Haenyeo: The Mermaids of Jeju

Among the fascinating people I have met or seen in Korea are the haenyeo, or Korean female divers. I encountered them in Jeju, an island in the south. The haenyeo dive for abalone, clams, and seaweed without any special diving equipment. The women are mostly old, as the younger ones do not want to become haenyeo any longer. I am told that the youngest is in her fifties. There are only a few thousand haenyeo left.

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In a diving show, the women sang before getting in the water.

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They could be mermaids, after all!

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