The Wave


Sunik KIM

from South Korea

About the Book

**The word ‘Ajumma’ means middle aged women in Korea

In the 1930s, the hair perm culture began in Korea. The culture that only few wealthy people could do, became a general style for Korean women after the Korean War. Since most people were poor, they keenly wanted to do hair perm as strong as possible which would keep the curl longer. In my childhood, most women around me have had this shape of hair and they couldn’t get out of this even as time passes. This is called “Ajumma perm” in Korea now.

I always said it’s way too out of trend and tacky, whenever mom asked me about her shape of hair whether it’s good or not. However she had a strong will. She went to a hair shop to get a strong curl again, if the curl got loose even a little. It seemed to be her obsessional duty, as if she always feels pressure that she has to work hard to feed her family. One day, I was curious how this shape of hair could represent the generations and my curiosity got changed to an obsession that made me photograph them. At some point, she doesn’t get the hair perm again, probably from when she didn’t need to work hard to care for her family anymore. On the contrary I work hard to seek what’s hidden in the tangled and wavy things though. Sometimes, she spends time with her older sisters and apparently they are telling her that her hair looks poor and too straight. The temptation of the perm still fights in her mind like the wave in the sea that fluctuates endlessly.