Ever since Arang and the Magistrate, I have had a soft spot for ghost romance dramas. A promising new one in this tradition, called Hi Bye Mama is just starting up. Is it one you are ready to invest in?
If you can handle the sadness of a husband and child losing the wife/mom of the family, then the answer to that question is YES! Come find out how Lee Kyu Hyung steps into a role that was written perfectly for his brand of humor laced with deep sadness. ~Drama Geek
The story is about a woman who was killed in a traffic accident when she was nearly due with her first baby. The baby was saved, and our ghost-mom felt cheated that she never got to be with her child and refused to pass on. Instead, she has been following her daughter around obsessively for the last five years. Her husband in the meantime has struggled a lot and eventually remarried. Suddenly, without warning, she comes alive again.
Kmuse: They do such an amazing job of making me care about, not only the ghost mom, but the little family as well. I got so emotional watching Lee Kyu-Hyung juggle his loss of the woman he loves and his daughter. I have to admit that I started this because it is his first leading role and I want to be supportive. But I am continuing because this show is genuinely fun and full of feels.
Drama Geek: Each member of the family was gutted when Kim Tae Hee‘s character died. Her mom is played by the ever amazing Kim Mi Kyung. When she declines caring for the tiny baby, who is the only living tie to her daughter, because she knows that the baby is the only thing that will keep the father functioning and alive, I darn near lost it for the rest of the episode. But the show manages to not wallow in the sadness by having the mom such a bright light of happiness to her daughter. Even though she doesn’t yet know the little girl can see her. Add the past scenes where Lee Kyu Hyung is just a total dork in love with his girlfriend, and eventual wife, and it balances the show out nicely.
Cha Yu Ri
Telzeytalks: Our ghost-mom, Yu Ri (Kim Tae Hee), is very likable; we see her yearning for her child but unable to touch her. Her behavior is understandable, but the local shaman has been warning her that it’s bad for the child. Yu Ri is not selfless enough to cooperate until she discovers that her daughter has become able to see ghosts.
Kmuse: The love she has is so selfless and it was heartbreaking to see Yu Ri unable to stop her daughter from being hurt. I can’t imagine anything harder then seeing the ones you love all the time but not able to communicate.
Drama Geek: Like I said before, Yu Ri and the other ghosts are the lightness to the episodes and help balance things out. The mom does such a good job and making the best of her circumstances and just loves her daughter to bits. She even wants what’s best for her hubby and doesn’t even think about taking her place again as his wife.
Jo Kang Hwa
Telzeytalks: Our young widower is Kang Hwa (Lee Kyu Hyung). We see quick scenes of how he met and married Yu Ri, and how extremely happy they were together. He jokes with friends at work, but he’s a surgeon who can’t bring himself to do any surgeries. We see him mourning his wife, and I’m telling you, this guy is really good at crying. Then one day he sees someone on the street who looks exactly like Yuri, and he simply cannot function.
Kmuse: Kang Hwa had me from hello. They do a great job of showing his deep emotional pain at his wife’s death. Also, his love and fear of raising his daughter alone. I especially got a chuckle at how he has been having his doctor bestie writing doctor’s notes to get him out of doing surgery for the last 4 years.
Drama Geek: The moment he looked at his future wife and got that goofy grin, I was a total goner. He’s managed to incorporate the things that made me fall in love with his character Looney in Prison Playbook into this character. He’s not your average leading man. His look feels like he really could be the Appa that lives next door. A struggling single dad who lost his wife before she was able to hold their baby. He makes me cry almost anytime I realize that he is still just going through the motions, even with a new wife and beautiful little girl who needs him.
Telzeytalks: Of course there’s a shaman who can see ghosts. She is Midongdaek (Yoon Sa Bong), who functions like an exposition fairy to explain the unexplainable to us. She is also the comic relief, bickering with the ghosts at the columbarium where Yu Ri’s ashes are, and trying to get them to move on. She complains that there are too few people because they won’t reincarnate!
Kmuse: I am interested to see how they utilize this character in the future. Maybe she can adequately explain everything that is going on for us.
Drama Geek: Not a fan of how they introduced her character (not the actresses fault, just the stupid show for having the gag of her falling) but I do like how she is the bridge to the afterlife and is going to help Yu Ri once she becomes human.
Oh Min Jung
Telzeytalks: Caught in the middle of all this is the second wife, Min Jung (Go Bo Gyeol). She seems to be trying her best, and she is awesome when she stands up to the neighborhood gossips. But she has divorce papers all filled out stashed away in a drawer, so I’m assuming she is having her own hard time.
Kmuse: Is it bad of me that I really want this character to divorce her husband and make room for Yu Ri to return? It is obvious that her husband has never gotten over his first wife and I don’t see a ton of closure happening anytime soon.
Drama Geek: I feel for her character. I don’t think she married him for his money, but I’m also not sure if she was in love with him or not. She obviously bit off more than she planned for, and doesn’t seem to know how to connect with Seo Woo. I think that until her husband says a final goodbye to her
Jo Seo Woo
Telzeytalks: Kang Hwa taking care of tiny baby Seo Woo is perhaps the most sweet and tender scene so far. As a five-year-old she can see ghosts, but can’t distinguish them from live people and keeps getting into danger because of it. There is a lot of talk going on about this child, because the character is a girl and they cast a boy (Seo Woo Jin) in the part! The reason is that he looks a lot like Kim Tae Hee and is also a very reliable child actor.
Kmuse: The kid is really cute and I’m not sure if it is their acting or the ominous music, but I keep getting chills whenever she sees a ghost.
Drama Geek: This little kid is going places. LOL. They do such a good job at super sweet, but can also do creepy when they see ghosts. I’m not surprised gender wasn’t an issue. They fit the role perfectly.
Jeon Eun Sook
Telzeytalks: We can’t forget to mention Kim Mi Kyung as Yu Ri’s mother, Eun Sook. She is one of my favorite actresses and she is killing it here. Wait until you find out why she is being hard on everyone, refusing to babysit, and insisting Kang Hwa take care of his own child.
Kmuse: I always enjoy her as a mom character. This time is no exception.
Drama Geek: It was hard to wrap my head around the mom’s choice to not be a part of her granddaughter’s life, but as they show the reasons behind her decisions, you can see the entire family is still in mourning. When she broke down weeping in the bathroom, away from her family, I felt like I was with her. There is nothing harder than feeling like you are going to topple over from stress or grief, and you have to keep it inside, so that you can be strong for others.
Should You Watch?
Telzeytalks: You probably have to be in the right mood to enjoy this show, because it is bittersweet, and we don’t know if Yu Ri will ultimately stay or move on. I have seen the first two episodes and I really like it so far. It is well written and acted, and the humorous parts alleviate the sad parts. It has a hopeful feel, and a similar vibe to Just Between Lovers. Do you think Yu Ri is here to stay, or to help her family become happy and move on?
Kmuse: I am very excited to watch this show and would recommend. The exception being if father/mother death is a personal trigger. Then I would suggest maybe finding something else to watch.
Drama Geek: This drama isn’t for everyone because of the subject matter, but if you feel you can handle it, then you should definitely give it a try. I’m preparing myself for a sad ending where she moves on, and doesn’t get to stay human. I will be pleasantly surprised if they do produce a happy ending. The last drama this author penned was happy, so I’m hopeful.
Til our next first impression,
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi