Ajumma

Thinkin about dinner

I Threw Soda in Ajumma’s Face and I’m Not Sorry

 

2


Philippine Ajumma

 


By Linda Arnaez-Lee
(Translation from Kinaray-a by Jose Edison C. Tondares)

“Getting a husband is like gambling. You never know if it is good luck or bad luck that will hit you. That is why it is better for you a get a husband from somewhere near. If your husband hurts you, you can easily run home. What are you going to do in Korea? It’s too far. Here, even if it is just a harvester that you marry, at least you are close to us.” These were the last words my father spoke to me when I asked his permission to marry a Korean.

“What? You are marrying a Korean? Why a Korean? Just where did you meet that guy? You have so many suitors and you pick a Korean? Are you sure about that?” All these questions from my friends and co-teachers in a public school where I teach were like rattling gunfire.


Jimjilbanging: It’s kind of like eating kimchi, but you’ve got to get naked.

 

ktfac
photo credit

Korea is lovingly known as The Land of Kimchi, but I argue the slogan could lose kimchi and replace it with jimjilbang and no one would throw a fit. Kimchi and jimjilbangs are both well-known elements of Korean culture. Jimjilbangs are large public bath houses (mostly gender-segregated) and can be found on almost every street in Korea. Some are more fancy than others, but most have a handful of hot baths, showers, saunas, massage tables, lockers, sleeping areas and social meeting spaces. Jimjilbangs are usually open 24 hours a day and many people visit them to bathe, relax and sleep. Most rooms, including the saunas, have special minerals, woods and stones to create a soothing sanctuary and provide elements of traditional Korean medicine. The Korean jimjilbang is a familiar and calming oasis for all Koreans. Each is a mini spa that caters to your every need. They are more prevalent than Starbucks shops and you can spend a day in one for the cost of a latte and a snack. They sound perfect, right?


Ajumma Triumphant

Ajumma Triumphant

Korea Magazine's Person Of The Year for 30 straight years, The Ajumma sets her sights on new foreign conquests, having already made mincemeat of her homeland.

Korean Breakfast

The idea of eating spicy briny kimchi, pickled mushrooms, nets of cold wet yellow sprouts, damp spinach, sticky white rice, hot sauce, pickled kimchi radishes, still-boiling still-bubbling blood-red kimchi stew, cold cooked onions and potato slices, either mixed up or spread about on little plastic saucers, complete with steel shot glasses for the water you have to gulp down to make up for all the salt, probably does not sound too appealing to the Western breakfast palate, used as it is to sweet grains slushed about in milk, with muffins and fruit and endless rivers of coffee pouring, roaring down whirlpool-like gullets, along with gallons of orange juice and absolutely whatever else you can get your meathooks on.

But then yesterday, after months of muesli mixed with bananas and coffee, I was ready to take the plunge. The realization was gastrointestinal more than intellectual.


An Ajumma Stole My Firewood

Well, technically it was Joe’s firewood.  He wrestled it from the brush on the hill behind the beach on Bijindo, the island we chose for our one-night camping trip in April mostly because I tracked down photos of it on a foreign dude’s blog, and in the photos foreigners were camping.  On the beach.  With a campfire.  “Check these out,” I said to Joe.  ”Looks like you can have a fire on Bijindo.”  

Anyone who’s traveled in Korea knows it’s tough to find seclusion.  Forty-nine million people live here, in a country three times the size of Vancouver Island. Head to the beach or the mountains or a paved park on the edge of the city and prepare yourself for company: Koreans love a dose of fresh air, even if they are a little sun-shy, as their detachable arm sleeves and foot-long visors suggest.


The Ajumma Olympics (from Busan Night LIve 2)

See video
The Ajumma Olympics (from Busan Night LIve 2)

Those perfectly useless things I’d like to do.

  • I would like to go to the most crowded place in Busan and shout “Kim!” and see how many people would actually turn around and eventually pick my favourite.
  • I would like to see where those “ajummas” (old ladies) are actually going at 4 in the morning when I am going back home after a party, even though I perfectly know where they are going!To the mountain or just around the building for a walk!

Going South (and west, and north, and back)

Back home to my Busan pad after an eight-day vacay into the south of South Korea…land of islands, mountains (okay, this whole country is covered in mountains), volcanoes, trees so lush they appear to burst from the countryside, flat-stone, black-rock, and gold-sand beaches, caves and waterfalls, too much rice, and permed ajummas renting floor mats to stretch out on for the night.  


Syndicate content
 

Koreabridge - RSS Feeds 
Features @koreabridge     Blogs  @koreablogs
Jobs @koreabridgejobs  Classifieds @kb_classifieds

Koreabridge - Facebook Group