Azooma is a Korean cultural term that encompasses a range of definitions, from married woman to middle aged woman. The best analogy with English would be “auntie”. Just like using the friendly term “auntie” to refer to a middle-aged lady, in Korea, people use the term Azooma. Yet, I thought, the Azooma walking down the street or the Azooma talking on the phone over there are all mothers. And this connectivity between Azooma and mother touched my heart. And these images of Azoomas reminded me of mothers, especially Korean mothers who have sacrificed most of their lives for their husbands and children. With some visual aids (commercials), I want to re-examine and zoom-into the life of a mother.
The first commercial shows different aspects of Azoomas. First, it shows an Azooma who wears lousy clothes among the children. After, the commercial portrays the Azooma’s other characteristics, such as powerfulness (carrying a heavy bag) and fearlessness (catching a bug). At the end comes the copy phrase of “Another name for Azooma is our mother,” putting Azoomas equivalent to “our mothers.” This phrase brings an objectified Azooma into the daily lives of the audience, helping them connect their moms with the Azoomas portrayed by this commercial. Eventually this commercial shows how features of Azoomas are indeed characteristics of our mothers themselves. So here is a question: were Azoomas Azoomas from the start?
From the perspective of children, their mothers were initiated as “mother” from the beginning. Although I do not want to generalize the life of a mother, I believe that mothers have a forgotten past of youth and attractiveness. There must have been a time when mothers certainly had their own interests besides those of their husband or children. There must have been a time when mothers took care of their appearances in order to be loved. This commercial is from a commercial for makeup. A woman who seems so docile and passive takes off her apron. As if escaping from her role as a wife and mother, she becomes confident and active from the moment she takes off her apron. She is now free and provocative. She applies “sexy smoky” masks and transforms into a lady of beauty. Her transformation makes her succeed in seducing the man. This implies that a mother who seems so lousy right now is a woman- a beautiful one, too.
Also, mothers perhaps had a career before they became a mother of a household. She probably did her best to be recognized in a life that is similar to a race. Just like our mothers of the past, in the commercial, a young woman is running hard and breathing heavily. It seems like she is an educated woman who got into a big corporation. She is professional, well-educated and tries hard for her bright future. And she hopes that one day people will know about her efforts.
Mothers’ pasts have been great. Compared to their hey days, mothers are now abiding with their children. Usually and especially in Korea, mothers are referred to as “whose-whose mom.” The commercial shows a rural area near the sea and tells about a mother who had a son name Jaechoon, and she opened a store named Jaechoon’s Grilled Clams. And the commercial shows various names of the stores that are derived from names of their own children. At last, it says that it is a mother’s pleasure to abide in her children’s names. This commercial reflects how mothers are identified under the name of the children. This certain phenomenon is especially prevalent in the Korean society. Korean Azoomas are not usually referred to by their own name. Rather, they are called by their children’s name, identified as whose mother and such.
And my whole point can be explained through this commercial. This commercial shows the life of a mother from a cute high school student to an old lady. Once, she was a beautiful high school student. Within marriage, she starts to live the life of an Azooma. She starts to always prioritize the needs of her husband and her children without caring enough about herself. She has been forgetting about the phrase “ladies first” because she has been putting off her necessities for the sake of the husband and children. Now that she has become an old elegant woman, she deserves to be the “priority.” This piece demonstrates that the cause of a mother’s transformation is mostly due to her children and her husband. And now these Azoomas, which is another name for our moms, should be respected and prioritized!
All these commercials examine the lives of Azoomas, mostly who are mothers at the same time. A mother, who has been always recognized as a mother, was once an individual, a woman with different interests whose life was free of the confinements of being a wife and mother. She was beautiful and professional and knew how to decorate herself. She now leads a life with no name, only identified within the names of the husband and the children, yet she is still pleased. This is the love and devotion of a mother. To all the powerful mothers in the world, Thank YOU :)
Ajuma is a Korean term for a married woman or a lady who is old enough (usually over the age of thirty). Original spelling is Ajuma. However, for the purposes of this article, the spelling will be AZOOMA, to “ zoom” into the life of a mother who can be also considered an Ajuma.
1. SK. Ajuma http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sa_rVsotTPw. March 27
2. 오제끄 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pR__7wfu_U. March 27
3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGrIvtB9eI0. March 27
4. Rush & Cash. Running http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlDkBghtpYU. March 27
5. SK. Mother http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCeBbk6eyCM. March 27