*The word "Ajumma" means women over middle aged in Korea.

The perm culture, which was once exclusive to a small affluent minority centered around Seoul in the 1930s, evolved into a common hairstyle for Korean women after the Korean War. At that time, the cost of a perm was roughly equivalent to two sacks of rice. During those modest times, Korean women endeavored to preserve their strong curly hair as long as possible. From my early childhood, most of the women surrounding me, including my mother, adhered to this hairstyle, seemingly unable to deviate from its allure even as time passed, thereby solidifying it as a singular form known as the 'Ajumma perm' today.

Whenever my mother returned from the salon flaunting her permed hair and asked if she looked pretty, I would respond by saying it looked old-fashioned and tacky. She was strong-willed. At the slightest sign of loosening in her perm, she promptly returned to the salon to have it redone and came back with freshly permed hair. It seemed to overlap with the obsessive compulsion she held, akin to the compulsive sense of duty she felt to support her family, working diligently. I wondered how this hairstyle came to symbolize that generation. I asked myself "what stories might be concealed within the tangled strands of their hair?". This curiosity evolved into an obsession that drove me to photograph them. At some point, she ceased to perm her hair. It was probably from the point where she no longer had to toil for the sake of her family. Contrarily, I found myself increasingly fascinated and absorbed by these curly, bouncy waves. Occasionally, her sisters would comment that she seemed somewhat drab without her perm. Whenever that happens, she would ask me, pondering whether she should perm her hair again. Even now, she continues to wrestle with the endless allure of it, like the wave crashing upon the shore.



The wave (dummy edition)
- 210x170mm
- 90p
- Spiral binding
- Designed by typehunter
- Printed in January 2023

Hong Kong Photobook Dummy Award 2023