Hi Bye, Mama! : Episode 12
Brooding in offices, brooding at the hospital, brooding at parks… It’s been a long road of brooding and guilt that’s plagued our sweet doctor. But the truth can move things forward, even if it means some overwhelming emotions are necessary. Too many things aren’t adding up, and it’s time for Kang-hwa to figure out the truth.
Meanwhile, the new exorcist in town has his eyes more than just Yuri and the lingering ghosts in the neighborhood. But even as new challenges arrive and pressure mounts from her friends, Yuri sticks to her plans to leave after her days are up.
EPISODE 12: “The Days I Was Forgotten”
It’s 2013, and Yuri and Kang-hwa are hunkered down to watch a drama. Yuri savors the spicy tteokbokki they picked up from their favorite place, but Kang-hwa cannot handle his spice. Yuri says it helps relieve stress, and then sighs that he’ll never know the pleasure of good spicy food.
Fast forward, and Min-jung is now the one who brings home spicy chicken feet for dinner. Kang-hwa hesitates a moment, all while ghost Yuri shouts around them that the food is too spicy for him, but he does his best to choke it down. Once Min-jung turns away to turn on the news, he grabs anything he can to dull the spice that’s clearly set his mouth aflame.
Fast forward a little more though, and now it’s Kang-hwa who excitedly shows up at home with some spicy chicken feet. Min-jung gives it a taste and a nod of approval, but Kang-hwa bites into it and doesn’t even find it spicy anymore.
Yuri’s narration begins: “Throughout my life, I believed that nothing around me would change.”
A quick montage shows us Yuri and Kang-hwa leaving their beloved tteokbokki place, but soon it is replaced with a crane game place. Yuri and Kang-hwa shake out their futon on their balcony, but soon there are new residents lingering there.
“However, even when I was being forgotten, the world kept on turning every day without fail and many things were changing.”
Back in the present, Kang-hwa gapes at Seo-woo as she declares the sticker she’s added to a family photo “Cha Yuri.” Kang-hwa pushes her to clarify, and Seo-woo definitely connects this Cha Yuri with the “pretty auntie” who she’s been spending time with.
So while Min-jung sleeps, Kang-hwa slips out to a park with the frame in hand to show Yuri. He tells her that Seo-woo knows her name, and Yuri knows why. “She was watching me,” Yuri says to herself, and folds over the frame in tears. Every moment that Yuri spent with her as a ghost, and also that moment when Seo-woo swore that she both knew her and didn’t, it all flashes before Yuri, while Kang-hwa does his best to patiently await an answer from her. He reaches out a hand to comfort her, but pulls back.
Yuri’s deflection that Seo-woo must have heard her name from Hyun-jung doesn’t satisfy Kang-hwa, and so he takes to his knee to ask Yuri to stop all the lying and just spend time with Seo-woo as her mom. As Kang-hwa sees it, they both gave up everything they had to make sure Seo-woo lived, so he doesn’t understand why she is hiding from her daughter now. But Yuri doesn’t offer an explanation, only refuses him. Yuri’s still in tears as she walks home alone, passersby turning to look.
Meanwhile, Geun-sang wanders over to the bar cash register to take a little something for himself, but Hyun-jung’s arrival stops his plot (someone put the register in the celery! haha) He assumes she looks so dejected because she lost her fight, but that isn’t it at all. It’s Min-jung’s confession of love for Kang-hwa that’s leaving her conflicted.
Yuri’s way is blocked by Guk-bong, the exorcist. Yuri feigns shock, and then moves on when she doesn’t know who he is or what he wants. Guk-bong uses his staff to pull Yuri to him, just like a ghost, and rasps that he’s here for Yuri’s daughter. Midongdaek arrives just in time to pull Yuri to her side with her bells and Yuri cowers behind her friend. Guk-bong reminds Midongdaek that Yuri is her job, not her friend, and warns Midongdaek that it won’t be long before other exorcists swarm the neighborhood to take care of things.
The two retreat to Midongdaek’s place, and Yuri asks why Guk-bong is after Seo-woo, and why her daughter still sees ghosts. Midongdaek isn’t sure, and instead she asks why Yuri doesn’t want to return to her place as wife and mother. Yuri finally gives her a straight answer: “Do you know what Seo-woo likes the most? Her mom.”
