The “jamnyo” women divers of Jeju, South Korea

On the occasion of the publication of Dr Ok-Kyung Pak’s The Jamnyo of Jeju, The Womend Divers of Korea and Neo-Confucianism, a Dual Mythology, a large number of activities have been organised.


Dr Ok-Kyung Pak gave a lecture at the Musée Cernuschi in Paris on 2 October 2018.


On 8 October 2018, at the Théâtre les Salons in Geneva, a round table discussion moderated by the journalist and sailor Catherine Chabaud brought together numerous specialists such as the anthropologist Ok-Kyung Pak, the researchers Pascale-Marie Milan, author of The Na of Lijiazuiand Guigone Camus, author of Tabiteuea Kiribati, both published by the Musée Barbier-Mueller Cultural Foundation, the freediver Aurore Asso and the filmmaker Roselyne Segalen, who directed the film on the jamnyo women divers screened during the evening.

The participants spoke about jamnyoculture while addressing the themes of ocean pollution, freediving and matrilineage, which are all closely linked to it.

Haenyo(jamnyo) women freedive every day, risking their lives to fish and support their families. They have great economic power, live under the matrifocal system (transmission from mother to daughter) and respect nature by practising a circular economy. They preserve shamanic traditions and practice symbolic rituals in favour of goddesses to ensure their protection.

Dangerous freediving and pollution of the seabed are threatening both the livelihood and culture of the haenyo(jamnyo). Girls who are now in school no longer want such a difficult and dangerous life.


Dr Ok-Kyung Pak presented her research and publication to the Amis du Musée Barbier-Mueller, at the museum on 9 October 2018.

GENEVA, QUAI GUSTAVE-ADOR, 12-31 October 2018

Thirty pictures of women jamnyodivers taken by the renowned Korean photographer Hyung Sun Kim were exhibited outdoors on huge panels along the Quai Gustave-Ador in Geneva from 12 to 31 October 2018. Born in 1965, Hyung Sun Kim is a graduate of the Seoul Institute of the Arts and has show his work in various cultural institutions around the world. He has captured, in his words, “the extreme duality of women: their extreme strength combined with their human fragility. They are presented as they are, tired and out of breath. But they show mental and physical strength beyond limits, crossing the line between life and death every day.”