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Haenyeo School diary - entry 3Gangnam Style and a party. May 25 and June 1, 2013
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승인 2013.07.15  09:04:27
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▲ Dancing the "Gangnam Style". Photo courtesy Wanda Wynn

Dear Diary,

The past two weeks have been fun and interesting. I remain buoyant and unable to reach the bottom of the ocean. I continue to try with all the gusto I can manage. One of the best parts of the school experience is all the parties. Last week there was a party after class and it just so happened to be my birthday. Earlier in the week, I received a text message from one of my classmates asking me to participate in a talent show at the party. At the time, when I said I would, it didn’t occur to me that my talents do not qualify me for a talent show. We settled with dancing to Psy’s Gangnam Style. Apparently, dancing ridiculously is appreciated as long as it’s done with enthusiasm. We won a prize for our efforts.

This week, Mr. Yang Hui Beom, an official with the Korean government whose office promotes fishing and other water sport tourism in Jeju, gave a short lecture. His office attempts to work in unison with the haenyeo but, as he explained, his agency is caught up in a bit of a turf war. I will loosely translate. He, along with many other people, believes that the ocean belongs to everyone and should be enjoyed by all, without fear of being chased away by a territorial haenyeo. Needless to say, the haenyeo do not care what he and his office feels about the situation and would like them to mind their own business.

▲ Receiving a gift for dancing. Photo courtesy Wanda Wynn

There is also a divide between the haenyeo. It’s a complicated situation between two separate groups of haenyeo: those that fish on the shorelines and those who fish deep sea. The deep-sea haeyneo believe the shore hayeneo take too much from the ocean and do not abide by certain guidelines. The shore haenyeo feel they are within their rights to collect whatever they want and think the deep sea haenyeo are pushy. Each thinks the other should mind their own business and both groups feel the Korean government should stay out of the situation.

Mr. Yang spent several minutes encouraging the class to become agents of peace among the haenyeo, especially those students who wish to become real haenyeo after completing the class. This just made me laugh to myself. If Mr. Yang really thinks I’m going to get between two groups of angry, territorial haenyeo...I think I’m better off minding my own business.

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