Modern Day Mermaids

Off Jeju island in South Korea, it is not uncommon to see these bobbing bodies in black scuba gear with floaters attached to them.  The first time I saw them, I thought they were snorkelers or people learning to swim:

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But I soon learned that these are the famed female divers of Jeju Island, also known as Haenyo.  The Haenyo are a group of women who dive into the ocean for food each day.  They are essentially like fisherman but can bring in more than just fish.  The buoys they bring with them have nets attached to keep their spoils as they go.

Most of these women are quite elderly now but the current generation is not that interested in stepping up to continue the tradition.  Check out this article:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/30/world/asia/hardy-divers-in-korea-strait-sea-women-are-dwindling.html?_r=0

It is sad to think that one day there may not be any more Haenyo to carry on the tradition.

Nevertheless, I was so excited that I got to see them when I visited Jeju island a few years back:

koreataiwan2012-1 2132  How cute is she!!?!?

There is a cove off the island where the Haenyo come to put on a show and tell you what they are all about:

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The divers come out to show off their buoys and how they collect their goods:

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Then they dive in to show you how it’s done:

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She’s got an octopus with her bare hands!!!!

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And then she posed with all the types of food they catch each day!

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Of course, you can always fish the traditional way:

koreataiwan2012-2 302  But what fun is that???

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