Soon-ja Hong of Seongsan comes out of the water holding an octopus. She explains that she and her fellow Haenyeo set traps to catch octopuses which come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Today she was lucky to catch this large specimen. Now 69, she is at the peak of her career, It has taken Soon-ja many years to build up her endurance and fine-tune the hunting techniques that enable her to dive most efficiently.
Jeju island, known for its characteristic basalt volcanic rock, sits off South Korea. It is the home of the renowned Haenyeo or women of the sea who free dive off the black shores of Jeju harvesting delicacies from the sea. Wearing thin rubber suits and old fashioned goggles, this aging group of women are celebrated as a national treasure and inscribed on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage, but the tradition is slowly fading as fewer women choose this extremely hazardous profession. Today, the majority of Haenyeo are over the age of 50 and many are well over 70. In a society obsessed with education, the future of this physically arduous activity would appear bleak, and yet … Efforts by the government and local communities to preserve and promote this ecological and sustainable lifestyle have brought renewed interest from young people disillusioned with urban life and eager to return to their roots. It is perhaps a renaissance.
- Alain Schroeder
This series won a Portfolio Award in the 2109 San Francisco Bay International Photography Awards.
Alain Schroeder is a Belgian photojournalist born in 1955. In 1989 he founded Reporters (www.reporters.be), a well–known photo agency in Belgium. He has illustrated over thirty books dedicated to China, Iran, the Renaissance, Ancient Rome, the Gardens of Europe, Thailand, Tuscany, Crete, Vietnam, Budapest, Venice, the Abbeys of Europe, Natural Sites of Europe, etc. Belgian book titles include, “Le Carnaval de Binche vu par 30 Photographes”, and “Processions de Foi, Les Marches de l’Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse”. Publications include National Geographic, Geo, Paris Match, and others. He has won many international awards including a Nikon Japan award for the Who Will Save the Rohingya series, the TPOTY (Travel Photographer of the Year) award with two series — Living for Death and Kushti, a World Press Photo 1st Prize Sport Stories for the series Kid Jockeys, 2 first prize World Press Photo in 2020 for the series Saving Orangutans, and participated in numerous exhibitions worldwide. He is represented in France by REA.
Visit Alain Schroeder’s site