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Jeju Haenyeo in Modern Korean Narrative Culture

Noh Dae-won 1

1제주대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper compares and analyzes Jeju Haenyeo(women divers)’s image changes in modern Korean novels, short stories, poems, movies, and webtoons: First, the narratives that represented the history of the community of Jeju haenyeo were used as the main motifs of the suffering of the colonial exploitation and the anti-Japanese struggle. These narratives raise the awareness of solidarity lacking in modern society by subjecting Jeju haenyeo culture's unique spirit of community and moral economy. A recent documentary film emphasized haenyeo's inner psychology and personality more realistically by dealing with both cooperation and competition. Second, the narratives about haenyeo represented the problems of female experience and pain, social status and family. In some popular films, haenyeo represented as the image of a strong mother and a compassionate grandmother, focusing on familial love. As a popular film genre reflects the desire and interest of the public audience, it was possible to understand the context in which the images of Jeju haenyeo was recalled and reconstructed. Third, in recent webtoons, we can see the elevated phase change of Jeju haenyeo by drawing experience of the haenyeo school. Haenyeo is understood to be a professional with a work ethic of ‘workmanship.’ In the webtoon, idler youths who symbolize the contemporary ‘post-work’ culture are contrasted with haenyeo symbolizing extreme labor. In these webtoon and films, haenyeo is represented by art works such as a manga and paintings. This is also a sign of the crisis that the culture of Jeju haenyeo is disappearing.

Citation status

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