Haenyeo: Women Divers of Jejudo
Do not bet on diving with the girl from Jeju Island if you are not sure whether she is the “Descendant of Haenyeo” or not. Haenyeo or “Sea Women” which always refers to Korean female divers of Jejudo Island for many centuries who dive into the deep ocean water to gather varieties of sea creatures, including seaweeds, shellfish, abalone, etc. without using any diving equipment since they only use only a pair of goggles, a round ball-like tube for her balancing in the seas and floating on the surface with a basket to collect her sea stuffs. Many of them can stay under the water for more than 10 minutes.
Haenyeos who are mostly old ladies age between 50 to even 80 years old, and are working in a group in the deep ocean. Some time you can have a chance to try her fresh seafood products along the beaches of Jejudo, especially it must be accompanied by Soju to drive creeping squid slipping into your stomach easily.
Traditionally, Koreans have aspired to have baby boys because only a man was considered to be the leader of the family, but Jejudo is different. In Jejudo, if the baby girl was born, there must be a celebration party, since it was a women who worked for whole day, so women have a special status in Jeju’s society in the old time as they began gathering seashells or abalone by the time they were ten years old
If you want to know more about Haenyeo, you can visit Jeju Haenyeo Museum which introduce the unique activities and culture of Jejudo’s Haenyeo female divers, including the history, the way of their traditional working under water, and also their equipments since ancient time with souvenirs shop where visitors can find various of souvenirs items related to Hanyeo.
You can reach Jeju island by plane or ferries from Busan as the nearest port and other ports in Korea.
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