At the end of July, I presented my research, Smart Ajumma at IACS conference. This year, this conference was held in Seoul, South Korea so it was very pleasure to participate in. In this big Inter Asia Cultural Studies conference, I met Nicki Liu on my presentation day and we had very good conversation, especially about middle-aged women in East Asia. And kindly, she reviewed about my research, Smart Ajumma in the one of online journal in Hong Kong (I feel bad but I actually don’t understand Chinese at all so I couldn’t figure out what this online journal’s name yet). Her article is written in Chinese so I can’t understand but I know it is about my research and other panel’s research about women and media in Asia. It is more than happy to read (even though I don’t understand Chinese) about the review of my research that was written by someone else.
Thank you Nicki Liu and hopefully we can meet some day in the conference again.
My Neighbor, Charles (이웃집 찰스) is a South Korean reality-variety show that airs on KBS 1TV every Tuesday night. I’m a big fan of this reality TV show (actually it is more like a documentary) because I can meet various people through this TV show. Of course sometimes I feel some of guests just wanted to promote their business (restaurants or cafes) but still I can see other people’s lives who immigrated to Korea for different reasons.
Yesterday, there were a lovely family who came from Egypt. Their father works so hard but it isn’t easy to save money for their three girls education and living expenses. So their mother tried to work for a living but she couldn’t speak Korean well. Finally she decided to sell her signature Egyptian food in a local market. (And her food looks so good!!)
This is a story from yesterday’s episode and the reason why I’m now talking about this TV show on this blog because of their mother. During her interview, she said that she wants to be an ajumma, Korean ajumma. And the producer asked her why? Her answer was very interesting and touching. She answered that Korean ajummas work a lot for their family compared with Egyptian women. Also Korean ajummas are fast and strong so their mother wants to be an ajumma.
I really impressed about her respondent about Korean ajumma. Yes, Korean ajummas are strong, fast and they work for their family in many ways. Of course there are some annoyed part such as they’re (some of them) sometimes loud and being meddlesome. But I think everyone can be loud or being meddlesome. Many times, we see ajummas with our biased views. I hope we should look at ajummas from various angles even though it will take some time to change our minds and society. We should.
There are various types of Mukbang in Korea. I just found this Grandmother’s channel on Youtube and she did Mukbang. Her Mukbang style is not very much different from any other Mukbang BJs’ videos but I still very happy to find these newer generation of Youtubers. I hope they (Ajumma or Grandmother Youtubers) produce ‘their own’ styles of videos on Youtube. I don’t mean that these videos aren’t good. At this stage, most of them (Grandmother or Ajummas) just produce videos very much similar to the other BJs’ Mukbang videos. If these newer Youtube generation create their own styles of Mukbang, it helps to broaden the content market of Mukbang videos in Korea.
But still, I’m so happy to watch the videos like this. Go Grandmothers and Ajummas!!!! And I really like her vlog (below)!!!
“Those ajummas? They’re just ajummas!!! They’re just ajummas who cook rice!!!”
(in Korea we have rice everyday so she meant those non-regular school meal service workers (mostly ajummas) as ‘AJUMMAS WHO JUST COOK RICE RATHER TAHN PROFESSIONAL WORKERS’)
Those non-regular workers went on strike because they had been unfairly treated in their workplaces. About this, First Vice Floor Leader of the People’s Party Lee Eon-joo made off-the-record remarked to reporters about ajummas. She degraded ajummas as ajummas who just cook rice rather than professional workers. This is so disappointing because our society (even Lee is an ajumma I can say) still have biased view about ajummas.
Do you think ajummas can’t be professional?
What do you mean they’re just ajummas?
Ajummas are just people who cook rice? (And what’s wrong with people who cook rice then?)
She shouldn’t say like that. NEVER!!! Ajummas are not different group of people as people like you, rather you’re also an ajumma. And what do you think about ajummas? She has strong gender stereotypes about ajummas I think. How can you lead and change our society with that prejudiced mind and thinking?
It’s been almost 1 year since I’ve submitted my PhD project. Now I’m waiting for the graduation ceremony in this Dec. YAY!!!
I planned to start doing a new project from this year but I haven’t started it yet because there’re so many things to be done by end of May. But I will try to start doing a new project asap. Also I should keep writing blog entries as well. FOR SURE!!
Oh My God!!! I’m so exciting to see this ‘Grandma’s Diary’ Youtube channel. I really like and find a variety of Korean Youtubers and watching their videos whenever I have spare time. And it was rare to find an ajumma Youtuber…BUT I found an amazing Youtuber today and the title of her channel is ‘Grandma’s Diary (박막례 할머니, Grandma Mak-Rye Park)’. The title is Grandma’s diary but I think she could be considered as an ajumma, too.
