A Travellerspoint blog

say it kelsi..."감사합니다.."

i spent my friday night being tortured! all i really wanted was a relaxing massage.

sunny 90 °F

last thursday i told eleanor that we should get massages on friday to commemorate vacation. she thought that was a splendid idea and made us appointments with some girl had gone to before on the second floor. when we got to the second floor at 7 pm, there were two women in the office. one was a girl in her early 20s and the other was her mother. the mother (we'll call her ajumma), started talking to us about prices and what thing we wanted done. she offered us this "anti-fat pack" and a regular massage. i was under the impression i was going to get a regular massage and this "anti-fat pack" for free...she offered us the "anti-fat pack" for $200 for four times and eleanor just about jumped off her chair with excitement for it. she asked if i wanted to do it, and i told her i was gonna wait because my bullshit alarm was sounding. the ajumma kept offering it and eleanor kept trying to convince me to do it. i said "wait" every time because i didn't even know what it was yet! i just assumed they were gonna put some stuff on my skin while i was getting a massage and that would be the that; boy, was i wrong.

we went to the back room and the ajumma was like take off your clothes. wait...뭐?? all of them? yup. uhhh...so i negotiated and was allowed to at least keep my underwear on. the first thing she noticed was the little red bumps on my arms and she told me that my skin was like that because of my fat. i informed her that even when i was a skinny child i had this on my arms...my dad has it on his arms...and other skinny people i know have it. she was like, oh...ok...so then she weighed us and then sent eleanor into the bathroom to this little tub with some special water to open up her pores. while standing there naked, the ajumma also noticed i had hips and small hands. she's really observant! finally she sent my bare ass in the bathroom too where i was handed a bucket and told me to take the special water from the tub eleanor was in and pour it on myself. i laughed because i honestly thought they were kidding. luckily for me and my sanitary expectations, eleanor had showered before getting in the tub, so i wasn't totally stripping her filth from her and pouring it all over me. if you're wondering how i was feeling at this point, awkward does not even come close. eleanor and i hung out in the bathroom and opened our pores with the special water and giggled about the absurdity of the situation and how neither one of us really expected to do this when we got up that morning.

after our "bath," we went back into the other room and dried off. the ajumma and girl came in and started our "anti-fat pack," which consisted of them smearing this orange minty smelling stuff all over our bodies. if any of you have ever taken a ceramics class, it sorta was like them smearing silt on us. after we were covered from head to toe, we stood and waited for it to dry...and waited...and waited. the room was humid and like 85 degrees and we stood there for like 45 minutes. the ajumma kept coming and being like..why aren't you dry yet?! well, of course when you have to stand still in a humid/warm room for a really long time you might sweat! but yet, she didn't have a fan, and of course like most places in korea...no air con. the ajumma was in the room continually trying to sell us on this idea of this "anti-fat pack," but i was definitely playing the bullshit card. she just kept going on and on about how much weight we'd lose if we only paid $200 for four treatments! i wanted to be like, 아줌마...나가(요)!!...something to the effect of, hey ajumma, go away (politely haha)...she did go away after like 10 more minutes of poking at my fat and spewing crap. she told me that i was sweating because i had too much fat. alright, fine...so i'm fat...no need to keep touching my flab and telling me....i understood the first 15 times.

finally after 45 minutes of standing there and watching anger management with adam sandler, we got to go in the sauna! then we sat in the sauna for 30 minutes. i can deal with heat, but not humidity, so i wasn't really sweating that much. the ajumma came and asked why i wasn't sweating. i told her because it was comfortable and i wasn't hot. them she told me that i wasn't sweating because of my fat. but i thought i was sweating because of my fat? well, whatever. after the sauna, we got out and weighed ourselves again because the ajumma was hellbent on showing us that we'd lose a ton of weight just after doing the "anti-fat pack" only once!!! i don't think anyone else but me realized that it was water weight. when she weighed me, i lost weight (HOLY CRAP!!! who woulda thunk??) and everyone was rejoicing. i just stood there guffawing at them (on the inside...they woulda been offended if i'd actually guffawed). literally, they were all dancing around with OOHs and AHHs coming out of their mouths. then the ajumma told me how much more weight i'd lose if i paid $200 dollars and came four more times! thanks, i'll keep that in mind.

after we rejoiced about all the water weight i lost, i got to take a shower! and then, i dried off and eleanor took a shower. while she was showering i started my massage. first, you have to know that koreans like rough massages. it's not unusual to see someone whose legs hurt beating their legs relentlessly to relieve the pain. massages in korea are exactly like that, but worse. and especially because this was an "anti-fat" massage, the pain was really intense. so, lying naked, face-down in the living room area of this office area, the ajumma took this roller thing and i swear to god put all of her weight on to it and dug it into my skin and rolled it up and down my back. this went on for about 20 minutes. two times i almost cried. most of you know i have a fairly high tolerance for pain (except cramps) shown by the amount of soccer injuries i have sustained and the amount of tattoos and piercings i have. i'm not new to pain, but this pain was UNBEARABLE. once the pain was over, she rewarded me with a nice facial. at that point, it was totally worth it.

in the end, i paid my $50 bucks and went home. on saturday when i woke up, i couldn't move. i also couldn't move sunday. monday was back to normal though because i didn't have a choice; i had to go back to work. all in all, i can honestly say i don't think i lost any weight because of the "anti-fat pack" or massage. but it was an interesting experience that will not soon be forgotten. or, maybe i'd like to forget it...ajummas poking at your pudge is not fun!

maybe i should explain ajumma and ajumma behavior. according to galbijim http://wiki.galbijim.com/Main_Page , "Ajumma (아줌마) : A term used to address an adult female individual of married age and/or runs a business or restaurant. The stereotypical 'ajumma' image is that of a short, stocky, tough old woman who wears purple pants and permed hair, and has sharp elbows on the subway. The word ajumma is also used to call older women when in a restaurant or simply when getting a person's attention, but it is best to only call older women this as women of a somewhat younger age may not think of themselves as ajummas yet, especially if they are in their 30s and maybe even early 40s. A simple 저기요 is often a safer bet."

ajummas are notorious for their visors. example below. koreans really don't like the sun because of the effects it has on their skin...they neither want to be tan, nor look old (beauty is VERY important here). therefore they avoid the sun's rays. in korea, light skin is desired by all. if one has darker skin, they are thought to be poor. rich people do not have to be outside laboring, and therefore do not have dark skin. i actually saw an ajossi (galbijim's definition: An ajosshi, sometimes spelled adjeossi or other variants, is the Korean word for a middle-aged man. The female equivalent is ajumma and, just like that word, it carries many connotations -- some positive and some negative) wearing an oversized, pink ajumma visor yesterday. i laughed because it was amusing, but i don't think anyone else found it funny. in america, it's the equivalent of seeing a man wearing pink high heels. but in korea, it's just a man wearing a hat. usually ajossis wear those fishermen hats...boonie hats??

group of ajummas


ajumma visor (a.k.a darth vader)


i love ajumma




typical korean ajossi


stay tuned...next post is about fan death.



Posted by flaminko 22:32 Archived in South Korea

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