Hi Bye, Mama! : Episode 8
Family and friends of our recently revived heroine continue to go through many of the motions of grief, and the other columbarium ghosts witness the ways that their loved ones resist happiness and relief. In this world the ghost world and human world isn’t that different, and ghosts and humans alike share in both joy and sorrow. It often seems like Yuri is here to help everyone but herself, but perhaps there is something more to her altruism than she has yet revealed.
EPISODE 8: “People Who Can’t Say Goodbye”
It’s 2016, and Geun-sung gets an envelope from the hospital HR department. Inside is the results of his application for a summer condo to share with Kang-hwa and Yuri. Seeing her name, he looks at the photo of all of his friends together and then leans back in his chair with a sigh.
Hyun-jung writes one of her many social media messages to Yuri, dropping her head to her hands to cry. Yuri’s mom copes by thoroughly cleaning house and then retreating for some games of go-stop on her phone. And poor Kang-hwa, he just stands at a crosswalk, staring into space as snow begins to drift into his hair. Kang-hwa narrates over it all: “Some may turn a blind eye to the grief to protect themselves and to survive from this unbearable parting. But turning a blind eye to the passing of time cannot help you overcome this sadness.”
Back in the present, Pil-seung and Kang-hwa crowd under an umbrella together. They stop when they spot Yuri and Min-jung together. Kang-hwa stares at the two women, dumbfounded, and his surprise manges to grow when Pil-seung calls Yuri “Nosebleed” and darts under her umbrella instead. Min-jung joins Kang-hwa while Yuri hurries away, unsuccessfully trying to lose Pil-seung along the way.
Joining Yuri has only taken Pil-seung right back to the convenience store he started at, and you can bet he’s whining about it. Yuri tells him to take care of himself, but when he calls her Nosebleed again, she turns and snarls at him to clean his apartment. “You should clean your apartment,” Pil-seung mimics behind her back with a smile. Uh oh. Someone has a puppy dog crush.
Meanwhile, Kang-hwa asks Min-jung what she was doing with Yuri, especially since she doesn’t normally like talking to any of the other neighborhood moms. He notes that Min-jung was even laughing with her, and Min-jung smiles softly at that and says that Yuri is a little odd. A quick montage shows each moment that Min-jung has had an interaction with Yuri, from Yuri defending Seo-woo from obnoxious moms at the daycare or when Yuri was more worried about Min-jung’s forehead wounds than her own.
Min-jung tells Kang-hwa that Yuri called her nice, and notes that it’s strange. Kang-hwa doesn’t get it, because he thinks Min-jung is nice as well. She’s surprised to hear him say it and suggests he doesn’t mean it. Kang-hwa doesn’t understand why she would think that. Min-jung moves on and declares that Yuri should be their pick-up helper, and Kang-hwa agrees.
But Kang-hwa’s forehead hits his soju glass in frustration once he escapes to Hyun-jung’s bar. Geun-sang can’t believe that Kang-hwa agreed to the arrangement, but Hyun-jung seems to understand that because it’s Yuri, he can’t really say no. Geun-sang suggests that Hyun-jung call Yuri over so they can all sit down and discuss this, but both Hyun-jung and Kang-hwa know she won’t come because Kang-hwa is there. Kang-hwa admits that he knows that Yuri never intended for him to see her at all, and it’s because of Min-jung. Sigh.
Kang-hwa also mentions that Yuri called Min-jung nice, and that catches Hyun-jung’s attention. That plus Yuri’s knowledge of Min-jung’s drinking limits makes Hyun-jung suspect that Yuri has known Min-jung for a while now. It’s clear to them all that Yuri is hiding something, Kang-hwa admits that he wants to tell Min-jung everything and take Seo-woo to Yuri, but Yuri asked him to wait, and so he’s doing exactly that.
Meanwhile, Midongdaek still prays to the gods for an answer that explains why Yuri has come back. Yuri isn’t the first spirit to curse the gods out, so Midongdaek can’t believe that’s all it took.
