Saturday, January 28, 2012

37. Ajumas

      Yes, I'm back!! I can't believe that in two weeks I left Korea, went home to sunny San Diego, witnessed my best friend get married, and came back...and now I'm once again sitting on my desk warming it up. Poor desk, it got too cold while I was away.

      I came back to a nice clean apartment (thanks Joyana! hehehe) and to a freaking cold city. Seriously, I'm sooo over this winter thing. Before coming here, I absolutely loved winter...past tense, lovED. I was in love with the idea of wearing different clothes (boots, scarfs, gloves), but never did I think I would freeze this much even after layering the shit out of my clothes. Now I know I can never ever ever live in a place where it goes under 50 degrees F during the day. Don't get me wrong, I still love the rain and cold weather, but according to the Californian standard, not this Korean winter.
      Joyan and Ana did warn me that I would become miserable in this weather, but being the stubborn person I am, I did not believe them....gaaaaah they were right!

      Any who, I'm back to my list! This one is about the ajumas. I've mentioned them before, but I haven't gone in detail about them. Like I've said before, ajumas are the older ladies, maybe above 60.
      I think they deserve their own spot on my list because they are the most interesting people I've met/seen here in Korea. They can be pretty awesome ladies. They are strong as heck and they can probably beat you in an arm-wrestling contest. The times I've been hiking, they've put me to shame because they go up the mountains like nothing!
    My first impression of them is that they ALL look the same. Seriously no joke here, everybody agrees. But before I go on any further, check out the picture below. It's pretty self explanatory and as the title suggests, it's the "average" aging process, but here is Korea it's more like, YOU WILL BECOME THIS! And by "you" I only mean Korean women.asian aging process
      So the typical ajuma has short hair, a perm, wears MC-Hammer pants, a visor that covers most of her face, sometimes gloves, her legs will probably not be straight anymore, and if sunny, she will wear thick sunglasses.
     The first thing that caught my eye was the short hair and perm because ALL of them have it. I asked my friend Ana about it and she told me that there is a reason for it: gravity. So obviously things start to go down as we age, so the women here think that something should go up to make their appearance proportional. Thus they cut their hair short and get a perm and fluff it upwards, kind of like an afro.
    On a side note. When I went to work last week and saw my co-worker, Kristin (late 40's), guess what she had just gotten...a perm!...The only thing I could think of was "Oh no, the transformation is starting." Next thing I know, she'll be coming in with her MC-hammer pants and visor. And then her friend, whom I met back in November, also came in to visit and she had cut her hair short!...maybe it's contagious? Because she's much younger than Kristin.

Dear Korea #046
     Another thing about the ajumas is that not only are they super strong, they are also hard workers. Even some markets are known to be only run by ajumas because while the men are out fishing or farming, they're the ones doing the selling. Out on the streets, I still see many of them selling oranges, grains, cabbages, and just about anything. I do see men (ajashis), but it's mostly the ajumas.
     One thing that does bother me though, is that they think they can do whatever they want! They will push and elbow you through a crowd, and they cut in line aaaaaall the time! They're not even modest about it, they don't say excuse me or sorry, they just cut in front of you just when you think it's about to be your turn. But what do you say to an older lady cutting, especially when we don't speak the same language?...or maybe they just cut foreigners because they knooooow we can't say much.
     I do have to say though that they are not the only one who cut, it might be a Korean thing and they are simply used to it? When I came back from the US, I was at the airport and I was in line to buy my bus ticket home. And as it was about to be my turn these two guys (around my age) went ahead and cut me! I would've said something, but honestly it caught me off guard. I had JUST arrived and people were already cutting me; and I was tired too so I was slow to react.

     That's it for today. I'm about to go to bed; I just came back from a having some delicious cupcakes and a looooooooong walk.



  1. OMG! That is pretty seems about right in Spain. The 40ish year olds will dye their hair like very strange colors. I saw this woman trying to look young with a short hair cut. It was blue and red. Then you have 60 year olds that will cut their hair shirt and it's curly sometimes it's like a burgundy color. Their coats get bigger as they get older. The puffier the better!

    It is freaking cold here. Yesterday was probably 0-C all day. I've been inside today...If I don't have to go outside I won't. I can't stand the cold and ready to return to the beautiful sol en california!

  2. it's cold over here too :/, the weather never goes above 8C, right now it's -2C :(....I was sooo happy when I went back to sunny SD...I'm looking forward to spring and summer here in Korea. Aren't you renewing your contract?