Posts Tagged ‘connotation’

adjumathennow

There are few words which can so immediately and powerfully evoke a specific uncontested image like the word ‘adjuma.’ Americans, Koreans, Australians, the English, and even Canadians (in their own limited capacity) envision the same squat, tight haired, steely eyed, brightly dressed woman ready to bowl over, elbow, and gouge their way to a better place in line. It’s usually one of the first Korean words a foreigner learns: right after hello, thank you, and two draft beers, please. It’s a word used in levity with friends as a jab, and as a sharp insult aimed at anyone acting adjuma-esque.

However, as the tough agrarian lifestyle which cast the young women of yesterday into the pit bulls of the now is rapidly being replaced by a modern, comfort and status driven, more western existence, a growing number of adjuma aged women are feeling like they just don’t fit in. While still in the deep minority, these women can be usually seen separated from the mobs of scowling helmet haired real adjumas. Unlike their linebacker counterparts, the new breed of adjuma is usually thin and dressed in fashionable attire. Many are even foregoing the requisite afro perm for a styled modern look. Some can even be seen smiling – though usually when on their cell phone.

Many women, like Min Sun-jee, a prominent 50 year old dentist in the Gaepo area of Seoul, find the connotation associated with the word adjuma confusing or, occasionally, disturbing. Min Sun-jee attempted to clarify her feelings. “Adjumas are ugly,” she told our reporter. “I go to the gym six days a week. I watch On-Style like it’s my job. I love desperate housewives. I have never paid less than 500,000 won for a purse. I am not an adjuma. Look at my ass; you could bounce a baek won off of this ass.”

Sadly for Min Sun-jee, adjuma’s accepted denotation is simply “older married woman.” And though she scoffed at the word ‘older,’ saying, “older than who? Look around. There are more people than in a New York subway line at rush hour – just in this building – that are older than I am. Did you see my ass? Here, touch it; go ahead.”

It is quite possible that as more women like Min Sun-jee reach adjuma age the connoted implications of the title will change, and may in fact reflect the western idealized M.I.L.F. But for now, for Sun-jee and the many like her, these educated, sexually aware women are left without an appropriate categorized societal pigeon hole.

While we at Dong Chim do not have an answer to this quandary, we do ask our readers to be sympathetic to those who suffer its brunt. For many of us, our mastery of the Korean language being naught, our limited vocabulary limits how we can address those around us. We don’t have the ability, despite our intentions, to appropriately address an older yet attractive and stylish woman. So, if you see an attractive older lady and need to speak with her, instead of calling her adjuma, give her a nice smack on the tush and call her “toots.” If you’re out and want to ask a well dressed cell phone talking, cigarette smoking woman a question, premise your question by buying her a cosmo and calling her “doll face.” While the correcting of a society’s rifting self-image is well beyond the grasp of any one person or group, we can all do what we can to ease the suffering of those affected.

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