The Intern Haenyeo: Preserving Tradition and Empowering Women



The Intern Haenyeo program is a unique initiative that aims to preserve the ancient tradition of haenyeo diving in South Korea while empowering women in the process. Haenyeo, which translates to “sea women,” refers to the female divers who have been harvesting seafood from the ocean for centuries. This article explores the significance of the intern haenyeo program, its impact on the local community, and the challenges faced by these remarkable women.

The Haenyeo Tradition: A Legacy of Strength and Resilience

1. Historical Background:

  • The haenyeo tradition dates back to the 17th century, when women in Jeju Island began diving for seafood to support their families.
  • These women developed exceptional diving skills and became the primary breadwinners in their households.
  • Haenyeo diving was recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2016.

2. The Life of a Haenyeo:

  • Haenyeo undergo rigorous training to develop their diving skills and endurance.
  • They dive without any breathing apparatus, relying solely on their ability to hold their breath.
  • Haenyeo face numerous risks, including hypothermia, shark attacks, and diving-related injuries.

The Intern Haenyeo Program: A Bridge Between Generations

1. Program Overview:

  • The intern haenyeo program was launched in 2003 to address the declining number of haenyeo divers.
  • It aims to attract younger women to the profession and ensure the continuity of the haenyeo tradition.
  • Participants undergo a comprehensive training program that includes diving techniques, marine ecology, and safety measures.

2. Empowering Women:

  • The intern haenyeo program provides women with an opportunity to gain financial independence and contribute to their families.
  • It challenges traditional gender roles and empowers women to pursue non-traditional careers.
  • By preserving the haenyeo tradition, the program also helps to maintain the cultural identity of Jeju Island.

Challenges Faced by Intern Haenyeo

1. Aging Population:

  • The average age of haenyeo divers is increasing, with many of them in their 60s or older.
  • The lack of young women entering the profession poses a threat to the sustainability of the haenyeo tradition.

2. Changing Economic Landscape:

  • As Jeju Island’s economy has shifted towards tourism, younger generations are less inclined to pursue a career as haenyeo divers.
  • Alternative job opportunities with better pay and working conditions are available, making haenyeo diving less attractive.

Case Study: The Success of the Intern Haenyeo Program

1. Increased Participation:

  • Since the launch of the intern haenyeo program, the number of young women joining the profession has steadily increased.
  • As of 2021, there are over 200 intern haenyeo divers actively practicing their craft.

2. Economic Impact:

  • The intern haenyeo program has contributed to the local economy by attracting tourists interested in experiencing the haenyeo tradition.
  • It has also created job opportunities in related industries, such as tourism, hospitality, and handicrafts.

Q&A: Common Questions About the Intern Haenyeo Program

1. What are the qualifications to become an intern haenyeo?

2. How long does the training program for intern haenyeo last?

3. Are there any age restrictions for participating in the intern haenyeo program?

4. What are the safety measures in place to protect intern haenyeo divers?

5. How has the intern haenyeo program impacted the local community?

6. Are there any financial incentives for women who become intern haenyeo divers?

7. What are the long-term goals of the intern haenyeo program?

8. How can tourists support the haenyeo tradition and the intern haenyeo program?

Conclusion: Preserving Tradition and Empowering Women

The intern haenyeo program plays a vital role in preserving the haenyeo tradition while empowering women in Jeju Island. By attracting younger generations to the profession, the program ensures the continuity of this ancient tradition and helps maintain the cultural identity of the region. Despite the challenges faced by intern haenyeo divers, the program has been successful in increasing participation and creating economic opportunities. Through continued support and awareness, we can contribute to the sustainability of the haenyeo tradition and the empowerment of women in South Korea.



Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *