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!!!
I found this photo from one of my twitter friends today. These two ajummas put their mobile phone on the triport and watching TV through DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting) while they’re travelling in the subway in Seoul. They share the earphones as well.
I already wrote about how the subway is important for Seoulite’s daily life in my Master’s thesis that is called ‘Mobile Bang (2010)’. The subway shouldn’t be considered as just a sort of public transport. Rather it means a lot more for people in Seoul or South Korea. I call it as a Mobile Bang (room in English) and commuters do various things in the subway especially through uaing their smartphones while they’re travelling.
We’re now having very hot and humid days in South Korea (35c/70-80 % humidity). People want to find any place where they can avoid hot and humid weather. The subway could be one of those places I think. So I really love this photo and want to share these Smart Ajummas in Mobile Bang with you.
Thank you for my friend (from twitter) who allowed me to use this photo for this blog.
I can hear so many ajummas call other middle-aged women as ‘Ajumma’. For example, middle-aged women customers (ajummas) call other middle-aged women sellers, “Ajumma! How much is this?”. But when seller ajummas call customer ajummas, “Ajumma! Try some our Kimchi!”, customer ajummas feel uncomfortable. (I experienced so many times these situations when I went to market to buy something) In fact, the seller ajummas never call customer ajummas as ‘Ajumma’. Never!
This is irony because ajummas call other ajummas as an ajumma but those ajummas don’t want to be called as an ajumma by others include ajummas.
Music credit: Peppertones, ‘For all dancers’ (less than 5 seconds, looping)
I just played with the keynote to create a live photo video for this blog. All the videos are made with (include Digital Ppal-let-ter project) photos and keynote. This looping live photo video reminds me a rhizome movie (by Adrian Miles) that we’ve learnt at RMIT almost 10 years ago. I’m thinking to create short video clips (like this) through using keynote, live photo and maybe photo collage.
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.
Digital Ppal-let-ter is a new digital space which illustrates the interactively remediated space and time of both the wash place before the 1960s and Kakao Talk’s group chat room in the 21st century. Digital Ppal-let-ter will encourage audiences to consider the existence of middle-aged and married women’s communal space that has formed and has been developed by those women from the non-digital (pre-smartphone) era before the 1960s to the digital (smartphone) era in 2015.
Digital Ppal-let-ter will take both analogue and digital technology to present a new digital space where ajummas communicate with each other. It is an imaginary space located in a time of coexistence between the face-to-face communication era and the mobile digital communication era. In other words, Digital Ppal-let-ter is located in an in-between space and time of actuality and digitality. For this reason, the creative project of Digital Ppal-let-ter is a converged metaphorical space of communication that transcends time and space among middle-aged and married women in Korea.
I tried to do an installation art but I’ve changed to produce a video instead.
Digital Ppal-let-ter is an imaginary space that does not exist in the real world. However, it asks audiences to think about how communication amongst middle-aged and married women in Korea has always existed even though various communication tools and the locations of communal spaces have changed over time. Digital Ppal-let-ter aims to emphasise that specific features of communication have developed subliminally through continuous interactive communicating among middle-aged and married women in Korea.
Middle-aged and married women used to be considered a peripheral group by the digital technology industry in Korea whereas younger female groups were given attention. However, it is time to look intensively at how these middle-aged and married women, ajummas, communicate with each other in the pre-digital communication era before the 1960s to the digital communication era of today. In general, ajummas used to be considered a group of ordinary middle-aged and married women but they are not ordinary when people look at them with affection. The group ajummas now attract respectful attention from the digital technology industry and Korean society. The creative project Digital Ppal-let-ter presents how the ordinary but not ordinary ajummas build their own communal spaces and have their own ways of communicating which have developed in line with technological developments in communication
Digital Ppal-let-ter is based on Korean sentiment but the convergence of digital and analogue technology in the project is universally relatable. To create this complicated but poetic and new experimental media art project that includes interdisciplinary academic research and mixed media art forms.
For my PhD thesis, I had to write a dissertation (thesis) and make a create project. This creative project is generally called as a project-led research but my PhD project is different. I rather call my creative project as ‘research-led project’. Digital Ppal-let-ter project (Creative project) is mostly based on academic research then I put my imagination to create this Digital Ppal-let-ter project. Without advanced academic research about ajummas and their use of smartphones in everyday practices, Digital Ppal-let-ter couldn’t be created at all.
To create this project, I tried to use many different ways of ‘making’ an art work. I’m not an artist and my background is fully media studies. I had various experiences of working in the media industry and I worked as a script writer, producer, video editor, etc. I know how to use tools for making a film but I don’t want to make an actual film for this project. I rather try to experiment using non-professional filmmaking tools for this project. I always admire people who propose a new method so I tried to find a new method for this project. Through this blog, I will explain how I made this video with my own ways of using tools and softwares.
Firstly, I used still photos for Digital Ppal-let-ter project. The photos for the Digital Ppal-let-ter project were all taken on a iPhone 5 over a period of 2 years from 2014 to 2015. The majority of photos were taken in Seoul, South Korea. The subjects of the photos are mostly middle-aged women, ajummas, in Seoul. The photos were taken randomly in Seoul during the field research in 2014 and 2015. The reason why an iPhone was used as a camera for this project is because it has many advantages such as portability, convenience and instantaneous viewing. Using an iPhone camera for making this creative project has reminded me of the diverse theories about digital communication technology, especially the use of mobile communication devices (e.g. smartphones).
An iPhone allowed me to take photos whenever I found suitable subjects.I became a ‘phoneur’ (2006, Luke) as I took photos while observing people and the city in Seoul and it became a natural part of daily life during my stay in Seoul for the field research in 2014 and 2015.
The subjects of the photos that were used in the video were not asked for permission, however their faces were covered by a hand-drawn sticker of a smiley face to protect each subject’s privacy.
Most photos of ajummas that were used in the video are not taken from the front and some of them are blurry. Consequently, the subjects in the photos that were used in the video are not recognisable. In addition, the video in the Digital Ppal-let-ter project is not made for commercial use, rather it is produced entirely for a creative project which is a part of the PhD research project. For this reason, the privacy issues of photos that were used in the video should not be a problem at all.
I found a painting from the late 18th century during Jo Seon Dynasty, when it was very Confucius society in Korea. The painting by Hong Do Kim (see above) is about the wash place. The most represent characteristic of his painting was “true-view landscape painting”. He illustrated the everyday lives of ordinary people in his paintings. In this painting, he actually satirised “scholar gentleman class’s Confucian society”. There are various paintings about the wash place in Korea but I chose his work because I thought this painting describes the wash place of the past vividly.
This painting is about the wash place, but as you can see, that guy (yang ban, scholar gentleman class) is looking at the women secretly hiding behind the rocks because he wanted to know what happens in the place of only women are allowed. In the late 18th century in Korea, (actually it was called Jo Seon Dynasty), these scholar gentleman class were usually known as being respectable and being laid off women. This painting is about the wash place, but at the same time it is actually about satirising the voyeurism of ‘scholar gentleman class’s Confucius society’ in Korea.
Also, it can be emphasised that the wash place was a space of women where men were prohibited to come tacitly. This painting is supposed to be one of the relevant references to support the idea that the wash places were women’s space where men are restricted to come in except children.
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.
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.