Jeju is surrounded by ocean and therefore the island’s culture is irrevocably intertwined with it.
It is into the ocean culture we dive with this post as we learn more about the infamous haenyeo, or women divers.
They are symbol of the strength of Jeju women.
They go deep into the ocean with goggles and a wet suit. There is no breathing apparatus.
You can take a small peek into their world via a haenyeo performance to the side of Seongsan Sunrise Peak. Be sure to check the schedule before you go.
Yet there is another haenyeo place of experience and learning.
Sumbisori, across the ocean to the world.
The sound of breath goes over the ocean to the world with the haenyeo festival, which happens in the environs of a museum dedicated to the hardy women divers.
2013 marked the sixth time the festival had been held with around 30,000 tourists hailing from both the island and the mainland coming to participate. It is an opportunity to try various types of seafood as well as mingle with various types of people.
So let’s look at the festival in more detail.
One of the main events centers around a swimming competition with the Styrofoam floats the divers take into the water.
These photographs taken last year were from the heat stages which requires a swim of 100 meters. The final, on the other hand, requires 200 meters.
Another main event focuses on the actual task the haenyeo carry out in the ocean. That be catching the sea food. Individual and group category categories are there to be won.
With these events I began to realize how difficult this work is.
After 30 minutes passed the women had collected lots of seashells.
Many wanted to take a photograph of the scene too.
Again as a spectator it was amazing. It seemed these women were so tired at the end of the competition. I couldn’t help but feel a little sadness. It conjured up images of the hardships my mother went through as well.
This culture is disappearing, but here on Jeju Island it continues to live on.
If you’re curious to learn even more about the haenyeo then a trip to the related museum is more than worth the effort.
This is an outdoors shot of the exterior and grounds. The field is quite wide for a good time.
As the museum is owned and operated by the Jeju government the entrance price is next to nothing.
Here we see the video room.
The videos on show reveal how great the women were from the past.
This is the entrance to the first exhibition hall.
It reveals more about the island’s culture with the traditional hay roof house, volcanic stone walls, taewoo boat, galot (persimmon dyed cloth), and fishermen.
The women diver items used through history remind me once again of family. Memories of my grandmother’s house come back as I see the items.
In this picture we see an old cradle in which a baby slept.
The second exhibition hall.
Its theme is centered around the workplace.
More of Jeju’s history appears and just like me you’ll come to appreciate how hard this life was.
On the way to the third exhibition hall there is a photo zone with an expansive view.
Then in the third hall a bigger traditional taewoo boat is displayed. It was very difficult to capsize. The wisdom of people from the past is amazing.
You can also notice a number of haenyeo photographs here along with Jeju dialect proverbs and folk songs.
Unfortunately I couldn’t visit the children’s hall, but if you take your kids to the first floor I’m sure they will have a fun, but educational time.
Address: Jeju-si, Gujwa-eup, 26 (Hado-ri 3204-1)
Telephone: 064-782-9898 / 710-7771-5
For more detailed public transport information please visit this link: http://www.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=268222
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