JEJU, Jul. 10 (Korea Bizwire) — Scores of the country’s old “haenyeo,” female divers whose culture is designated a UNESCO heritage, died while catching seafood in recent years due largely to chronic diseases like heart trouble, the local maritime police said Tuesday.
Haenyeo refers to female divers on the southern resort island of Jeju who dive into the water for seven to eight hours a day to catch abalone, octopus, sea urchins and others. Their culture was designated as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2016.
According to the Jeju police, an 80-year-old haenyeo surnamed Cho unconsciously came to the surface on Monday. She was instantly moved to the coast by her fellow divers but passed away,
“Four divers died while working under the sea this year alone, and all of them were more than 70,” the police said.
Since 2011, a total of 55 divers have died while catching sea products, with 45 or 81.8 percent of them also being 70 or older, according to the police.
The underwater deaths were attributable mainly to chronic ailments like heart disease coupled with old age, they added.