Ajumma – TTMIK Culture Ramblings

Lesson image-ajumma

In your opinion, how old should someone be to be safely considered an “ajumma”? Or does someone’s age NOT matter as much as the way in which someone behaves in making them an ajumma? Most women in their 30s or 40s will not want to be called an ajumma. That’s for sure. In this episode of TTMIK Culture Ramblings, Stephanie and Hyunwoo talked about the term ajumma and what they think are some characteristics of ajummas. This is not a Korean language lesson, so just sit back and relax, join us in the conversation through comments!

Ajumma – TTMIK Culture Ramblings
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  • Sonia

    These days (I have been in Korea mostly since Jan 1998) most 40-something year old women (like me) do not fit the “adjumma” stereotype you talk about. I’ve lived in dual areas (Jeolla-do, Ching-nam) since 2005, and it’s mostly women who are in their 50s and 60s. And of course, Halmonis, who also dress as you describe. As for being “pushy” or “loud”– maybe this is because women (and men, who also dress peculiarly and have their distinct mannerisms in this age group) lived through hardships, sacrificed a lot, and built this country. They go without nice clothes and still use flip phones in order to give their spoiled children everything. The children (like you) who then go on to judge and make fun of them. Too bad. Maybe they push their way to that empty seat because these days, middle school to college kids PUSH their way to an empty seat and will let 70-year-olds stand. The older generation was raised in a society that respected elders and offered them consideration and appreciation. In return, they thought they would get the same when they got older. Now, Korea has a youth culture that mocks the elderly and places youth and beauty as the means to respect. The older generation is neglected. Children in their teens, 20s, 30s . . . feel entitled and would never work a menial job but they won’t so much as offer a seat for their “grandmother” who has been pushing a cart and collecting boxes all day. I have many times carried a heavy sack of onions or such for a tiny elderly lady as crowds of “beautiful” people rush right by her. Maybe you should use this platform to spread awareness of the best of traditional Korea instead of ridiculing your elders. Without them, you would be no-one!

  • Jessica

    I think I don’t have such a negative view of an ajumma. My first image is of a, yes, 30-50-ish year old woman, making sure that everyone has enough food. And, stereotypically, wearing those pants (I guess this feeds into the “doesn’t care what anyone thinks” thing).

    My co-teachers and I tease each other though. They’re newly married and say that they’re better cooks because they’re ajummas. Or that they can ask more personal questions because they’re ajummas. 😀

    • Stephanie Morris


  • Havel

    I often wondering why korean elders woman always have short hair. Not all have the curly style but they’re all hair is very short of even you can see the ears. Now that you said because they dont want to be messy with hair, i just remembered my mom. She also also have short hair because she said its hot to have the long hair

    • Stephanie Morris

      Easier to take care of! Less maintenance 😀