, Yuri waits for Kang-hwa at the bus stop, having heard from Hyun-jung that he lost a patient. As expected, he’s looking down, but he smiles as soon as he sees Yuri ready to hug him. As they walk home together, a little light bulb shines above his head.
Yuri narrates, “There was a time when I could light him up when things were dark for him. So he wouldn’t wander around in the darkness for long. So he wouldn’t be in despair.” After Yuri dies, she knows that she can’t be that light for Kang-hwa anymore; it has to be someone else. Realizing that, it’s Yuri who’s in despair.
Kang-hwa wanders over to a pojangmacha, ghost Yuri following him. He silently drinks at his table until Min-jung appears and sits across from him. She insists on keeping him company, ordering two bowls of noodles for herself (my kinda girl). He smiles while she eats, and to Yuri’s relief, the light bulb above his head shines again.
In the present, Yuri’s dad sits in his bedroom, trying to bring himself to delete his pictures with Seo-woo. He almost does, remembering his wife’s emotional breakdown, but can’t bring himself to. Yeon-ji goes into Yuri’s room and looks at Yuri’s smiling picture, her own smile bringing on tears.
Meanwhile, Mom is out riding her bike when she notices two women embracing on the ground. She gets a glimpse of the woman crying and is so shocked she falls off her bike. She gets back up to take a better look, and Yuri turns towards her, her tear-filled eyes now wide. Mom falls to the ground again.
The next thing we know, Mom is taken to the hospital and is dreaming of a conversation she had with a Buddhist monk. The monk had told her that it was time to let her daughter go, that death was a part of life, but she couldn’t accept that — she just wanted to see her daughter one last time.
When Kang-hwa gets the call about Yuri’s mom, he tells Min-jung that there’s an emergency at the hospital and that she should go ahead to sleep. He hurries over to the hospital and finds Yuri, Hyun-jung, and Geun-sang watching over Mom. He looks Mom over, giving the other doctors orders, which is when her eyes flutter open. He takes her hand, and she weakly tells him that she’s okay. She starts to say that she thought she saw someone…
Only to stop when Yuri steps forward. Mom bolts up in bed, looking at Yuri like she still can’t believe it. But then Yuri bursts into tears and says, “Mom,” making Mom cry out, “It is you!” She pulls Yuri into a hug, and they hold onto each other for dear life as they sob their hearts out. Right then, Dad and Yeon-ji rush into the ER and omg, this is happening so fast. Yeon-ji sees Yuri and immediately starts crying, while Dad just falls to the floor in total shock.
Hyun-jung drives herself and Geun-sang home but has to pull over because she’s crying so hard. Geun-sang tries to console her, saying that Yuri is on her way to getting her life back. But Hyun-jung cries that even though Kang-hwa and Seo-woo were Yuri’s before they were ever Min-jung’s, Yuri doesn’t want her life back. Geun-sang asks what she means, but she can’t say it, so he just hugs her and tells her it’s okay.
Yuri goes home with her parents and lies in bed with Mom all night. She keeps saying, “Mom,” and smiling every time her mom responds. She remembers back when she was a ghost and when she would lie in bed with Mom, calling out to her and knowing she couldn’t hear her. Yeon-ji and Dad pop in every now and then to make sure Yuri is still there, until they can’t take it anymore and join in on the cuddles. Ah, my heart.
The next day, at the columbarium, the ghosts see a story about Sang-bong in the news, about investigators questioning his suicide. The ghosts are confused after seeing an interview with Geun-sang, where he says that he didn’t find any signs of depression.
Yuri goes into her old bedroom, sad to see that they kept it the way it was. She’s also surprised to see a table full of baby stuff, when Mom walks in. Flustered, Yuri asks if Mom can get her some gosari (fernbrake), and Mom happily heads out to the store.
Yuri then heads out for work, noticing a bag of medicine at the gate. Reading that the medicine was prescribed by Kang-hwa, she remembers when he’d first told her that he wanted to be a heart surgeon. “Is it because of my mom?” she’d asked.
Kang-hwa cutely made the V sign and replied, “I’ll take care of her for the rest of her life. There’s nothing else I want to do.” He was true to his word, even after Yuri’s death, making sure to check up on Mom in secret. Yuri had seen it all as a ghost, and she smiles now just thinking about it.
