The evolution of South Korean women !

 

Traditions persist, but the place of women in Korean society is changing. They emancipate little by little ! In the Korean tradition, women generally don’t leave their family home until they go to live with their husband. As women are considered as people to be protected, it’s therefore rare for them to live alone as there is no one to take care of their safety.

Though I must point out that South Korea has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. However, more and more women are becoming financially independent and living in studio apartments close to their workplace. There are also couples without children who both have full time jobs.

Although the majority of Korean couples don’t live like this, it is happening more and more. Some women-only universities fight for their right to work, such as Sookmyung University which has a creche for young mothers who are still undertaking their university studies.
Some women enter into the world of work and aim to have a career and be independent just like men.

The Ajummas

 

When they get married, Korean women leave their job and go to live with their husband. They should take care of the household tasks and look after their parents-in-law whilst bringing up their children. The life of young Korean women can seem difficult at first, but know that good things come to those who wait!

When their children get married, they have more freedom and, thanks to their advanced age, become very influential. They are called ‘ajumma’ and are often very authoritative. You can recognise them by the way they dress: a very large visor with no back (allowing their hair to pass through), floral clothes and a bumbag around their waist.

They will happily go in front of you in queues either because they are your mother’s age, or because you’re a man and you should respect a woman of their age. They will stare at you persistently on the metro until you offer them your seat. A piece of advice: stay calm if you have contact with them!

In their defence, they have been under a lot of pressure over the years. It’s them who have been responsible for the education of their children and in particular for their social success. A child’s success in their studies is decisive in terms of their personal and professional future.

South Korea is a country which gives a lot of importance to appearances. Women mainly celebrate two events in the lives of their children. First is their academic success which opens the doors to a comfortable professional life, and a position in a large Korean company.

When a Korean person meets you for the first time, the first questions are “How old are you?”
and “What university did you graduate from?”. These two questions are linked to the position that a Korean should take with an elder and to see if their university studies were prestigious. In general, this information allows them to see what your current professional situation is.

As for the second important step in the life of an ‘ajumma’, that’s the marriage of their children.