There is no subtitle for non-Korean speakers yet but you can understand what she’s saying through watching her videos. In the video that I share below shows that grandma Park explains how she does makeup for meeting a dentist. She is so lovely!
I went to Hongdae (Hongik University district in Seoul) and everyplace swarmed with people. There are a variety of shops, cafes, restaurants and small galleries in Hongdae area so I sometimes visit there to see what’s going on. (because cafes and shops are changing frequently) And on the street, I found so many street stalls are selling ‘mobile phone cases’ with various designs and characters. People in Korea keep changing their mobile phones cases because they think the cases are one of fashion accessories. So if you’re in Korea, especially in Seoul you can see many street stalls that sell mobile phone cases.
I read several journal articles before that are about the relationship between mobile phone accessories and personality. And I also agree that those mobile phone accessories are certainly showing every personality. So it might be interesting to investigate how different mobile phone cases characterise each person. (and what differences between different countries, culture, gender and etc.) And there will be ‘Ajummas’ favourite mobile phone cases, too!!!
Mangchi Ajumma, Emily Kim is a famous YouTuber who cook Korean food. She immigrated to the U.S. in 1992 with her family. She was almost addicted to computer gaming and spent her time at home after coming back from work. One day, her family recommended her spend time productively such as producing a cooking video rather than just playing computer game all day. So she started produce Korean food cooking video on YouTube and the number of subscribers of her channel are increasing dramatically.
In her video, she speaks English with her characteristic Korean accent. (no offence, I think her unique accent highlight her unique character of Korean American ajumma in her videos) Also her hair, fashion and makeup style tells how unique Mangchi Ajumma is! In the videos, she introduced so many dishes of Korean food and she explained ‘how to cook’ Korean food in easier ways than any other cook books, both for Koreans and foreigners.According to New York Times, it describes her as ‘Korean Julia Child!’
She also published a cookbook that is titled ‘Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking‘. And there is her own website, ‘www.maangchi.com‘. (You can watch all the Maangchi ajumma’s Korean cooking videos, information about Korean ingredients, (ingredients glossary) and any other useful information related to Korean culture, especially Korean food culture)).
I really want to interview this lovely maangchi ajumma someday soon.
This is very exciting example of smart ajumma, I can tell.
아줌마와 비아줌마를 구분짓는 요소는 보통 나이, 결혼유무, 외모등이 있지만 대부분 ‘중년여성 (40대 이상)’의 ‘아줌마같은’외모를 갖고 있는 여성을 우리는 흔히 아줌마라고 부른다. (내 논문에서도 항상 조심스러웠고 아직도 ‘아줌마’를 구분짓는 명확한 법적기준이 정해져있지만…) 하지만 아줌마라는 호칭은 여전히 부르는 사람도, 그 호칭을 듣게되는 상대방도 영 달갑지가 않다. 특히 우리나라 여성들이 되도록이면 피하고 싶은 ‘호칭’이 바로 ‘아줌마’이다. 이러한 분위기 때문인지 몰라도, 아줌마같지 않은 중년여성, 언니같은 중년여성등등 즉, ‘아줌마같지 않은’ 여성은 때로는 아니 많은 경우에 자기관리를 철저하게 하고 있는 ‘멋진 여성’으로 그려지고 있다. 아줌마라고 불리는게 뭔가 큰 잘못을 하고 있는것처럼 묘사하고 있는 몇몇 미디어들도 아직 꽤나 많이 있다.
어제 아침에 우연히 보게된 아침방송은 피부관리에 관한 이야기였다. 피부관리에 관한 이야기를 꺼내기에 앞서서 아줌마에 대한 이야기로 방송은 시작했다. 아줌마와 언니의 기준은 무엇인가?로 시작한 패널들의 이야기는 뭐 늘 그렇듯이 우리가 흔히 아는 ‘아줌마’에 대한 보통 사람들이 생각하는 에피소드들로 재미있게 이어나갔다. 목소리가 크다, 오지랖이 넓다, 등등 보통 우리가 아줌마들을 묘사할때 마다 등장하는 특징들로 아줌마에 대한 이야기는 계속되었다. 젊었을때는 아줌마라고 누가 등뒤에서 부르면 ‘당연히 나는 아니겠지’라는 생각으로 무시하고 지나쳤는데, 어느정도 나이가 들어가니 (40대 이상) 누군가 ‘아줌마!’라고 소리치면 자신을 부르는것 같아서 괜히 그 자리를 피하고 싶고 듣기 싫고 뭐 그런 불편한 마음이 든다고 패널들은 각자의 ‘아줌마’ 호칭에 관한 이야기들을 나누었다.