Speaking of Kang-hwa, he’s in his car, about to go into work, when he opens the armrest compartment. Inside is an ornament for the rearview mirror — a family picture of him, Min-jung, and Seo-woo. He stares at the picture for a long while before finally closing the compartment.
Mom is scared when she arrives home and Yuri is gone, but Dad calms her down by showing her the note that Yuri left. Dad asks what they should do about Seo-woo, thinking Yuri would want to see her, unaware that Yuri is at the kindergarten seeing Seo-woo right now.
It’s Yuri’s first day of being Seo-woo’s pickup helper, so she’s especially excited. Before Min-jung leaves, Yuri gives her two canned coffees, knowing she loves them. Min-jung asks how she knows that, and she quickly lies that she just looks like a sweet tooth. At that, Min-jung smiles and heads out.
Min-jung runs into the neighborhood moms, saying a quick greeting and walking past. This, of course, irritates them, and they gossip (when they’re like six feet away) that the kitchen worker sure adores Seo-woo. Min-jung freezes when the moms mention that the worker even resembles Seo-woo.
Meanwhile, at the columbarium, Pan-seok urges his boss Sam-dong to come out of his urn, but he’s a no-show. Mi-ja joins him, tsking at the sight of Sam-dong’s altar, and asks why he’s still being nice to this guy. Pan-seok smiles and insists that despite what she’s seen, Sam-dong can be a good person.
In flashback, we see that if it weren’t for Sam-dong and the money he lent, Pan-seok’s daughter (Teacher Kim) wouldn’t have been able to get surgery when she was younger. “I was born a human,” Pan-seok tells Mi-ja, “but if I forget things I should be grateful for, I wouldn’t be human anymore.” Mi-ja figures that since the two men have gone through so much, they’ll move on together, and Pan-seok smiles in agreement.
While on break, Geun-sang notices that his Instagram is being bombarded with angry messages from Sang-bong fangirls. He and Kang-hwa discuss Yuri, about her reuniting with her parents and about her starting her helper job. Even now, Kang-hwa has no idea what to do about it, thinking he should just let things happen. As they return inside the hospital, we see that his family picture is now hanging from his rearview mirror.
Min-jung finds Hyun-jung at her restaurant, wanting to give her the extra canned coffee and to ask about her relationship with Yuri. When Min-jung leaves, Hyun-jung tries to call Yuri, but she won’t answer. Yuri is ignoring her, instead focusing on Seo-woo and spending quality time with her.
Yuri takes Seo-woo to get some street food, and she notices that Seo-woo can see the ghost standing next to the vendor. More than ever, she’s anxious to get back to the apartment to get rid of the lingering ghost and to, hopefully, bring Seo-woo some normalcy again.
However, before they can go home, Yuri gets multiple texts from Min-jung telling her that Seo-woo has extracurricular activities such as tutoring and music lessons. At the end of the day, after an art lesson, Seo-woo comes out with a gift for Yuri — an egg decorated with a drawing of her.
Back at the columbarium, Pan-seok finally gets Sam-dong out of his urn and suggests they leave together. But Sam-dong doesn’t believe he’s ready, remembering a time when he had to watch his sons fighting over money. He admits that he bullied Pan-seok because he was jealous of his loving family.
Sam-dong sighs, saying that his life was worthless and that all he left behind was a family that were sure to grow up as terrible people. Pan-seok tells him that that’s not true, reminding him that he saved his daughter. Sam-dong looks up at him, surprised by his sentiment.
Yuri walks Seo-woo home, taken aback when Seo-woo runs up to Min-jung saying, “Mommy!” and giving her another decorated egg. Yuri insists on seeing them all the way inside, but Min-jung doesn’t think that’s necessary. When she sees how disappointed Yuri looks, though, she ends up inviting her in.
Kang-hwa purposely arrives home late, hoping Yuri is gone by then, but he’s flustered to find that she’s still there. Min-jung introduces Yuri as the helper, and Kang-hwa stutters, “Yes, I know her. I know her very well — uh, I mean, I just know her.” Haha.
Kang-hwa hides out in his office, trying to relax and failing miserably, while Min-jung gives Yuri a tour of the apartment. When Min-jung isn’t looking, Yuri looks around for the ghost, but she misses any chance to catch it.
