Embracing our inner ‘Ajoomma’


He Shuming wants viewers of his latest film to embrace their inner ajumma.

According to the National Institute of Korean Language, ajumma is an informal term of ajumeoni (a middle-aged woman) that has grown negative connotations over the years.

In an interview with the Korea Herald, Shuming said “ajummas are considered with certain traits; aggressive and a little afraid of how others look at her.”

Through his film Ajoomma, the Singaporean filmmaker wants the audience to “rethink the term” and “embrace the ajumma part of them.”

Ajoomma stars Hong Huifang, Kang Hyung-suk (Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha) and Yeo Jin-goo (Hotel del Luna, Moon Embracing the Sun). It tells the story of a middle-aged, Korean-drama-obsessed widow (Huifang) from Singapore who travels to Seoul for the first time. She ends up getting lost and befriends a widow ahjussi and a young struggling father.

“While the premise seems to be timely given the popularity of Korean pop culture sweeping through all of Asia and beyond, it merely serves as an undertone for the film, which is about a middle-aged Singaporean woman learning to navigate life beyond her duties as a mother, a housewife and a caretaker,” Shuming added in a statement.

Cast also includes Jung Dong-hwan (Uncontrollably Fond, Hotel del Luna) and Shane Pow (The Heartland Hero, Super Dad).

Ajoomma marks the first co-production between Singapore and South Korea. It premiered at the 27th Busan International Film Festival in October 2022 and was nominated in four categories at the 59th Golden Horse Awards. It is Singapore’s entry for Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards.

Ajoomma, produced by Cannes award-winning director Anthony Chen, is distributed exclusively in the Philippines by TBA Studios. It is now open in cinemas nationwide.

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