Haenyeo culture added to Unesco list

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Haenyeo culture added to Unesco list

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The culture of haenyeo, the female divers indigenous to Korea’s Jeju Island, has been added to the Unesco’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. [JOONGANG ILBO]

The culture of haenyeo, the female divers indigenous to Korea’s Jeju island, has now become a global treasure.

This comes as divers are rapidly aging and Korea’s central and local governments are working to preserve their unique culture.

At the annual meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage being held from Nov. 28 to Dec. 2 in Ethiopia, a decision was made to add haenyeo to the Unesco’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the Cultural Heritage Administration announced around midnight on Wednesday, Korean time.

The CHA said that the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage recognized how the haenyeo culture stands for the region’s identity as well as how the divers harvest marine products in an eco-friendly way which therefore allows the sustainable development of the ocean.

Jeju women dive and harvest marine products without relying on any air tanks or other breathing equipment. A typical dive lasts around two minutes and takes them as deep as 20 meters (65.62 feet) underwater.

With this, Korea has 19 items on Unesco’s list of intangible cultural heritage.

They include a royal ritual in the Jongmyo Shrine and its music (added in 2001); the pansori, a traditional chant (2003); the traditional dance ganggangsullae (2009); jultagi, tightrope walking (2011); the lyrical folk song “Arirang” (2012); and kimchi, the spicy, fermented vegetable dish, and gimjang, the culture of making and sharing the dish (2013).

BY KIM HYUNG-EUN [hkim@joongang.co.kr]
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