Ajumma Meaning – Definition of Ajumma 아줌마 In Korean

ajumma meaning

Ajumma is one of the most common word you can hear in korea especially as you go for shopping in a traditional grocery store. If you plan to live in korea, then you must learn all of the korean slang and common korean words that you will often use as you live here. After living with koreans for multiple years, I believe I can help you learn some of it! In this article, I will share all about ‘ajumma meaning and definition in korean language’.

From ancient feudalism to capitalism, korea has transform it’s social system within a century! There’s a lot difference in how koreans behave and interpret things, including some terms like Ajumma. Generally, there are two words korean use to call middle-age person, Ajumma and Ajeossi. Read on to find out more about ajumma.

Table of Contents

Ajumma Meaning In Korean

The word 아줌마 Ajumma in korean language literally means ‘middle aged women’, same like madam in english language. This word came from the word 아주머니 Ajumeoni that refer to a ‘one generation’ older female relatives. Korean start call almost any old marry women with this term since 1900’s.

Never call a young women (mostly with long hair and stylish clothes) with this terms! This word can be very offensive to use to a young unmarried women and commonly use to start a fight in most kdramas!

The Origin of Korean Ajumma

korean ajumma

credit to reply1988

The term “Ajumma” originated in the Joseon Dynasty of Korea and it was commonly used to refer to an older married woman with children. Since then, many different ways have emerged to describe Ajumma. Few decades ago, an Ajumma is seen as a respectable figure in society – someone who is experienced, wise and caring. They are also viewed with admiration for their hardworking attitude and ability to juggle multiple obligations.

Years passed and now most korean sees ajumma as an old mean and sometimes forceful women that’s hard to deal with. Most of you might often see how ajumma act in some korean dramas as a high tension women who always want to get her way! More than that, there are actually several kind of ajumma in korean you need to know. Below we will talk more about some various type of Ajumma you can find in korea!

Korean Ajumma Stereotype

Generally, when korean heard ‘Ajumma’, they imagine a short tight perm dark hair women with a boxy colorful pattern clothes and excessive embroidery and traditional shoes. Most of ajumma enjoy wearing hiking clothes wherever they went. 

While most of Korean ajumma is very hardworking, they are actuaally really efficient with their time, money and also energy, so you can expect korean ajumma often seems forceful in their own ways. Here are some stereotype and category of Korean Ajumma you will see in korea!

1. Yakult Ajumma

The video above just show a typical warm yakult ajumma you can see in korea. Yakult ajumma is very hardworking and relentless in selling their product door to door. The title of Yakult Ajumma change to ‘fresh manager’ by the yakult company in 2019. 

You can easily find yakult ajumma all over south korea, wearing a yellow suit, hat and drive electric cart with a mini freezer containing yakult. The name ‘Yakult Ajumma’ was created because this ajumma is mostly sell Yogurt everywhere, whether in apartment buildings, company or even mountains. They’re so relentless that no matter where you are, you can find them with their yakult in hot sunny day, cold rainy weather or even during the snowfall.

2. Tiger Ajumma

Tiger Ajumma is an understated yet immensely powerful force in Korean culture, renowned for using their strength to protect themselves and those they love. It is said that some ajumma have even been known to beat tigers without any weapons, just like ‘samson’ in the bible! You can find this story in the Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty.

There’s even a record where tiger ajumma just throw a quick clean punch to a foreign visitors who try to stop a fight between a police officer and her husband.

In Korea today, you’ll find these formidable tiger women around grocery stores and farmer markets. If you later meet some of tiger ajumma pick the item you want, just let them get it first and don’t start argue. It’s just waste your time and also emotion to argue with tiger ajumma.

While most of tiger ajumma may use their tiger persona for selfish gain, many actually wield it for good. Some of them will help young woman that stalked and annoyed by ajeossi or a pervert.

3. Kim Yeosa 김여사

The third well known type of ajumma is ‘Kim Yeosa. This type of ajummas may be seen as unwise and careless drivers on the road. They may ignore all traffic laws and regulations, driving however they please without any regard for safety or common sense. 

In fact, they may even be more aggressive drivers than most angry men, it’s because usually they’re married to a wealthy husband. To stay safe while driving in Korea, it is important to watch out for these reckless ajumma drivers and avoid them at all costs!

