‘The Mother of the Sea’

The subjects reflected in my work are called “Haenyo, literally meaning “sea women” in Korean. These women have a century-old history of making their own living by catching oysters, sea cucumbers, abalones, sea urchins, and squids. They hold their breaths for over two minutes and dive to depth of twenty meters without using any diving equipment. I believe that these women divers are carrying on a Korean legacy as having lifelong profession.

The subjects reflected in my work are called “Haenyo, literally meaning “sea women” in Korean. These women have a century-old history of making their own living by catching oysters, sea cucumbers, abalones, sea urchins, and squids. They hold their breaths for over two minutes and dive to depth of twenty meters without using any diving equipment. I believe that these women divers are carrying on a Korean legacy as having lifelong profession.

Being a Haenyo is certainly not meant to be for the weak; hence the saying in Korea, “Haenyos do the work of the dead in the land of the living.” The Mother of the Sea Series captures the work and portrait of haenyos to express how I view this job. Through this project I would like to share not only female divers's beauty as women, but also their courage and their tenacity in facing difficulties during their lives.

Being a Haenyo is certainly not meant to be for the weak; hence the saying in Korea, “Haenyos do the work of the dead in the land of the living.” The Mother of the Sea Series captures the work and portrait of haenyos to express how I view this job. Through this project I would like to share not only female divers's beauty as women, but also their courage and their tenacity in facing difficulties during their lives.

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© Mijoo Kim, 2019