Ajumma fans at the concert, so what?

Fandom culture is very strong in Korea as well as other countries. A variety types of fan clubs are formed and those fans do many activities for their ‘stars’. Like other communities, fan clubs are considered as one of communities with people who got the similar interests each other. In this case, similar interest should be a ‘star’. A star could be sportswoman/man, actors, artists, singers, models, writers, filmmakers, politicians (maybe?), or even characters of animation or comic books whom are living in the imaginary space. Among these examples of fan club, I would like to talk about a case of one of band’s fan club in Korea.

Twitter is a sort of an intersection for people to share common or uncommon ideas and thoughts. I didn’t use tweeter for last few years but now I’m one of active users of tweeter. There are many reasons why I use twitter but one reason could be that it is useful to share information from other fans about my favourite singer. At the same time, we could share the concert review with each other after every concert. Actually I’m not a very active fan like other fans, but I could be an active fan through interactive communication with other fans on twitter whom I followed. Even though we never tweetup before but we meet almost everyday on twitter. It is so glad to know someone who have same interests with me and share our thoughts about the same thing together.

However, it happened few days ago. There is another online community website for this singer and a sort of a quarrel between fans was occurred. These fans argue about something related to the singer on the BBS. I have no interest in this online community website at all, so I didn’t know about this website that much. But one thing I knew about this website is that most of them who take very active roles are quite younger than other old fans of the singer. Anyway, there’s a quarrel between fans and one of fans wrote her or his thought on the BBS. I was outraged at the way she/he had written. Here is a sentence that makes me uncomfortable.

“Some of old fans are annoying and they’re mean towards younger fans, and you know what? The concert was teeming with ajumma fans!!!”

Well, it was interesting to me to know what younger people consider old woman (they think over 30s is ‘old’, she/he wrote). And it’s not shocking the way this kind of people think about ajummas or old woman because I’m a researcher or a sort of expert of ajumma research, so I know. But I was angry to read that sentence because of their old-fashioned mind or thinking about women, especially old women (over 30s is OLD? of course it is not young age but not too old yet?).

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(Ajumma fans at the Yong Pil Cho‘s concert, image from: http://5505.ohmynews.com, or click the image to visit the website)

What’s wrong with old women? (over 30s?) Is there any law and regulations that old women (over 30s) are prohibited to come to the concert? And what’s wrong with ajummas? Okay, if they’re official ajummas, SO WHAT? You know what? The singers you like are over 30s too. Then, why do you think only female fans who are over 30s should be treated as annoying ajummas? As I mentioned in previous post, I think they have a sort of misogynistic perspective towards women, especially non-younger women.

According to them, I’m an ajumma because I’m over 30. But I will keep going and enjoying their concert as much as I can. I don’t care what others think about ajummas (women who are over 30s, they said). But one thing that I feel disappointed is their prejudiced and outdated view of ajummas. Oh, don’t forget! You’ll be an ajumma very soon, too.

 

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Ajumma-Selca by Incheong Lee 2008

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(Click the photo above, there are more photos of Ajumma-Selca and information about this project (but in Korean))

I found Korean artist Incheong Lee’s Ajumma-Selca by chance this morning. There aren’t enough references or related articles about her ‘Ajumma-Selca’ but I realised that how her artwork and Digital Ppal-let-ter (and Smart Ajumma research) are similar with each other in some ways. Of course these two different project are about Ajummas but they’re not only talking about a profound discourse of Ajummas. Rather I (and maybe she as well) tried to express the daily life of ajummas pleasantly. (I know there was, is and will be a controversy over talking about ajummas, using the title of ajummas, and etc.)

Anyway, Lee’s Ajumma-Selca is about a tiring and tedious (or sometimes enjoyable as well) daily life of ajummas. She put the wooden-ajumma doll in the situated frame (e.g. kitchen) of photos to reflect her (or other ajummas) lives. Thus, the each photo is a sort of ‘ajumma-selca’ that shows ajumma-selves through a wooden ajumma doll.

 

Yakult Ajumma is now on The Wall Street Journal!

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(Click the image to read the news article about Yakult Ajumma by The Wall Street Journal)

 

The Wall Street Journal reported about Korean Yakult Ajumma (delivery women they described) and their mobile yakult cart. It is so exciting to read about our Yakult Ajumma in the wall street journal! I’ve already written about them in my blog, ‘Smart Yakult Ajumma(25/01/2016)‘.

