TV screens more ajumma dramas

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TV screens more ajumma dramas


What you see on the small screen these days are not only shows about trendy teenagers (MBC’s “Gung”), or melancholy 20-somethings (SBS’s “The Age of Love”), but increasingly more dramas about ajumma, or married Korean women, targeting a female audience aged 30 to 50. There are a number of shows with ajumma as lead characters, such as “Motnani, My Love,” “Rude Woman,” “Do Well” and “Come Back Soonae,” which recently aired its final episode. In these shows, ajumma appear almost as superheroes ― they excel at everything from having a career to finding relationships with charming, younger men.
The drama “Ajumma,” starring Wohn Mi-gyeong, suggested that fewer women now endure cheating husbands. The show may have inspired some ajumma to tell their husbands to leave and to start a new life for themselves. They also created a new equation ― ajumma equals success. In “Rude Woman,” an ajumma becomes a dentist after 10 years of studying hard, and in “Do Well,” a woman finds success after opening a restaurant. The women portrayed in these dramas share a common path ― they develop into strong, independent individuals, while escaping the boundaries of domesticity. “There are many women who, after divorce, relate to these women on TV in finding their own identities,” said Kim Sung-mi, a psychologist at the Maum Gwa Maum clinic.
These ajumma are also depicted as charming and desirable. They may wear dowdy clothes and sing old Korean blues songs (in “Motnani, My Love”) or curse at their former husbands (in “Rude Woman”), but they manage to intrigue appealing men. In these shows, the female characters melt the heart of a distant, wealthy conglomerate president’s son (“Motnani, My Love”), give hope to a young baseball player with a broken arm (“Rude Woman”) and become the ideal woman for a first love (“Come Back Soonae”).

Another reason these dramas are booming is that, unlike popular TV shows that cater to the younger generation, the acting is more robust because the actresses, most often ajumma themselves, portray the bittersweet experience that comes with longer lives. In scenes such as one where an ajumma realistically characterized a mother who has a terminally ill daughter who became mentally unstable because of her parent’s divorce, the actress often can speak effectively to their core audience.
While the children are portrayed as the genuine concern and love of these ajumma, the husbands are usually typecast as indecisive cheaters who do not deserve a second chance.
A typical plot includes the husband having an affair, the mistress saying to the wife, “Why do you stay together if you don’t love him,” the mother-in-law secretly hoping for the couple to divorce because she feels her son deserves more and, of course, the attractive or rich knight-in-shining-armor, often younger, entering the life of the ajumma. “For stable ratings, many of the dramas opt for either a romantic comedy or a typical melodrama style,” said Ju Chang-yoon, a professor at the Multimedia and Communication Engineering department at the Seoul Women’s University. He adds that some dramas try to stretch the limits by creating racier, more controversial plotlines or characters.

by Hong Soo-hyun
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