tv Quadriga - International Debate from Berlin LINKTV May 9, 2022 11:00am-11:31am PDT
(sophie fouron) we're on a volcanic island and there are volcanic rocks everywhere. we're between china and japan, in the southernmost point of south korea, just an hour away from seoul by plane. we're on the island of jeju. jeju is korea's favorite vacation spot. the koreans from the mainland come for the mountains and the beaches. they also come to relax and to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities. some of them even stay.
they fall in love with the place and they fall in love with the vibe. we can't talk about jeju without talking about the women of jeju. the island is often called the "island of women", thanks to the women divers. they've been diving here for more than 400 years. they're legends. jeju is at a real crossroads right now. on the one hand, it wants to become the new singapore, the new hong kong even. and on the other hand, it wants to maintain its culture. it'll be really, really interesting to see what jeju looks like in 10 or 20 years.
(dong-hak hyun) jeju island is located in the south of korea, surrounded by three big countries. to the west, there's china. to the north, there's korea. to the east, there's japan. this island is a volcanic island. it's very different from the mainland. you can see big volcanic chunks of rocks and a lot of volcanic craters. i was born and raised here and lived here all my life. i'm the 27th generation. my ancestors arrived here around 600 years ago. (sophie fouron) dong-hak hyun. profoundly attached to jeju,
his family has lived here for generations. former english teacher and current tour guide, these are his islands. (dong-hak hyun) we have a very different culture from the mainland. the language is different. the food is different and the life here is different. the language itself evolved as time went by. the korean language on the mainland has been changing for a long time. but on this island, we're separated and isolated, so we still use ancient languages. jeju island is called the "island of women" because we used to have more women than men. according to history, the men tried to get out of this island, or they went out on the ocean to fish.
sometimes, they would get caught in a typhoon and drowned. sometimes, they were attacked by pirates and they died. that's why the jeju women are strong mentally and physically, because for a long time, they had to survive to support their family. the way to survive is to go to the ocean to catch seafood. nowadays, the youngest woman diver is 46 years old and the oldest women diver... i don't know if you will believe it, but she is now 94 years. (gang soon-ok) i started diving when i was 10 years old. i've never skipped a day... it's the only job i've ever had. (gang-im-saeng) i'm 78 years old. (jung soon-yeol) when i was a sdent in primary school, as soon as i got home from school, i would jump into the ocean.
i must have been 10. (hong ja-gil) i'm 82 years old. eighty-two! (sophie fouron) 82 and still doing it? yes! yes! i feel so young all of a sudden. did her mother teach her how to be a haenyeo? (gang-soon ok) my grandmother taught my mother, and my mother taught me how to swim and dive. (sophie fouron) so it passes from mother to daughter, from generation to generation. (interpreter) yeah. - and it's been going on for centuries. - it has been. it has been. - did these ladies want their daughters to be haenyeo as well? (hong-ja gil) no, no, no! - how come she's not diving? (gang-soon ok) i didn't teach my daughter how to dive because it's very grueling work. it's really hard work!
i didn't allow her to learn. i strictly forbade her to dive, even though she wanted to. i was against it. back in the day, we couldn't pursue our studies and we lived in poverty. so, when a mother was a haenyeo, she taught her daughter how to dive, to give her the means to earn a living. we don't need to teach our children how to dive anymore. (interpreter) this is a really tough job, and it is also risky, because of the hard conditions in the sea. (sophie fouron) it's important that we understand their work. they dive in the cold water without tanks. how long can they hold their breath for? (gang-soon ok) let me think about it. some women have been known to stay underwater up to 10 minutes, but very rarely. (gang-im saeng) very rarely. - song-kyong can stay a really long time underwater. most of us can hold our breath underwater 2 to 3 minutes, but 10 minutes is almost unheard of. (sophie fouron)
jeju is known as the island of women. maybe they can tell me why the women of jeju, the women divers, but also the women in general, are so unique and different from the women of mainland korea. (gang-im saeng) the women on jeju island are known for being strong. we're strong and proud of being divers. we earn good money and we can spend it however we choose to. (gang-soon ok) the women on jeju island are strong, but not the men! (gang-im saeng) we make a lot of money. (hong-ja gil) i was able to raise 5 children with the money i earned diving. i even paid for their university education. (sophie fouron) so they're the real pillars of the island. (interpreter) yeah, definitely. (sophie fouron) are they addicted to the sea? is it hard for them not to be in the sea? (hong-ja gil) i go diving because if i spend too much time at home, i get bored.