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.

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.

 

 

 

Misogyny=?=Yeohyeom

In the previous post, I wrote about Yeohyeom that means people (mostly men I can say) hate women without obvious reasons. Then, we can say the Korean term “Yeohyeom” can be translated to misogyny in English. Well, both terms present similar meanings (e.g.strong dislike of women) but I think they’re a bit different in some ways. Whenever I have to write my thesis about some Korean cultural things, I felt difficult to find the right word. I’m not sure how the word ‘Misogyny’ is using in English-speaking world. But the word misogyny has more complex meaning about ‘dislike of women’ I understand. However, the word Yeohyeom is now too fragmentarily understood and spoken by people (mostly men) who strongly dislike women in Korea. In social media, some of men said, “I don’t have Yeohyeom because I like women, lol (laugh)”. It doesn’t matter whether you “LIKE WOMEN” or not when we talk about Yeohyeom. It is about your thinking, attitude, perspective, respect to women as human beings like you.

Women in Korea fight against the Yeohyeom phenomenon since ‘Sora.net‘ (crime site name). We gathered signatures to reveal that crime site and further to shut the Sora.net in the end. Now women in Korea stand together against unfair ‘Yeohyeom’ and especially in various social media (e.g. Facebook and Twitter) through sharing information, articles, videos and photos. (I’m still understanding and researching about this issue so I will keep updating about Yeohyeom and Korean women’s against Yeohyeom especially in social media continuously)

Through this, I could think about another type of misogyny which is different from this Yeohyeom (dislike of women). It is a ‘strong dislike of Ajumma’. Regardless of men, women or other genders, (of course not every one in Korea) people in Korea have biased perspective about Ajummas and some of them hate Ajummas without an obvious reason. For the next post, I will talk about the ‘dislike of ajummas’, ‘Ajumma-Hyeom’. (Hyeom-O means ‘Strong Dislike’ in Korean)

 

Yeo-hyeom, 여혐?

In the previous blog post, I talked about a tragedy in Gang Nam Station, Seoul. A young college woman was stabbed to death in a crazy murderer attack. This murder thought women always ignored him so he planned to kill ‘any’ women on that day.

Yes, this is heinous crime and now we (Koreans) are at a loss what to do. There was a heated debate about the right of women in Korea for a long time but after this crazy incident, the debate about ‘living as women in Korea’ brings related hot arguments among people, especially in various social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

A Yeo-hyeom phenomenon is an example. Yeo-hyeom is a new coined Korean word and it means an attitude that someone (mostly (some sort of)men) hates women abnormally without obvious reason/ or someone hates women abnormally because women are women.

Of course, I cannot generalise ‘every men’ in Korea have Yeo-hyeom mind to women, some of men in Korea, I hope. But the one obvious thing is there is a debate about this phenomenon (Yeo-hyeom) between men and women. For me, as a women who lives in Korea, I was also furious when I read this crazy incident and I understand why there is a continuous argument about this tragedy what ‘men’ did to ‘women’. I know it should not be a dichotomous fight between ‘men’ and ‘women’. But, what do you think? This murderer killed that young women only because he hates women. Then? This means that that young women shouldn’t be killed by that psycho if she wasn’t a woman.

In other words, it could be any women. It could be me, my friends, my neighbours anyone who are women in Korea. That’s why this phenomenon brought us to think deeply about the issue of ‘Yeo-hyeom’ in Korea and we (women) now decided to fight with them (maybe men? or any one/any society who hates women without obvious reason. Women shouldn’t be received unfair only because we are women.

Why do we have to worry about going to public toilet? Why do we have to worry about being killed by anyone on the street? Why?

I don’t want to generalise that ‘all men has Yeohyeom’.But one thing is obvious that this society wants women to be ‘womanly-women’. And people (both men and women, not everyone) in Korea pointed to ‘not enough womanly-woman’. There are gender stereotypes in every culture and Korean society also have ‘stereotypes about women’. I think we (women) should deny these ‘stereotypes about women’ that decided by ‘others’. At the same time, we (women) should also deny the ‘stereotypes about women’ that were inherent in ourselves, too.

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