The Haenyeo women are a group of divers in Jeju, South Korea who provide for their families by diving underwater to search for sea creatures to eat and sell. They do this by free diving meaning they use no scuba gear, just a wet suit, diving mask, fins, gloves and hunting tools! The Haenyeo tradition has been passed down through generations of women dating back to the 17th century meaning there have been thousands of Haenyeo women throughout history and today.
They are known for their powerful voices of their fiery independence, strength, sense of community and support for one another and for their protection of the ocean environments they work with.
They would also dive throughout their whole pregnancies and right after having their babies!
To become a haenyeo women can start to train at age 8-11 and it takes 7 years of training to be considered a "full-fledged" haenyeo. Through their training they all work up to being able to dive up to 30 feet in the water and holding their breathe for 3 whole minutes with no scuba gear. They work to learn to hold their breathe for long periods, how to resist the urge to breathe when underwater, how to become strong swimmers and how to look for which sea creatures to harvest and which to watch out for.
Some people work as haenyeo for their whole lives until they are in their 70s-80s. Meaning they are free diving deep in the water to support their families for about 60 years!
Sustainability means working with nature to get what you need from it while also keeping it healthy in order to not affect its future in a bad way!
This is a statue in Jeju, Korea honoring the haenyeo women!
An important part of the history of haenyeo women is the relationship between the ocean and the women of helping and supporting each other. They live with the ocean and it feeds them and helps them provide for their families but they also do their best to protect the ocean and its inhabitants. To keep the ocean as healthy as they can the haenyeo women plan which animals to get when to ensure no species are killed off. They also make sure to take only take what they need.