A flashback shows that while Seo-woo was attentive with Yuri while they played, she would even shove Yuri away when Min-jung arrived home. Yuri knows how much Min-jung, Seo-woo’s mom, means to her daughter, and she can’t take that away from her. Tears fill Midongdaek as she understands Yuri’s feelings fully, and she nods understanding.
Midongdaek warns Yuri to stay by Seo-woo, because Guk-bong will return to force Seo-woo to become an exorcist as well. Yuri nods, but then she asks about why Midongdaek was able to summon her with her bells when she’s human. Midongdaek says that she’s not exactly fully human or ghost, but rather something in between. As Yuri leaves, Midongdaek mutters to the heavens, “If you would do this, why did you send her in the first place?”
In the morning, Yuri’s mom makes a big breakfast–for Yuri. Each family member piles her rice high with food, and her soup bowl is extra plentiful when compared to everyone else.
Min-jung starts her morning by fastening a polaroid of her with her new besties to the fridge. They’d been so drunk, they hadn’t understood at first why the polaroid was blank, haha. Min-jung had also tested out calling her new friends by their first names, though she’d called Yuri by her made-up one, Do-yeon.
Kang-hwa is doing his usual brooding in his home office this morning, ruminating on the picture frame and Yuri’s reaction. He eventually goes to the kitchen for a quick breakfast, where he spots the polaroid and does his best not to react. Kang-hwa asks Min-jung if she likes having close friends like them, and she says yes.
There’s a chance of rain, and Min-jung pops ahead of Kang-hwa to give him an umbrella. He says that he already has one, like before, but she insists on him taking the one she gives him. “I said I’d stop being considerate,” she tells him with a smile. Just as he’s about to leave, Kang-hwa turns and suggests that they get a new pick-up helper.
Outside the apartment, Yuri is taking inventory of all of the protective items she’s purchased: an extendable baton, a whistle, and a little can of mace. Watch out, exorcist. Min-jung is surprised to find Yuri waiting to walk with her, but she smiles as Yuri grabs Seo-woo’s other hand and they head to the daycare.
On the walk, Min-jung points out that Yuri seems to adore Seo-woo exclusively instead of kids generally. Min-jung supposes it’s because Yuri is still unmarried but wants kids now, and Yuri really has no response to that. They’re interrupted when a couple pass with a dog, and Seo-woo darts behind Min-jung’s legs. Min-jung explains to Yuri that it’s been okay recently, but usually dogs bark and growl at Seo-woo. As Yuri thinks back, she knows why that is: the dogs would bark at Yuri at Seo-woo’s side, even as she tried to shush them.
On the topic of dogs, Yeon-ji and Dad are hanging around the house, and Yeon-ji has an epiphany about their dog: he somehow recognizes their family, even when he hasn’t met them yet. Yeon-ji points out that Popo barks at everyone, but never at Yuri, even though they added him to the family after Yuri’s death.
Meanwhile, Mom discovers that Yuri never got rid of Seo-woo’s baby clothes at the house, but merely tucked them away in the dresser drawer. As she moves to the kitchen, Dad jumps up to say that he thinks Yuri should get to see Seo-woo at least once. Mom finally shares that Yuri’s been seeing Seo-woo already, and Yeon-ji joins the conversation to say that they should take Seo-woo back to their family.
Mom will have none of that, and calls them all cruel. She says that she won’t tell a child that Yuri is her real mom just because she wants to spend time with her grandchild.
Hyun-jung catches up to Min-jung and Yuri on the way to daycare. They tease Min-jung about the way she sounds new to the idea of having friends, all while the three gossipy moms cower nearby, waiting for the new mom-squad to pass before they head in.
At the hospital, Kang-hwa and Geun-sang try to work out how Yuri could have known the elderly woman was sick at the hospital. They still don’t have any answers to any of their questions surrounding Yuri, but Geun-sang is frustrated with how much it’s affecting Hyun-jung. A quick flashback returns to Hyun-jung and Geun-sang at the bar. Hyun-jung babbles vaguely, swinging from insisting “she” has to live, to “they” love each other, and finally landing on, “what about the kid?”
Kang-hwa asks if Hyun-jung knows something they don’t, and the next thing you know, two dark figures are stalking behind Hyun-jung. It’s just these two idiots though, who seem to think it’s a good idea to sneak up on the Bruce Lee of their neighborhood. The trio retreat to a restaurant, where the men grill Hyun-jung for new information. They confirm that it wasn’t Hyun-jung who gave away Yuri’s real name to Seo-woo, but other than that, all Hyun-jung can do is cry.
