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Fridge / Hey Arnold!

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    Fridge Brilliance 
  • The episode "Arnold Visits Arnie" sees Arnold go to his cousin Arnie's house, where everything is the inverse of Arnold's neighborhood, including backwards caricatures of his friends. Lulu (Lila) is seductive and shrewd, Stumpy (Stinky) is short, well-spoken, and articulate, Fifi (Phoebe) is unintelligent, etc... until you get to Hilda (Helga). Hilda is poetic, creative, and romantic. All of these qualities, however, also apply to Helga, because the kids in Arnie's neighborhood aren't necessarily the opposite of the kids in Arnold's neighborhood, but actually the opposite of how Arnold perceives them. This also gives precedence to the fact that Arnold and Helga would get along extremely well if Helga acted more like she's perhaps naturally inclined to, instead of hiding behind her bully facade to avoid being outed as having feelings for Arnold.
  • Lulu might be a way for Arnold's subconscious to tell him that having Lila like-like him might not be a good idea after all.
  • Miriam's "Smoothies": Miriam probably came up with "smoothies" as a code word so no one in the family (Helga and Olga namely) would ever know that she's an alcoholic, much like the show writers came up with "smoothies" as a code word so the censors wouldn't notice that they were referencing alcoholism. In fact, Helga could probably casually say around school her mom sleeps after drinking smoothies... and it doesn't sound that bad. This also mirrors how some adults (at the time) would have referred to alcoholic drinks as something else so their kids don't say their parents drink.
  • Lila and Olga sing "Moonlight Bay" in "Big Sis" when they go sailing. Lila learned the song in Mr. Simmons's class a few episodes earlier for the school concert.
  • As an adult, you might read a book where someone declares, "I'm leaving it as I found it. Take over. It's yours." Where did you hear that before? In that episode of Hey Arnold! where the adults take over the baseball field the kids worked so hard to build and they retaliate exactly like Ellis Wyatt does!
    Gerald: If you want Gerald Field so badly, you can have it just the way we found it — a dump.
  • Once one recognizes that Helga has an intelligent aspect to her personality (aside from being bully-some in public and poetic in private), it becomes fitting that Ruth turns out to a Brainless Beauty. She's meant to be a foil for Helga. Ruth seemed to be everything Arnold wanted, but lacked the brains to back up her appearance. In contrast, Helga may act like a jerk to Arnold, but her intelligence practically matches his.
  • Why is Helga so disgusted with Rhonda when she dumps Curly in public? She understands Curly as she feels the same way about Arnold as he did for Rhonda. The break-up probably really hit home for her. Arnold doing that to her would destroy her so she understands how cruel it was of Rhonda.
  • Dino Spumoni is a Frank Sinatra Expy who is an old, washed-up has been. Dino could be a Meaningful Name abbreviation for Dinosaur, meaning he's old.
  • It's apparent Oskar Kokoshka and his wife Suzie are only married so he can stay in the United States. In "Gerald Comes Over" when Suzie and Oskar are arguing, she says she should have listened to her mother caused she tried to warn her (probably of Oskar's intentions). Later in the episode when everyone in the boarding house is at the dinner table Oskar says to Suzie "More soup my little green card?"
  • In some episodes Harold's family is seen drinking what looks like wine with dinner, and Harold has a glass too. It's been established Harold is Jewish and it's common for Jewish families (including the children) to have a glass with a meal.
  • In "Oskar Can't Read?" during one scene in Oscar's apartment we see their TV in the background and the screen is broken. Oskar and Susie do struggle financially, and this could be due to them fighting and Susie throwing things (like in "Arnold as Cupid" and "Gerald Comes Over")
  • In the episodes "Weird Cousin" and "Arnold Visits Arnie" we meet Arnold's strange cousin Arnie who comes from the country. Lila is also a country girl herself, which could be one reason she fell for him.
  • In "Helga on the Couch", Mr. Simmons gets nervous when he learns that the school psychologist will be observing his class, and wants to make sure she's observing the students and not him. Word of God says Mr. Simmons is gay, and he was afraid she might out him.
  • When Phoebe is hall monitor, she begins giving detentions left and right, but apparently Gerald got it worse. She is doing exactly the same as Helga, bullying the boy she likes.
  • The series takes on a new life if you look at Helga as the main character and Arnold as the Decoy Protagonist. Hey Arnold! could be her trying to get his attention.
  • What's Helga doing in the opening sequence? Stalking Arnold of course!
  • The fifth grader Wolfgang is much bigger than the fourth graders, despite being a year older than them. It's possible he's been held back a couple years, like Torvald, hence why he's bigger.
  • The shed with the pigeons Helga crashes through in "Arnold's Hat" might've belonged to Pigeon Man.
  • In "Arnod's Hat", Arnold sinks into a deep depression and feels incomplete without his hat. A flashback shows his parents giving him the hat when he was a baby, and later, we learn that Arnold's parents have been missing in action since he was a baby, and just how much he misses them. He probably didn't realize at the time that's the main reason he felt all wrong without the hat!.
  • Helga's complete infatuation with Arnold. What are his qualities? He's thoughtful, diplomatic, selfless, altruistic, compassionate and can admit when he's made a mistake. BASICALLY, HE'S EVERYTHING BIG BOB ISN'T (and everything Helga goes out of her way not to be in public.)
  • Arnold's old teacher Miss Slovak's hair changes colors in between episodes. Sometimes it's brown, sometimes it's gray. This could be due to her dyeing it as opposed to an animation error.
  • Why is Arnold's Grandma playing "Yankee Doodle Dandy" on the piano in the Christmas Episode? "Arnold's Thanksgiving" shows that she mixes holidays up (She celebrates The Fourth of July on Thanksgiving) and this scene could've taken place around Thanksgiving.
  • A couple episodes "Helga and the Nanny" and "The Beeper Queen" shed light on the problems Miriam's alcoholism have caused. In the former Bob mentions she'll be late for her community service job, and he hires a nanny to take care of things while she's away. In the latter Arnold asks if she's gotten her license back. It's implied here she has a DUI, and she got it prior to "Helga and the Nanny." She still hadn't gotten her license back by the time "The Beeper Queen" aired, hence Arnold's comment.
  • Why does Grandpa Phil badmouth Arnie in "Weird Cousin"? Arnie's not his grandson. Arnie has the same football shaped head Arnold has, and anytime we've seen Arnold's mom she has the same shaped head Arnold has. He's a cousin on his mother's side, and Phil is Arnold's paternal grandfather (i.e. from his father's side).
  • So we have the episode "Hookey", wherein Arnold and Gerald play hookey from school, have a miserable day, and return to school to find that there was a "surprise carnival day" at school. Early on in the episode, Arnold and Gerald were discussing hookey and Principal Wartz accuses them of planning to play hookey. The boys insist they were talking about hockey. Perhaps Wartz knew Arnold and Gerald were lying and pretended to believe that they were indeed talking about hockey, later planning the surprise carnival day to teach them a lesson.
  • In one episode, Helga tells Olga that the bow that Olga thought was "new" was the same bow Helga's been wearing since she was three years old. Helga's bow is the first thing that Arnold mentioned when he showed interest in Helga during their time together in preschool, so she's worn it ever since because she knows Arnold likes it.
  • Arnold hitting Harold in the face while playing baseball in "24 Hours to Live" and knocking the ball out of the park in "The Baseball" when Harold's taunting him could be due to his Dangerous Lumber, from the episode of the same name.
  • In "Pre-teen Scream" Phoebe's favorite pop singer Ronnie Matthews is revealed to be a fraud who lip syncs like Milli Vanilli. The brilliance is that she finds this out at a Greasy Spoon. He's so cheap and a fraud that he doesn't take her and Helga to a better restaurant.
  • In one episode, Helga supposedly suffers from "monkeynucleosis," which is an obvious pun on mononucleosis. "Mono" means "monkey" in Spanish.
  • Arnold's joke against Helga in "April Fool's Day" is a Fridge Batman Gambit. The episode takes place after Hey Arnold! The Movie, meaning that Arnold is aware that Helga's in love with him. While Helga may come across as an idiot for falling for such an obvious gag, it was only natural for her to do so. Arnold knows that Helga will buy the "belated birthday present" line if it's coming from him because he knows she can't resist a kind gesture from the boy she adores, so she takes the bait anyway, on the off-chance that it really was a belated birthday present (especially since her birthday coincidentally falls on the week before April first). Instead she gets temporarily blinded, betrayed by her true love. It was actually quite cruel for Arnold to prey on her desires for love only to metaphorically yank her chain after baiting her with false hope (even though he didn't know that the flash would blind her despite Phil telling him it was a blinding flash). No wonder Helga was so desperate for revenge against him.