사실, ’40대이상의 기혼여성이면 당신은 아줌마입니다’라는 법적규정은 없다. 아직도 아니면 앞으로도 계속될 ‘아줌마’를 나누는 명확한 기준에 대한 논쟁은 끝이 없겠지만 그래도 우리 한국인들은 누가 아줌마인지, 누구에게 아줌마라고 불러야 할지를 어렸을때부터 터득한 문화/사회적인 경험을 통해 잘 알고 있다. (그리고 아줌마라고 부르면 안될 상대가 누구인지도 눈치로 다 알고 있다)
주민등록증과 같이 정확한 신분을 나타내주는 ‘아줌마 등록카드’가 있는것도 아니어서 아줌마와 비아줌마를 어떠한 기준으로 나눈다는것은 힘든일이고 또한 논란을 야기할수도 있는 것이다. (아줌마 등록카드라는것이 생겨나는것도 이상하고) 그리고 아줌마라는 그룹의 인식이 부정적으로 비추어져왔고, 그러한 분위기는 점점 나아지고 있다고는 하지만 여전히 아줌마라는 호칭을 부르기도, 불리워지기도 껄끄러운 것은 사실이다. 예전의 포스팅에서도 늘 언급했다시피 아주머니는 좀 더 고급스러워보이고 아줌마는 어딘가 낮추어 부르는듯한 느낌이 든다고 대답한 몇몇 설문자들의 대답들도 이해가 가기는 하지만 한편으로는 ‘아니 왜? 둘 다 같은 뜻인데’라는 생각도 하게 된다. 물론 이러한 ‘아줌마’혹은 ‘아주머니’ 호칭에 대해 판이하게 달라지는 반응은 아마도 그동안 우리사회가 얼마나 ‘아줌마’라는 호칭을 부정적으로 사용해왔고 또 생산해냈는지를 알 수 있게 해주는 좋은 예이다.
아무튼, 아줌마가 된다는것, 아줌마로 불리워진다는것 또 아줌마처럼 보여진다는것은 마치 자기관리를 하지않은 사람으로 미디어에서 비추고 있다. 위에서 언급한 한 방송사의 아침프로그램에서 ‘피부노화관리’에 대한 건강정보를 주면서 굳이 ‘아줌마’피부에서 ‘언니’피부로 가는 방법이라고 강조한것만 봐도 그렇다. 뭐 누구나 이해하기 쉽게 ‘아줌마’피부 보다는 ‘언니’피부 (노화가 된 피부와 젊어보이는 피부)가 보기 좋다라고 말하기 위해 ‘아줌마’와 ‘언니’를 사용한것은 알겠지만, 이러한 ‘아줌마=나이든 여자 vs 언니=젊은 여자’와 같은 논리는 이제 좀 벗어나도 되지 않을까 싶은 마음에서 이 글을 쓰게 되었다. 실제로 아줌마들도 피부관리와 같은 미용에 관심이 많은 분들이 엄청나다. 또한 아줌마들의 패션센스와 패션에 대한 관심도 높아서 이미 아줌마들을 주 고객층으로 삼는 브랜드들도 매우 다양하게 존재하고 있다.그런데, 아줌마를 계속 언니의 반대 즉 나이든여자와 젊은여자의 구도로만 보여준다면 아줌마에 대한 인식은 계속 부정적으로 그려지고 받아들여지게 될것이다.
쉽게 변하는것은 없다. 그리고 오랜 시간과 노력이 필요하다는 것도 모두가 알고 있는 사실이다. 아줌마에 대한 우리의 인식도 마찬가지이다. 아줌마라서, 아줌마 이기 때문에 편견을 갖고 그들을 대한다면 안될것이다. 아줌마 이니까, 아줌마 이기 때문에 그들만이 갖고 있는, 우리가 그동안 보지 못했던 그들만의 아줌마스러운 면모들을 찾아보려고 노력해보는건 어떨까.
I and my parents love going to 5-day market. 5-day markets (Oiljang Markets) are held every 5 days usually in the countryside of South Korea. In 5-day market, we can buy regional specialities that hardly found in a supermarket in my town. Especially, I love having local foods that local ajumma sellers cook with ingredients from their own farms.They look plain but the flavours of them are too beautiful for words.
I can meet so many ajummas in 5-day markets as well. Ajumma sellers bring and sell their harvests in this market to support their children’s education. And ajummas also purchase things they need in this market, too. These 5-day market is similar to the wash place in my PhD research, it is a kind of places where ajummas do social economy activities. Maybe I need to think more about the relationship between a 5-day market and our ajummas. But one thing that I can say is that 5-day market is another women’s place, especially place for ajummas.