The story of the women divers and how they raised Jeju Island with their motherly ways are enshrined for all to see at the Haenyeo Museum.
It is a must stop during a visit to Jeju.
The divers originated in Korea, but are also found in Japan (known there as ‘ama’). However, Korea is attempting to have them added to the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2015.
Therefore the museum, found on the island’s north-east coast in Sewha, is an important location for discovering the facts out about the history, culture, tools, and how the women worked.
First impressions of the museum provide not only the old ways of the women divers, but the old ways of Jeju Islanders too. See the clothes, food, and housing culture as we used to live.
Kids will find this interesting as well.
Moving on from the general hall, visitors will find the second hall the most important regarding the women divers.
This is the genuine haenyeo story.
Visitors can see the bultap where the women changed clothes, warmed their hands by a fire, arranged their catch of the day, and exchanged gossip.
Thanks to the models and diaromas everything is easier to understand.
The clothes and tools the divers went to work with are in the second exhibition hall including mulot(diving uniform), mangsari(net for the catch), tewak(floating device), kkakkuri(sharp tool).
You might not realize how many kinds of tools are used depending on the type of seafood the divers collect.
Then we have the tewak. This was originally a hollowed out vegetable known as bak. After the hollowing process it was then capped and used as a floating device. Divers could take a break by holding on to it in the ocean. They also attached their catch net to it as well. However new ideas and development creeped in from the 1960s. The float became a bright piece of Styrofoam. As it is always floating it is seen as a common companion for the woman diver.
In 1970 the old cloth diving uniform was replaced with wet suits. Even though the cloth was not very efficient, it looks pretty on the eyes.
Below we see a monument commemorating the women diver’s contribution to building a school. This place could not have existed without their help.
Long ago the divers designated one ocean area as a ‘school zone’ and the proceeds of any sea food caught there were put towards founding a school. Even though the weather was cold and bleak the divers still went into the ocean for this.
From the second floor you can see the setting in which the women divers still work today. The ocean spreads out in front of the museum. Sit for a while and listen to music. Gather your thoughts.
Before moving on drop into the gift shop and help support the divers by picking up a model or even a CD containing their songs.
Come back with your family.
Address: 26, Haenyeobangmulgwan-gil, Gujwa-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do
제주특별자치도 제주시 구좌읍 해녀박물관길 26
Open Hours: 9:00 – 17:00
* Holidays on Jan. 1, Seollal, Chuseok, every first and third Sunday
25 – 64 year olds: 1,100 WON / Group: 800 WON
13 – 24 year olds: 500 WON / Group: 300 WON
*Group is 10 or more people
* Jeju residents received a 50% discount upon producing their ID card