Chasing down Seoul’s yogurt ajummas

I first heard about Seoul’s yogurt delivery women almost a year ago from my brother, who was living here at the time. He described the ajummas, or middle-aged women, as wearing uniforms, racing down the streets at a dizzying 5 miles per hour on refrigerators that double as electric carts.

When I travelled to Seoul, I wanted to see the women he described in the flesh. And when I heard that CityLab was interested in a story on these women, I jumped at the opportunity to photograph it.

Photographing the yogurt ajumma story consisted mainly of roaming the streets for two consecutive mornings. I woke up at around 7 a.m., grabbed some coffee and hit the streets. When I saw what appeared to be a yogurt cart, or, better yet, an ajumma on a yogurt cart, I chased them down. I quickly realized that 5 miles per hour is faster than most people think, especially when carrying a large camera and two lenses.

More often than not, this strategy ended in one of two ways. Either I wouldn’t get a clean shot of them in action, or they wouldn’t allow me to photograph them. But a few times, my strategy worked. I got the necessary shots and even ended up making one of my favorite environmental portraits ever.

Blog and photo by Eli Imadali