|Photo source: Wall Street Journal|
That gim (seaweed) and shellfish in your favorite soups and dishes are a product of Jeju's superwomen divers. Meet the haenyeo (sea women) or the seaweed harvesters.
They are mostly elderly women, aged over 50, who make a living out of diving into the depths of the East China Sea. Commonly, the oldest are in their nineties. But, despite their age, they dive up to 20 meters while holding their breath for about two minutes at a time. The women are clad in their government-sponsored wetsuits, not minding the cold during the five-hour stint. It's been said that this has been a practice since the 17th century. It used to be a job done by Jeju men. But when the king enlisted them in the army, Jeju women opted to do their husband's jobs.