Monday, December 13, 2010
By Karryn Cartelle
Mardonia Nishimoto longed to live in Japan since she was a child. After meeting a number of wealthy, kind Japanese people in the Philippines, she had come to think of the foreign land as one of limitless opportunity. So in 1982, when a friend offered her a job working in a “snack” bar, Nishimoto was delighted — and at 28 years of age, she left to earn money abroad and support her family.
Upon her arrival, she quickly learned that working at a snack bar had little to do with preparing food, and instead involved serving men drinks and engaging in overly friendly conversation. Although her salary was competitive, she felt something was amiss and returned to her homeland after her three-month tourist visa expired. But later that same year, Nishimoto was persuaded to return to Japan to work, again, as a hostess.
It was in this new bar she met her first Japanese husband — who soon became abusive. Nishimoto escaped and eventually moved to Kawasaki, where she met her second husband. After several years of marital bliss, Nishimoto invited her daughter over from the Philippines to stay with them. But when she was away from home, her husband began to sexually abuse the 16-year-old. Once again Nishimoto’s life had been turned upside down.
Rather than once more return to her native country, Nishimoto shared her story with other victims of domestic violence through the Catholic Diocese of Yokohama Solidarity Center for Migrants. Though the group eventually dissolved, its core members, including Nishimoto, Margaret Lacson and Leny Tolentiho, wanted to continue to help migrant workers and in December 2002, formed the Kalakasan Migrant Women’s Empowerment Center. Kalakasan, meaning “strength” in Tagalog, reflects their vision to instill a sense of empowerment to the hundreds of migrant women who seek their support each year.
In 2007, Kalakasan helped in 207 migrant cases, dealing with everything from domestic violence to child custody to unpaid wages. Many cases are immigration-related as well.
Kalakasan takes a four-fold approach to providing support: crisis intervention, follow-up care, children’s program, and advocacy/networking. When the crisis first hits, the group offers telephone support to women and children, and also helps remove the language barrier by translating on their behalf.
“Women who have been through similar experiences are able to provide support and encouragement to help victims rebuild their lives,” says Nishimoto. Their follow-up care services involve home visits; counseling; workshops and seminars for traumatized victims; and assistance with finding a new home and job. They also help to build skills by offering weekly Japanese classes, in cooperation with a church.
The children’s program involves monthly events ranging from strawberry picking to pottery lessons, and every second Saturday, budding chefs can whip up some Japanese and Filipino treats in a cooking class. On top of these events, Kalakasan provides the children with a space where they can safely do their homework. “More and more moms are starting to participate with their young ones,” says Nishimoto. “These programs have helped strengthen the bonds between mother and child and between the children.”
The Kalakasan team participates in a number of local conferences and mutual exchange events to help get the word out about what these women are going through.
The upcoming “Skylines Meet, Greet, Eat, Drink, Be Involved” event will help raise awareness (and much-needed funds) for the organization. The late afternoon gathering on Saturday, June 14 — hosted by People for Social Change, in alliance with Net Impact, NPO Social Concierge, International Women in Communications and the Japanese Americans Citizens League — will offer attendees a chance to network while enjoying live entertainment and dining on a selection of appetizers from Harajuku restaurant Fujimamas.
Funds raised from cash donations, drinks and a raffle will benefit several worthy Tokyo NPOs, among them Kalakasan.
June 14, 4-7:30pm. 7,000 yen. 20F Shinsei Bank, 2-1-8 Uchisaiwaicho, Chiyoda-ku. Email for details. email@example.com
For more information on Kalakasan, call 044-580-4675, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.k5.dion.ne.jp/~kalakasa (Japanese).
This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp)
Center for Japanese American Studies / Japanese American National Library
Special Event Christ United Presbyterian Church
Tuesday December 28, 2010 1700 Sutter Street (Laguna Street)
11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. San Francisco
Tradition must go on! It's the 41st annual mochi-tsuki time! All of you and your friends are invited to join us on Tuesday December 28 at Chirst United Presbyterian Church's social hall. We'll start at 11:00 a.m. and continue until the final mochi is formed around 3:00 p.m. (We can use willing hands from 9:00 a.m. to help with preparations.) Mochigome (rice) is donated by Mr. George Okamoto of Nomura and Co.
As always, everyone is encouraged to participate in the pounding of the rice, shaping of the mochi cakes, and eating and socializing all afternoon. Participants can purchase the mochi to take home. Help us recruit mochi pounders. We need all the muscles we can find.
Our mochi-tsuki has been held annually for the last thirty-seven years. We pound old fashion way - hand pound. Issei did it, Nisei did it, and Sansei do it. We want Yonse and Gosei to continue the uniquely Japanese American cultural custom. Round up all your young generations of off-spring and relatives. Once they see the mochi-tsuki, they will get hooked.
The Japanese American National Library is carrying on the tradition established by the Center for Japanese American Studies. Naturally, it’s the same softest sweet mochi in the world for which CJAS has been known to produce.
Tell your friends and bring your entire extended family to our annual year-end festivity and perpetuate a fun part of our Nikkei cultural heritage. Any question? Call Karl Matsushita (415) 567-5006.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
From 2009 to 2010, the Central Headquarters of the Buraku Liberation League (BLL) conducted a survey through a questionnaire with the support of Buraku Liberation and Human Rights Institute. Although the final report is to be completed in due course, this serves as an interim report based on numerical results that are already available.
The aims of the survey were: i) to grasp the conditions of Buraku youth today for the purpose of improving conditions that may encourage youth to continue their involvement in the movement in their own communities; ii) to provide opportunities for Buraku youth, including those who have left Buraku communities, to develop a network; and iii) to help the BLL Youth Division expand linkages with youth in neighboring communities.
The survey was conducted with youth (aged 15 to 39) living both in and outside Buraku communities for a year, from July 2009 to July 2010. A total of 851 valid responses were received. As the survey was conducted through the Buraku Liberation League, it does not represent the whole picture of Buraku youth. It is reasonable to say that the survey was conducted with people with close ties to the BLL liberation movement. It is recommended that these results be viewed as an indication of the present condition of those who responded to the survey. Despite this, the responses from the 851 young people provide very precious data that cannot, by any means, be ignored.
Report by Ryushi UCHIDA
Researcher, Buraku Liberation and Human Rights Research Institute
Survey result: http://www.imadr.org/multi/its%20concern%20full%20_im_.pdf
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Presented with improved materials on
the first-ever radical grassroots solidarity exchange with minority communities in Japan by a US-based Zainichi organization!!
Date: Thursday, December 16, 2010
Time: Presentation from 7pm, Doors open at 6:45pm
Location: at the School of Unity and Liberation Office,
1904 Franklin St., Suite 904, Oakland, CA 94612
Space is limited, so please RSVP (contact information at the bottom)
We would like to show appreciation for your tremendous support throughout the year of 2010, by holding our Annual Holiday Party, coupled with an improved version of the Report-Back from our US-Japan Solidarity Tour!
Come bring your curiosity and high spirit of solidarity to this event and hear Eclipse Rising delegates give a narrative & multimedia account of their 9-day long solidarity visits to communities and institutions in Japan - including:
1. Meeting with Kazuo Ishikawa (Buraku-min political prisoner) & Buraku Liberation League Campaign for ‘Sayama Justice’
2. Radical Women’s Active Museum on War & Peace on their continued global exposure of and campaign for justice for ‘comfort women’
3. Fureai-House, multicultural community center in one of Japan’s most ethnically diverse cities, providing culturally appropriate community services from kindergarten to senior housing to immigration services for Zainichi, Nikkei Latin Americans, Okinawans, migrant workers, etc.
4. Iju-ren, national solidarity network with migrants, serving and advocating for some of the most vulnerable, invisible and and fragmented foreign mirant constituencies in Japan.
ER represented at a protest rally against Japanese government for Justice for “Comfort Women” on the day of the100-year anniversary of Japanese annexation of Corea - in Tokyo, August 11, 2010
Because of your unwavering support, we were able to begin cultivating organization-to-organization relationships with various communities resisting injustice and advancing their vision for multicultural Japan. Please join us to learn more -- and our vision for Eclipse Rising's future work!
Bring your friends along!!
Space is limited, so please RSVP with Haruki by e-mailing email@example.com.
Any questions or concerns, including accessibility, can be addressed by Haruki,
We look forward to reconnecting with you and having a fun and inspiring evening together!
Zainichi leprosy patient at sanatorium. About 10% of victims of forced quarantine have been Zainichi.
