▲ Attendees filled up on food before the main presentations Photo by The Jeju Weekly
After the recent sewage leak in Dodu, waste is a big topic on Jeju. Due to its reputation as a natural paradise, it is also a topic that it is crucial Jeju gets right.
Perhaps due to it being such an important issue, there are plenty of people on Jeju who have both stories about how they have been affected by waste and also ideas about how to tackle the problem.
At the second Dolkorom talk event of the year, held on Friday, Oct. 28, three such people gave presentations and shared their ideas about how we can ‘love more, waste less’.
▲ Chae Ji-ae, one of Jeju's youngest haenyeo in her haenyeo clothes Photo by The Jeju Weekly
Listening to stories like the three shared on Friday can help get a conversation started and make people think about what they can do on an individual level to reduce their waste. And if at the same time we all learn to ‘love more’ too, then who is going to object!
The first speaker of the day, Chae Ji-ae, had a story that directly shows how waste can affect the traditions the island was built upon. This is all the while having a personal story that is both as interesting as it is unusual.
When she was young, Ji-ae set out to the mainland to start a career as a hair designer. However, after ten years she felt the familiar pangs of wanting to return to her home and start afresh. On her return, rather than set up another hair shop on Jeju, she decided to join the family business, becoming a haenyeo.
▲ Eric with the three stars of his short film Photo by The Jeju Weekly
For anyone who knows even a small amount about the island’s free diving women, they will likely know that they are usually quite old and that the number of them is also dwindling. This has lead to worries about the future of haenyeo. While simply through becoming a haenyeo, Ji-ae both reduced the average age and increased their numbers, she doesn’t want to stop at herself.
Ji-ae made a long list of barriers that need to be overcome if the haenyeo population is to increase, although she focused on one issue in particular. Waste and sea pollution.
As divers who fish in the waters around Jeju, waste is a particular problem for the haenyeo. While fishing boats can simply move to a different area to catch their supplies, haenyeo don’t have that luxury. Moving further out from shore would be both a dangerous and difficult task. This makes disasters such as the one that happened in Dodu particularly devastating for the haenyeo.
▲ Choen Ye-ji, a digital nomad and community geek Photo by The Jeju Weekly
The harm caused to the haenyeo by the waste crisis is particularly upsetting when you consider the pride they take in not upsetting the natural order of nature and sea life around Jeju. This is explicitly shown in the fact the haenyeo don’t dive during August, in order to protect the sea life during their spawning season.
The second speaker of the evening is a man with a unique vision about how to reduce waste not just in Jeju, but throughout the world.
Starting his presentation with the question ‘where does waste begin?’, Eric Sweet posed the theory that waste isn’t just created when something is thrown away, but in fact, it is created as soon as something is designed without a way to recycle, upcycle or downcycle it after its original use is finished.
▲ After the presentations, the three speakers agreed to answer some audience questions Photo by The Jeju Weekly
To supplement this idea and get people thinking about waste he then showed a short video he had made. The video featured an enthralling blend of beautiful shots of Jeju’s scenery and a deeper environmental message to get its viewers thinking about the problem at hand.
The final speaker of the day was Choen Ye-ji, a digital Nomad and community geek. Originally from Seoul, she spent time travelling before moving to a coastal village on Jeju as she feels it is important to connect with nature.
She explained that this realization came during a time when she was involved in environmental activism. She felt passionate about the ideas and sympathetic to the problems of the other people demonstrating but realized she didn’t have the same connection to nature as the people who actually lived in the affected areas.
▲ World music band Surisuri Mahasuri Photo by The Jeju Weekly
While the main theme of the event was discussing how to ‘waste less, love more’, there were also a number of other performances. These included music from the world music group Surisuri Mahasuri as well as a community dance led by Kim Mi-sook.
Through these speeches, and just as importantly, through the voices of the audience who raised important questions for the presenters to answer, participants at the event were able to gain some new perspectives on both the effects and the solutions to the problem of waste.
▲ Kim Mi-sook led a community dance Photo by The Jeju Weekly
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