Eventually, Yuri has to leave, so she asks if she can babysit Seo-woo at home the next day. Min-jung cocks her head, noting that it seems like Yuri adores Seo-woo more than her. At that, Yuri apologizes, but Min-jung says that she’s actually grateful.
Inside, Kang-hwa is so hungry that he immediately goes for the hard boiled eggs left on the kitchen table (unaware that they’re Seo-woo’s gifts, eek!). Meanwhile, Geun-sang pulls up to his house and nearly jumps out of his skin when the car is pelted by eggs. It’s the Sang-bong fangirls, calling Geun-sang a murderer for failing to prevent Sang-bong’s suicide. Oy…
Back at Kang-hwa’s place, he’s finishing off the eggs, wondering why they taste so good. Unbeknownst to him, Min-jung and Seo-woo are coming up the elevator, Yuri in tow, having forgotten her gift. But it’s too late — by the time they reach the apartment, Kang-hwa’s already eaten it. Without thinking, Yuri cries out, “Hey!” (in informal speech), surprising Min-jung.
We rewind just a bit, back to when Min-jung invited Yuri into the apartment. Yuri is ecstatic, making Seo-woo ecstatic, and perhaps to her own surprise, making Min-jung a little giddy as well. As they’re walking back, Seo-woo grabs hold of both Min-jung and Yuri’s hands. They smile down at their daughter, the light bulbs above their heads shining brightly.
In unison, the two women narrate, “Hi, my light.”
That was… a very weird ending. I mean, I liked it — I was cracking up at Kang-hwa’s face and how dramatic it all seemed — but it was such a departure from all the bittersweet endings we’ve had before. I really just feel bad for little Seo-woo; she worked hard on those eggs! At this point, we know that Seo-woo views and loves Min-jung as her mother, but she clearly has enough room in her heart for Yuri. Anytime she shows more affection towards one mom, it still hurts the other to some degree. I could see it in Yuri’s eyes when Seo-woo gave the egg (the more colorful egg) to Min-jung. The moms, as well as Hyun-jung, have spent all this time wondering who’s really the best maternal figure in this family, and they’re well on their way to realizing that there doesn’t have to be just one who’s the best. The epilogue was the perfect picture of a perfectly whole family (which would’ve been more perfect if Kang-hwa were there).
Of course, in Yuri’s mom’s eyes, it seems impossible for both women to be part of a whole family. Once the stepmother is in, the birth mother and her side of the family are out. I wish that Mom wouldn’t look at it that way, that she would accept Kang-hwa and Seo-woo regardless, but it is part of the culture. Hopefully, now that she has more time with Yuri, Mom can find it in her heart to fight against social norms and fight for her place in the family. I will say that, as much as I loved Yuri and Mom’s reunion, I didn’t love the fact that their storyline was put on hold halfway through the episode. I’d been waiting so long for them to be together, so I just wanted an extra scene or two thrown in, maybe near the end to tie it all together. Can’t complain too much, though, since that night of family cuddles was rather glorious. I look forward to seeing more of that in the coming episodes. You got that, Show? More cuddling!
Yuri has been extremely carefree lately, soaking up every moment with her daughter, and it’s starting to confuse me on time. I don’t know how much time she has left to live, but it can’t be all that much. And within this short amount of time, she still has to grant all her ghost friends their wishes, get rid of the ghost in Kang-hwa’s apartment, and somehow leave her family and friends with more peace than they had before. Now that her entire family knows that she’s back, I think it’s time she let them in on her secret. Even if there’s nothing she can do, even if she really has to leave them again, she could still give them a good few days of love before a proper goodbye. I really don’t think her loved ones could handle it if she came into their lives and disappeared again without any explanation. Despite what she thinks, I don’t think they’d be at all freaked out knowing she spent the last five years as a ghost watching over them.
Most of all, it’s important that Kang-hwa be looped into all of this. He’s a good guy, but he needs to be more aware of what’s going on around him and start taking action. He needs to communicate with Yuri and, please please sit down to figure their stuff out. He needs to communicate with Min-jung, who he obviously loves, before he loses her too. Fortunately, the two women are gradually forming an unusual but beautiful friendship, so this inevitable family meeting might bring out more good than bad. Something has to happen, for his sanity’s sake.