Come and Gone

Recent heat waves have lasted almost one month in South Korea. We had to endure the tropical nights. In this heat I sank into a state of torpor. I must confess, I couldn’t do anything during last one month include blogging. But there’s an end to everything and I finally could smell a bit of ‘autumn’ from the wind during the last weekend. No more heat waves and I don’t need to endure and worry about the tropical nights anymore. Autumn has come at last I see, smell and feel.

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Seoul, 27/08/2016

And I got a new idea to start as a part of my personal research project from this September. (I know there’re so many things that I tried to do last few months and I finally found this idea as a new project that I will be doing for next few months) I will connect two different time and spaces through using digital mobile devices or social media. This will be about a Korean woman who lived a life of extreme ups and downs. I will explain more about this new project in the next blog post.

Autumn has come at last and hot summer has gone.

Ajummas are in Mobile Bang [room]

Smart ajummas are watching DMB in the subway (Please do not use this photo without a permission!!! 사진의 무단도용, 게시 및 재가공을 금지합니다)

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.


Ajummas are in Live Photo

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.


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.

Kakao Talk and Ajumma (3)

Yes, there are so many things that I would like to talk about Kakao Talk (Ka-Talk). And plus, the relationship between Kakao Talk and Ajumma is much more interesting to talk about. Through survey and focus group interview, I realised that Kakao Talk became one of the key mobile communication apps among ajummas in Korea. More than 95% of ajumma participants responded that they’re using Kakao Talk the most among various other apps on their smartphones. They were allowed to choose multiple answers for the question of ‘Which applications do you use the most’ in the survey. Anyway Kakao Talk ranked the top application among ajumma participants for my research. They use the Kakao Talk mostly due to its convenience and instantaneity. They usually use the group chat room where many people can talk together in the same place at the same time. I can’t say all of ajummas in Korea are now using Kakao Talk as their primary communicative application, but I can say that some of ajummas bought smartphones to use Kakao Talk. My mom also did.

So, ajummas are having communication in both offline (e.g. cafe, restaurant, etc.) and online (e.g. Kakao Talk’s group chat room, blog, etc.). This means that their spaces for communication are extended from offline to online (mobile). And at the same time, they do have more opportunity to meet their contacts (friends or family) through various spaces (offline/online) without having barriers of time and space today. In other words, Kakao Talk’s group chat room allows ajummas to keep having their offline meetings continuously even though they cannot meet with each other face-t0-face. Also the communication in Kakao Talk’s group chat room leads ajummas to plan to have following offline meetings. So Kakao Talk’s group chat room is like a bridge which links between offline meetings and online meetings and pre-meetings and post-meetings.


Ajumma vs Nuna (older/big sister)

It’s 2016!

I start blogging since last December as a part of my PhD project, ‘Smart Ajumma’. In this blog, I would like to introduce various photos of ajummas in Korea and the blog posts are more similar to written records like diary rather than academic thesis. I hope people in Korea and anywhere get chances to comprehend who ajummas are and redefine what ajummas are through having interactive communication on this blog for example making comments. So please come to this blog often and feel free to share your ideas about ajummas or Korea. Happy New Year again!

I went to Namdaemun Market today. Namdaemun Market is always my favourite to visit since I was very young (with my mum). There are small old shops in every alley ways and especially I loved to buying some imported snacks (e.g. sweets from USA) in Namdaemun. These days I can find them everywhere but it was rarely sold when I was very young.

Going to Namdaemum Market is not difficult by public transport (e.g. bus) from my town. Whenever I go to Namdaemun Market, I can have a chance to visit variety of shops in Myeong-dong because they are located close with each other. In addition, I can see many ajummas in Namdaemun Market especially a small shopping mall that is called ‘Common Plaza’. They sell mostly women’s clothing especially for middle-aged women, ajummas, whose age range is around over 50. Whenever I visit there, I never seen a male or a  younger female customer except me.

In that shopping mall (it is located in Namdaemun Market), I feel like I’m visiting an island of ajummas. It looks like someone bring all of those ajumma customers from somewhere (special planet) we never been before. So many ajummas with having similar hair styles, fashion styles and even body figures! (similar height etc.)

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Unfortunately, I couldn’t see many ajummas today because the weather wasn’t good and I arrived there almost at closing time (1:30 pm). For this reason, I headed to the street stall where it sells red bean porridge nearby that shopping mall. There are no table neither chair but customers still can enjoy their porridge. And most customers of this porridge stall are ajummas. Thus, I brought my porridge and leaned against the wall like other ajummas also do.

Then, a young male was selling cosmetics to those ajummas who were having red bean porridge. Those ajummas looked like over 50 and 60 years old. That young male seller said,

“Nuna! (older/big sister) You have pretty face! Why don’t you concern ‘skin care’ with this product! I guarantee you will be look like 10 years younger than your actual age with using this product!”

Ajummas were laughing together and one of them bought a facial cream from him. This ajumma asked the young male seller taking a selfie together and they took a photo with her smartphone. (Well, that young male seller is a lesser-known comedian so this ajumma wanted to take a selfie together). After selling a facial cream to one of ajummas, he left that place and said to ajummas,

“Nuna! I hope to see you all for next time again!”

Ajummas continued to eat red bean porridge and talked about that comedian who sold cosmetics few minutes ago. I really enjoyed that situation as an observer. How amazing this situation is! The ajummas and a young male seller who wanted to sell cosmetic products to ajummas! He called ajummas as ‘Nuna!’ instead of ‘Ajumma!’ and those ajummas were happy to be called as ‘Nuna!’ rather than ‘Ajumma’.

Yes, ajummas are women. If he call them, “Ajumma!”, was he still able to sell the facial cream? I think these ajummas felt happy because that young male seller call them as ‘Nuna’. Of course these ajummas know this young male seller call them as ‘Nuna’ because he tried to make these ajummas happy as a sort of marketing strategies. However, ajummas still enjoy that moments through communicating with other ajummas and a young male seller.

Why ‘ajumma’ became an unwelcome word to be called among women in Korea?

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