MissyUSA flexes “ajumma power”

May 20, 2014

Two days after they ran a second full-page ad in a major U.S. daily to denounce the Korean government, the same women and their families took to the streets. (Korea Times file)

By Jane Han

From newspaper ads to simultaneous rallies across America, the controversial post-Sewol efforts planned and orchestrated by Korean “ajumma,” or married housewives, in the U.S. seem to be taking people by surprise for their speed and organization.

And they’re not done yet.

Still enraged at the Park Geun-hye administration and the way it dealt with the Sewol ferry disaster, the Korean ajumma squad apparently has no intention of stopping their attack on the current system.

Two days after they ran a second full-page ad in a major U.S. daily to denounce the Korean government, the same women ― thousands of them ― and their families took to the streets on Sunday, wearing all black, holding yellow placards and passing out flyers, all to deliver the message that authorities failed to execute proper rescue efforts.

Follow-up rallies are scheduled to take place over the next couple weeks, but these aren’t the only upcoming plans in the works.

According to MissyUSA, the online meeting place for these ajumma supporters, there are talks of running a Times Square billboard ad similar to the New York Times and Washington Post ads; creating a YouTube video to chronicle the details of the Sewol and the government’s “bungled rescue efforts”; and donating money to a needy Korean media company in their favor.

More and more ideas continue to be tossed around, as they now know from experience that it won’t take long from planning to execution.

“It took less than two weeks for the first NYT ad to print since donations kicked off, and just another four days before the Washington Post ad came out. We’re fast,” says Min-jung, a 30-something housewife in New York City, who didn’t want to disclose her last name over privacy concerns.

“This is the power of ajumma ― quick judgment and speedy action,” she said, stressing that she is “in no way a political activist at heart.”

Many other women right in the center of the latest campaign also claim they have no political motivation.

“We are ordinary moms who chose to spend less on groceries to donate money for the Sewol victims and their families,” said another 20-something housewife in Dallas, who donated $100 to the crowd-funding campaign that raised more than $160,000, nearly triple the amount needed to run the initial NYT ad.

“Everyone has their own perception of viewing an incident. I feel that I’m standing up for the right cause,” she said.


Across the street on the same day in Los Angeles, a conservative organization held a protest against MissyUSA. (Korea Times file)

Not everyone feels this way, as the weekend rally movement triggered intense criticism from conservative Korean groups in Korea and the U.S.

Korean organizations in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. , mainly comprised of elderly members, held counter-protests against MissyUSA on Sunday, the same day and time Korean ajumma held their rallies.

More conflict is expected to brew as MissyUSA members press forward with their campaign, but those participating don’t seem to mind the fuss.

“We will pursue what we think is right. They can do what they think is right. It’s as simple as that,” said Young Kwon, 42, of Seattle, who explains this is her way of sharing the responsibility for the lost lives.

One Comment

  1. Roy

    May 20, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    Posting a denouncing ad on NY Times about Park’s administration is comparable to posting an ad on LA Times denouncing your own aunt about something stupid your cousin did last night. It’s spitting on your own face! It’s a waste of valuable money. Most Americans won’t care. And, they will think Koreans are still incompetent (including Korean Americans by default). Bottom line, it’s talking shit about your own family to a foreign neighbor. Stupid!