Living on this Earth is a once in a lifetime opportunity that when we perish from the world, there is no going back. Luckily for us, kdramas have a different set of rules and explores the possibility of what if’s✨ A woman, Cha Yu-ri, miraculously becomes human again after being dead for 5 years. Despite this precious opportunity, Yu-ri learns that it’s not as easy to take back the life that she once lived.
Read my Hi, Bye, Mama! kdrama review to know more about this show.
It’s 2006 and we first meet our power couple, Cha Yu-ri and Cho Gang-hwa, lay eyes on each other for the very first time in college. It was love at first sight and after a montage of their countless love and hate memories together, they get happily married to each other years later. Fast forward to 2019 — Yu-ri is now a ghost and Gang-hwa is married to someone else.
Gang-hwa is a cardiothoracic surgeon who has a fear of performing surgeries now and only does outpatient services. Yu-ri is the first wife and her child’s, Seo Woo, birth mother but hanging out at the apartment of your husband with his new wife feels weird. It’s understandable as she wants to be with Seo Woo and it doesn’t seem like she’s bothered by Gang-hwa being remarried already. She doesn’t sleep there though as she resides at a crematorium, along with other ghosts, who refuse to face judgement because of their unfinished business in Earth.
Yu-ri’s death anniversary is honored by her family who go visit her at the crematorium. Her mother pretends to be strict and strong in front of her family but once alone is still devastated by the loss of her eldest daughter. Gang-hwa does not join her family and instead works at the hospital like it’s any other typical day, except that he also takes the night shift willingly. His wife, Oh Min Jung, tends to Seo Woo with at home with a birthday cake as they wait for Gang-hwa to come home. Damn, so Yu-ri’s death anniversary is the same day as Seo Woo’s birthday😢 He eventually comes home with Seo Woo already asleep and Yu-ri understands the conflict that he feels over this day.
The next morning, Seo Woo responds to Yu-ri when the latter calls her name. Because Yu-ri hangs out with Seo Woo all the time and kids have a weaker energy, the latter is able to see Yu-ri now even as a ghost. She is anxious about her discovery and confides in the shaman of their crematorium, Ms. Mi-Dong, fearful for Seo Woo’s life as this means she is able to see other ghosts as well. Yu-ri immediately goes to Seo Woo’s kindergarten and checks on her. She finds out that Seo Woo is missing and it is Yu-ri that finds her when she notices a kid running away from the school’s kitchen. The kid happens to be a ghost and Yu-ri is desperate for someone to find Seo Woo in the freezer. Her loud cries wake Seo Woo with just the right amount of energy and the latter is able to kick the door open slightly. The teachers find her unconscious and rushes her to the hospital.
Distraught about what happened, Yu-ri cries her heart out and breaks down shouting and cursing at the deity why she doesn’t have the right to look after her own daughter. A sudden hailstorm occurs, with powerful thunders clapping in between the pellets of frozen rain, as she continues to mourn angrily for her plight.
One night as Gang-hwa and his family are out and about, Yu-ri observes them from a distance. When Gang-hwa walks towards her though, his eyes get bigger and his gaze grows to a surprised stare at Yu-ri. He doesn’t blink as he does walk past her with a look of disbelief. A flashback shows that Yu-ri was accidentally hit by a car as she was walking down a street, still pregnant with Seo Woo. Oh wow, I thought it was just an unlucky coincidence that Yu-ri died on Seo Woo’s birthday but I didn’t realize it was when she was still pregnant with her! Yu-ri also notices a fleck of snow falling and physically touching her jacket. She gets bumped as well by another human being and is confused by what just happened.
Another flashback shows how Gang-hwa dealt with Yu-ri’s death almost immediately Seo Woo was born. He is knelt down before Seo Woo’s parents asking them to take care of her but Yu-ri’s mom refuses. It is revealed that he tried to commit some form of suicide and this is the reason that she doesn’t want to help Gang-hwa. Taking care of Seo Woo with his busy schedule as a doctor will help him want to survive. I understand what she did but I can’t imagine the hardships that Gang-hwa must have experienced doing everything alone and still coping with Yu-ri’s death😰
Mi-Dong is able to find Yu-ri and she explains that the deity is judging her now for 49 days as a human. If she is able to find her place on Earth, which she explains as going back to being Gang-hwa’s wife and Seo Woo’s mom, she will remain a human being permanently. Yu-ri thinks the idea of her going back to her old life is absurd as Gang-hwa is now remarried and Mi Dong scolds her that she shouldn’t have caused trouble in the first place.
Back at the apartment, Min Jung takes out divorce papers alone in their room. We haven’t seen her and Gang-hwa as a couple yet, it’s more of them as a family unit so I’m not sure if the divorce is justified yet. But even as a family, it seems like their focus is on Seo Woo and no interaction between them does indicate a happy, loving relationship.
