[Hallyupedia] Haenyeo

연합뉴스 / 2022-04-25 09:46:54
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by Ra Hwakjin / Kim Jimin

[ENG] a woman whose job is to go into the sea without oxygen supply machine and pick sea cucumber, abalone, and seaweed



▲ This file photo shows Haenyeo doing Muljil. (Yonhap)

Haenyeo is also called as Jamnyeo, whose job is to dive into the sea without oxygen supply machine and pick up seafoods. In Korea, they can be usually seen in Jeju Island.


▲ This file photo shows Haenyeo collecting a conch. (Yonhap)

In a shallow sea within 10 meters deep, they collect seafood such as conch, abalone, seaweed, hijikia, agar, and sometimes catch fishes with harpoon. 

Haenyeos dive into water wearing diving suits called 'Mulot' and swimming goggles called 'Nun.' Swimming goggles these days called 'Wangnun' have been used since the 1950s, and before then, they wore binoculars called 'Joksenun.'

'Tewak' is an object that Haenyeos swim with in their chests so that they can float using buoyancy. Under the Tewak, there is a bag-shaped 'Mangsiri,' also called 'Mangsari' or 'Mangari' to carry collected fishes. When Haenyeos dive, they float 'Tewak' and 'Mangsiri' above the surface of water. 



▲ This file photo shows 'Tewak.' (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Other instruments include 'Bitchang,' a long iron stick to dig abalone, 'Jeonggehomi,' a sickle that cuts seaweed, 'Galgori,' an iron skewer which digs shellfish, and 'Sosal,' a harpoon which catches the fish by shooting.

Today, equipments are improving such as attaching a wireless location transmitter to Tewak so that Haenyeos can know where they are.

According to Doosan Encyclopedia, the origin of Haenyeo is expected to have started from the primitive industrial era when humans began to forage around sea, and archaeologically, the history of Jeju Haenyeo also dates back to around A.D. Also, it can be assumed that Sindang (Shamanic shrine) which manages fishermen and Haenyeos has been handed down from the ancient times.

There is a written document which says that, Yoon Eung-kyun, who was appointed as an official of Tamna (past name of Jeju) during King Sukjong of Goryeo Dynasty, issued a ban on Haenyeo's fishing in nude, and that an official of Jeju during King Injo of the Joseon Dynasty also ordered a prohibition on men and women to hang out in the sea."



▲ This photo, provided by the National Archives of Korea, shows Haenyeos in 1957. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

From old times, women in Jeju have been obedient to the fate of having to do Muljil (Haenyeo's diving) at sea if they do not weed a field. Girls in Jeju began to practice swimming at the age of 7~8, and when they became 12~13, they practiced on diving in deeper sea. When they were at the age of 15~16, they started their career as Haenyeo, and they work as a Haenyeo, each one doing their own share at the age of 17~18. It is said that from this time to around the age of 40 was the most active period of Haenyeo. 

However, since there are not many people who want to become Haenyeo, Haenyeo society is aging and the number of Haenyeos is decreasing as well.

As of the end of 2015, the number of Haenyeos who are active in Jeju Island is estimated to be 4,377 (2,481 in Jeju City and 1,896 in Seogwipo City).

At that time, the number of active Hanyeos by age was 10 aged 30~39, 53 aged 40-49, 563 aged 50-59, 1,411 aged 60-69, 1,853 aged 70-79, and 487 aged 80 or older, with those aged 50 or older accounting for 98.6%.

Today, 'Haenyeo school' which educates those who want to be Hanyeo is operated in Jeju Island, and new Haenyeos are trained through this school.

◇ UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage



▲ This photo, captured from a promotion video about "The Culture of Jeju Haenyeo," made by Cultural Heritage Administration and Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation, shows Haenyeo. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Haenyeo is Korea's national intangible cultural heritage and in 2016, the UNESCO inscribed 'Culture of Jeju Haenyeo' in Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

The Culture of Jeju Haenyeo, inscribed in the Intangible Cultural Heritage List, is composed of 'Muljil,' 'Jamsugut,' a shamanic rite to reinforce a sense of solidarity within their community, and 'Haenyeo's song,' a labor song sung on a ship while going out to sea for a work.

In terms of the Culture of Jeju Haenyeo, the Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee evaluated, "It shows Jeju's unique cultural identity and diversity," explaining, "Haenyeo's culture is valuable enough as an intangible heritage, including Rituals for safety and abundant fish, diving techniques and responsibilities delivered by seniors to juniors, and activities to enhance social cohesion through joint work."

The committee added, "Through its inscribe in the Intangible Cultural Heritage List, the Culture of Jeju Haenyeo is expected to raise awareness of the significance of women's work, and encourage the communication with other communities holding similar conventions with its culture."

The Culture of Jeju Haenyeo received high scores in that it does Muljil in eco-friendly way, and does not seriously damage the marine environment.

◇ Jeju Haenyeo Festival held every September



▲ This file photo shows a street parade of 'Jeju Haenyeo Festival' held in 2017. (Yonhap)


In Jeju Island, Jeju Haenyeo Festival is held every September.

The 14th festival held last year was held both in online and offline, and various video contents were introduced such as Haenyeogut (Haenyeo's ritual praying for peace), Haenyeo's recipe, Haenyeo documentary, Muljil V-LOG, and Haenyeo's digital pictorial.

In the past festivals held in offline, there were diverse events including experience programs such as catching conch, flatfish, and mackerel in bare hand, daily Haenyeo school, and also the concert of Haenyeo cultural performance team.

◇ Haenyeo in the drama "Our Blues"



▲ This photo, a captured image of tvN's drama 'Our Blues,' from tvN drama YouTube channel, shows Lee Young-ok (Han Ji-min), the Haenyeo.

In tvN's drama "Our Blues," set in Jeju Island, the story of Haenyeos living in Jeju sea is one of the mainstays of drama's story.

Especially, the romance between Lee Young-ok (Han Ji-min), a mysterious Haenyeo in her mid 30s from land, and Park Jeong-jun (Kim Woo-bin), a captain who loves her, is one of the main love-lines in the drama.

Besides Han Ji-min, veteran actresses like Kim Hye-ja and Go Doo-shim, and Cho Hye-jung and Park Ji-Ah act as real as Haenyeo.

In this drama, Haenyeo's life is lively described, including a scene like going on Muljil together, and a story of a ship's captain taking Haenyeos to Muljil place and bringing them back to the land.




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