I am so enthralled with the haenyo, the women divers of Jeju Island. I had never heard of them before and I was even more surprised to know that they’re women divers in Japan, China, Russia and other places.
Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haenyo) says this about the divers:
|Statue outside the museum|
This evolution clashed with Korea's Confucian culture, in which women have traditionally been treated as inferior. As a result, administrators from Seoul (unsuccessfully) tried to bar the women from diving, ostensibly because they exposed bare skin while at sea.
Haenyo are skilled divers who are known to be able to hold their breath for almost two minutes and dive to depths of 20 meters. The divers must also contend with other dangers such as jellyfish, and sharks.
Starting from the late 1970s, exports of sea products to Japan such as abalone and conch have made the sea women richer than ever, allowing them to fix their houses, build new ones in Jeju City and send their daughters to college. However, there is a threat to the haenyo's continued success; with their daughters choosing to work in the island's tourism industry or in the big cities, the haenyo will most likely disappear. While in 1950 there were as many as 30,000 haenyo on the island, in 2003 there were only 5,650 sea women registered as divers, of whom 85% were over 50 years old. With the number of sea women declining and with tourism giving Jeju men more opportunities, it is unclear what will happen to their daughters' status in their communities and home, though it is unlikely that the matriarchal family structures will continue to survive.
We spent an hour at the Women Divers Museum and as we walked through the museum EBean was insistent on seeing a real woman diver. I thought it was pretty spectacular to hear a 3-year-old so intent on something. EBean was in luck because as we were driving to our next destination, we were able to stop and watch (and hear, the divers make a whistling sound as they exhale & inhale when they resurface) a pair of divers at work.
|Women Divers Museum|
|Standing with our own "woman diver". Only within|
the last several decades have they dived with a wet suit;
they used to only wear a cotton outfit.
As we were driving to our next destination after touring the museum, we were able to see a pair of divers in action. They were possibly diving for abalone, sea weed and other edible sea products.
|A diver coming up to let out the CO2 and take in oxygen,|
which produced a "whistling" noise.
|There she goes! No oxygen tank for her.|
|Up again for another breath.|
|Here is a link to a book I purchased|
from Amazon about the women divers:
Moon Tides, Jeju Island Grannies
|Drying the day's catch.|
|A few "boats"|
Of course the highlight was spending time with my family. On our last night, the whole family attended a dinner hosted by a company in the pig industry. It was a beautiful dinner complete with women performers in traditional Korea dress, Korean barbecue prepared at our table, and Korean fans as party favors. It was a nice way to end our trip. And, true to their personalities, the girls partied all the way back to the hotel, which was an hour drive and several hours past their bed time, while others slept around them!
|The dinner was held outside, but we were surrounded|
by some really beautiful buildings built in the
traditional Korean style.
|30 years ago that little girl would have been me|
tugging on that Papa Joes's arm, now it's my daughter's turn!
|EBean could not get enough of the Korean barbeque.|
|The server at our table (you can see her preparing the meat)|
caught on quickly as to how much EBean liked the meat.
She kept passing more meat to her.
|Getting ready to dive into some noodles and...more meat.|
I think this 30 pound little girl ate more Korean barbeque than
any of the grown men at our table.
|Opening up the favors from the|
dinner...new Korean fans.
|Love this photo...I think Elanco's|
new slogan should be..."Elanco, bringing