Issue/87/
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ESSAYS

The Extraordinary Lives of Ajumma

BY LIZ PARK

On Geumcheon Mrs., a collective of middle-aged housewives in Seoul

The members of GEUMCHEON MRS. in a self-directed study group on contemporary art, 2010. Photo by Im Heung-Soon and Gim Ikhyun. Courtesy the artists.

To be a middle-aged woman in Korea is to be addressed as either an ajumma or a samonim. The term samonim, literally meaning the wife of one's teacher, is reserved for well-to-do bourgeois women, while ajumma is stereotypically used to describe a 40- to 50—something married woman of little…

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