Back at the bar, Kang-hwa steps outside and Hyun-jung follows him out. She asks if everything is okay with Min-jung, and then promptly blurts out, “Does she want a divorce?” Kang-hwa thinks she’s being over dramatic and says things have just been weird since Yuri came back. He admits that he’s having a hard time looking Min-jung in the eye.
Kang-hwa opens up about Seo-woo’s psychological assessment scores, but Hyun-jung can’t believe it when he tells her that he told Min-jung not to worry about it. He says that he didn’t want her to think it was her fault, but Hyun-jung tells him that she needs to be involved. “Being too considerate doesn’t help,” she tells him.
Another bag of vitamins sits in front of Yuri’s family’s home. Yuri sits outside the gate as well, whispering apologies to their dog Popo. It seems that dogs can see ghosts, and she was free to visit and play with him when she was a spirit. Her parents used to watch the dog performing tricks as if someone was out in the yard with them, haha.
Yuri’s long gone by the time Dad finds the bag of vitamins the next morning. This one includes supplements for Dad’s bad liver, calcium to support Mom’s knees, and gummies to go with lil’ sis’s drinks. They still have no clue who could be leaving these care packages, but Mom can’t help think back to a phone conversation she had with Yuri when she was still alive. Yuri had just sent health supplements to Mom and Dad, and Mom didn’t want her to waste her money on them. Now in the present, Mom opens her supplement and drinks it down.
She then retreats to her room for the usual go-stop phone game to distract her, but even that doesn’t seem to be doing the job. So Mom grabs the key for her bicycle and heads out to the park.
Yuri is also at the park, watching a family from a bench. Grandma gives her scarf to her young granddaughter, and then her own daughter gives up her scarf for her mom. Yuri watches them and smiles but also looks glum when she thinks about her own mother and Seo-woo’s relationship.
Yuri’s mother pedals through the same park and turns the corner onto the path where Yuri sits. But Yuri stands to leave just as the bike nears, and the two just miss each other. Mom sits down in the spot where Yuri once sat, and smiles at the same family.
At the columbarium, everyone’s so excited to see driver ghost Pan-seok’s daughter (who also happens to be a teacher at the daycare) arrives with news–she’s finally getting married. Pan-seok beams broadly, but the other ghosts note that his daughter doesn’t seem very happy once she walks away.
Granny ghost Gwi-soon is missing from the columbarium celebrations though. She’s spent the morning at her daughter’s side in the hospital. While her daughter is clearly in pain, she’s so far refused painkillers from the doctors. The doctors seem impressed, though they tell her she should ask for help if she’s truly in pain, while Gwi-soon cheers her daughter on.
Geun-sang and the nurses joke about Kang-hwa fleeing to South Africa to solve his problems as he comes into the office, but Geun-sang doesn’t realize he has ghost troubles of his own. Sang-bong still lingers right behind him, and he realizes that the limited edition watch Geun-sang mentions to the nurses is the one he was wearing during his appointment. The nurses suggest that Sang-bong didn’t seem the type to kill himself, and Geun-sang replies that it remains a mystery.
Min-jung sends the email officially accepting Yuri as Seo-woo’s new pick-up helper. Min-jung had a surprise earlier in the morning, when Kang-hwa suddenly brought up Seo-woo’s psychology assessment. Min-jung says that Kang-hwa told her not to worry about it, and that’s enough for Kang-hwa to lose his courage and leave without any further discussion.
Yuri’s gleeful when she receives Min-jung’s text, even as her kitchen coworker tsks at her poor kitchen skills. Yuri hands off mandarins to Pan-seok’s daughter for the class, and even Yuri notes how unhappy the woman seems. Yuri’s quickly distracted by her daughter, who now plays with other kids without any ghosts to distract her. But then Yuri spots something from the window and charges out to the daycare front gate.
It’s Pan-seok at the gate, though he can’t get in thanks to the talisman Yuri tucked next to the gate. He’s totally surprised to learn that Yuri’s daughter is at the daycare where his daughter works. Yuri congratulates him on the news of her marriage, but Pan-seok has become worried that something bad happened to his daughter. He wonders if his daughter is sad because he won’t be able to attend her wedding.
Yuri heads back inside the daycare, but she notes Pan-seok as he watches his daughter move somberly through her daycare chores.
Yuri’s mother finishes up with her prayers and group meeting at the temple, when Geun-sang’s aunt the shaman (cameo by Lee Jung-eun) pops out to offer a charm for sale. “The dead child is too concerned with her mother to leave this world… She cries every day because of her mom…” It is not the best thing to say to Mom, and thankfully Midongdaek is there to intervene. Midongdaek yanks Auntie Shaman by the collar and crumples her talisman, which is just one of Midongdaek’s own designs printed from her website.
Midongdaek sends the woman on her way, but slips up when she says, “Her daughter’s not crying, she’s just roaming around everywhere.” That is also not a good thing to say to Mom, who accuses Midongdaek of trying to prey on the grieving for money. Mom sounds strong, but she’s clearly shaken when she gets home.
Meanwhile, Yuri goes out for food and drinks with her daycare coworkers. Everyone is in good spirits, and though her kitchen coworker gets some jabs in regarding the quality of Yuri’s work, they seem good-spirited. They tease Yuri about only wanting to spend time with Seo-woo. Yuri says that it’s just that Seo-woo is so cute and should be an actress, but then Yuri’s concerns about Seo-woo being a celebrity has everyone teasing her again about being too motherly.
A look down the table reveals that not everyone is happy at the gathering. Pan-seok’s daughter Teacher Kim downs her beer, even as her coworkers warn against it in preparation for her wedding. The drinks soon lead to drunken sobbing though, and her coworkers are unable to console Teacher Kim. Yuri asks if it’s because she’s sad that her father won’t be at her wedding, and Teacher Kim swears that it isn’t that.
Pan-seok sits next to his daughter on a bench outside as the ladies try to hail her a cab. He can’t do anything to console her, and it clearly breaks his heart. Teacher Kim finally breaks her silence and reaches out to Yuri. She says that what she’s really sad about is that she waited so long to get married. If she’d done so sooner, her dad would have been alive to enjoy the party. She’s worried that his friends will pity him at the wedding. Pan-seok can no longer endure his daughter’s pain, and he stands to leave with a nod to Yuri.
Meanwhile, granny Gwi-soon follows her daughter to a hospital chapel. Her daughter’s husband tries to comfort her, and Gwi-soon’s daughter confesses that she intends to tolerate the pain because of what happened with her mother.
In flashback, the doctors tell Gwi-soon’s family to all say their final farewells to her. Gwi-soon’s daughter leans over her mom in the hospital bed and begs her to just wake up and say something to her. Gwi-soon’s final words to her daughter through the respirator are, “It hurts.”
Now Gwi-soon’s daughter understands the pain her mother must have felt while she insisted on every medical procedure and treatment available to keep her mother alive just a little longer. She plans to endure her own pain, because she believes that she forced a much greater pain on her own mother. Gwi-soon watches on as her daughter hugs her husband tearfully.
Yuri takes the news about Pan-seok’s daughter back to the ladies at the columbarium, and that along with Gwi-soon’s situation leaves them all gloomy and contemplative. Pan-seok finds Yuri there and asks her if he can have his favor now.
The next day, Teacher Kim arrives at the columbarium to visit her father’s ashes. There on the glass she finds a handwritten note, with words from her father. “To my brightest jewel, it’s okay. It’s no big deal.”
