Parasols: A little bit of Austen, and channeling my inner ajumma

             “For what do we live, but to make sport

               for our neighbors and laugh at them in
               our turn.”
                                  Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

       I have been an avid reader ever since I can remember. My father actually asked my mom to hide “The Story of Ferdinand” (my favorite book at age 4), because I had memorized it, and would insist on “reading” it to him every single night.

        In elementary school I was solving mysteries with Nancy Drew, and traveling through space and time with Meg Murry (The Time Quartet, Madeleine L’Engle).

       The dawning of my middle school years brought on a new obsession. I read, and fell in love with, the writing of Jane Austen, her snappy witticisms, and her dashing men.

      Side note: Asking me to choose between Mr. Darcy, Captain Wentworth, and Henry Tilney is a futile endeavor. I am in love with all three. In this situation, I am almost tempted to advocate for polyandry. 

      I love everything about the world of Austen! The men, the clothes, the houses (mansions), and the style of language. 

        It has been a secret dream of mine to discover a time portal, and travel back to Regency England so that I can speak like Elizabeth Bennett, wear a beautiful ball gown, and walk around looking elegant while holding a parasol.

        Little did I know, all I needed to do was move to South Korea to make at least one part of my dream a reality.

        Summer weather in Korea is not joke, it has  consistently been in the upper 90’s to low 100’s, with very high humidity. When you step outside it immediately feels like you have jumped in a swimming pool. 

        With the increase in temperature I have seen more and more Korean women (usually the ajummas, aka older ladies) using parasols to find even momentary relief from the brutal sun. Koreans don’t like sun, they don’t want to be tan so they cover up as much as possible when outside, and employ the parasol for maximum sun deflection. Quite brilliant when you think about it.

        After walking to work everyday in the sweltering heat, my co-worker and I decided that it was time to give in and embrace our inner ajummas (and my inner Austen). 

Carrying around a parasol back home would never work (unfortunately), but since it is completely normal and acceptable I am going to channel my inner Jane Austen for as long as I am able. 
        My Parasol Theory

        I have a theory about the parasols that is quite ridiculous, but it makes me smile so I thought I would share it. 

       While walking about I keep encountering little clusters of ajummas talking, all while holding their parasols. I am sure they are only spreading the town gossip or discussing the prices of various market day items, but somehow the parasols add this air of mystery to their conversations (the mystery could also derive from the fact I can’t understand a word they say as it’s all Korean, but I like to think it’s the parasols). 

        My theory is that the Korean government employs the old ladies of the country to work as secret undercover agents. They walk around looking all small, frail, and vulnerable, but really they are passing state secrets and running the country through their covert network of informants. 

Secret deal going down on the streets of Namchang.

        The parasols come into play when they gather in groups to discuss “town gossip”. The parasols form a natural shield. When three or four of them gather the parasols create a barrier and no one will ever know what information and messages are being passed along behind the floral and lace patterns. 

       As we are now proud owners of parasols, I will keep you posted on whether or not my co-worker and I are ever inducted into this secret parasol society. 

       If you like this post please feel free to share it, like it, or comment below. I would love to hear what you think!! Thanks for reading!!


6 thoughts on “Parasols: A little bit of Austen, and channeling my inner ajumma

  1. We see this all the time in China! But I saw an Asian older couple using their umbrella while walking down the street in Maple Grove, USA! So maybe it will catch on in the USA.

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