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[Newsletter Vol.14] Jeju Haenyeo in the Eyes of World 2017-05-16
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Jeju Haenyeo in the Eyes of World
The Legacy of Haenyeo Culture Session at the Jeju Forum on June 2

The culture of Jeju haenyeo (female divers), registered as one of the Intangible Cultural 
Heritages of UNESCO, is expected to captivate the participants in the Jeju Forum for 
Peace and Prosperity from the world. 

Famous artists home and abroad, who have portrayed the life and work of the Jeju 
haenyeo in their photos, writings and films, will join the session on the haenyeo culture 
of Jeju Island, slated to open at 10:20 a.m. on June 2, 2017, the third day of the Jeju 

Under the session theme, “From Babies to Grannies of the Sea: Global Promotion and 
Sustainability of Jeju Haenyeo,” haenyeo who are still active will give testimonies to their 
life, and experts in cultural administration will discuss the fellowship, cultural value and 
sustainability of the Jeju haenyeo culture.  

The session will be hosted by BAK Sangmee (Dean, Graduate School of International 
and Area Studies, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies / facilitator, UNESCO Intangible 
Cultural Heritage Convention), and joined by the panelists, NGUYEN Thi Hien (member, 
UNESCO Intangible Heritage Evaluation Body / Vice Director, Vietnam National Institute 
of Culture and Arts Studies); Joey ROSITANO (filmmaker and photojournalist); Brenda 
PAIK SUNOO (photojournalist); LEE Sun-hwa (Jeju Special Self-Governing Provincial 
Councilor), KANG Aeshim (principal, Beobhwan Haenyeo School), CHAE Jiae (Jeju 
haenyeo); and KOH Heeyoung (director of the movie, Mulsum).

Dean BAK, concurrently a member of the Cultural Properties Committee, has played a 
key role in registering the Jeju haenyeo, traditional Korean music of peasants and 
kimchi-making culture as UNESCO heritages. BAK emphasized, “The efforts to preserve 
haenyeo culture should be a good example for the global discourse on conservation 
and utilization of the intangible heritages.”

The folklore expert, NGUYEN Thi Hien, who participated in the selection of the Jeju 
haenyeo as a UNESCO cultural heritage, will present his view on the efforts of UNESCO 
to preserve cultural heritages and the cultural value of the Jeju haenyeo in the session.

Brenda PAIK SUNOO, a third-generation Korean-American, has published “Moon Tides-
Jeju Island Grannies and the Sea,” a collection of her photos, essays and interviews with 
the haenyeo for two years in Jeju Island. “I sought to present the independent life of 
haenyeo as a model for women. I want to let the unique and mysterious life of haenyeo 
known all over the world,” BAK said. 

Joey ROSITANO is filming a documentary on haenyeo by visiting every village of Jeju 
Island to keep record of the endangered folk culture of Jeju Island. He published a 
photo book, “Spirits” and a documentary, “Spirits: Jeju Island's Shamanic Shrines.” He is 
also giving a lecture on Yeongdeung shaman ritual for welfare and good harvest.   

A Jeju native, KOH Heeyoung has produced a documentary, Mulsum, which filmed the 
life of haenyeo for seven years. The film released in September, 2016 captured the 
touching drama of haenyeo life in the stunning scenes on land and underwater in 50:50 

Director KOH will present the essence of her film in eight-minute footage in the session, 
which will be followed by three haenyeo songs by Jerajin Children’s Choir.    

CHAE Jiae, a young haenyeo, will tell about the haenyeo population now decreasing 
and growing older. KANG Aesim, head of the haenyeo society, and LEE Sun-hwa, who 
has drafted legislation to preserve haenyeo culture, will discuss administrative measures 
to support haenyeo. 

Brenda PAIK SUNOO will distribute her photo-essay book (240-page hardcover edition 
published by Seoul Selection) to 70 participants in the autograph event after the 
session. She lives in Aewol-eup in Jeju Island. 

The session on haenyeo culture is expected to be attended by 300 from 50 countries, 
including the participants in the session hosted by Asia-Pacific Centre of Education For 
International Understanding under the Auspices of UNESCO. 

A haenyeo photo exhibition, organized by the Jeju Haenyeo Museum, will be held in 
front of the Halla Hall at the Jeju International Convention Center, the venue of the 
session. Participants of the session will be given the opportunity to observe the life of 
haenyeo during a visit to Beobhwan Haenyeo School in the afternoon. The on-line 
applicants for the visit will depart at the convention center for the school at 2:30 p.m. 
on June 2. 

The online application to join the autograph session and the haenyeo school tour is due 
by May 26. Some of the suggestions made by the applicants for the program will be 
presented at the session. Among the applicants, 70 will be given the opportunity to join 
the autograph session and 30 to visit the haenyeo school by the order of application.