there isn't much to do at home! when i go diving, i get to spend time with my friends and i'm active, i enjoy it. (gang-im saeng) i feel less pain when i'm diving. the water is soothing. (sophie fouron) it's a financial, a social and a cultural thing. (interpreter) yeah. firstly, the poverty actually pushed them to do so, but now, it's their life. it's their life. (sophie fouron) really? you can ask them if i can try? if i can try being like them for half a day, or for a couple of hours? yeah? (dong-hak hyun) a lot of people ask me why there are no men divers. men don't know how to dive? of course, we had men divers. and women divers and men divers, they worked together. there's an interesting story. in the mainland, they believe
in confucianism. according to the confucianism, the men and women separate at 7 years old. it was in the 18th century that the governor came to jeju island. of course, at that time, cotton was very valuable and very expensive, so they didn't want to soak it in salty water. so they just took off their old clothes, and men and women dove in to catch seafood. but to the governor's perspective, it was very strange. so the governor decided that the women would still do their job, but the men, they had more strength, so they could go further and catch seafood, but on their boat. and after that, the women who caught seafood in the ocean thought of it as a privilege. (sophie fouron) yes. thank you. o.k. ladies. we're ready.
you're good. i think we got a few. i didn't actually get this. she did. what do you call this? (gang-soon ok) it's a conch. that's a sea cucumber and this is a conch. - o.k. (interpreter) she doesn't sell them directly at the market, but there is another buyer who collects these. - she sells it to a distributor... - right. - and that person sells it at the market. - to the market, restaurants. - does she still need to do it every day, financially wise i mean? - i'd like to keep on diving as long as i'm healthy,
so maybe another 5 years. - i'm so happy i've met you and your friends. you can tell her. [speaks korean] (dong-hak hyun) the people who live on this island are very sensible to nature, so they became very superstitious. it's why we have 18 000 gods and goddesses. if they want to make rituals to gods and goddesses, they make shrines. so on this island, still nowadays, in every village, they have their own shrine to give the proper rituals to theirs gods and goddesses.
(sophie fouron) jeju is known to be a very spiritual island. and here, it is the elder that are keeping the tradition alive. (kim hye-ja) hello. (sophie fouron) tell me how important is the songdang shrine village to the people of jeju. (kim hye-ja) there aren't any villages that don't have a god, t our village attracts a great deal of worshippers. in the bonhyangdang sanctuary, we pray for peace in our village. we pray for harmony, so peace and tranquility can rein on our village. we also pray for all the residents of our village and their family, so they can lead a life free of hardships.
(sophie fouron) do you go to the shrine with your friends, your neighbours, do you go with men as well? (kim hye-ja) no, men don't take part in ceremonies. only women participate and not everyone is entitled to attend. rites are carried out by women only, men do not have the right to. (sophie fouron) yes, again, women are the guardians of the traditions here. (kim hye-ja) exactly. women are the guardians of our religious traditions, but men follow them willingly. they have a profound respect for our practices. we wouldn't be able to maintain our worshiping practices if men found the role we play bothersome. (sophie fouron) now, this shrine is protected. it hasn't always been this way. (kim hye-ja) in the past, people didn't hold sanctuaries in very high esteem,
they weren't seen as cultural monuments... and shamans weren't very respected. our village is known as a place people come to make wishes. many people from mainland korea and from elsewhere on the island come for this reason. people come every day and i think it's great. people come here to make wishes. (sophie fouron) i will make my wish and put it in the wishing tree. i'm not telling you what i'm writing. (kim hye-ja) you will be blessed with health and success through all your endeavours if you make a wish. (sophie fouron) so i'm sending that to the gods and goddesses of jeju.
