Jeju Island’s Haenyo: A User’s Manual, the diver who heard music underwater

2nd post in Joey Rositano’s series on the Haenyo, woman divers native to Jeju Island. this series is not to be missed by anyone with a fascination for native religions, anthropology & culture. Joey knows his stuff, he has been researching on Jeju religious practice for about 5 years or so has published a book of photography called Spirits & is in the process of making a documentary on the topic of Jeju shamanism.

pagansweare

I had a beautiful experience once, one night drinking wine on a coastal boardwalk, in a village just outside of the city.

It was mid-summer.  I think in those days I was inviting whoever I could to come out where I lived to share some wine and conversation. Otherwise, it was pretty lonely. On this particular evening, a young woman I found walking down the boardwalk, Young Ji, joined me.

As we walked along, Young Ji told me about herself. She had grown up on the southern coast of Jeju Island, in a woman diver’s house, right on the beach. The diver wasn’t her grandmother by blood, but one of her grandfather’s wives. In those days, many Jeju Island men had several wives. Not because they were upper class (upper class men often did have several wives long ago in Korea), but because there were so few men. Many died…

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