--Building Solidarity Network between the Oppressed Communities in the US and Japan--
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
By YOREE KOH
TOKYO—The name of the biggest North Korean school in Japan—Tokyo-North Korean Junior-Senior High School—is carved into the two cement columns lining the walkway to the entrance. It's in Japanese on one side and Korean on the other. Traditional North Korean folk music booms over the outdoor loudspeakers and students dribbling soccer balls on the field shout out greetings to passing administrators.
But the relative tranquility here belies a tense standoff between Japan's 140 pro-Pyongyang schools and the Japanese government, following North Korea's artillery barrage on a South Korean island. The Japanese government threatened to cut off support for North Korean schools here, thrusting the pro-Pyongyang ethnic Korean community in Japan under the spotlight.
Japan has the largest network of North Korean schools in the world outside of North Korea itself, due to the nearly 600,000 Koreans who were forcibly taken or moved to Japan during the country's colonial rule. At these schools, classes are taught in Korean and portraits of Kim Jong Il hang from the walls.
The Japanese government is in the final stages of a yearlong debate over whether to extend public subsidies to the country's North Korea-leaning high schools. The policy, one of the cornerstones of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan's campaign platform in 2009, exempts Japanese public senior high school students from tuition, while private educational institutions receive an annual subsidy of as much as 237,600 yen ($2,827) per student. Japanese public and private high school students have been included in the government initiative since it was implemented April 1, but 10 North Korean high schools that had sought assistance were excluded and required to undergo a screening process.
Education Minister Yoshiaki Takaki indicated, after a meeting with Prime Minister Naoto Kan, that the process should be halted in light of North Korea's deadly attack, a shift from comments made earlier in the month when the minister said politics wouldn't influence his final decision. An education-ministry official declined to comment on the matter.
Supporters of the schools say the North Korean attack has nothing to do with the students themselves.
"These students have nothing to do with what could happen on the Korean peninsula at any given time…it is extremely unreasonable to suspend the process of making the North Korean schools free of charge by linking it to the current tension on the Korean peninsula," said Shin Gil-ung, the head of the association of North Korean schools in Japan, at a news conference Thursday. As Mr. Shin spoke to the media, a small group of Japanese nationalists protested outside the building with megaphones and banners, underlining the contentious nature of the schools' presence in Japan.
The debate over schools raises a sensitive relic from Japan's past. There are about 600,000 ethnic Koreans living in Japan, a community largely composed of third- and fourth-generation descendants of Koreans who arrived in Japan during the country's 35-year colonial rule that ended in 1945. Experts estimate the family trees of more than 90% of the residents have roots in the South. But in the post-World War II period when Japan refused to fund schools that taught Korean-related topics, North Korea stepped in. Pyongyang provided the early financial support that built and maintained educational facilities where Korean language, culture and history were taught in the 1950s.
Financial subsidies from North Korea peaked in the 1970s, with as much as 3 billion yen, or $35.7 million, by some estimates. The donations have fallen drastically over the years as the North's economy tanked. The General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, or Chongryon, which is considered the de facto North Korean embassy, said the hermit country has contributed 46 billion yen during the past 50 years. About 10,000 students attend the 140 Pyongyang-friendly schools nationwide—that includes kindergarten through senior high school and one university—according to documents provided by Chongryon. The financial and ideological ties with North Korea have caused the association, and by extension the community, to come under fire in the past.
The schools' curriculum today includes history lessons on North Korea as well as modern and world history. Third-year students at the four North Korea-leaning high schools in Tokyo spend as much as three hours a week in North Korean history class and five hours focused on Korean language. Senior year is a particularly exciting one for the students. It's the year the class goes to Pyongyang on a two-week school trip in what is usually the first time many of them have touched North Korean soil.
"It was different from what had been shown on the Japanese media," said Koh Yon-jae, a third-year student. "It was much more developed and everyone was very kind to us. It is a very hospitable country."
He added: "That's not to say that as someone who was born and raised in Japan but identifies himself as North Korean I didn't have complicated feelings."
Mr. Koh, who plans to attend the North Korean university next April, said he and his friends have been discussing the skirmish on the Korean peninsula with hopes it will be resolved soon.
