While some photographers choose to capture picturesque landscapes and spectacular buildings on their travels, Singaporean-based French photographer José Jeuland took his camera to Jeju Island, South Korea to dedicate his first ever photography exhibition to the culturally rich South Korean female divers, known as haenyeo.
The tradition of diving in the waters surrounding Jeju Island started as early as 434 A.D. Without the use of proper diving equipment, haenyeo, literally translating to ‘sea women’, dive into deep waters in search of abalone, conches, and octopi. Equipped only with flippers, goggles and dive suits, they can hold their breaths for two to three minutes at one go. Remarkably, two-thirds of the 5,000 women still practicing this tradition are over 60-years-old.
Before the unusual profession was inscribed into UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage, the haenyeo were an almost forgotten cultural relic, with many people outside of Korea having little knowledge of their endeavours. Today, the number of haenyeo has taken a plunge due to the dangerous and tedious nature of the job. The exhibition highlights the “rawness of their human fragility and their incredible mental and physical strength”. Indulge in the rich tradition of the Jeju divers through Jeuland’s lens, right here in Singapore.
HAENYEO runs from October 28, 2017 to Novemeber 23, 2017 at the Fullerton Hotel’s East Garden Foyer, open for viewing 24 hours. Admission is free.