Hi Bye, Mama! : Episode 10
Wouldn’t it all be so much easier if the stepmom was evil just like in the fairytales? A cruel seductress would be easy to justify our ex-ghost’s return to her home and family. But reality isn’t like that at all, and Min-jung has proven to be the exact opposite of evil–she’s too nice for her own good. But our ex-ghost knows her best, and may be the only one who can break Min-jung’s self-sabotage. As Yuri gets to the end of her ghost-busting efforts, she begins to doubt whether she’s helped her daughter or not, and also whether she’s willing to leave life behind again.
EPISODE 10: “Your Place, That I Cannot Reach”
We start in the past with young student Min-jung, who tells her school counselor that she wants to be a nurse. She doesn’t have great grades right now, but Min-jung swears that she’ll work hard from now on. Fast-forward a few years, and we know that Min-jung did just that and became a nurse. But now she sits with Kang-hwa to tell him that she wants to quit her job to take care of Seo-woo full time.
Kang-hwa knows how important Min-jung’s work is to her, and he urges her not to quit. He’s content with taking full responsibility for Seo-woo. But Min-jung asks him to let her be Seo-woo’s real mom.
Min-jung’s narration begins over a morning in her stay-at-home mom lifestyle: “Back then, I was cocky enough to think that there was nothing I couldn’t achieve with effort and passion.”
Min-jung abandons her morning coffee to get Seo-woo up and fed. There’s a smile on Min-jung’s face from that moment until she drops Seo-woo at daycare, when it finally fades at the other mothers’ callous remarks. They point out that Seo-woo looks nothing like her mother, while others share the gossip that Min-jung is her stepmom.
“But there is a place in life that I can’t achieve even with my efforts.”
Now on to a moment when Seo-woo is hospitalized, and while Kang-hwa charges ahead to be at his daughter’s bedside, Min-jung is held back by staff who question whether she’s a guardian.
We return to the present, as Min-jung, Seo-woo, and Yuri return to the apartment just as Kang-hwa pops Seo-woo’s egg for Yuri into his mouth. All three of them shout, though Min-jung gives Yuri the side eye for delivering a “Yah!” to someone she works for.
Meanwhile, Geun-sang continues to deal with his own egg problems as angry Sang-bong fans surround his car. When Hyun-jung discovers the scene outside her restaurant, she takes a fighting stance. “Bruce Lee of Yeouido,” Geun-sang gasps from the car, and we even get a glimpse of an old photograph of Hyun-jung dressed in the iconic Bruce Lee yellow jumpsuit, tee hee.
Hyun-sang easily steps out of the way of the eggs hurled at her, and then she returns with a volley of her own. Each egg lands right on target on the heads of the girls. Geun-sang is officially brave enough to step out of his car to thank her as she chases off the crowd.
Yuri makes her escape from Kang-hwa’s apartment, flustered with herself for the outburst and mad at Kang-hwa for eating her present. Meanwhile, Kang-hwa avoids Min-jung’s eyes while he tries to reassemble Seo-woo’s eggshell art. Min-jung suggests Yuri’s reaction was out of line, but Kang-hwa doesn’t hesitate to defend her.
Back at the bar, Geun-sang grateful to Hyun-jung for chasing off the rabid Sang-bong fans. Hyun-jung’s fury shifts to Geun-sang as she demands an explanation. Geun-sang swears that he met with Sang-bong several times and never found cause to diagnose him with depression. Hyun-jung recalls that Sang-bong was under investigation for match-fixing, and that he left a suicide note.
Geun-sang then recalls a moment following his appointment with Sang-bong, when the baseball player found him in the bathroom. Sang-bong asked for a depression diagnosis, insisting that his baseball club wants it for show. Geun-sang refuses to give a false diagnosis, so Sang-bong is on her way. But now that he considers it, Geun-sang wonders what really happened to Sang-bong.
