How to be a Korean Woman – revisited

I wrote this post in September 2016, during our visit to Korea. I thought it could have another outing for Just One Person around the World,

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 straight 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: in fact putting the world to rights with your fellow ajummas is what you like best 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.

Author: margaret21

I'm retired and living in North Yorkshire, where I walk as often as I can, write, volunteer, and travel as often as I can.

47 thoughts on “How to be a Korean Woman – revisited”

  1. Fascinating. Are those missing years based in the home? Raising children? Perhaps, when the ajumma that you saw were the ages of those lovely young women Korean society was very different. Perhaps today’s young will not turn overnight into aunties but their destiny is not yet out there on the streets…. Am I overthinking this? 🤔😄


  2. Interesting observation, and I’ve noticed a similar phenomenon in parts of India. You see very few women who are past their youthful prime but still look well-groomed, smartly dressed, and generally as if they still care about how they look.

    And of course I’m now trying to think whether I made the same observation in the North. The problem is that there seemed to be such a gulf between the women of Pyongyang and those in the other cities, like Chongjin and Hamhung, that it outweighs any consideration of the difference that age makes. You’ve given me an idea for a future post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, Margaret you’ve done it again! Quite the observation……I.m going to pay attention to the women and see if this is true here as well! I’m with you, I would not wear that hat and I’m a bit surprised she’s not wearing white gloves as well! When we travel we see a lot of the women in hats, gloves and long sleeved shirts! Cady


  4. Korean (Japanese, East Asian in general) women often look younger than their age, and many remain obsessed with being fashionable and looking young well into their 40s and 50s; I feel that you might have seen them and thought they were young(er) girls.

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  5. Well, at least the ajummas are out and about and being caught on camera by sharp-eyed visitors. Whereas a visitor strolling through a pre-Covid City Of London at lunchtime maybe forgiven for thinking it is only the male of the species that survives into the middle and later years of life.

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  6. Funny. The perm, visor and comfy pants is a very classic look. Bright colors too. Topped off with a slash of red lipstick.


      1. It is definitely permed. Asian hair is dead straight 🙂 As for lipstick, maybe you’re right. All the older Korean women I’ve met in Canada, have impeccable make-up but they also don’t wear visors. Some it maybe a function of place.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. This is such an interesting observation, Margaret! It sounds strange though, that you don’t observe anyone in between. Surely, they can’t just wake up one day completely transformed? 😉


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