How to be a Korean woman

You’re young, female and Korean. Perhaps you’re a student, a worker, even a mother. You’re slim, stylish, beautiful, have enviably flawless skin, and shiny long dark hair. Just like all your friends.

One night however, you go to bed, and you wake up in the morning as an ‘ajumma’, an auntie, an older woman. You’ve shrunk four inches, your hair is shorter, perhaps even curly. You’ll put on nice comfy trousers and no longer remain silent on bus rides. Most importantly, you’ll wear your badge of office. This is a quite enormous visor, worn to protect your skin from damaging rays from the sun. You won’t go out without one.

There is no half way house that I can see. You’re young. Or you’re an ajumma. That’s it.

21 thoughts on “How to be a Korean woman”

  1. Well, I guess I must be an ‘ajumma’ because I am thinking how comfortable those shoes look!
    By the way, the picture of your lady appears on Facebook although she is in amongst the French sheep, smiling man and dodgy mug!

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  2. the young man stage right (or is it left) has a visor, though not as big. Maybe there are stages of visor, even if not as many as seven, so the stages of women may in fact be more than two? Makes sense though, to take sun damage seriously. I’m especially curious about how you graduate to no longer remaining silent on buses….

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    1. Oh, silence on public transport is taken seriously. Until you get to A Certain Age. Yes, men wear visors too, but not quite as – um – large. I am pretty careless about sun exposure. Evidently my mother put me out to brown up nicely in my first months of life and I’ve gone on from there.

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  3. So funny! I think I must be an ajumma now. Certainly prefer the comfy shoes. Was I ever young, slim and beautiful, with flawless skin? Better leave someone else to answer that 🙂

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  4. hmm. . . I tend to think about aging in a more nuanced way (though I’m probably shouldn’t be doing cross-cultural comparisons that I know nothing about). 🙂

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