"To be sure, they [North Korea] did attack. But to say that's the whole story, to define a country based on the event is not accurate," Mr. Koh said.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Eclipse Rising, a group based in the Bay Area composed of Zainichi Koreans, or postcolonial exiles of Korean descent in Japan, stand against the Obama Administration sending more artillery to South Korea and any militarized retaliation by U.S. or South Korean troops. We feel that such actions would only increase tensions in the Korean peninsula, where we have the most heavily militarized border in the world. According to Paul Liem of the Korean Policy Institute and several other Korea experts, North Korea struck Yeonpyeong only after South Korean forces conducted live artillery drills near the disputed maritime border, drawn unilaterally by the United States after the signing of an armistice agreement and unrecognized by North Korea. As these conflicts are perpetuated by the ongoing war, the only viable resolution we see fit is the signing of a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War.
As Zainichi Koreans, we want to bring attention to how the recent incident has affected the global Korean community in general, in particular the Korean communities of Japan. Only a day after the North Korean military reaction in Yeonpyeong, Japanese Prime Minister Kan told Minister of Education Takagi to freeze the process of including Woori Hakkyos, ethnic Korean schools in Japan, to the newly enacted “free tuition program,” which financially supports all high school students in their education, regardless of their nationality or which schools they go to including non-Japanese institutions such as international schools. Although the Japanese National Assembly continued to emphasize that the criteria for this program should be separated from political and diplomatic circumstances, Woori Hakkyos have continuously been excluded due to their association with North Korea, and only recently been considered to be included in the program as a result of the joint efforts of Japanese, South Korean, and Zainichi Korean communities’ outcry against their exclusion. However, the Japanese government is again using the recent political contention with North Korea as an excuse to justify their racist act against the Zainichi Korean community.
In light of these issues, we demand that the Japanese government not only stop violating the civil rights of Zainichi Korean members of Japanese society, but also make diplomatic efforts toward peace talks with North Korea along with the United States and South Korea.
Monday, November 29, 2010
"This opening intro page features fierce faces of many who stood in solidarity with the “comfort women” to demand Japanese accountability for its military sexual slavery. It is with the still-flowing tears, unredeemed, of the surviving halmonis (and memories of those who passed) in mind (with lots of other thoughts in mind, to be sure!) that I set out to the trip to the DPRK, the ‘other, virtually-forgotten (if not utterly demonized) half’ of the brutally divided dear motherland of my people, and beloved home for the halmonis. Somehow, I knew, their tears of painful yearning for redemption and genuine liberation didn’t seem entirely irrelevant to those I, too, and my fellow delegates on the trip, would come to shed during our 2-week stay, as we confront the forces of brutal war, violence, and colonization still pulling our people farther from the reach of justice and reconciliation long overdue... and also apart from each other.
Reunification is synonymous with reconciliation. One cannot come to realization without the other, if it were to deliver us all from the tears of our elders and our families today. To this end, the signing of the US-DPRK Peace Treaty is a first concrete step we can strive for. Not only is it simply long overdue, but it will provide us with more opportunities to participate in shaping the course of reunification of our motherland, to ensure it is achieved on the terms of the People of COREA. And that is a fundamental right of a sovereign nation. Countries of the world, beginning with the United States and Japan, have an obligation to respect and honor this today, tomorrow, and beyond. COREA IS FOR COREANS!"
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Moreover, can we talk about how the "homeland" politics affects lives of Korean diaspora all over the world? Japanese government is again using North Korea as their justification to discriminate, marginalize and try to kill Korean education in Japan, claiming that woori hakkyo (Korean schools) are terrorist schools. Do they really think that taking away equal educational rights from children can promote mutual understanding and peaceful relationship? Now, who's being irrational?
Below is breaking news from Mainichi Shimbun, the only non-ultra-right newspaper in Japan. Senda, Chief Cabinet Secretary and Takagi, Minister of Education said that application of "free-tuition-program" to Korean schools in Japan must be reconsidered now due to what NK did yesterday.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Picture of classroom out of control emerges in wake of bullied 6th grader's suicide
MAEBASHI -- Two weeks since the suicide of a sixth grader in Kiryu, Gunma Prefecture, a picture of a classroom out of control has begun to take shape.
Akiko Uemura, 12, who was found hanged by a scarf in her room on Oct. 23, transferred from an elementary school in Aichi Prefecture when her family moved to Kiryu in October 2008. It was after her Filipino mother visited the school on parents' visitation day in 2009 that Akiko's classmates began commenting on her appearance.
After Akiko began sixth grade this past April, classmates started saying that she smelled bad and asked her if she bathed. Akiko appealed to her parents to let her transfer to another school, saying that she was willing to walk to school no matter how far. Her parents sought advice from the school on numerous occasions, and considered moving elsewhere once Akiko finished elementary school.
