WHAT IS THEIR PHILOSOPHY OF LIfE
"Living in a group while finding a harmony with the nature is the only way to survive"
Haenyeo literaly means sea women in Korean language. They relay entirely on their diver's ability to hold breath and submerge to the bottom of the ocean shelf. Haenyeo spend their entire life diving. Furthermore, they are famous for free spirit, strength of mind and long lasting live. Haenyeo culture is inscribed by UNESCO on the representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
WHERE HAENYEO LIVE
Haenyeo inhabit the beautiful Jeju island, Korea and are at the center of the semi-matriarchal family structure.
HOW HAENYEO ARE BORN
Korean society is very male dominated, influenced strongly by the philosophy of the Confucius. In general women obey men. However, in the 17th century due to a war, many men lost their life. Desperate times, desperate measures! In order to save the survived people, women had to take care of the elders, kids and weak. All this required a major shift in the organization of their society. The land on Jeju island was with limited fertility. Furthermore, the little farms built there were devastated by the enimies. All this forced women outside of their comfort zone and they searched for food in the waters around the island.
There were some men who tried to dive as well. Unfortunately, due to much lower subcutaneous fat and shivering threshold compared to women they gradually gave up. Only women were able to withstand cold waters.
On the tiny islets Mara, just a stone throw away of Jeju, sea-diving was the only source of income. This gave full power to the women. In the same time, men had to look after the children and cook while the women would bring in money for the family. Other example of Jeju’s unique society includes men paying a dowry to the family.