Y. Zin Haenyeo: Women Dives of Korea


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Inhaltsangabe zu „Haenyeo: Women Dives of Korea“ von Y. Zin

They Scour the Ocean Floor without Breathing Aid

These brave women work underwater 10 meters, or sometimes 20 meters, deep in the sea without any breathing apparatus. They harvest prized marine delicacies such as sea cucumber, abalones and sea mustard. Women free divers who are engaged in this centuries-old marine harvesting tradition are only found in Korea and Japan. Korea’s haenyeo are less known than Japan’s ama in the world today. But a long time ago, haenyeo taught their skills to ama.

Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Ingrained in the culture of the haenyeo are practices to protect the marine ecosystem because the sea is the source of their livelihood and they regard it as the common property of all. They release shellfish seed, in the expectation that the baby turban shells and clams would grow and thrive in the ocean. They also carefully watch and cope sensitively with changes in marine life caused by changes in sea temperature. They thus contribute to the protection and enrichment of the marine ecosystem. In recognition of such activities as well as the value of their disappearing rural legacies, the Culture of Jeju Haenyeo was inscribed on the UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2016.

In this first photographic book by Korea’s first female underwater photographer who is also an accomplished international-level diver, Y.Zin captures vivid scenes of the haenyeo at work with their sisterhood of the sea spanning generations, resting, checking gear and the day’s harvest, and working the land together between dives.

Since 2012, Y.Zin has been visiting Jeju Island every year to meet the island’s haenyeo and take pictures of their everyday lives. Taking advantage of her expertise and experience as an underwater photographer, she has succeeded in capturing the beautiful and dynamic moments of these divers working under the sea. The Happy Haenyeo Project was conceived by Y.Zin to help protect the culture of these divers and make it known around the world. As part of her efforts to inform the world of these wondrous women, she has also participated in international dive expos, exhibiting her photographs and giving lectures on them. This photographic book is an outcome of these activities. Y.Zin presents the haenyeo, her beloved subjects, with great authenticity and genuine marvel at their livelihood and culture that shows through in every photograph and note that she has written for the book.
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