In late September, Akiko's classmates began to sit as far away from her as possible at lunchtime despite their homeroom teacher's admonitions to stay in designated groups. According to Akiko's mother, Akiko asked a classmate to eat lunch with her in mid-October, only to be refused.
On Oct. 19 and 20, Akiko stayed home from school. Her homeroom teacher called her at home to encourage her to come to school on the next day, as the class was going on a field trip. On Oct. 21, however, some of Akiko's classmates questioned her about why she only came to school when there was a special event and whether she was otherwise playing hooky, and Akiko came home in tears.
Akiko stayed home from school again on Oct. 22, and when her homeroom teacher visited her home that evening -- when her parents happened to be at work -- to report on the school's decision to abolish lunchtime groupings, no one answered the door. On Oct. 23, Akiko woke up around 9 a.m. and had breakfast. When her mother looked into her room around noon, she was hanging from a curtain rail by a scarf that she had been knitting for her mother.
No suicide note has been found, but after her funeral on Oct. 26, manga entitled "Friends Are Great!" that Akiko appears to have drawn before her suicide was found. In a letter addressed to Akiko's former classmate in Aichi that was found on Oct. 29, Akiko wrote: "I'm going to Osaka for junior high. So we might pass through Aichi. I'll visit you if I can!"
Meanwhile, the faces of 15 classmates found in a photo taken during an overnight school trip when Akiko was in fifth grade were crossed out with what looked like ballpoint pen, and in response to a question from an autograph book asking what she wanted if she were granted one wish, she had written, "make school disappear."
At Akiko's elementary school, located among farms and new residential areas, the sixth grade students were divided into two homerooms. One classmate said, "There was a group of students who bullied Akiko. She looked really sad when they said things like 'Get of the way' and 'Go away.' No one tried to stop them."
Another classmate said that other students had no choice but to go along with the bullying. "There were a few people who were at the center of the group, and the other students were too scared to defy them. The class was in chaos."
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Korean island women carry on diving tradition
For generations, South Korea's haenyeo have been free-diving for shellfish, a way of life that has brought power to the women of the sea. Though the tradition is fading, a few young women are still learning the lessons of the deep.
Kim Jae-yeon displays a typical catch, a small top shell whose meat South Koreans consider a delicacy. (John M. Glionna / Los Angeles Times)
October 27, 2010
Like six generations of women before her on this treeless speck of land in the East China Sea, the young mother of two is preparing for a dangerous job no man here is allowed to perform: free-diving for minutes at a time to catch abalone and other shellfish.
Kim is learning to join the ranks of the haenyeo, or women of the sea, whose role as ocean hunter-gatherers has long given them special status in a Korean culture dominated by men. These women on a group of islands south of the South Korean mainland have turned tradition on its head.
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For decades, divers here have groomed their daughters for a life at sea. They teach them how to conserve oxygen to extend their dives and stress the importance of working in groups, like a herd of watchful seals, vigilant against shark attacks, rip currents and marauding motorboats that buzz the surface.
The diving, with its daily hazards and emphasis on teamwork, has molded the women into a cohesive group that has often gathered by the campfire with the day's catch to make decisions about village politics.
But this matriarchal way of life is now in peril. Modern fishing boats that encroach on their catching grounds have reduced the number of shellfish, forcing the haenyeo farther out to sea, leaving them less time to dive.
The diminished catch has made the profession a struggle for survival. Nowadays, the women are able to gather only enough catch to feed their families, with a bit left over to sell to tourists. Shellfish that once was sent to ports such as Japannow stays at home. And, lured away by careers on the mainland, fewer daughters are diving.
The number of haenyeo has plummeted by two-thirds in just a few decades, from 15,000 in the 1970s to slightly more than 5,000 today. On Mara Island, about the size of an 18-hole golf course with a full-time population of 80 residents, the number has dropped from 15 to seven.
At 33, Kim is the youngest haenyeo in South Korea, where half the divers are older than 70 and 90% are least 50. She isn't diving for the money; Kim makes her living by running a restaurant. But following the lead of her mother, aunt and grandmother, she spends most mornings learning an ancient haenyeo trade that connects her to her ancestors.
"It's now or never," she said. "One day, the elders will be gone, and the sea will be mine alone. I want to learn all I can while there's still time. So I can teach the other women who might one day come."
