A trot song is for ajummas?

I’ve already posted this video of Digital Ppal-let-ter project that is a part of my research project. For this video, I used two trot songs as a background music. When I chose these trot songs as bg music, I thought that using this kind of songs for my video should enhance people to get inspired for better understanding about Korean culture. Well, we have K-Pop (idols, girl groups, etc.) but for me, these songs are inadequate to support my video project that is about Ajummas who are women in Korea. I consider choosing songs and I finally found one song that is about ajummas. The song called, Ajumma by Jinah Tae has very simple lyrics but it encourages ajummas to keep enjoying their lives as ajummas in Korea. Also, there’re not enough (maybe this song is the only song about Ajummas with positive lyrics as far as I know) songs about ajummas. I’ve changed songs for the video several times and I discussed carefully about choosing music with my supervisors all the time. Finally, I put that song for my video and I believed and still believe that the song supports the story (or research) of the video. Moreover, it enhances people (audiences) to somewhat better understand Korean ajummas’ culture. But, some people criticised the usage of this song for the video about ajummas. They thought this song (trot songs) is cheesy and it could remind audiences about stereotypes of ajummas. In other words, the trot songs are cheesy and not classy songs. So the purpose of choosing the cheesy trot song for the video is because ‘I (a researcher)’ look down upon Ajummas.

Okay, I accept those feedback or criticism from others. But, let me talk about this again. The problem is not about a song in this video, I think. The problem is ourselves. I know how women in Korea were persecuted under patriarchal society for ages so Korean women had to receive unfair treatment only because we were women. One of Korean female group, ajummas, they were also treated, showed, described and accepted negatively. For many reasons, being ajummas and calling as ajummas is not pleasant. But, in my experiences, we (women) disdain ajummas, being ajummas and living as ajummas so many times and cases. In the case of using that trot song for the video, I never assume that trot songs are for ajummas and ajummas have no interest of listening pop songs, hiphop or electronic music. My mum loves listening to classical music and one of my friend enjoys listening to trot musics. I don’t generalise any thing between different generations. Of course, there are preferences of something between different generations, but I always think I shouldn’t generalise people only because their age differences.

If they (people who criticised me of using trot songs for this video) think the usage of trot songs for this video is because I have a prejudice against ajummas, then I want to say them to break your biased perspective about ajummas first. It will take time to change but I want to keep writing that calling as ajummas and being ajummas are not that unpleasant thing what some people detest to be ajummas.

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miso-ajumma?

“Don’t call us as ajumma!”, “You just try to glorify ajummas!”, “Ajummas are different people from us, they’re low-educated and from the countryside!”

I can’t write every single reaction from people when I presented my research about Ajumma in one conference last time. Yes, I was pretty shock to get those reactions. They were Korean middle-aged women. They’re all working moms and I don’t want to specify their personal backgrounds any more.

When I wrote about Yeohyeom (misogyny in some way) before, I thought there is ‘miso-ajumma in Korea as well. Misogyny is combined by two words, miso+gyny so I just combined miso and ajumma which means dislike of ajummas. I know the people (not every one) are not happy about ajummas and people don’t want to be (or called as) ‘ajummas’ at the same time. The title of ajumma is for middle-aged women in Korea. I already explained the origin of the word ajumma, there’s no such negative meanings are included with the word ajumma. One of the women from the conference argued that using the word ajumma is only for the maid women or women who served in the restaurants.  And another woman also told me that the word ajummas should be used only for older women who are low-educated, full-time housewives with ajummarous fashion style. WHAT?????

I know calling as ‘ajummas’ are still unwelcome thing for women in Korea because of biased perspective about ajummas through various types of media (TV dramas, commercials, blogs, social media etc.) we meet everyday. But I don’t understand why calling women as ‘ajummas’ is such insulting remarks? And why those middle-aged women (who don’t want to be called as ajummas) have condescending attitude and thought about ajummas? (the maid, low-educated, etc.)

I found miso-ajumma from this experience. Why did they think ‘middle-aged women’ are better than ‘ajummas’? What kind of standards do they base their conclusion on? Like an example of Kim Yeo-sa (Mrs. Kim), some or many of ajummas are the target of hatred only because they are ajummas. (I don’t mean that ‘Kim Yeo-sa’ have no problem at all, you should read the related article about Kim Yeo-sa (pink coloured linked one just above)). It was very difficult to keep writing this post about misoajumma or misogyny. Maybe it is still complicated to understand what misogyny is in contemporary society in Korea. At the same time, it is very careful to write about this issue in Korea at this time. So it takes so long to finish this post and I will write more about this later for sure.