Kakao Talk & Wash Place (Ppal-let-ter)

In the post about ‘Kakao Talk vs Wash Place‘, I wrote  what wash place worked as women’s communal place in Korea and how Kakao Talk and wash place could be similar with each other even though these places are located in dissimilar space and time. Kakao Talk’s group chat room of ajummas is located in the mobile space where we cannot do actual visit, whereas wash place was the actual place where village women could visit. In other words, wash place is a physical space and Kakao talk’s group chat room is a non-physical space that is located in the third space.

However, I think these two different places are very much alike with each other. In my research, I found six similarities between Kakao Talk’s group chat room in 2016 and wash place in 1960s. One of those similarities is both Kakao Talk’s group chat room and wash place act like a bridge between pre-meeting to post-meeting. Here is what one of my interviewees told about Kakao talk’s group chat room during having focus group interview. She explained how Kakao talk’s group chat room works for meetings with her friends.

R Hwang: 

Chatting in group chat room is also like an epilogue. After the actual meeting we can review about the meeting. And we suggest ideas for next meeting as well.

Like Kakao Talk’s group chat room, wash place in 1960s was also a bridge that connected previous meetings to following meetings. When village women came to wash place, they continued to talk about stories last time and they maybe meet again for the next time again in this same wash place. They probably didn’t make a confirmed appointment of meeting in wash place, but they could meet with each other again in wash place for the next time because these village women had to come to wash place for doing their laundry regularly. For this reason, Kakao Talk’s group chat room among ajummas and wash place in 1960s among village women are like a bridge that connect to the previous meeting to the following meeting.


Kakao Talk vs Wash place

After survey and Focus group interview, I suddenly realised that Kakao Talk can be a women’s communal space in these days. Of course Kakao Talk is not designed for only women and many people use it every day regardless of the age and genders. However, their group chat rooms, the chat rooms for ajummas where they’ve created and they’re involved in. That can be a women’s communal place, I reckon. So I started to find a women’s communal spaces. Hair shop, Sauna, etc. But I want to find a ‘Korean’ women’s communal spaces. For this reason, I found the wash place.

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Of course, every country has or had the wash place. But, Korean wash place was a bit different from any others’. We don’t have to go to the wash place to do laundry today due to almost every house have technologically developed and upgraded washing machines. Or there are coin laundry shops nearby our houses. Whereas, back in 1960s, going to the wash place and doing the laundry is must do thing for women in Korea. And this wash place was like a multiplex where women not only do their laundry but also meeting others and even taking bathes.

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They don’t make an appointment for meetings, but they expected to meet someone whoever they go to the wash place and of course they could meet someone in that place. As a social place, women in Korea they could share useful information or sometimes just mundane gossips about their mother-in-law, etc.

Thus, wash place for women in Korea during 1960s was not a place only for doing their laundry. It is more like a communal space at that time. Wash place during 1960s in Korea was considered as a ‘women-only communal space’ even though there was no law and regulations that prohibited men to come in.

Women in Korea (1) 1970s

To talk about women in Korea is not easy and  complicated to explain in this blog post. However, one thing that I can say is Korean women became  great power to support whenever we have difficulties and they were backbone of the growth of Korean economy. So I will write about ‘Women in Korea’ and I categorised by chronological order because ‘Women in Korea’ is a big topic to write in one post.

(1)1970s (After the Korean War)

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 12.28.16 PMWomen in Korea, they have contributed to the country’s economic development. Just after the Korean War during 1950s to 1970s, large numbers of female factory workers made a significant contribution to export-led industrialisation. Today, there are so many things or almost everything is made in China, but during that time, especially 1970s made in Korea products were famous in the world. One of my aunty lives in the USA and she said that many of made in Korea products were easily found such as stuffed dolls (e.g. teddy bear), wigs, socks, etc.

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Representative Exports during 1960s-1970s (taken in Seoul Museum of History)

Young girls worked in the factory instead of going to schools because they had to earn money for their family. They stayed in the factory dormitory and worked all day. Those young girls are now became ajummas today and they are aged over 60s like my mother’s generation.

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I will talk about ‘Women in Korea (2) Before IMF (International Monetary Funds)’ for next post.