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.

Happy Buddha’s birthday!

image
Wish stone tower 소원 돌탑
image
Wind-bell 풍경
image
Bongeunsa Temple 봉은사

I mentioned before, there are so many special days in May in Korea. Yes, you can tell what I’m talking about when you read my posts in May. They are all about special days!

Today is Buddha’s Birthday so my family went to the Bongeunsa Temple near my house. My family is catholic but we go to the temple on special day like today. I saw so many ajummas to wish and pray for their family.

I will write more ajumma-related blog post next week. Enjoy Buddha’s birthday!

전에도 말했다시피, 한국의 5월은 날씨도 너무 아름답지만 특별한 날들이 참 많다. 어린이날 어버이날 부처님오신날 스승의 날 등등! 오늘은 바로 부처님 오신날! 그래서 부모님과 함께 집근처 봉은사에 갔었다. 우리집은 가톨릭 신자지만 이런 날에는 절에 가서 구경도 하고 한다. 종교가 다르다고 남의 종교가 틀린건 아니니까, 그리고 모든 종교는 다 연결되어 있다고 생각도 든다. 결국 착하게 남을 도우며 성실하게 잘 살기위해 종교를 갖는것 아니겠는가? (종교적인 부분은 매우 예민하니까 이쯤에서 그만)

오늘도 봉은사에서 많은 아줌마들을 봤다. 기도를 드리고 돌탑을 쌓아두고 등을달고 초에 불을 붙이고…이는 모두 그들의 가족들의 안녕을 위한 것이리라 생각이 든다. 우리의 모든 어머니들 즉 우리의 모든 아줌마들이 그렇게 가족을 위해 또 오늘도 살아간다.

아줌마들 모두 화이팅! 그리고 다음주에는 아줌마에 대한 포스팅을 곧 올리겠다! 즐거운 연휴 보내시길!

요즘

블로그가 조용하다. 쓸거리는 머릿속에 많은데 바쁘다는 핑계로 글을 못올리고 있다. 사실 이번주에 포스팅하려고 했는데 월요일부터 팔을 다치는 바람에 지금도 아이폰으로, 한손으로 타이핑 하는중!

image

다음주에 아줌마에 관련된 포스팅 바로 올라옵니다! 판타스틱한 오월의 하늘을 마음껏 즐기시길!!!!

Happy Parents’ day!

image
캡션 입력

Happy Parents’ Day to all the mums and dads in the world! Yes we have Parents’ day on 8th May every year.

Thank you for your unconditional love to my mum and dad! Love you so much. You are the best parents for me.

어버이날 모두 감사합니다! 사랑합니다!

Happy Children’s day!

image.jpeg

The pink balloon is waiting for the Children’s day parade. (어린이날 기념 행사를 위해 기다리고 있는 분홍 풍선)

5th May is Children’s day in Korea. And this week we have Parents day on 8th as well. May is a family month for us and there will be Ajumma day on 31st!

Happy Children’s day and I will be back with new blog post soon.

 

Another new project for Ajummas

IMG_6226

I tried to make Ajumma dolls before I made a Digital Ppal-let-ter video. Now, I’m thinking to do something very exciting and fun project for Ajummas. I can’t say the clear idea for this new project yet but one thing I can say for now is that this project will be enjoyable for everyone (not too serious or academic project). Through this blog, I will keep posting articles about ajummas (from academic research to miscellaneous stories) and at the same time I will upload the new project for ajummas as well.

Ajummas!

image.png

Image was captured from Jamie Oliver’s Instagram

As you can see the captured photo above, Jamie Oliver mentioned about Ajumma (he typed as ajoomma). Yes, ajummas are strong  and at the same time lovely women. I’m so glad to read his comment about ajumma. They are part of our culture, I think.

아줌마, 하우머치 이즈잇 (how much is it)?

일요일 오후에 가족끼리 점심식사를 하러 나갔다. 주말마다 장도보고 커피도 마시고 밥을 먹는 일이 우리 가족에겐 일상이다. 명동에 잘 가는 중국집이 일요일이라 문을 닫은 탓에 한 번도 가보지 않았던 그 옆에 있는 다른 중국집에 가서 먹었는데 맛은 역시 우리가 늘 가던 그 집과는 비교가 안된다. 그래도 뭐 우리 가족은 중국음식은 워낙 다 좋아하는 편이라 시켜놓은 음식을 다 먹고 명동을 벗어나 광장시장에 들렀다. 배도 부르고 해서 시장구경도 할 겸, 또 오늘은 엄마가 얇은 이불 (거실에서 가볍게 덮을 수 있는)을 하나 사고 싶다고 하셔서 겸사겸사 그렇게 시장구경에 나섰다.

