Sea farm, which is the haenyeo workplace, is operated by an Eochongye, Haenyeo cooperative.
In Jeju Island, there are about 100 Eochongye, one belonging to each coastal village. They have their own regulations about the boundary of fishing ground, qualifications for catching sea products, and catching methods and periods, which are kept strictly. This is a pledge to preserve and co-exist with the ocean eco-system.
This haenyeo community shows a form of 'town meeting'. When they have some problems, they get together and make decisions through free discussion until every member understands and accepts.
Haenyeo are divided into three levels: Sang-gun, Jung-gun, and Ha-gun, according to their experience and skills. Haenyeo possessing special wisdom and virtue are called 'Dae-Sanggun'; they lead the community for their safety and harmony.
Bulteok is a place where Haenyeo exchange clothes, prepare for diving and rest during work. The Bulteok surrounded with stones in circle has a bonfire in the center to keep Haenyeo warm.
Haenyeo are exchanging information and skills on diving, fishing grounds and consolidating their ideas and making decisions in the Bulteok.
There used to be 3~4 Bulteoks in each village depending on the size of the village. Currently 70 Bulteoks exit. Several Bulteoks have been replaced by modern dressing rooms which are equipped with hot and cold water facilities for comfort since 1985.
Fishing village societies and Haenyeo's unions regulate the sea farms and fishing grounds.
There are 100 fishing village societies which are attached to the fisheries cooperative union in Jeju. Haenyeo call the fishery a sea farm. Each fishing village society enacted the regulations which include the boundary of fishery, qualification for harvesting sea products, harvesting methods and periods of allowing and prohibiting harvest.
Conches which were less than 7cm long were prohibited from being collected and the same applied to obunjagi. Obunjagi which was less than 3.5cm in width was banned from being caught. As for abalones, it was under 10cm in width.
The work with cheoncho and tot were carried out as a group project and sold as a community property. Regardless of the amount completed by an individual, they carried out the work together for a specific period of time, dried it and sold it. After getting rid of all moisture, they left in the storage space and sold it on the sale date in sacks of 30kg and 60kg.
Individual diving where they caught conches, abalones, sea slugs, and sea urchins took a break during the summer spawning period.
Other seaweed was collected from April to May. Gamtae (Kind of seaweed, Latin name: Ecklonia cava) is collected from July to August, tot is collected from the last day of February until the end of April. In addition, cheoncho is collected from the middle of March to the end of June, cheongak (sea staghorn) is collected from July to August, abalones and conches are caught from October to June, sea urchins are caught from May to July and finally sea slugs are caught during the winter season.
Contribution to and participation in the common good for the community
Jeju Haynyeo helped to pave the main road and build a school by donating part of their income. All proceeds from the fixed area of 'Ijangbadang' went the head of village who worked for the village official. There used to be 'School Badang' which supplied school support fees for elementary school.
When the school in Onpyeong, Sungsaneup burnt down in 1950, Haenyeo contributed funds raised by selling seaweed from 'School Badang' and rebuilt the school from 1951 to 1958. The school's supporting association erected a commemorative monument in 1961 to pay tribute to Haenyeo's charitable deeds.
Haenyeo who left Jeju for foreign countries as well as Gyeongsang-Do, Gangwon-do, Jeolla-do, ChungChong-Do in nation since 19th century, are called Chulga Haenyeo.
From the beginning of the 1880's, with the overfishing on the part of Japanese diving boats, there was a danger of abalones becoming extinct. Therefore, the Haenyeo had to venture out to different places in search of more game. In 1895, they left for Kyeongsangnamdo. They left not only to Kyeongsang-do, Kangwon-do, Dadohae, Kyeongbuk, and Hamkyeong in the domestic location, but also left for Japan's Tokyo & Osaka, China's Chingdao and Da-lien, and Russia's Vladivostok. The work as divers away from their hometown was a commodity possible to be imported because of the drying of the fisheries, and the value of conches or abalones. In conclusion, we could say that they were quite aware of their labor value as an economic asset.
The songs which Haenyeo used to sing, pulling on oars when moving to the islands or distant sea are referred to as Haenyeo songs. When deeply homesick, Haenyeo improvised by pulling their oars and singing songs. The songs expressed the emotion and recognition of the Haenyeo community which still exists today. The Haenyeo were designated as the number one intangible cultural asset by Jeju province in 1971.
Haesindang(Shrine), situated along the sea, is a ritual place for Haenyeo to pray for their safety and abundance. Jamsugut and Yowanggut are dances performed for safety and abundance. Jamsugut is performed on the 8th of March on lunar calendar in
Dongkimnyongri and is a symbolic ritual and festival for Haenyeo's community. The cost of the dance is shared by the Haenyeo. The dance illustrates unity of life and work. While performing the dance, <yowangmaji> is a ritual to call the Dragon King to pray for abundance and safety. < Sidream> is a homeopathic magical ritual to plant seeds into the sea to harvest an abundance of abalone, conches, agar-agar and hijiki.
by — Kang
Kwon Yong, Kwon Mi Seon
Photos from — Jeju Photo Members, Haenyeo Museum,Seo
Jae Chul, Kang Man Bo
Planning — Haenyeo