Jeju Haenyeo Photography Exhibit at The Korea Society

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Jeju Haenyeo Photography Exhibit at The Korea Society

Endangered Cultural Traditions

Anywhere in the world, when cultural traditions intersect with the modern realities of work and opportunity, there is extreme pressure to leave the past behind. As Modern Korea has become as strong as it has ever been, young people have flocked to the cities for education, opportunity, and a brighter future. But this migration of youth comes at a price, and the haenyeo divers from Jeju, Korea and their traditions are sadly a part of that price.

The 50 photographs by David Alan Harvey, an esteemed Magnum Photo Agency and National Geographic photographer for over four decades, present us with lives almost from another time. Their black and white color showcases the textures of clothes, tools, and faces. Their large format brings you under the cold water with the divers, to hold your breath, to feel the movement of the water, to quickly catch an octopus, to spot an abalone. Harvey presents an intimate and personal view of these women at work in the water and at home with their families.

  • Photos of Jeju Haenyeo divers at The Korea Society
    Photos of Jeju Haenyeo divers at The Korea Society
  • Photos of Jeju Haenyeo divers at The Korea Society
    Photos of Jeju Haenyeo divers at The Korea Society
  • Photos of Jeju Haenyeo divers at The Korea Society
    Photos of Jeju Haenyeo divers at The Korea Society
  • Photos of Jeju Haenyeo divers at The Korea Society
    Photos of Jeju Haenyeo divers at The Korea Society

These haenyeos have supported their families, contributed to the economy, and offered their strong spirit and will for their daughters and granddaughters to emulate. Through the photographs, we get to see their powerful strength and inspiring legacy.

Unfortunately, very few young women are following in the haenyeos’ footsteps. UNESCO has named the culture of Jeju haenyeo an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This denotes not only a Korean designation but a world designation for all of us to appreciate the lessons the haenyeo can teach us about life, family, and tradition.

We are lucky to witness them in our time.

View Jeju Haenyeo at The Korea Society (350 Madison Avenue, 24th Floor, New York, NY 10017) from December 8 - 22, 2017.



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