  • In "School Play," after Helga (playing Juliet) says the line "Go, get thee hence, for I will not away," Stinky (playing the Friar) nonchalantly says, "Okey dokey," and walks away. If you don't know the play, this seems like a funny ad lib by Stinky. Once you've read or seen that scene, however, you see just how accurately that line describes how the Friar's exit is handled. A distraught girl tells him to leave her alone with her husband's dead body, and he... just does! He has no line at that part of the script, but you can easily picture the actor shrugging and saying, "Okay," when he leaves her — his nonsensical exit gives that impression exactly.
  • The name of the teacher of the manners school that Patty and Rhonda attended in one episode is "Madame Parvenu". A parvenu is someone who is trying to adapt themselves to society while denying their origins (usually more humble, since the term is usually used to describe new riches, but it has been used on other ways, it was used first to descrive Jewish women who married to Christian men to be socially accepted). The fridge comes when that's what both girls tried to do, deny her more brash natures (that are also present in their families) and trying to be more delicate in order to fit into society.
  • The episode "Heat" has Grandma acting sane while everyone else acts insane. The heat has put her back in her own mind while everyone else goes out of theirs.
  • A small case, but in "Married", Arnold's nightmare has him and Helga having three nasty kids. But by contrast, Helga's dream has her and Arnold remaining childless. This could suggest that Helga has no interest in becoming a parent. Dig deeper, and it makes perfect sense; Arnold knows what a good child he turned out to be, and it was partially because he had two excellent parental figures, and would want to give a child the same thing his grandparents gave him, confident that he could emulate them. On the other hand, not only might Helga know deep down that she doesn't have a personality conducive to good parenting, but she also wouldn't want to risk having a child that would end up like Olga or Helga herself, because she knows from experience how horrible that type of life is.
    • Gerald also has a small Imagine Spot where it's just the two of them together - he's not thinking that far ahead.
  • Helga has been shown to be jealous of any other girl Arnold has a crush on, but she seems to be especially jealous of Lila, even though Lila only likes Arnold as a friend. In the episode “Arnold & Lila”—the episode in which it is shown how Arnold’s crush on her began—reveals that Helga herself is mostly responsible for it, as she nervously changed a written message from “Arnold loves Helga” to “Arnold loves Lila” and the girls who saw it, including Lila who happened to be there, thought Arnold wrote it. It’s possible one of the reasons Helga is so jealous of Arnold crushing on Lila is because it’s mostly her own fault. Basically, Helga is trying to end what she started.
  • Although Arnold has made it clear to Lila that he has a crush on her, Lila only likes him as a friend. In many episodes, Arnold tries unsuccessfully to get Lila to like-like him. In the episode “School Play” Lila got Helga to confess that SHE loves Arnold. One of the reasons Lila continues to only like Arnold as a friend may be because she knows Helga loves him.
  • Despite being called "Deconstructing Arnold", Arnold does not appear a lot in the episode. That's because the episode is not just focusing about him, it's also focusing on the world he lives and his impact on it.
  • The names "Olga" and "Helga" are Russian (for "Olga) and German (for "Helga") names meaning "blessed/holy/successful." No wonder their parents (or just Big Bob) keep getting their names mixed up—they basically mean the same thing.
    • It's also genius because it reflects just how deeply the Parental Favoritism runs, at least from Bob: he was so enamored of the "perfect" Olga that he literally gave his next daughter the same name. He likely figured there was no point in trying to think of anything better.
  • Maybe Brainy is one of Dr. Bliss's patients - and that's why he knew to follow Helga around that alleyway.
  • Another reason why Dr. Bliss would have a dartboard in her office as well as a punching bag - she's a child therapist. It may actually be helpful for children to vent their frustration with someone like that. Children often think that's alright because they see it on TV.
  • "Operation Ruthless" saw Helga sabotage Arnold out of spending time with his love interest, Ruth. While successful, Arnold stated at the end that the challenge of even getting to know Ruth only made her that much more appealing. Next season, he did get to know Ruth better in "Arnold's Valentine", finding her shallow and quickly lost interest. This means, had Helga simply done nothing at the Cheese Festival, the whole Two-Timer Date plot could have been avoided entirely.