there are stone walls everywhere on this island. (dong-hak hyun) they call this island "the island of stones" because this is a volcanic island. whenever they dig the grounds for agriculture, they find a lot of rocks, so they just take out the rocks. and with the rocks, they make stone walls. they make houses. they make fences around their land. actually, the great wall of china is 7000 kilometers. but the total length of jeju's stone walls is 21 000 kilometers, so three times the size of the great wall of china. this type of stone is very, very difficult to work with because they have
to carve the sides and they have to carve the angles. so there are some specialized people. we call them the [speaks korean]. in english, it's the masons. and the people who want to build very nice stone walls or a stone house will ask them. (son kang-ho) we're currently building a wall of rock around a plot of private land. before, there weren't any barriers between properties on the island, people lived in harmony. but things have changed a little. so, our work has mainly consisted in building these walls to separate private plots of land. there has been a construction boom in jeju recently. we've been renovating stone walls that run along roads in order to prevent rockslides from the mountains. there's also the won-dam reservoir out at sea.
it's a stone reservoir used to capture fish. right next to where we're working are the sam dam grounds, where we've built a stone wall to protect our ancestors' tombs. there are many horses that roam around here. the stone wall keeps the animals out of the burial grounds. it was built to protect the tombs. there are large gaps in these traditional stone walls, some people find them ugly. but there strong winds on jeju and the gaps in these walls let the wind through, ultimately making the walls more resistant. i think the walls are lovely. very few young people want to do this kind of work nowadays. i learned this trade about
ten years ago, from elders that have spent their lives doing this. the older workers are over 70 now and i'm in my mid-forties. i'd be happy to teach this building technique to the younger generations, but they aren't interested in this kind of work. it's too demanding. kids today have different aspirations. we're giving it our all because we know we may be the very last generation of stonemasons. (dong-hak hyun) in spring time, when traveling to jeju island, you can see a lot of cars parked on the side of the road, especially in the mountains. and a lot of people ask me: "what are they doing in the mountains?" actually, they're picking gosaris.
(sophie fouron) it's fiddlehead season here, in jeju. they call it gosari. they get up really early in the morning to come here and pick them, and i'm going to give them a hand doing it. hello! extra hands! you already found some. (goyan yang) yeah. - o.k. your mom's the expert though. - yeah, she is the expert. - this is good too? if they're a little brownish? - these ones are better. - really! - than the ones that are like these. -they're not like... ripe enough? - they're like... yeah. these are like softer. - so your mom has been picking the gosaris for a long time? [speaks korean] - ever since she was a child... with her mom. - yes!
what do you do with them after? - she boils them and she dries them. and then she makes side dishes out of them, with sesame oil and salt, and things like that. - we also offer gosaris to our ancestors through rituals. - so you've been eating it for a long time as well. - yeah. - your mother seems to know a lot about this. is your generation as involved...? - i don't think we are. - ... into cooking it? no? - we don't get up early enough to go gosari picking, but i became more interested in the jeju culture ever since i left korea and started studying in the united states. then i realized that our culture is quite different from that of the mainland, so i'm personally studying anthropology to find out about that, but i don't think my generation is as traditional, but that's also because there are a lot of people coming from the mainland in my generation.
- your family is from jeju. - there are three surnames in jeju: yang, ko and pu. i'm goyan yang, so i'm one of them. it's a small place, so we know everyone that's here. - can you tell the people that aren't from here when you... o.k. you have good eyes. look at that. - can i tell if people are not from the island? absolutely. - absolutely. - yeah, absolutely. - how can you tell? - because they have the mainland accent, you know? - ah! o.k. - you're just like: "you're not from this island." (ji-yeon lee) traditionally, people here used to marry only people from this island. - what do you think about that? - what do i think about that? my mom wants me to marry a korean guy. - there you go. - but i think she'd prefer for me to find someone from this island, maybe live somewhere around her. - you would prefer that. [speaks korean] - perfect. she said: "that's perfect."