At the columbarium, the ghosts huddle around Sang-bong’s mom while she visits, until Sang-bong chases them all away. Sang-bong’s head bows as he reads the note his mother leaves for him, telling him that she’s sorry.
It’s bedtime for Seo-woo, and Kang-hwa finishes reading her a story and tucking her in. He doesn’t make it too far though, and sits on the floor near her bed. His brain is busy trying to add up all the incidents when Yuri was with Min-jung, and why Yuri seems to know his wife better than he’d expect.
When Kang-hwa finally retires to bed, he asks Min-jung when she first met the new pick-up helper. Min-jung says that that their first meeting was at the daycare. Min-jung asks him if they should find someone else, since she knew he’d be bothered that she looked so much like Yuri. Even so, Min-jung admits that she feels drawn to her somehow, because she looks like Seo-woo’s mom. Kang-hwa reminds Min-jung that she’s Seo-woo’s mom too, and they go to bed.
At her parent’s, Yuri fiddles with the piles of gifts for Seo-woo before she flops onto her bed. The calendar reminds her that she’s halfway through her 49 days, and Hyun-jung’s earlier protests for her to try to live come to mind as she drifts off to sleep.
Yuri’s gone in the morning again when her mom goes to wake her up. The baby clothes for Seo-woo are all missing as well, and Mom wonders where her daughter keeps disappearing to. Dad finds that the refrigerator has also been completely emptied overnight.
Armed with the entirety of her mother’s fridge and the door passcode, Yuri waits for Min-jung to leave for the day and then storms into Kang-hwa’s apartment to drive away the ghost lingering there.
Meanwhile, Midongdaek and the ghosts hold a ceremony to send off Chairman Baek and his driver Pan-seok. The ghosts shy away and pretend not to hear when Midongdaek suggests that they ascend as well. When Mi-ja suggests that she’ll go up as soon as things are okay with her son again, Midongdaek throws up her hands and says she’ll send Mi-ja right now. But when she reaches into her bag, she realizes her bells have disappeared again.
Yuri has them, of course, armed and prepared to catch that apartment ghost and send him packing. A full search of the apartment turns up nothing though, until there’s only one room remaining: Kang-hwa and Min-jung’s bedroom. Yuri’s been all over this apartment for years now, but in flashback we discover that the bedroom doorway has been the one threshold that she won’t cross.
Yuri turns away from the door, but then slyly turns back with a grin and a shake of the bells. The apartment ghost is stuck to the wall, but another ghost is also glued to the ceiling (it’s Kim Seul-gi!). This ghost turns out to be a virgin ghost who has been hoping to finally lose that title by possessing Min-jung. Ha!
We see a little flashback to Kang-hwa getting ready for bed, each of his movements extra sexy. The virgin ghost stands by while he does exercises at the bed edge and then jumps into the bed (I mean, the ghost has good taste…) The virgin ghost readies herself to jump into Min-jung, but she’s propelled backwards when she meets Min-jung’s strong-willed aura. Amazing.
Back at Yuri’s parents’ house, Mom pulls out that big bag of seaweed that the neighbor gave her and also glances at the heart medication Kang-hwa prescribed her. Yeon-ji comes home and asks if Yuri was the one who got rid of Seo-woo’s things. Yeon-ji recalls how strangely Kang-hwa was acting before they discovered Yuri, and she wonders if perhaps Yuri has already met Seo-woo. Yeon-ji says that there’s nothing they can do about Kang-hwa now that he’s remarried, but Seo-woo is still Yuri’s daughter. At that, Mom heads out with a purpose.
At the hospital, Geun-sang yelps when he spots a big pile of eggs in the lunch line, haha. Kang-hwa rolls his eyes, until he recalls his own recent mishaps with eggs. Their antics leave them at a lunch table with just each other, and Kang-hwa shares the latest development in Min-jung’s interest in Yuri.
