July 22nd, 2013
12:15 AM ET
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I'm sitting in a tiny, open-air seafood restaurant in Yeonhwari fishing village in Busan, South Korea, waiting for my breakfast.

In the distance, on the rocky shore, a local haenyeo ("sea woman") is picking through her morning's catch.

"She's late," says a fellow patron when she notices me staring. "All the other haenyeo have already finished their diving and delivered their catch."

Like their more famous Jeju Island counterparts, Busan's haenyeo are "mermaids" who support their families by diving for seafood without the use of any particular tools or artificial breathing aids.

The subject of many documentaries, they're a dying breed - an estimated 20,000 haenyeo still work in South Korea - due to the intense physical difficulties of the job.

While most haenyeo usually dive about five meters and stay underwater for 30-second intervals, many are capable of diving as deep as 20 meters and staying underwater for as long as two minutes.

Read - Mermaids, abalone and a very local breakfast in Busan

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Filed under: Korea • Korean • Restaurants • Travel

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soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    Also, I remember running over eels and frogs in the street while driving through a swarm of dragonflys. Weird place.

    July 23, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • Jinny oh

      as like somebody

      August 14, 2013 at 8:42 am |
  2. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    Looks familiar. This place is about 100 miles east of where I was stationed in 2004. Overpopulated country, but great food.

    July 23, 2013 at 10:16 am |
  3. Jerv

    Great read. But I'm not eating live octopus.

    July 23, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • Jinny oh

      Well. You should try some. It's really good Ü

      August 14, 2013 at 8:43 am |
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