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What do you usually think about when you hear the word « mermaid »? Apart from the legendary aquatic creature -with the upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish-, does a grandmother wearing a lead-weighted vest and goggles comes to your mind? Probably not, right? Well in South Korea, that’s exactly what a mermaid means!

The mermaids living on Jeju Island are actually Korean female divers (or “haenyeo” in Korean). What do they do? Unlike fishermen who go out in boats or use a rod or line, these women dive in the ocean without any special tools to gather clams, abalone, or seaweed. They plunge into the 20-meter depths where they stay underwater holding their breath for two or three minutes (don’t forget we’re not talking about teenagers but mostly grandmothers!). Once they come back to the surface, they make a whistling sound, which is their unique way of breathing out the carbon dioxide and breathing in fresh oxygen. No wonder they’re called mermaids!

So let’s all sing together: “Who run the Sea? Grandmothers!”

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Jeju Island Mermaids - Haenyeo Jeju Island Mermaids Jeju Island Mermaids

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One Comment

  1. Matthew Ranieri

    Incredible!!! I am without words.I want to go there some day.

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