According to a Seogwipo City investigation on diving fishery, the demographics of haenyeo are seriously skewed towards the greying.
The total number of female divers working in the Seogwipo area is 2,240. Two are in their 30’s and 36 in their 40’s. These make for only 1.6 percent of the female diving population. There were 402 female divers in their 50’s (18 percent), who could be considered “young.”
Most female divers are over 60 years old. There are 839 in their 60’s (37.4 percent) and 961 over 70 (43 percent). The number of former female divers in the Seogwipo area is 3,020. The total number of working and former divers is 5,260.
There are absolutely no young workers in the diving fishery industry. The two female divers in their thirties are 35 and 37 years old. When they turn 40 in a few short years, it will be difficult to meet young female divers.
Meanwhile, there are three male divers who belong to Hamo, Sangmo, and Sagyeri fishing villages. All of them have over 20 years of work experience.
As a result of Seogwipo’s investigation, Seogwipo City will prepare four businesses for the workers’ welfare by investing at total of 2.1 billion won.
Seogwipo City will also grant 7.2 million won in operating expenses for female divers’ performances in order to preserve the female divers’ culture and to transform them into tourist assets.
“After we investigated all fishing industries, [we found that] the graying tendency is growing severely,” said an official from Seogwipo City. “In the situation where there is no new young diver, the number of female divers is decreasing due to retirements and death.”
(By Kim Hyung Hoon, Media Jeju reporter. Translated by Koh Yu Kyung)
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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