Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra

The Amazing Women Divers of Jeju

When I speak about the mermaids divers to Korea to people, everyone seems to know about these amazing women already.

But the first time I heard of them was on the drive to a crater mountainside in Jeju where the Haenyeo women may be found.  There, if we cared to walk to the beach about 500 steps down the mountain, we could meet the Korean diving women of Jeju.

These women dive for pearls and other treasures of the sea..  Extraordinary right ? After all how many women do such hard jobs?

As I was assimilating this fact,  I learnt that the Haenyeo do not use any diving equipment. They simply hold their breath as they go down. And over the hundreds of years that this has been a tradition, their lung capacity is known to be higher than that of the average human lung. They can hold their breath for 2 whole minutes!Absolutely extraordinary right?

And finally the one little fact that completely dazzled me : the average age of the women divers is 70! The diving grandmas of Jeju!

WOW!  Really really WOW!

The stereotype of the ‘helpless’  and ‘suppressed’ Asian woman that lives inside my head is really facing a tough time dealing with this new exposure!!

Cheju, Jeju Island, South Korea

Cheju, Jeju Island, South Korea

‘There’s more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done’ (song from The Lion King!)


July 2013

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This entry was posted on July 28, 2013 by in Culture Kaleidoscope and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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