After some arguing (where Geun-sang insinuates that maybe Min-jung is interested in a threesome, ha!), they’re interrupted by Dr. Jang, just returned from a conference. Kang-hwa’s distracted by a phone call, and it’s from someone he can’t refuse.
Kang-hwa meets with Yuri’s mom at a cafe. Mom learns that Yuri’s been spending time with Seo-woo as a kitchen assistant at the daycare and a pick-up helper. Mom asks if Min-jung knows about anything, and Kang-hwa can’t even lift his head to look at Mom as he says that Yuri asked him not to.
Mom’s not here to yell though. Kang-hwa tries to apologize to her and promises to do something, but Mom understands that Min-jung is Seo-woo’s mom now too. She knows that Kang-hwa can’t just take Seo-woo away from her for Yuri, and she’s just glad that Yuri gets to see Seo-woo somehow right now. She tells Kang-hwa that he shouldn’t try to fix this alone, and that they’ll all take time to try to find a solution.
Mom takes note of Kang-hwa’s bowed head and asks him to raise it. He’s still avoiding her eyes though as he apologizes to her. And then in flashback, Mom makes a big pot of seaweed soup at home. Yeon-ji tries to scoop some out for herself, but Mom shoos her away. “It’s for your sister,” she says. The pot sits on the stove day after day, until finally Kang-hwa dumps the contents out into the sink. “It’s moldy,” he says through tears, as Mom steps up to his side and pats his shoulder.
Back in the present, Kang-hwa can only apologize. Mom leaves by bus, and finds herself scrolling through Min-jung’s photo feed.
Yuri, meanwhile, hauls the virgin ghost out by the ear to deliver to Midongdaek. Midongdaek tries to scold Yuri for stealing her bells, but Yuri triumphantly whispers to her about the ghost she’s caught. Yuri hopes this will help Midongdaek’s numbers, but Geun-sang’s aunt pops up from behind her, and the virgin ghost recognizes this shaman.
The virgin ghost runs off, Auntie Shaman on her heels, while Midongdaek laughs. It seems the other shaman has been looking for this ghost for a while. Midongdaek asks after the other ghost, and Yuri grins that she sent him somewhere else. Midongdaek points out that he won’t be able to settle in unless the new place is haunted, and Yuri assures her that it is.
Cut to the apartment ghost, relocated in Pil-seung’s apartment, haha. The ghost family is not happy at all to have an interloper in their son’s apartment and they charge after him.
Midongdaek walks with Yuri as she heads for the preschool. Yuri feels confident that she’s chased away all the ghosts from Seo-woo and that should prevent her from seeing them in the future. Midongdaek’s not so sure about that theory though, and Yuri shouts when Midongdaek suggests that maybe Seo-woo will turn out to be a shaman like her. Poor Midongdaek.
Hyun-jung is on her way to the daycare as well, and she gets several texts from the mothers group text warning about a guy selling fake instructional material outside the school. The texts scoff at anyone who would fall for that kind of scam, and of course, there’s Yuri at the table buying several copies of each workbook.
Yuri and Hyun-jung take the kids back to the bar, where Hyun-jung does her best to keep her voice down while she interrogates Yuri. She wants to know why Yuri is fine with dying again, and Yuri finally admits that she was a ghost all this time, watching them all. Yuri confesses that she has no regrets, but all that she wants to do is undo the damage she caused and move on. Yuri breaks into tears, and Hyun-jung has to turn away to stifle her own.
Once Min-jung returns home with Seo-woo, she discovers the fully stocked fridge, courtesy of Yuri. Back at Yuri’s parent’s, Dad wonders that Yuri asked Mom to make gosari, since she doesn’t like it, nor did Kang-hwa. But of course, it’s Min-jung who loves it. She asks Kang-hwa at dinner what he thinks of the new side dishes, and he notes that it tastes healthy and a little bland. Turns out, this was the exact reaction Yeon-ji and Dad delivered to Mom when she first made her new recipes, haha.
Kang-hwa’s face stills when Min-jung tells him that the pick-up helper brought the food, and even moreso when he sees Min-jung dig in to the gosari that he knows both he and Yuri hate.
Having moved on to some tables outside a convenience store, Yuri confesses to Hyun-jung how she knows Min-jung so well. We return to the opening prologue scene, but now viewed from Yuri’s perspective. She watches as Min-jung always puts Seo-woo first, even if it means cold coffee. When Seo-woo spills her snacks, Yuri gets upset while Min-jung just smiles gently at Seo-woo. As a ghost, Yuri encourages Min-jung to make friends with the neighborhood moms even if they’re kind of awful, and scolds her for not letting the housekeeper make her the gosari she loves.
Yuri tells Hyun-jung now how grateful she is to Min-jung, while Hyun-jung mutters that she wishes Min-jung was a cruel person instead. At home, Min-jung looks at the photo of Kang-hwa and Yuri, seeing the clear resemblance to the new pick-up helper and picks up her phone.
Yuri stands to leave when it seems like Hyun-jung will try to convince her to get in between Min-jung and Kang-hwa again, but Hyun-jung just wants to tell her that the instructional workbooks she bought for Seo-woo are fakes. Yuri’s phone rings, and while she’s surprised by the caller, I think I can guess.
Geun-sang heads to the bar, but he jumps right back out the door when he discovers Yuri, Min-jung, and Hyun-jung all line up at the bar. He tries to enter again, but the sight is too much and he runs out again. Meanwhile, Min-jung says that she wanted to thank Yuri for the side dishes with a drink, and when she suggests Yuri and Hyun-jung like to drink, Yuri chuckles that Min-jung likes it more.
Yuri realizes her mistake, but Min-jung just nods that she’s right. Min-jung confesses that she’s jealous of how close the two women are, since she distanced herself from friends after she married. She tells Hyun-jung that she wanted to become friends with her, but she was worried that Kang-hwa was uncomfortable with it.
Speaking of Kang-hwa, Geun-sang’s called him out to a park bench in the middle of the night. Kang-hwa is pretty miffed, until Geun-sang reveals that it’s no celebrity that he’s excited about visiting his bar, it’s Min-jung and Yuri together. Kang-hwa recalls earlier in the evening when Min-jung slipped out. He’d asked where she was headed, and her only reply had been to meet a friend.
Back in the bar, Min-jung asks Hyun-jung if she makes her uncomfortable, since Hyun-jung was so close to Yuri. Hyun-jung says that she’s just grateful to her. Hyun-jung then asks if Yuri makes Min-jung uncomfortable, and Min-jung says that she’s just curious, not uncomfortable. She says that she’s curious about Seo-woo’s mom, too, but that Kang-hwa won’t talk about her at all.
A few drinks later, and soon all three of them are blaming Min-jung’s plight entirely on Kang-hwa, haha. Yuri rambles that he’s always like this, and Min-jung wonders if she knows her husband well. Min-jung leans in super close to Yuri and tells her how much she looks like Seo-woo. Her face is serious, almost adoring, and then she breaks into a smile and grabs for Yuri’s cheeks.
Min-jung then turns to the topic of stepmothers, and how the stories all portray them as evil. “Stepmoms are moms too!” she yells, right before her head drops for the bar top. Yuri is quick though, and manages to catch her head in her hands to soften the blow.
While the ladies are bonding, the boys are brooding and whining, until Kang-hwa gets a call from Hyun-jung. The men run to the bar, where they find Hyun-jung engulfed by Yuri on one side and Min-jung on the other, both women hugging her tightly and then fighting over which one of them gets to keep her.
“Kang-hwa!” Yuri shouts in delight to her former husband when she sees him, but Min-jung follows it immediately with “My husband!” and Yuri quiets. When Hyun-jung tells Kang-hwa to take Min-jung home, he immediately asks, “What about Yuri?” Hyun-jung promises she’ll take care of Yuri, but Kang-hwa’s eyes are on Yuri even as he guides Min-jung home.
