We recently stumbled upon a report on the Haenyeo, and yes, we were fascinated by how unusual and intriguing the story was. Do you know what ‘Haenyeo’ are?
They are South Korean grandmothers from Jeju Island (located off the southern coast of the Republic of Korea) who practice free-diving to fish. A group of women who, since the 18th century, have been diving up to 10 meters deep to gather shellfish. Without oxygen bottles, being elder women and the aim of looking for food. This kind of tradicional free-diving is known as muljil and they practise it for three months a year for seven hours a day.
The Haenyeo ancestral culture of the Haenyeo of Jeju Island was declared Worlds Heritage in 2016. This tradition contributes to enhance the female condition within the island population (a confucian society based on the male patriarchy) and to preserve the seabed.
But how many women are Haenyeo? Here are some data: Island Jeju has 600.000 habitants and only 2.500 women practise actively muljil and 2.000 ocasionally. We walk about “diving grandmothers” because they are over the 60 years.
They are feraless women who contribute not only to the female gender of their community but also to the world and the sea, practising a fishing technique that is so respectful oif the envioronment.