On Jeju Island, South Korea, there are amazing women named Haenyeo, some over 80 years old, who free dive, sometimes in very cold water up to 30 meters, to catch seafood. Diving has been a part of the island for over 1,000 years. On the island, sea-diving is a female dominated industry. Some locals I spoke to said that the men on the island were lazy and did not want to take up the task.
Here is a sign with a bit of the story. The activity has been designated a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
If you visit Seongsan Ilchulbong, which itself is a nice sight to see, you can see the women perform, and eat some fresh seafood.
The restaurant I choose to have seafood of the island is a place called Gozip Dol Wooluck.
A place mat of the women divers:
and the menu (we went with Set D):
Banchan to start.
Although it did not appear on the menu, the restaurant brought us some abalone porridge to start.
Sashimi. Overall very fresh but some cuts were chewy.
Soy marinated seafood. Very fresh and flavorful due to the marinade. My grandparents used to make abalone a lot when I was young. I have not had it for some time. While this was good, mainly due to the marinade and texture, to me, it is tasteless on its own and I do not know why it is so expensive or in high demand.
Seafood stew. Very delicious broth. Not too spicy.
Lettuce for wrapping and rice.
Overall, service was efficient and friendly. It was a lot of food for two people and we could not finish everything. However, although I love seafood, this was not my favorite preparation of it so I would not go back (for example, I always prefer nigiri over sashimi). I am glad we got to eat the seafood of the women divers of Jeju though, and respect their accomplishments. I am happy for the experience of this meal.