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.
Why? What’s wrong with that?
As I mentioned how the first-birthday party (Dol Jan-chi) is important in Korea, most of parents (especially mothers) prepare the birthday party table with all their hearts for their birthday baby and the guests. At the birthday party, the party host (parents) share their baby’s growing diary during last 1 year through showing photos and a video. Furthermore, various interactive activities about their baby between the guests and the host such as quiz bring the guests to enjoy the baby’s first-birthday party better. Yes, this is a predictable baby’s first-birthday party even though you never experience it in Korea. (because birthday party is birthday party!)
But, one thing that I would like to introduce to you today is, there is an online first-birthday party in Korea today! The online first-birthday party (Online Dol Jan-chi) is literally means a birthday party for a baby who became 1 year old in an online space such as blog and social media. This online first-birthday party is now the trend among young Korean mums. Once they have the offline first-birthday party, then they celebrate their babies’ first-birthday party in online spaces (e.g. their blogs). For the offline birthday party, the guests are mostly their family members, colleagues and anyone who are very close to the baby’s parents. However, our mums and ajummas are now smart Ajummas (or smart mums)! They frequently cross the online and offline spaces through using the Internet connection and digital mobile devices such as smartphones in their everyday lives. These smart mums and ajummas enrich their networks wider and enjoy daily lives better through having unconstrained and borderless communication with their contacts in both online and offline spaces. Thus, the online first-birthday party (online Dol Jan-chi) is held for mums’ contacts whom are mostly ‘blog neighbours’. (blog neighbours= bloggers become neighbours through communicating in blog space, it is similar to follower or friends)
On online first-birthday party day, the host informs the date and time for the party through a blog post or a message. The party goes usually for 24 hours or few days. Then what the guests do or how do they enjoy the online party? It is very simple. The guests visit the blog and then they will watch a video or photos of baby’s growing diary for last one year. And usually there is a special event for the guests such as a quiz or leaving message for a baby on the blog. Once they write answers for the quiz or left birthday messages for the baby on the blog, the host (parents) pick some guests randomly to give lucky gifts. (Lucky gifts for the online first-birthday party are various such as a mobile voucher (Starbucks drink voucher), baby goods, cosmetics, movie tickets and etc.) The guests for this online first-birthday party are mostly ‘mums’ or ‘ajummas’ today, so the lucky gifts are prepared for especially for mums.
Here is a beautiful example of online first-birthday party (online Dol Jan-chi) on Naver blog, <jjorang’s>. On her blog, you will see what the online first-birthday party is.
Online first-birthday party (online Dol Jan-chi) will be proliferating continuously with the use of digital mobile technology is pervasive in our everyday lives, especially mums and ajummas in Korea. I think this (online first-birthday party [online Dol Jan-chi] could be explained as the digital remediation. However, it should be developed continuously. In other words,this kind of Korean traditional culture should be recreated and developed more to establish the unique Korean culture in online space rather than repeating the same thing (e.g.birthday party/online birthday party) by only changing the spaces (online or offline). Then we will have distinct traditional Korean culture that exist in online and offline (or in between online and offline). These two culture that are in different spaces develop their characters differently (because of the difference of spaces) but still, they were derived from the same root.
What do you feel about the first-birthday party? Of course, I don’t remember my first-birthday party but I do know my parents, grandparents and anyone who knew me came to the party to celebrate my first-birthday party almost thirty something years ago. We call it ‘Dol Jan-chi’ in Korean which means Dol is for first birthday and Jan-chi is for party. On first-birthday party, mothers (and fathers as well) prepare the special feast table, Dol-sang. On the Dol-sang, usually a book, money, rice, noodle, jujube, a pencil, thread are placed beforehand. When parents seat the baby in front of the table, the baby picks up one of the objects for fun, which helps the family to foretell the baby’s future. For example. if the baby picks thread, it means she or he will live a long life. There is a traditional Korean style Dol-sang for the baby’s first-birthday party, but mothers also do prepare the modern type of Dol-sang in these days. As other countries (I experienced that Australian people also think the first-birthday part is important like as Korean people) think the first-birthday party is important because the baby grows well last 12 months (1 year) and the parents also hope their baby lives well for the rest of her (or his) life. At the same time, the parents want to share the happiness with the guests and express appreciation to the guests as well. So they share the food that the parents prepared for and the guests give words of blessing to the birthday baby.
Like this, the first-birthday party is a big thing for the parents and the baby. So they try to prepare the ‘best’ birthday party for their baby and the guests. In my case, my grandma and mum prepared all the food at home for lots of guests. Yes, it was the home party which is very classic and traditional style of the first-birthday party. At that time (about 30 something years ago) this kind of first-birthday party was the only and common thing for everyone. How about today?
Some of my friends got babies and whenever I saw the photos of the first-birthday party on the Instagram, it is quite different from my birthday party. These days, the birthday table becomes more fancy (e.g. matching colours with dishes, flowers and props on the table) and the parents also prepare the ‘online first-birthday party’ besides the actual birthday party (offline birthday party).
In 2006, there was a service for a party given to a hundred-day-old baby in Cyworld. Similar to the first-birthday party (Dol Jan-chi), the hundredth day since the baby was born is important day to celebrate in Korea. Usually, this 100th day party isn’t as big as the first-birthday party but the parents still prepare the ‘white rice cake’ for 100 people includes their family, neighbours, friends or anyone they know. For the baby’s 100th day, Cyworld provided a service for the parents who wanted to celebrate their baby’s 100th day through Cyworld in 2006. Through using the baby Cyworld (specially designed for the parents who want to have online space for their baby), the parents were able to celebrate their baby’s birthday with their Cyworld Il-chon (Cyworld’s friends). Also, Cyworld gave 100 white rice cake for baby’s 100th day birthday, so the parents could send cyber-rice cake item to their fiends in Cyworld. With this cyber-rice cake, people could decorate their mini hompy. (It is common thing to distribute 100 white rice cake to people on baby’s 100th day birthday in Korea. People believe that distributing the white rice cake will bring the baby’s healthy life)
–I couldn’t find any image reference of the white rice cake item on Cyworld and the baby Cyworld couldn’t be found anymore.
Image from SK communications, <http://www.newswire.co.kr/newsRead.php?no=123837>
Blog post about ‘online first-birthday party’ will be uploaded soon.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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.