If you’ve watched any k-dramas, you’re probably already familiar with what an 아줌마 (“ajumma”) is. If not, the term 아줌마 usually refers to a middle-aged woman. It literally means “aunt”, but the term can be used to address any middle-aged woman you encounter.
The reason that I’m writing a post about the term 아줌마 is because I have been called an 아줌마 TWICE in the past month. To be fair, in both cases, it was little kids (around 6 years old) who referred to me this way, but I was still slightly traumatized to be called an 아줌마, since to me it conjured up images of a woman in her forties or fifties with a bad perm, and I’m just 20 years old.
The fact that it’s happened twice now has caused me to be curious, though. What exactly is the scope of the term “아줌마”? Obviously it’s a wider scope that I had originally realized, since apparently 20-year-olds can fit into that category. I did some research (via Google, of course) and couldn’t really find a definitive answer.
The Wikipedia entry for Ajumma is surprisingly detailed, but didn’t really make me feel better. In fact, it kind of did the opposite — it reinforced the middle-aged, badly-permed woman image that I had already formed.
Also, if you search for “ajumma” on Google images, here’s the first image that pops up:
Many others like it follow.
So I finished my search with no more answers than I started out with. I guess since I’m old enough to be those kids’ aunt, that makes me an 아줌마 in their eyes. Even though the way the kids used it was basically equivalent to “ma’am”, it’s still kind of makes me sad that I’m already in that category. I’d much rather be a 누나 or even just a 여자. Oh well.