  • An Expy of Frank Sinatra, Dino Spumoni shares a surname with Nancy Spumoni. While Dino is confirmed to have no children of his own, is it possible that Nancy Spumoni's snow boots are a reference to Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'"?

    Fridge Horror 
  • Not outright scary, but the home life of the Pataki family on Hey Arnold! gets a lot creepier when you think back to it years later with a better understanding of how much Abusive Parents can screw a person up. Her most tear jerking day in the limelight was where her heartbreaking Freudian Excuse was shown in full. On her first day of preschool, her parents were so enamored with Olga's piano playing that they didn't realize they had to take Helga to preschool, so Helga had to walk there herself; on the way, it began to rain and her lunch was stolen by two rottweilers. Then Arnold gave her his umbrella, possibly the first kind action toward her in her life. So if that's how neglectful her childhood was, how was her mom's pregnancy and her overall infancy?
  • In the first episode featuring Olga, Helga changes one of her grades from an A to a B+ out of jealousy. Olga goes into a depression, spending days doing nothing but lay in bed with Lacrymosa playing on repeat, sobbing and verbally abusing herself. Years later, upon rethinking that episode, this troper had a thought: if that's Olga's reaction to a B+, what would she do if she got an F?
  • In "Olga Gets Engaged", Olga fell for Doug LeSHAM who appears to be a sociopath that would have ruined her life and came way too close to marrying him. His actions during the episode leave no question about what would have happened if they tied the knot. Helga walks in on him during a phone call in which he's declaring his love for someone else and lying to her about his location... The wedding.
  • In the episode "Curly's Girl", Rhonda takes her mother's fur coat without permission and gets it dirty, so Curly offers to clean it in secret before she can be found out. The catch, however, is that she must "date" him until Friday. When Friday comes, Rhonda very publicly and harshly "dumps" him and is seen as completely heartless by her peers, leading her to restart the act so people will like her again. While Rhonda was definitely in the wrong for her original deed, the whole situation becomes terrifying when looked at from an adult point of view; a clearly disturbed man taking advantage of the woman he's obsessed with, then her being called heartless for telling him off. It's worse considering everyone in the school knows that Curly is insane, creepily obsessed with Rhonda, and possibly dangerous. The whole thing is ...disturbingly reminiscent of real life stalking and domestic abuse/violence.
  • Helga was totally willing to chainsaw a parrot. Just... think about that for a minute. It really speaks to just how afraid she is of anyone knowing that she has feelings for Arnold.
  • Word of God states that Arnold's teacher Mr. Simmons is gay. In a few episodes like "The Aptitude Test" Big Bob Pataki is a jerk to him and refers to him as a throw pillow. Bob's not the nicest guy in the world but here he comes across as homophobic.
    • Similarly, he's also nervous about the possibility of Dr. Bliss observing him as well as the students. He's easily old enough to remember a time when homophobia was mainstream enough that firing a teacher just for being gay would go unchallenged.
  • In "Helga on the Couch" Dr. Bliss has a dartboard on the door to her office. If someone opened the door when a game of darts was going on, they could lose an eye. This could also be Fridge Brilliance on her part. It is possible that she put the dartboard up on the door so other people who work in the building don't interrupt her during her therapy sessions. She doesn't even need to play darts for this to work; most people would get the message just by seeing the dartboard on the door. However, if this theory is accurate, we then have the question of why she would need to use a dartboard to make it clear to others not to interrupt her.
  • In "Cool Jerk", when Frankie G. and his gang were trying to force a reluctant Arnold to break into a building for them, there was no one around that could have helped in case Frankie and his friends decided to get violent. If it hadn't been for Gerald's Big Damn Heroes moment, then Arnold could have easily been badly injured or even killed.
  • In "Arnold's Thanksgiving" Arnold and Helga think their Thanksgivings are subpar, but we see Mr. Simmons's is worse. What about someone like Lila? Considering her father had problems with unemployment, it's possible they spend their holiday at a soup kitchen.
  • Pigeon Man's departure gets about ten times more depressing when you realize that the means to which he left were visible on him from the beginning of the episode. From day one, he knew there would come a time when he'd have to leave the city forever.
