An “ajumma” is the colloquial Korean term for an older woman. Or so I thought. It seems to be not the same as “grandma,” since even young women in Korea don’t have children any more. Rather it applies to women generally, who have reached their upper thirties. This is a class that once consisted very largely of respectable, politely-dressed, members. Past a certain point, after all, there is no reason to dress suggestively any more, although I may condemn myself for “age-ism” by this remark. (Or is it age-ist to suggest that women ever become respectable?)

But from the Beeb this morning I instead learn that ajumma means, or also means, “rude and obnoxious behaviour.” Well, I never claimed to speak Korean. The definition came up because a gym club in Incheon has banned ajummas, though presumably not older women, per se.

Some of these ajummas will “spend an hour or two in the changing room doing their laundry, and stealing items including towels, soaps, or hair dryers,” a spokesman for the gym company told Yonhap, a South Korean news agency. “They sit in a row and comment on other people’s bodies,” he added. (They do worse in Toronto.)

A sign declaring a “new rule” has been posted at the Incheon gym. It reads, “Off limits to ajummas,” and, “only cultivated and elegant women allowed.”

From my days in the Far East, now many years ago, I recall signs on the beaches which read, in English, “Cultivated and elegant persons do not throw trash into the sea” — and then something more concise in the local language. (I think signposting should always be droll.)

Today, however, there seems to be a populist revolt by exactly those ajummas whom this gym had previously served. They loudly object to their expulsion, and claim that the company directors are misogynist. Perhaps, in Korean, there is a specific term for prejudice against rude and obnoxious older women; or else that term is, simply, “ajummas.”

Perhaps we should adopt it. For I’ve noticed on the streets of Parkdale a surplus of women lacking cultivation, and elegance. And now they are all growing old.