Korea’s beloved Hanyeo become UNESCO Cultural Heritage
South Korea’s “Haenyeo” (freediving ladies) from the southern island of Jeju ― were listed as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently.
These exceptional women who continue the islands tradition of diving to the sea bed without breathing apparatus to collect conches, abalones and seaweed. In a bygone era these ladies had to risk their lives to collect their sea bounty as their source of revenue.
The Korea Times reported that “According to the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA), haenyeo represent the cultural identity of the scenic island where people in the past relied heavily on the sea to survive. The women divers’ eco-friendly way of doing business and their passing down of diving know-how for generations help them to be listed as a UNESCO cultural heritage, it said”.
The Haenyeo became Korea’s 19th intangible cultural heritage inscribed on the UNESCO; and is another addition to Jeju’s UNESCO recognitions of natural science, in the categories of Biosphere (2002), World Natural Heritage (2007), and Global Geoparks (2010), the island received intangible cultural heritage designation (2009) for the Chilmeoridang Yeongdeung-gut, a shamanist ritual to a local sea and wind goddess who protects both divers and fishers.
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