These women have learned to spin their own WebsAnyone who has some working knowledge of Korean can make a wild guess that the words ajumma and Internet are rarely used in the same sentence.
Ajumma, of course, is a married woman who typically stays at home. Nevertheless, some ajumma have become accustomed to dealing with the Internet, even starting their own companies or working as Web site designers.
Chung Chun-ok, 48, started to discover the inner-workings of the Internet in 1998, when the Asian economic crisis hit Korea. When her husband’s company almost went bankrupt, and her family experienced some financial hardships, she had to find some work to help provide for her four children.
At first she worked as a maid, but after 10 months the job was just too hard. Taking some time off at home, she started surfing the Net. That got her thinking how she could use the Internet to her advantage. Then she met over the Internet a character designer who suggested that she might start a Web site where users could change the attire of virtual characters.
With capital of 20 million won ($17, 000) she started a Web site that offered users several characters that could be dressed according to different tastes. The characters were created by eight designers that she hired.
“On the first day, I had 100,000 people log on to the site,” says Ms. Chung. “But when they found out that the site was not free, I had only 10 people left who were willing to pay.” Nevertheless, after improving the site for six months she finally began to make profit. She is now making 3 million won per month.
Song Hye-jin, 36, is another ajumma who learned how to cope with the Internet -- and make money from it. She learned how to make her own site from a Web site called azooma.com that specializes in teaching and providing useful information to married women.
“When I first saw a Web site for a family, I thought it was so beautiful. That’s when I decided to learn it by myself.” That was in spring of 2000.
In 2001, a Korean-American Web designer who saw Ms. Song’s work contacted her and since then she started to make sites for others. In the past year she has designed 10 Web sites and sold them to Korean families living abroad for 300,000 won each.
“For ajumma who stay mostly at home it’s common to give up on an idea even before trying, especially when it comes to computers and the Internet,” says Ms. Song. “I have learned that everyone has a hidden talent. You just need to find yours.”
by Moon Kyung-ran
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