광장시장이 유명해지기 전의 모습은 이제 찾아볼 수 없는 정말 잇 플레이스가 되어버린 광장시장의 모습을 볼 때 마다 놀랜다. 어렸을때 아빠따라 구경왔을때만 해도 ‘아는 사람들’만 오던 그런 시장의 모습이었는데 지금은 남녀노소 그리고 외국인 관광객들까지 오고 싶어하는 곳이 되었다니 왜 내가 다 기분이 좋은지! (싱가폴에서 친구녀석들이 왔을때도 광장시장 가고 싶다고 해서 지하철 타고 가는 법을 일러주었었다)

대구탕집이 즐비한 곳을 지나기 직전에 이불집을 발견한 엄마는 가게안으로 들어가 사고싶은 이불을 고르고 있었고 나와 아빠는 가게안에 너무 비좁았기때문에 밖에서 기다리고 있었다. 그러던 중 외국인 관광객들이 그 가게 앞에서서 베개와 이불을 들춰보며 관심을 보이기 시작했고, 안에 있던 또 다른 아줌마 한 분이 나왔다. 그 외국인이 이불을 가르키며, “아줌마 how much is it?” 이라고 했고 아줌마는 “만오천원!” 이라고 대답했다. 이 둘 사이에는 소통이 전혀 되지 않았고, 아줌마는 아줌마대로 또 외국인은 외국인대로 답답해 하던 차에, 이 오지랖 넓은 내가 중간에 나서서 영어로 값을 알려주었다. 외국인은 이것저것 가격을 계속 물어보더니 이내 이불하나를 사갔다. 아줌마가 고맙다고 하셨는데 아 뭐 한것도 없는데 괜히 좀 그랬다.

아무튼, 여기서 내가 놀라고 기분좋았던 건, 바로 그 외국인들이 “아줌마” 라는 호칭을 사용한 점이다. 아줌마 라는 호칭은 많은 뜻을 포함하고 있는데 동시에 한문장으로 정의내리기가 쉽지 않다는 점도 있다. 한국에만 존재하는 이 아줌마라는 존재는, 한국의 문화와 한국의 사회를 모두 포함하고 있는 것이다. 내가 논문에서 말했듯이 영어권의 ‘excuse me’와 같이 이름도 성도 모르는 중년 여성을 부를때 혹은 식당에서 주문을 하고 싶을때 등의 경우에 한국에서는 ‘아줌마’라는 단어를 쓰기도 하지만, 아줌마는 그보다 더 다양한 뜻을 포함하고 있음이 분명하다. 그리고 또한 아줌마라는 호칭을 사용함으로써 그 외국인들은 그 이불집 주인 아줌마에 대한 친근함을 표시하고 더 나아가 가격흥정도 노려볼 수도 있는것이다. 즉 아줌마라는 호칭은 ‘중년여성’을 하찮게 여겨 사용하는 호칭이 아닌, 친근함의 표시라고 난 생각한다.

하지만, 지난 학회에서 나는 아줌마에 대한 다양한 의견을 가진 분들의 의견을 들었었다. 이것에 대한 포스팅은 따로 적을 예정인데, 우선 그러한 의견들이 나온데에는 아마도 첫째, 나의 발표가 뭔가 문제가 있었다고 생각한다 (내탓이오). 그리고 또 한가지는 아줌마에 대한 괜한 편견과 자격지심을 가지고 있는게 아닌가 하는 생각도 든다. 가장 화가 났던건, 아줌마는 ‘교육을 덜 받은’ 중년여성들로써 다른 중년여성 그룹과 다르다 라고 보는 그런 ‘편협한 시각’을 가진 몇몇 분들의 의견 때문이었다. 왜 아줌마는 기분나쁜 호칭이 되어야만 하는가? 왜 아줌마라는 호칭은 사라져야만 하는가? 그렇다면 여사님, 사모님은 과연 그들이 말하는 바람직한 호칭이 될 수 있을까?

 

Ajumma, how much is it?

Today, I went out with my parents to have lunch together. We had Chinese food in Myeong-dong and headed to Dongdaemun area to visit Gwangjang Market. Gwangjang Market is famous with variety of street foods and other stuff such as Hanbok (Korean traditional dress). And this market is also well known to travellers who visit Korea.

We also love visiting Gwangjang Market just for browsing. When we visited to this market today, my mum wanted to buy a blanket for spring. Yes, they sell blankets in reasonable price but the quality is very good. Anyway, when my mum went into one shop to browse blankets, me and my dad were waiting for her outside because the shop was very tiny to fit ourselves into.

At that time, five foreigners were looking at pillows and blankets of that shop. They’ve asked price for those items to the shop owner.

“Ajumma! How much is it?”

I smiled when I heard that word, Ajumma! Then, the ajumma came out of the shop and told them (almost yelled) the price in Korean. They couldn’t understand and the ajumma tried to explain the price with her fingers. So I just translated the price from Korean to English. Both the ajumma and those travellers became happy because the ajumma could sell the blanket and they could buy the blanket.

The point what I want to tell you is how the word Ajumma is getting familiar with people even though they are foreigners! Ajumma is our culture and this word presents the familirity and warmness of middle-aged Korean women I think and I saw. I went to one of the conference in Korean last week and I got attacked from some of audiences about using the word Ajumma. They mentioned that using the word of ajumma could be lead disdaining the Korean middle-aged women. (I will write more about this issue for next blog post, there are so many things that I really want to write about).

Anyway, ajummas are our culture I no longer thinking the word ajummas are the one that disdains the middle-aged women in Korea.