  • Part of the reason that "New Bully on the Block" is so uncomfortable to watch is because of the implications of its ending. Sure, it's a Downer Ending to see the kids getting beat up and kicked off of the field that they built themselves...but what about the last shot of the episode? The football game ends well before sunset, but when we cut to the ending scene of the kids being forcibly hung from the goalposts en mass, it's after dark. How long have they been there, unable to leave? Are Wolfgang and Ludwig just holding them hostage for their own amusement?
  • It was mentioned that a female boarder was meant to have a crush on Arnold. It is surprisingly a good thing Nick put the kibosh on it. Imagine having Arnold's grandparents not realizing that a potential child molester was living right under their noses.
  • In the end of "Phoebe Skips", Phoebe is replaced by a third grade girl named Siobhan. It's never said if Siobhan found out the 6th grade girls were using her. She could still be being used by the sixth graders.
  • Stinky and Harold deconstructing Eugene's bike in "Deconstructing Arnold." Sure it was meant to be a prank, but what would happen if Eugene got run over and died? Harold and Stinky would have gotten arrested for killing someone.
  • Craig Barlett once hinted that Lila had more of a dark side to her, but we never got to see it in the series for one reason or another. Or so we thought. In Lila's first episode, Helga (and the other girls) subject Lila to some garbage-based torture and Lila seems to just forgive them for it. After Arnold & Lila, she also forgives Arnold and wants to be his friend. We actually don't see much of Lila after this episode... not until School Play, where she finds out Helga is in love with Arnold. After this episode we start to see Lila and Arnold spending more time together. Her dark side could have been her purposely leading Arnold on as a way to hurt both Arnold and Helga and we just never got the closure episode to prove it!
  • A small horror with some brilliance that I've noticed was how, in the flashbacks with his daughter, Mai, Mr Hyuhn's wife is never mentioned or seen, what happened to her? Considering her absence, it's possible that Mr Hyunh really had even more reasons to get Mai outside of Vietnam.
  • Looking back, the entirety of Oskar and Suzie's marriage is truly horrific and, if we're being honest, borders on straight-up Domestic Abuse. Oskar is a perennial Lazy Bum and generally unprincipled person who barely works at all, prompting Suzie to pick up all the slack. While Oskar does have a job—a paper route—it's clear that their combined incomes are barely keeping them going, especially because Oskar is frequently seen gambling away what little money he has. As such, the Kokashkas live in a ramshackle room in a boarding house, and Oskar refuses to look for a better career, so Suzie is left to do most of the paid labor. But she doesn't just earn their income—she does all of the household chores, from cooking to cleaning to general maintenance, while Oskar stands around and demands to be waited on hand and foot. Quite a few episodes show Suzie taking on double shifts and extra work at her department store job; it's sadly common for abuse victims to try to spend as much time as they can away from their abuser in an attempt to maintain some freedom. Suzie's family looks down on her marriage (as "Baby Oskar" proves), and though she occasionally threatens to leave her husband, she never does. The writers occasionally throw in a small Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moment, but the "joke" is always that Oskar is back to his lazy, cheating ways by the next episode. And yet Suzie stays with him for no discernible reason. In "Oskar Gets a Job," she even apologizes to Arnold for her husband's awful behavior and makes excuses for him—again, something that often happens with victims of domestic abuse. And going off the Fridge Brilliance about Suzie being Oskar's "little green card" mentioned above, it's entirely possible that she was tricked into marrying him so he could stay in the country, so she now feels responsible for his safety. In short, everything about the relationship is both heartbreaking and terrifying. Is it any wonder why the writers decided to have Suzie divorce Oskar before The Jungle Movie?
  • In the married episode, Arnold is horrified to imagine having children with Helga. Given that Helga's tendencies border upon very creepy, why would Arnold have ever consented? Essentially he fantasized the only way that would happen is if Helga raped him. Three times. Possibly more.