The next day, the ghosts at the columbarium worry over Mi-ja, who seems upset after her son visited. Yuri, meanwhile, gathers up all the books that feature an evil stepmother and asks the daycare director to promptly remove them from circulation, haha.
As Min-jung prepares to head out, she spots the bag of Yuri’s fake instructional workbooks and smiles. The night before, Min-jung caught sight of them and told Yuri they were fakes. Even so, Min-jung admits that she bought copies herself for Seo-woo as well last year. And indeed, another set of books sits on Seo-woo’s bookshelf.
Kang-hwa and Geun-sang try to process the previous night. While Geun-sang asks after Min-jung, Kang-hwa seems only concerned about Yuri. Geun-sang thinks back to the night before, after Yuri made it home. He wonders how much the women drank if even Yuri managed to get that drunk. Hyun-jung says that Yuri wasn’t drunk, and Geun-sang catches on that Yuri was only pretending to avoid Kang-hwa.
In the present, Geun-sang promises that Yuri was fine, while Kang-hwa just recalls walking away from her that night. A fellow doctor stops by to ask Kang-hwa to sign a petition to discourage VIP patient prioritization. Kang-hwa pretends that he can’t sign because of his probation, and Geun-sang lures the other doctor away.
The petition makes it way back to Dr. Jang, with Kang-hwa the only hold-out. This reminds Dr. Jang of his confrontation with Kang-hwa on the day of Yuri’s accident, though it’s unclear exactly why. Dr. Jang asks Kang-hwa’s psychiatrist how the treatment is going, and it seems like things are going well.
Dr. Jang wonders why he didn’t seek treatment earlier, and we return to the cafe visit Kang-hwa had with Yuri’s mom the day before. Mom asked if he still wasn’t doing surgeries, and Kang-hwa admits that he feels guilty about getting better. He held on to the trauma he experiences in the operating room because it was all he had left of that moment.
Meanwhile, Yuri runs errands for the daycare kitchen. On her way, she spots a motorcycle speeding towards a woman. Yuri jumps in front of the cycle and tries to push the woman out of the way. A phone call comes in for Kang-hwa from Yuri. She gasps his name, and Kang-hwa hears someone behind her saying that there’s been a car accident. The call ends, and Kang-hwa is on his feet.
He runs through the halls of the hospital, and it mirrors the run that he made on the day of Yuri’s accident five years ago.
Midongdaek tries to forget Yuri’s strong reaction to the thought of her daughter ending up a shaman, but it’s something she can’t shake. There’s a knock at the door though, and a dapper man with a walking stick featuring a magic eight ball on the end awaits her. Is he another shaman? He smiles and says that he got tired of waiting after not hearing back from Midongdaek about “her.”
Kang-hwa rushes to the ER, where a gurney arrives. Back to Yuri and Hyun-jung’s convenience store conversation the night before, Hyun-jung asks her friend again if she really doesn’t want to live. Yuri hesitates, and then admits that she does want to live. But she doesn’t know what to do.
Now it’s time for a glimpse of Yuri as Seo-woo’s pick-up helper. They dance along to the tv, play games with rings, and get a game of hide-and-seek going.
They’re playing airplane when Min-jung arrives at home, and Seo-woo drops everything to run over to greet Min-jung.
In a reversal of roles, we see ghost Yuri watching over Seo-woo as she sleeps, and then glancing over as the camera reveals that Min-jung is snuggled up next to her. Just as Min-jung worried in the prologue that she would never be able to step into the role of Seo-woo’s mom, Yuri looks at her with envy. “Your place, that I cannot reach. Mom,” Yuri narrates.
