Sharing the video of Zoom meeting held on July 7, 2020.

Jeju Island’s Haenyeo


Speaker: Joey Rositano

Ever since Jeju Island forged its way onto the international tourism scene, its women free divers, called haenyeo, have taken center stage as both cultural symbol and tourist attraction. The divers’ fame peaked with their designation as intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2016. The honor garnered worldwide attention for the incredible ‘grandmothers of the sea’. But what do these women of newfound international fame, who speak an endangered language and practice an ancient freediving lifestyle, have to say about their own popularity? What is the current situation for the haenyeo really like from their point of view?

Rositano, author of the newly released book “Jeju Island’s Haenyeo, A User’s Manual,” will introduce some of the interviewees and characters from the new book. He noticed that while many themes pertinent to the divers’ experience have been shared through the many projects featuring them — books, photography, art, films — certain areas of their experience were skirted around. He will discuss these issues related to the commercialisation of the haenyeo by using his interview material collected from the haenyeo. The lecture will also include information about Jeju shamanism.