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Catching the corvinaRough seas, wet weather give way to a colorful experience at this year's Chuja Island Yellow Corvina Festival
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승인 2011.08.27  17:29:48
페이스북 트위터
▲ Photo by Douglas MacDonald

As I drove to the Jeju ferry terminal at 6 a.m. on Saturday Aug. 13, one of the best sunrises I have ever seen began to unfold before me. Incredible swirls of cloud reflected the brilliant yellow and orange colors of the sky. It was an amazing scene. Unfortunately, it was the last sunshine I would see that day. An hour later, as I was on a ferry bound for Chuja Island and the Yellow Corvina Festival, menacing storm clouds hung overhead.

Rough seas bounced the ferry (and my stomach) up and down as high winds and sheets of rain hammered the windows. It wasn’t much better when I arrived at the island an hour later. Rain was still falling and the festival booths sat empty. By noon I was ready to return to Jeju. But, just as I was about to give up, there was a break in the weather and the festival resumed.

▲ Photo by Douglas MacDonald

Within minutes of the rain stopping, several local men and women sat down near the pier and began to make nets for the crowd of people that had quickly gathered around them. The women were particularly fascinating as they wrapped colorful string around ropes and nets with jaw-dropping speed. Net making is a popular job among the women of Chuja as they can earn between 50-70,000 won per day.

The nets are designed specifically to catch yellow corvina, a species of fish once plentiful all over the southern waters of Korea but now mainly limited to the area around Chuja. Each 24-meter section of rope is tied together to form one long 16-kilometer net. The massive net is spread out over 650 meters of water near the island and, weighted down by circular stone blocks, allowed to sink into the sea. Then the fishermen wait for the tide to come in. Over the next few hours, the fish, unable to see the thin white fibres of the net, get trapped inside as the current brings them closer to shore.

▲ Photo by Douglas MacDonald

A few meters away a woman demonstrated to a throng of visitors how to properly tie several yellow corvina together so that the fish dry properly. Deftly moving her hands back and forth, she expertly braided a pair of ropes around a bunch of fish. A man beside her proudly held them up in the air as I took a photo, an image of Chuja Island and a symbol of its economy.

Later that afternoon, as I was preparing to leave the island and as the rain began to fall again, a large pool was filled with fish and dozens of people, young and old, jumped into the water to try to catch them with their bare hands. It was quite a sight, the chaos of the moment a microcosm of the turbulent weather we’ve had in Korea this summer.

Douglas MacDonald is a Canadian-born freelance photographer who has spent 10 years documenting life and landscapes in South Korea. He is a Getty Images Artist. You can see more of his work at

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