Those are words that Teacher Kim recalls her father said often to her. She remembers when he said it when she fell and ripped up her favorite dress as a child, and also when she didn’t get into the college she’d hoped for. The letter goes on to apologize for always being a poor dad, but that he hopes that his daughter remembers him as a strong person rather than someone to pity. “Don’t think you’ve done nothing for me,” it reads, and then he thanks her for the dental implants she got him. Haha, Pan-seok does have a great smile. Tears flood down Teacher Kim’s cheek. Pan-seok stands behind his daughter, his hand at her shoulder to offer comfort.
At the wedding, Yuri glares and mumbles at all the ghosts who have followed her there. But they promise they aren’t there for her, they’re here to support Pan-seok. The doors open to reveal Teacher Kim in her wedding dress. She’s beautiful and the crowd begins to clap, but there’s a bonus for all of the ghosts. Because Pan-seok is there, escorting his daughter down the aisle with a huge smile on his face.
Yuri overhears Pan-seok’s friends at a nearby table. Rather than pity for their friend, they can only admire the thoughtful, kind, and beautiful daughter he raised.
Back at Yuri’s parent’s house, Mom tries unsuccessfully to unlock her husband’s phone. Yeon-ji returns home and unlocks it, since she was the one who helped him reset it the day before. The phone pops right open to all of the photos of Dad with Seo-woo at the daycare. Uh oh.
Over at Midongdaek’s, she’s worried about what Yuri will do once she finds out what she said to her mom. She calls Yuri and asks her to come over, but Yuri flippantly says that she’s hungry and tells Midongdaek to meet her at Hyun-jung’s restaurant instead. Okay Yuri, if that’s what you really want…
Hyun-jung is certainly surprised to meet Yuri’s new shaman friend, and Yuri says that she approached her after she came back to life to try to find some answers. Hyun-jung asks if Midongdaek has any, and Midongdaek says that she’s working on it, but that these things happen sometimes.
Yuri asks Hyun-jung for stir-fried pork and mung bean sprouts, and Hyun-jung hurries out to the grocery store to pick up the sprouts. Midongdaek takes the moment to tell Yuri about her encounter with her mom, and Yuri is not happy.
Back at Yuri’s parent’s, Mom wakes up Dad to confront him with the photos. Dad is defiant at first, but Mom reminds him that they don’t want to confuse Seo-woo when she thinks that Min-jung is her real mom. Mom finally breaks, and she beats her chest as she says that she misses Seo-woo too.
Back at the bar, Yuri yells at Midongdaek for hurting her mother, who they both know is still suffering. Midongdaek suggests that Yuri solve the problem by taking her place back with her family, while Yuri sticks with her plan to ascend once she’s solved Seo-woo’s ghost problems. It’s at that moment that Hyun-jung returns, and she realizes what’s at stake for Yuri.
Hyun-jung is out the door and on her phone to Kang-hwa in an instant. Kang-hwa picks up, but Yuri manages to grab the phone and hang up before Hyun-jung can explain. Hyun-jung asks Yuri why she would die again when there’s an easy way for her to live, and why she wouldn’t want to be Seo-woo’s mom.
Yuri’s lips tremble as she confesses that Seo-woo is sick because of her. Hyun-jung shoots back that what happened to Yuri was unfair, and that she deserves a second chance. Finally, Yuri shouts “Kang-hwa loves her!” and then tells her friend that all she wants is to keep Kang-hwa from crying.
In flashback, Geun-sang, Hyun-jung, and Kang-hwa leave Yuri’s funeral. Geun-sang wants Kang-hwa to ride with them, but Kang-hwa insists on driving himself. His driving theme song, I am Happy comes on the radio, and Kang-hwa idles at a stop light, not moving even when the light turns green. Cars honk around him, and tears slide silently down his face. Next to him, ghostly Yuri sits. Her sobs are loud and wracking, but he can’t hear them at his side.