  • In "Stinky Goes Hollywood," Stinky Peterson becomes the new spokesperson for Yahoo Soda. He's initially thrilled, especially because he feels like he lacks anything that makes him unique, but then discovers that the company deliberately picked the stupidest-sounding kid they could find for the job. Stinky then refuses to sign a $1,000,000 contract with Yahoo, choosing his dignity over the paycheck. While it's a ostensibly a happy ending—especially because Stinky realizes that the thing that makes him special is his pride—a moment during the contract scene leads to Fridge Horror: namely, Stinky's father outright begging him to take the deal, and breaking down in anguished sobs when he won't do it. It's been repeatedly shown that the Petersons live in poverty, with a backstory as sharecroppers who had to move north when their farm failed. Mr. Peterson might have seen this as the one chance they ever had to finally have enough money to live—it's not hard to imagine that he (and the rest of the family) may eventually come to resent their own son for turning down the million dollars. Sure, Stinky may have explained the situation off-screen, but the end of the episode shows that he hasn't told any of the other kids (besides Arnold, who was with him when he overheard the truth)—he may have kept the information secret from his family as well. And even if he did tell them, there's no guarantee that they would have agreed with his choice, especially because they've spent their whole lives in poverty while Stinky, though noble, is also quite young. The Petersons might spend their whole lives quietly angry at Stinky for blowing their opportunity at a fortune.

    Fridge Logic 
  • How much of "Arnold Visits Arnie" was a dream? The episodes ends with Arnold waking up in his room, going to the baseball field where his friends are and Helga says she thought he was visiting his cousin.
  • In "Cool Jerk" Arnold accidentally beans Harold in the face with a dodgeball, Harold tries to beat him up, and the other kids try to stop him. How come they didn't do the same in "24 Hours to Live?" In the latter, they were egging on a fight.
  • The names Helga and Olga. Olga is the Slavic version of Helga. Their parents gave them essentially the same name! It would be like naming your children John and Johan. As seen under the Fridge Brilliance section, though, this could be a reflection of Bob's and Miriam's Parental Favoritism toward Olga and treatment of Helga as nothing but an imperfect copy of her older sister.

    Fridge Sadness 
  • In the episode "Magic Show", Helga wakes up in a world where she no longer exists. The entire town is celebrating her disappearance complete with a parade in her 'honor.' Her parents are actually happy and loving to each other. Phoebe has a new, more caring best friend, Gloria. And Arnold is now world famous for 'getting rid of her' (i.e. making her disappear as part of a magic act) and engaged to Ruth (the Satellite Love Interest for Arnold up until the Valentine's Day episode where he finds that Ruth was boring and not very bright). Helga then wakes up and realizes it was all just a dream, then goes to apologize to all the people she's hurt or bullied over the years. Seems simple enough, but think about it. That whole episode was all in Helga's mind, which means that at least on a subconscious level, she truly believes the world and everyone she knows would be better off without her.
  • Helga's relationship with Nanny Inga in "Helga and the Nanny" also qualifies. As the title implies, Bob hires a nanny for Helga, and she proves to be a strong-willed but kind force in the girl's life. Helga naturally can't stand her and eventually successfully gets her fired by framing her for theft. The Fridge comes in when you realize that most of what Inga was doing, like making Helga eat a healthy breakfast as opposed to soda and doughnuts or putting her on a schedule, wasn't all that bad, and actually things you'd expect a caring parent to do. That suggests that parental love is so alien to Helga that she can't understand it at all, and so reacts with fear-based anger. Inga herself brings that up when, as she departs and admits she knew that Helga was behind everything, tells her "You're such an angry girl, Helga. And you won't let anyone help you. So you must live with your unhappiness."
  • Pookie's Flanderization over the course of the series from an eccentric but still respectable adult figure in Arnold's life to a crazy old lady could be due to senile dementia. It also explains why she's a total nutjob and does they crazy antics she does. It does make them more depressing than funny or cool. And if this is indeed the case the writers of the show probably were told by the Nick censors not to allude to the fact that Pookie had dementia, much like with Miriam and her alcoholism (either a BS&P rule against mentioning mental illness on children's TV shows or they were afraid parents would write in and complain). When you consider that many of her antics around the house include acting as though she's on some sort of safari or expedition, it is perhaps a coping mechanism for having lost her son and daughter-in-law when they never returned from an expedition in South America.
  • In Mr. Hyun's flashback during Arnold's Christmas, we never see or hear about Mai's mother, actually, she's shown to be gone by the time Mai's at least two. Y'all could guess that Mr. Hyun has more reasons to give Mai up for her safety, he probably already lost someone to the Vietnam War.