They are part of a tradition that has been passed down from mother to daughter for a 1000 years. They are the Korean mermaids, or the haenyeo, of Jeju Island who venture into frigid depths of up to 20 meters without any breathing equipment, braving the dangers of the ocean, as they scour the seabed for abalone, octopus, and other seafood. Today, most of the Haenyeo are into their later years, but in this series they are portrayed as they once were: young and free.
GUARDIANS OF THE SEA
These sirens hang weightless, deep in the ocean, on the threshold between this world and the next. They are a vessel for stories that span generations, timeless stories that tell of suffering and survival, but most of all, love. In the end, what rises to the surface is the unflinching love they carry for the sea and the legacy that we are leaving for our children. It weaves a human story that swims against the tide.
THE LAST MERMAIDS
“Tears streaming from her eyes, the old haenyeo ventures back
into the same waves her dead daughter rose up on after getting
her foot caught in seaweed while diving.”
– Koh Hee Young