Young Jeju Native Becomes Haenyo

      July 10, 2014 10:01

      Jung So-young

      A Jeju native became one of the youngest "haenyo," a female diver who does not use breathing equipment while foraging for shellfish, octopus and other sea life.

      Jung So-young, who is in her late 20s, is one of a few young divers in the profession. Among some 4,500 such professional divers, more than half are in their 70s, raising concerns about extinction of the island's traditional profession.

      Born on a tiny islet which is administered by Jeju Island, Jung said she became a haenyo as she decided to follow in her mother's footsteps and because of her love of water.

      Her 68-year-old mother has served as a female diver for the past four decades.

      "I first learned to swim when I was in elementary school. While in high school, I represented Jeju at a national competition and won a bronze medal," Jung said. "If my daughter wants to become a haenyo, I'll certainly support her."

      To become a haenyo, a woman must join the fisheries cooperation union and be recognized by the head of the group of women divers.

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