Min-jung makes one final visit to her lawyer, where she rips up the divorce papers. As she stuffs the pieces into her bag, she pulls out the baton, mace, and whistle that Yuri gave to her with warning to protect Seo-woo. Meanwhile, Yuri’s sticking closely by Seo-woo’s side as they finish up the girl’s lessons. Yuri asks Seo-woo if she’s always known who she was, and Seo-woo nods. Tears threaten to fall from Yuri’s eyes, and Seo-woo reaches out to tenderly stroke Yuri’s hair in comfort.
Kang-hwa skulks over to Yuri’s parent’s house, where Dad spots him on his way home. Dad orders Kang-hwa to raise his bowed head and reassures him that he did nothing wrong. Kang-hwa confides in Dad that he feels totally lost, and Dad tells him he should just live his life, and forget all about Yuri and her family. Dad also thanks Kang-hwa for raising Seo-woo to be such a sweet kid with Min-jung.
Yuri and her mother cuddle together in bed, when Mom suddenly suggests that Yuri stop being Seo-woo’s pick-up helper and instead be honest with Min-jung and ask to see Seo-woo from time to time. Yuri refuses, and won’t explain to Mom why she’s holding back. She can only cry, and Mom holds her tight.
The columbarium ghosts have decided to hide out at Midongdaek’s while Guk-bong is in town. All the regulars are there except Hye-jin, who they assume is hiding out because she’s Guk-bong’s first target.
Hye-jin is watching her mother again as she protests Hye-jin’s former workplace. Sang-bong pops up at Hye-jin’s side, and Hye-jin confesses that her biggest regret was killing herself. She explains that she was bullied at work, and Sang-bong points out gently that she could have quit. Hye-jin understands that now, but at the time it felt like her entire dream of being a fashion designer and all of her hard work has been crushed. Her co-workers had been cruel, and she’d soon found herself shunned by everyone.
But Hye-jin says that the moment after she died, she immediately regretted it. She understood that she had more in her life than just her dream, like her family and friends. She asks why people always regret things when it’s too late, and Sang-bong replies that having regrets is what makes them human.
It’s the weekend, and Yuri gets an idea as she sees her dad sleeping. She quickly texts Min-jung to offer to babysit all day, but Min-jung politely declines. Just a moment later though, Yuri’s phone buzzes with a call from Kang-hwa. He’s at her door soon after to drop Seo-woo off for a visit and tells Yuri to keep her as long as she likes.
Dad wakes up slowly to the sound of little girl giggles, and he must think he’s still dreaming, because it takes a moment for him to realize that it’s Seo-woo sitting on the bed with him. He follows her out into the living room, where everyone has gathered to fawn over her.
Kang-hwa wastes time with Geun-sang, since he lied to Min-jung about taking Seo-woo out to see Ha-jun with Geun-sang. They take their PPL grapefruit drinks to the park and linger on the swings. Kang-hwa laments that he feels like a cheater, even though he’s not cheating, and then throws a glare in Geun-sang’s direction when he agrees that it does look like that.
Geun-sang forgets to tell Hyun-jung about Kang-hwa’s fib, so it’s a surprise when Min-jung runs into Hyun-jung on the street with Ha-jun. Min-jung recalls the morning, when Kang-hwa told her that he was taking Seo-woo for a playdate with Ha-jun. Min-jung smiles that they should all hang out together next time, and Kang-hwa nods absently. Well, this isn’t going to go well.
Kang-hwa remains at the playground by himself until it grows dark, and Yuri gives him a call to pick up Seo-woo. She thanks him for allowing the visit, while Kang-hwa insists Seo-woo could have stayed longer. He smiles when Yuri firmly reminds him to head straight home and to hold Seo-woo’s hand at all times.
Kang-hwa still isn’t home yet when Min-jung arrives, so she sends a text to ask where he is. Standing at a crosswalk, Kang-hwa drops Seo-woo’s hand to text back, and that’s when the rasping voice of Guk-bong calls out to her. Seo-woo goes running straight to him, and he puts out a hand on top of her head. Yeah, those abduction trainings at the daycare really didn’t stick…
Just a moment later, Kang-hwa grabs Guk-bong by the collar and demands to know what he thinks he’s doing with Seo-woo. Guk-bong smiles and announces that he’s a friend of Yuri’s.