- that would be perfect. with a guy from jeju. - yeah. - o.k. i'm just looking for at least one. o.k. when you're in the united states, you say you're from korea or from jeju? - i say that i'm from jeju, because i feel like my identity's very different from people from the capital city. so i usually specify that. - how do you identify yourself as a jeju girl? - i pride myself that i'm from here, that i speak the language and that my ancestors are from here. and as women from jeju, we're tough. yeah. - that's a very good point. - things like that. and we've got an accent. we've got a slightly different culinary culture, yeah. - culinary as well, right. your food.
- i feel really happy when i talk in dialect. finally, when i find people that can understand me, it's great. i feel more like myself when i talk in dialect, you know? - really? - mainland korean is a little too soft. we're louder. - really? that's your reputation? - are we? yeah, we are louder, i have to be honest. - yeah? when you speak, the mainland koreans, they don't understand you, or they do? - i'm surprised every time they don't. how different is it? but apparently for them, it's very different. - mainland koreans need subtitles to understand the jeju dialect. - all right. so we have this. let's go see the others and make something out of this. - yes! let's do it! - let's do it. (dong-hak hyun) the food is very different from the mainland. the jeju women, they're very busy. they go to the ocean, they go to the farm. they care for their family and they care for their baby.
they don't have time. so they make food very instinctively, without a recipe. that is jeju food. very simple food. (sophie fouron) hello! this is for you. (young kim) wow! what is it? - it's gosaris for you. - yeah? - this is your place, and you cook traditional jeju food? - yes. - mostly? - basically. - what's the difference between the food from jeju and the food from mainland korea? - it's warmer here, so we get fresh vegetables even during the winter. we dry very few vegetables, aside from the gosaris. (sophie fouron) is that one of your favourite foods here? (goyan yang) gosari?
- yeah. - specifically? yeah. well, i love everything that's on the table. - do you put the green onions in the gosari as well? (young kim) if you want to, yeah. i might put in bean paste. - yay! - you will, just like that? - with poke meat. - yay! i'm so happy. - now, she's cooking the gosari, but she also cooked seaweed, right? where did you get the seaweed? - from the women divers. - you went to rinse it... - yes. at the water spring of this town. - a lot of people rinse their seaweed there? - women used to go to fresh water springs to wash clothes and vegetables. water still flows through them. people still go there to wash the fish they caught during the day. most people don't go anymore, but some still do. (goyan yang) the one who taught
her how to wash seaweed at the water spring is the funniest and the most popular grandma that lives here. she was a haenyeo in the past. (sophie fouron) yes. - and as the grandmother was teaching her to wash seaweed, other grandmothers who were also haenyeos in the past would come over and would argue whether that's the correct way to wash seaweed or not, whether their own way of washing seaweed was better or not. (sophie fouron) do you ever cook? (goyan yang) i mean... i'm good at eating. (sophie fouron) to you! (dong-hak hyun) we have another island next to jeju island named gapado. gapado is located in the southwest of jeju island,
and the island is very flat. there are no trees, so the wind is very strong. the government is trying to make gapado a carbon neutral island. when you go, you can see the big windmills and the solar panels, which generate their electricity. it's a very clean island. (kim dongok) eighty percent of the energy on this island is renewable, it's either wind energy or solar. our goal is to replace all the government cars on this island by electric ones. when we will have reached to expand this sustainablent development project to jeju island. but the first phase of this project is taking place solely on gapado island.
there are very few people living on this island and it's a cause for concern. our idea is to attract new people through new real estate projects that will also create work. but it's a challenge. there used to be 1,000 people on this island, we're just 180 now. i've always wanted this island to be the best island of south korea, but the landscape isn't very pretty, we don't have any nice beaches, or big mountains. that's why we're focused on environmentally conscious development, wild seafood foraging, and farm fresh foods. that's how we attract tourists. in developing this approach, we'll manage to offer our residents a better
quality of life. we hope our concentrated efforts will create an optimal living environment. we used to get 30,000 tourists per year on this island. it owed its popularity to our spectacular barley fields along the coast. nowadays, we welcome up to 250,000 tourists per year... the people on this island used to live a very tranquil life. they didn't like welcoming crowds on the island. now they are grateful for our visitors, as they make the island much livelier. locals also get the chance to sell tourists the seafood they catch and the barley they harvest. when you live on a remote island, one has no other choice but