SEOUL, Feb. 6 (Korea Bizwire) — The aging of haenyeo (sea women), in Seogwipo, Jeju Island, is becoming a significant social issue.
According to a survey conducted by Seogwipo City Office last month, the number of haenyeo in its jurisdiction totaled 1,579 as of the end of 2019, down 50 from 1,629 the previous year.
The drop in the number of haenyeo was attributed to the implementation of retirement allowances for elderly haenyeo introduced in the second half of 2019.
Some 61 haenyeo applied for retirement last year, and a total of 64 were permitted to leave their posts. Among the divers, two were classified as inactive due to illness and one haenyeo passed away.
Meanwhile, the retirement allowance for elderly haenyeo is a preventive measure to hedge mortality caused by the inevitable accidents that occur when 80-year-old divers still collect marine life, and is a system that provides an allowance for three years when they retire.
A total of 14 aspiring haenyeo were newly registered last year, which helped offset the drop in the number of haenyeo due to retirement.
The number of haenyeo by age group was 19 in their 20s and 30s, 24 in their 40s, 94 in their 50s, 469 in their 60s, 758 in their 70s and 215 in their 80s, with 91.32 percent or more of those in their 60s or older.
“The annual survey of haenyeo will help maintain Jeju’s large asset and value, haenyeo culture, and serve as a basis for training and protecting haenyeo,” a city official said.
The city plans to spend 5.3 billion won (US$4.48 million) on 19 projects this year to train new haenyeo and enhance the welfare of haenyeo.
D. M. Park (firstname.lastname@example.org)