Friday, 8 June 2012

South Korea's Haenyeo (Jeju)

The trip in Jeju brought me to a lighthouse, which is built on a cliff. It's a popular scenic spot as many Korean drama have been shot at the lighthouse. While on the cliff, I happen to spot a strange orange "ball" floating on the sea water below. 

Deeply intrigued at that time, I was lucky that my camera could zoom in. It's actually a diver, a woman diver to be exact. In Korea, they are known as 'Haenyeo'.

The Haenyeo are full time divers who dive as deep as 60 feet or more, to pry loose seashells underwater. What amazed me is that these divers use only simple tools such as iron picks and scythes to get seashells. On top of that, they don't even need oxygen tank!

We cruised Jeju the next day and we spotted a group of haenyeo gathering their catch and taking a rest on the rocks. I was told that haenyeo is a woman profession and they always operated in a group for safety reasons. Each generation of haenyeo used to pass down their skills to the next generation.

However, the numbers of Haenyeo is dwindling rapidly today. This is because there's not many young people who want to battle the bone chilling water daily and risk getting lung infection. It is one of the traditions that will face extinction in the future, which doesn't surprise me at all, but I was taken aback when I was told that the oldest diver in Jeju is 90 years old. Imagine that..

Our trip to Jeju wouldn't be complete without eating the seafood which is greatly abundant and extremely cheap. This hotpot was meant for 2 people, but even with 5 people eating this, we still can't finish it. The portion was really huge and generous. Not to mention, it was the freshest seafood I've ever eaten.

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