David Alan Harvey’s Jeju Haenyeo
The photographer's work capturing the South Korean practice of female marine diving off the coast of Jeju goes on show in New York
The Korean province of Jeju is home to the world-famous Haenyeo, female divers who gather marine goods for a living. The Haenyeo symbolize Jeju women, and are praised for their unyielding spirit and leading role in boosting the Jeju economy. These women have received considerable attention from around the globe, primarily for the semi-matriarchal society that the Haenyeo implemented, as they quickly became relied upon for the many Jeju households’ primary incomes.
Unfortunately, the ancient practice is rapidly diminishing, due to a changing economy. UNESCO designated Jeju Haenyeo as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2016.
Magnum Photographer David Alan Harvey was commissioned by the Korean council to photograph the last of the Haenyeo and stayed in Jeju for about a month to document their daily working lives.
Writing about the project, the photographer said “I was amazed every morning by these strong women and their boat-disembarking drill which resembles a precision military seal operation. They are highly respected in their communities but this will be the last generation of Haenyeo as the young now seek another life. I am honored to be in their presence.”
David Alan Harvey
David Alan Harvey (b. 1944) is an American Photographer based in North Carolina and New York City. Harvey has been a member of the Magnum Photos Agency since 1967. He has photographed extensively for National Geographic magazine and in 1978 was named Magazine Photographer of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association. Harvey is the publisher and editor of Burn Magazine, an online publication featuring the work of emerging photographers.