That ending was a little muddled and all over the place, but let’s focus on the most heartbreaking moment: Kang-hwa racing to the ER yet again for Yuri. It’s obviously going to be the woman Yuri saved, not Yuri herself, under that gurney cloth. But there’s no way that Kang-hwa will make it past this moment without a crack in his cool.
He’s been good so far at following Yuri’s requests and keeping a distance. He’s kept his worrying and suffering to his inner circle of friends. But it’s not just that phone call at the end of the episode that has him starting to fall apart. It was that moment, the one where drunken Yuri called out his name when she saw him.
It was the first moment since she’s returned that Yuri has let her guard down and shown kanghwa how happy she is to see him. And the moment that followed, when he wanted to take her home and couldn’t, really drove home the big conflict that Kang-hwa has been wrestling with alone. Because without even knowing that Yuri’s fate may well rest in his hands, he’s clearly already conflicted about where he should be and who he should be supporting.
And after watching him walk away from her in such clear agony, I’m conflicted too. I embraced the idea that Yuri’s return to life wouldn’t be permanent pretty early on in the show, and I was content to anticipate a bittersweet ending. But now I’m really not so sure what I want. All these people really needed some help moving on with their lives, but I honestly can’t imagine them moving on without Yuri now. She is the best thing for them, and they all know it. It puts Kang-hwa in an impossible position, but honestly, can’t we figure out a way to give Seo-woo the two moms that she deserves?
I love that Min-jung is ghost-proof because of her strong will. Honestly, I love Min-jung, period. I was so worried in the beginning that she would fall flat or not get much story, but instead the show has delivered an abundance of the exact opposite. Min-jung is still cool, collected, and a little quiet, but they’ve shown the why, and that’s made all the difference.
Min-jung can’t quite understand why she’s drawn to Yuri, but what’s important is that she finally does something for herself, even when she knows Kang-hwa is uncomfortable. Part of it, which she fully admits, is that she’s curious about Kang-hwa’s former wife, a curiosity only encouraged by Kang-hwa’s inability to talk about Yuri at all with her.
But the other half of it is that Yuri knows Min-jung like a good friend. Min-jung doesn’t know, of course, that the reason for that is that Yuri’s been at her side for every hard moment for the last five years. Yuri knows the woman’s most mundane preferences and habits, as well as the things that have troubled her. It’s a little creepy, honestly, like any ghostly presence would be. But it also means that Yuri is able to get past Min-jung’s wall of consideration when no one else can.
Do we have a new shaman in town who knows a little more about what’s going on and what’s going to happen? I’m not sure what to think about this new complication and what he may want for/with Yuri, but it worries me. And while Yuri may have some extra time to contend with this new presence now that she’s busted most of the ghosts, she still has all those favors she owes the columbarium gang.
I don’t really love the way that the show has implied that someone must have diagnosable depression to die by suicide, but I think plot-wise we’re meant to suspect that there may have been foul play in Sang-bong’s death. He had rumors swirling around him both personally and professionally, and it may be that the team thought he was a liability. He seems very concerned for his mother, so perhaps he has been keeping his mouth shut to protect them.
In contrast to that portrayal, I think Midongdaek’s situation is a good metaphor for the way that people with disabilities can be treated in society. Yuri doesn’t think twice to gasp in horror at the thought of Seo-woo seeing ghosts for the rest of her life, but that’s exactly Midongdaek’s situation. Midongdaek just sees it as part of her reality, with benefits and drawbacks. Hopefully Yuri figures out that for herself soon as well. If Yuri returns to being a ghost, perhaps the thought of Seo-woo still being able to see her as she grows up might be a positive.
But seriously, I’m fine with Seo-woo having two moms, nevermind Kang-hwa and his conflicts. These two women so desperately want to feel like Seo-woo’s moms, and they’re totally missing that they’re doing everything to prove that they are already. It doesn’t matter what everyone else in the world thinks, only what Seo-woo thinks, and Seo-woo clearly loves them both.