Back in the present, the painful feelings bring Yuri to her knees and she collapses on the street. Hyun-jung rushes up to her friend and holds her there on the ground. And then Yuri’s Mom arrives on her bicycle, still trying to blow off steam. She rides by, her head turning to look at the pair on the ground. As she recognizes her daughter, Mom’s bike crashes to the street. Mom crawls back up and staggers over to the women, and Hyun-jung’s eyes grow wide as they meet hers. Yuri pulls back from her friend, and turns around to see her mother standing above.
At Yuri’s funeral, her father sits staring at her memorial. Even Geun-sang and Hyun-jung can’t pull him away for rest or food. But when they finally settle down for a breather, a horrible cry comes from the altar room. Dad flings himself on the ground, sobbing, “Bring my baby back! My baby…”
The sight is too much for Hyun-jung and Geun-sang, who both crouch to the ground in tears.
They made Kim Mi-Kyung work in this episode. In the hour they had her scrubbing bathtubs, riding bicycles, tearing my heart in two, and taking a spill on the sidewalk (hopefully that was a stunt double, but still). And now we’re going to take her heart and mangle it, because what a way for her to discover that her deceased daughter has come back to life. Yuri has been presenting a strong front from the start, indulging in food and drink and cheerfully protecting her daughter. But when Mom first finds her, it’s on the ground, crying.
But maybe it’s the best way to reunite with her mother, open and honest with all shields down. Yuri too has been too considerate ever since she arrived. I feel like Hyun-jung got the line of the episode when she warned Kang-hwa against being too considerate, and while it definitely applies to his failing marriage with Min-jung, it’s also central to Yuri’s conflict. She’s been so busy trying to be considerate of her family and their healing process, she hasn’t considered the other side, that perhaps a reunion could be what they need to heal.
Yuri has been working so hard for others, but when it comes to Kang-hwa, there’s at least a little more self consideration going on there. When Yuri arrived at the columbarium as a new ghost, her agony was about Kang-hwa and his suffering. Now we’ve seen that she was at his side the whole time, screaming and sobbing alongside him and powerless to do anything. We’ve also heard hints that he tried to take his own life, and I think it’s fair to guess that Yuri was there to witness that too. She sees Min-jung as the anchor that kept Kang-hwa from drifting away entirely, and it’s both selfish and completely selfless now that she wants them to stay together.
I like that Kang-hwa, Hyun-jung, and Geun-sang can all still get together and honestly try to work things out. Yuri may be keeping secrets from them and they may be keeping things from Min-jung, but this is an otherwise sacred friendship circle that won’t tolerate secrets. Without having to explain himself at all, Hyun-jung understands why Kang-hwa is conflicted about Yuri and her requests, and also why he’s letting Yuri get her way.
This story cannot tolerate a love triangle, so hopefully the most we get is a little unrequited one-sided noona romance feelings from Pil-seung. I can totally understand why Pil-seung would fall for the ajumma who turns up at his house and makes him food just like his mom used to make. This is a man baby who desperately needs a family. I just don’t think it’s fair to saddle Yuri with that responsibility. They’ve done a great job so far handling the situation with Yuri and Min-jung, so I just have to trust that they’ll be just as smart and sensitive about Pil-seung.
SailorJumun mentioned that there wasn’t a lot of forward momentum in Episode 7, and I think that holds for this episode as well. The thing is, I can’t complain about it at all. The drama gets the job done not through rapid progress, but rather by constant retread of really effective, poignant emotions. I think it remains fresh for me partly because it mimics human emotion so much. People get stuck, they mull over the same thing over and over again before they can act, and things change not so often with big grand gestures but more often with subtle shifts.
The constant circling back also works well to draw on those big painful emotions over and over again. I’ve stopped mentioning whether an episode makes me cry, because they all do at some point. Pan-seok’s agony as he watched his daughter, helpless to reassure her as he always had in life, that was the one that got me the most this time.
Kang-hwa in the car, Yuri at his side definitely came in a close second though, and I am officially desperate for these two to just have one truly meaningful conversation. Min-jung will understand, I promise.