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Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Inscribed Korean Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Culture of Jeju Haenyeo (Women Divers)

Jeju Haenyeo



The Culture of Jeju Haenyeo exists throughout Jeju Island. And it includes the practitioners of diving work which are called hanyeo in general or jamnyeo or jamsu; Muljil, the diving work  transmitted from a mother to a daughter and from a mother-in-law to a daughter-in-law; jamsugut, a shamanistic ritual for the goddess of the sea; and Haenyeo Norae(or Haenyeo Song)


A Jeju haenyeo has her mental map of sea, including the reefs and the habitat for the shellfish. By repeated diving over a long time, such a map and the knowledge have been acquired. On average, Jeju haenyeo hold their breath for one minute which diving then meters deep underwater to gather marine products. Based on the diving skills, the Jeju haenyeo community is classified into three types: the upper -skilled called sanggun, the middle-skilled called junggun, and the lower-skilled called hagun. 


The culture of Jeju haenyeo contributes to the advancement of women's status in Korean society, a male-centre Confucian society. Furthermore, it raises global awareness of the importance of ICH for sustainable development. The nature of Jeju haenyeo culture such as the substainability of diving work, consideration for the weak, commitment to common good, and its ecological aspects is a good example for sustainable development of human societies. 


UNESCO recognised its social cohesion and cultural continuity for communities concerned and its internal awareness of the importance of women's work as intangible cultural heritage. And the culture of Jeju Haenyo encourages intercultural dialogue between haenyeo communities and other communities, which have similar practices. In this context the culture of Jeju Haenyeo inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on December 1, 2016.