Unsure of what to do, Yu-ri visits her family’s house but does not show up to them for fear that her mom won’t be able to take the news of her being alive again well. She also goes to her best friend’s, Ko Hyeon Jeong, restaurant and tries to figure out what to do next. The next morning, Hyeon Jeong wonders at the board of pictures in her restaurant that have suddenly become organized and discovers that the cash register is missing 10,000 won. It’s Yu-ri who gets the money and buys herself a fishcake to eat at a food stall somewhere, haha! She manages to hide from Gang-hwa who just so happened to buy coffee at the same food stall. Being absentminded, he leaves behind his hospital ID on the counter which Yu-ri notices.
At the hospital, Gang-hwa is distracted all day with the thought of seeing Yu-ri the other night. Yu-ri ends up returning his ID through the hospital’s reception and manages to escape the gaze of Gang-hwa’s best friend, Keun Sang (Who happens to be Hyeon Jeong husband), a psychiatrist who also works at the same hospital. Yu-ri wasn’t able to avoid getting caught by a family of 3 ghosts who live in the same crematorium as her though and she runs away as fast as she can to get away from them. When Gang-hwa receives his ID, he is further baffled by the drawing on it. He has no time to dwell on the matter though as he is requested to conduct a surgery on an emergency patient. He refuses to do the surgery at first but he eventually goes to the operation room anyway. He is unable to perform the operation as he is still traumatized by Yu-ri’s table death before.
Yu-ri manages to escape the trio ghost family and goes to check on Seo Woo again at the daycare. She accidentally hugs Seo Woo when the latter is running around chasing the same ghost kid from before. This brings tears and an unexpected comfort to Yu-ri finally being able to hug her child for the very first time. A teacher at the kindergarten mistakes Yu-ri as a helper that will take Seo Woo home and she doesn’t decline the chance to spend more time with her child.
Meanwhile at the hospital, Gang-hwa is heavily scolded by his senior (Dr. Jang) for being unable to perform the surgery. His friend, Keun Sang, tries to mitigate the situation and confides in Dr. Jang that Gang-hwa has claustrophobia. Keun Sang explains that Gang-hwa is triggered only in specific locations, such as an operating room, and refuses to get treatment despite his best efforts to convince him to seek help. Gang-hwa visits the crematorium after work and thinks of the time where Yu-ri drew the exact same doodle on another picture before, similar to the one on his ID now.
Before going home, Yu-ri and Seo Woo end up playing in a playground for awhile. She probably didn’t realize that it’s already late and Min Jung and the other teachers are worried that Seo Woo hasn’t come home yet. Gang-hwa and Min Jung look for Seo Woo near the kindergarten and it’s Gang-hwa who ends up finding them. He is shocked and falls to the ground when he sees Yu-ri hugging Seo Woo.
In one of the times that Gang-hwa was going back and forth between the daycare and his home, he stops to cry one snowy day on the street. Unbeknownst to him, Yu-ri is beside him as a ghost also sad and comforting him. As the seasons come and go, Gang-hwa eventually walks hand in hand with Seo Woo and Min Jung on the same street. Yu-ri simply observes them in silence.
What a packed premiere for Hi, Bye, Mama! kdrama! So many things happened in these first 2 episodes that it was really hard for me to summarize the details without missing anything important. Although there were moments of heavy drama in between, I feel like the show is still filled with light, comedy, and fun adventures🙈 Anyone in Yu-ri’s position would probably be excited that they’ve come back to life but I love that she’s cautious and unsure of how to go back to her old life since a lot of things have changed.
Yu-ri doesn’t seem to mind that Gang-hwa is remarried as she is more concerned of Seo Woo at this point. Even as we got a short glimpse of Gang-hwa and Min Jung, I don’t see their attraction to each other honestly. She spends a lot of her time taking care of Seo Woo and that’s great but their relationship as a couple is just nonexistent — at least for now. This must be the reason why Min Jung wants to get a divorce but I do hope we get to see how she and Gang-hwa first got together and how their relationship eventually progressed to marriage.
With Gang-hwa and Yu-ri’s relationship, I’m certain that he’ll get confused with his feelings once they do interact with each other. Honestly, I do want Yu-ri to take back her life and try to be Seo Woo’s mom (which she really is) and be Gang-hwa’s wife. I do feel bad though if that perfect ending doesn’t happen because of what Gang-hwa has been through already. Losing Yu-ri once was bad enough but having to lose her again is downright cruel. Let’s hope that whatever happens in the next 49 days, every unsaid or unspoken feeling between them will be resolved.