엄마 티비, Umma (mom) TV

image.png

I just found a TV program by EBS that is called ‘Umma TV’ (mom TV) last night. Moms become directors so they produce a documentary about certain topics. I have to watch each episode first then I will discuss about this tv program asap. I am so glad that moms actually ‘produce’ documentaries with their own views. Yes this is very good movement for our moms and ajummas!

 

Any apps especially for ajummas?

Ajummas are now smart ajummas. They do mobile communication through using their smartphones in their daily lives. It is not a special thing to meet ajummas use their smartphones to take photos on the street or playing games in the bus while they’re travelling, etc. They are not outsiders of new technology any more. Who knows? They will be techno-savvy someday soon in the future, I sure. But I think there’s not enough apps for ajummas now! In my mother’s case, she loves playing Anipang and her friends send ‘hearts (lives to play Anipang)’ with each other almost every hour or more than three times per day. (my mum loves Anipang)

Anipang was very popular about 5 years ago and people rarely play that game any more, but my mum and her friends do! My mum said that Anipang is a simple to play but still very exciting. And I just ask her trying other games as well but she said other games are too complicated to play. And she and her friends use almost same apps everyday. I know and you know there are plenty of apps are inventing and developing every seconds and overtime it is so hard to choose one app among thousands of apps. But this story is only for us, not my mother and her friends at all.

Of course, she uses various apps such as public transport tips, schedule, radio, etc. But I think there’s not enough apps were developed that targets for only ajummas, middle-aged women in Korea. The biggest problem (I think) is there’s not enough research about ‘needs for ajummas’ has done yet. Ajummas and Ajeossi (middle-aged married men) are just use apps that were developed for younger people the most, I can say.

If I have any chance, I really want to research and develop the apps, especially for ajummas and ajeossis. I really hope. Then my mother, her friends and ajummas in Korea will enjoy and enrich their mobile communication through using smartphones.

Digital (SNS) Swish of Skirt 2

About 3 months ago, I talked about Digital Swish of Skirt on this blog. As I mentioned in the previous blog, the swish of skirt means that mothers are getting overly involved in the schooling for their children, especially during 1980s in Korea. Due to the increase of using smartphones among mothers (ajummas), they are now getting involved in the schooling for their children through using their smartphones.

The use of smartphones brought a variety of advantages to our daily lives, this is so true. However, everything is a double-edged sword. Digital swish of skirt actually let mothers (ajummas) get involved in the schooling for their children easily. Through using various apps that are relevant to their children’s education, these mothers (ajummas) are able to control or help their children’s education systematically. They could share useful and voluminous information with each other instantaneously and directly.Without visiting every private educational institutes, these mothers (ajummas) can get information for their children’s educational needs. Besides, they are able to hear living opinions from other mothers who are in the same boat.

However, this SNS or Digital swish of skirt also have problems although there are a variety of advantages of doing Digital (or SNS) swish of skirt among mothers (ajummas). I don’t mean that these mothers are people who cause problems at all. They are too passionate about their children’s education (all of mothers are in the world) and the use of social media encourages them to get more involved into having the swish of skirt for their children because they are mothers and ajummas who love their children the most.

digital_swishofskirt.001

This Digital (SNS) swish of skirt tired teachers out. Mothers (ajummas) left comments or questions about schooling on teachers’ Instagram accounts. And you also know that, the advantages of using social media (well, it sometimes could be ‘disadvantages’) is ‘you can be always on’ and ‘you can contact someone instantaneously through using your smartphones’ without having barriers of time and space. YES, YOU CAN!

So, teachers are actually working for their students and parents for 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, like a convenience store. Of course they don’t have to answer or react to every single comment or question of mothers that are left on Instagrams, but you know…it is a delicate situation for teachers I reckon.

http://news.sbs.co.kr/news/endPage.do?news_id=N1003462876

(News article about SNS swish of skirt, SBS.co.kr)

Of course I don’t mean that I don’t understand these mothers (ajummas). I fully understand how these mothers are passionate about their children’s education and what they want to do for their children. However, I think that we should concern about the use of social media on our smartphones more carefully. The one of biggest advantage of using smartphones is that it allows us to have instantaneous mobile communication but it doesn’t mean that ‘you can get answers from her (or him) whenever you ask’. Especially, the teachers are working in the school for working hours and after hours are their own time to enjoy themselves. At the same time, social media such as Instagram is a personal space where people share their personal stuff with others, so I think mothers (ajummas) should respect the privacy of teachers in Instagram. If mothers (ajummas) have any questions about their children, they should use other ways to contact to teachers rather than leaving comments on photos of Instagram.

Also, I expect that a useful and helpful social media should be developed that satisfy both mothers (ajummas) and teachers. This social media will help mothers keep continuing Digital swish of skirt for their children and at the same time this Digital swish of skirt won’t disrupt teachers’ privacy and their own free time after working hours. I think Digital swish of skirt or swish of skirt is a desirable thing if there is a good balance between mothers’ passion about their children’s education and mothers’ concern about teachers’ privacy in their private social media spaces.

So it is all about passion and concern I think.