Now Kang-hwa’s running (presumably after dropping Seo-woo off at home). The new information from Guk-bong, that Yuri has been watching him and Seo-woo as a ghost all this time, it makes every little mystery make sense to Kang-hwa now.
Geun-sang has finally gotten Hyun-jung to crack, and he learns this information now too. He wonders how Kang-hwa will handle this when he finds out and well… we’re about to get that answer.
Kang-hwa arrives back at Yuri’s gate, and she’s already waiting outside for him. “You’ve been next to me the whole time… You saw everything?” Kang-hwa’s face crumples with tears. We see those early moments when he was courting Min-jung again, but this time Yuri’s there too, watching Hyun-jung encourage him to move on, and when he gave her flowers, and each date and moment together at work, right up to their wedding.
Yuri knows what he’s figured out, and she bows her own head, tears overtaking her as well.
In the early days after her death, ghost Yuri follows Kang-hwa around their dark apartment. He’s unshowered and unshaven, and she admonishes him for his laziness. It’s almost as if he hears her, because he gets up and takes a shower finally. When she nags him to dry his hair in the bathroom, he does, and he even rolls his toothpaste tube from the bottom when she asks.
And finally, he almost steps out without his umbrella, but turns back just as Yuri yells at him about it.
In voiceover Kang-hwa narrates: “Even while you were gone, the world kept spinning. The time we spent together was changing me desperately.”
I take it back, let the show go on a little longer! What a painful cliffhanger, and now that they’ve announced that new episodes will be delayed a week, I completely regret my complaints about too many episodes. We only have two weeks left to make it through some really tough feelings for Kang-hwa, thwart the exorcist, and come to a decision for Yuri that uplifts everyone. I am emotionally unprepared for any conclusions. I just don’t know what I want anymore.
I feel like this episode tries to question whether Yuri remaining as a ghost has done any good for her family, or if it has only caused harm. Seo-woo can see ghosts, an exorcist now wants to force her into the profession, and Seo-woo has even developed a fear of dogs thanks to Yuri’s presence. Kang-hwa doesn’t seem to find any comfort knowing that Yuri has been at his side all this time, just overwhelming guilt.
Guk-bong told Midongdaek that all ghosts are pitiful as episode or so ago, and I wonder if, even though he seems dapper-evil right now, he might provide a contrasting view for Yuri to consider. She’s watched the other ghosts linger far longer than she has, and until now few of them have been able to do anything good for their families. What good does it do to linger so long, if it only causes problems?
I think that argument makes sense if Yuri had always stayed a ghost, but I don’t think anyone can argue that her coming back to life has only changed things for the good. Min-jung is standing up for herself and doing what makes her happy, her parents have spent quality time with Seo-woo, and Kang-hwa is seeking treatment and may resume his work again. She even thwarted their divorce. The only question that remains is whether Yuri’s departure could cause even more trauma to everyone, or if she’s done enough to give them solace. There has to be a good ending where all the good that she’s done isn’t undone.
Dad’s suggestion to Kang-hwa, then, felt really cruel for everyone. Moving on and forgetting them wasn’t doing much good for Kang-hwa for the last five years, and it seems especially mean to suggest that as an option for him while Yuri is living among them now. This advice, of course, was offered before Dad got a whole day with Seo-woo, so perhaps his feelings have since changed. The grandparents getting to see their grandbaby was especially poignant for me right now, when so many of us are sheltering in place away from our friends and loved ones.
It took me an episode too long, but when Min-jung forced that umbrella on Kang-hwa the fireworks went off in my head. I thought at first that it was just because Yuri used to do it for him, but it’s more than that. He and Yuri made that promise for her to pick him up whenever it rained. He was the type to always forget his umbrella, until he finally started to work it into his routine when Yuri was no longer there to remind him. It’s something that’s become bigger than just a single memory. Something that he uses to remind himself, punish himself, and console himself with.
I wonder now if Yuri’s in between-ness is what is keeping Seo-woo seeing ghosts. The dogs aren’t barking at her anymore, but we’ve officially established that Yuri isn’t entirely human right now. While Yuri seems to think preventing Seo-woo from seeing ghosts is a top priority, I can’t help but suspect that it could end up being a positive for all of them when we finally reach our conclusion.