4. Cheongso Ajumma

Cheongso Ajumma means ‘cleaning ajumma’ in korean. This type of Ajumma refers to a middle age women who work as a cleaning service in south korea. However, it changed after the company in charge of the cleanup operation announced that Cheongso Ajumma should be called ‘Hwangyeongsa’. Hwangyeongsa means ‘environtment manager’.

Ajumma in Various Situations!

ajumma korean

While you can call someone ‘ajumma’ once you recognized them as a middle aged women, korean usually use this word indirectly. Here are some different settings where you can call someone Ajumma.

Common Settings

Generally, you can just call any middle age married women with children with ‘Ajumeoni’, which is much more polite compare to ajumma. In addition, you can also call them with ‘Samonim’ or ‘Yeosanim’, which actually refer to a superior married women. 

Traditional Restaurant

Many korean ajumma work in korean traditional restaurant where they serve the authentic generational korean food. Usually the recipe was inherited from their ancestors decades or centuries ago.

You can politely call them ‘sajangnim’ if they’re the owner, or just call them ‘imo’ which means aunt, if they’re a worker. Koreans often call waitress/restaurant owner as 이모 Imo, but to a male owner mostly korean just politely call him 사장님 Sajangnim. 사장님 Sajangnim is common/ formal/ respectful way to call the shop owner.


In case you are someone who plan to work as an english teacher in korea and you will have a 1 on 1 parent meeting, you can politely call them ‘xxxx( student’s name) + eomeoni’ which refers to ‘xxx’s mother’. This will sound much more polite compare to call them ‘ajumma’.

Typical Characteristics of an Ajumma


credit to artaims

The term “Ajumma” typically conjures up strong images of Korean middle-age mom with steadfast character traits. This include being tough, strong-willed as well as fierce. They are often described as no-nonsense, independent and always know what to do in order to win any given situation.

In terms of appearance, the word Ajumma evokes an image of a woman with a short, tight permed hair, wearing colorful clothes and a sun visor.

Markets Occupied by the Ajumma

Largely known for their outgoingness and entrepreneurial spirit among communities, many ajummas own small mom-and-pop stores that sell anything from snacks and groceries to trinkets like souvenir dolls; some especially famous markets specialize only along these lines too!

Other times you can find korean ajumma draw crowds by shouting out discounted prices. Their voice goes beyond any loudspeakers you can find on the market, which makes them very powerful saleswomen.

Ahjumma, Ajoomma, Ajumma

There are tons various spelling with same ajumma meaning in korean language such as Ahjumma, Ajoomma and ajjeomma. However, according to National Institute of korean language romanization rules, the right spelling for ajumma is ‘Ajumma’. In addition, the word ‘ajumma’ is the easiest way to spell and speak it out.

Sum Up

In many ways, Ajummas position themselves informally at the top of society due to their confidence, experience, and perseverance. Often times young people find themselves intimidated by their presence because they carry power wherever they go. In addition, korean ajumma often express disapproval on things they find unacceptable toward others or behaviors they find inappropriate among the youth.

Here are all the things I can share about korean ajumma, ajumma meaning, and i wish you learn something new today about this term. Have you ever meet yakult or tiger ajumma as you travel south korea? Let me know about your experience meeting korean ajumma in the comments below!


Some frequently asked question about korean ajumma, the meaning of ajumma and related words to Ajumma including.

Ajeossi in Korean

Ajeossi 아저씨 in korean language means ‘middle-aged married man with children’. You can identify someone as ‘ajeossi’ if they’re 40s-50’s married man.

Auntie in the Korean language

Generally speaking, you can politely call any middle age women with ‘imo’.

Why Korean not directly call someone Ajumma?

When someone use the word ajumma directly, it actually sounds really rude, because in this modern day korea we have bad image of Ajumma. 

If you ask someone to describe Korean Ajumma, you will get the image of loud, noisy, rude and forceful middle age women. Even though not all of them like that, the image is just already rooted and implanted in most korean mind!

Why in Kdrama I saw someone say Ajumma directly?

When you see someone call a middle-age women with this term, usually it’s a young kid. It is okay for kids, due to their age-gap and pure intentions. If you are not a kid, and I suppose you are, don’t use this word directly.


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