On this morning, a typhoon is gathering 1,000 miles to the south and the swirling currents already thrash angrily. Even with only four years' experience, Kim knows the sea is dangerous enough without bad weather.
As she struggles to put on her wetsuit cap, her aunt, Kim Choun-geum, 56, appears. The older woman patiently assists her niece, whispering words of encouragement. Then student and mentor slip into the churning water to join the others.
The haenyeo tradition dates back hundreds of years, handed down from mother to daughter, glorified in folk tales and songs. Some say women's body fat enabled them to better endure the cold waters. Others say they're just better divers than the men.
Even now, no man would dream of taking to the waters with the divers. This skill, they know, is women's work, so they stay out of the way.
On these isolated islands, the women are often the breadwinners while the men stay at home to raise the children. The divorce rate is higher here than on the mainland, perhaps driven by the can-do spirit of women who grow weary of spouses who don't pull their weight. The haenyeo have the final word on major decisions.
Like the earliest female sea divers in neighboring Japan, the Korean haenyeo once wore only flimsy cotton gowns that offered no protection against the bone-chilling cold. Working in groups, they pushed makeshift collection nets attached to a surface buoy while diving dozens of times a day, using iron picks and scythes to pry loose the shells from rocks as deep as 60 feet or more. They didn't believe in overfishing, harvesting just enough to get by.
They eventually donned wetsuits, but there's one modern convenience the haenyeo have shunned: oxygen tanks, which would allow them to exhaust the catch too soon.
Despite their caution, accidents are common. Each year a handful of divers die in shark attacks or by drowning. The work also takes a long-term health toll. Like many older haenyeo, Kim's grandmother, Byun Chun-ok, 84, suffers from ear and lung problems. Her joints still ache years after leaving the water for good.
Kim's aunt, Kim Choun-geum, is fully aware of the dangers of her job.
"One mistake and the ocean will kill you," she said. "Our rule is to never get greedy."
Although South Korean officials pledge to help preserve the haenyeo's livelihood, the women say they need financial assistance for child care and medical checkups.
"You can't change depleted resources overnight," said Ham Chun-bo, director of the Haenyeo Museum on Jeju, the main island in the chain. "And even with good policies, you can't force young women to take up this job."
Kim Jae-yeon never planned on becoming a sea woman.
She grew up on Mara, the kind of place where the unstaffed convenience store still features an honor system. But she fled to attend college on Jeju Island, and later met her husband, Park Hyung-il.
Eventually, after a series of failed businesses, the couple returned to Mara. For Kim, then 29, coming home was life-changing.
One day, while accompanying her aunt into the water, Kim's eyes opened to the sea's allure. After the stress of working office jobs on Jeju, she felt a jolt of freedom.
She started out with the easiest task, collecting seaweed in shallow waters. But even that exhausted her. "Every day I was so tired I'd vomit," she recalled. "The sea is not an easy place to make a living. I came to respect my elders for their survival skills."
She learned that her grandmother was once the island's best diver, who could go the deepest, stay submerged the longest and return with the biggest catch. She heard stories of how the women of her grandmother's day never complained about the cold or danger, instead telling jokes and singing songs to pass the time.
After hauling in their daily catch, the women would sit around a campfire at the beach and discuss village business or compliment one another's fishing skills or bravery in the water that day. It was a simpler, self-sufficient life that Kim wanted for herself.
Although she makes most of her salary from the restaurant, Kim developed the quiet swagger of ahaenyeo, bringing home twice as much money as her husband, a coastal preservation worker on Jeju.
"Sometimes it irritates me," Park said. "When we argue, she plays the money card, just like a veteranhaenyeo would do."
As their profession wanes, the sea women are returning to a more traditional role. "Eventually we'll give up our power and become like any other Korean woman," Kim Choun-geum said. "That's sad."
But for as long as she can, Kim Jae-yeon, South Korea's youngest haenyeo, will watch her elders to absorb the lessons of the deep. She feels guilty knowing many ignore their own dives to show her the way.
One day, Kim hopes to herself be a teacher to a new generation of haenyeo. She awaits the day her 8-year-old daughter is ready to go to sea.
"I'm already teaching her how to dive," she said. "Whether she wants to become a haenyeo will be up to her."
Ethan Kim of The Times' Seoul Bureau contributed to this report.