i just finished reading The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See — what an excellent read! fictional story about historical events on Jeju Island, none of which i was familiar.

i was drawn to the book because we visited (albeit very briefly, just 2 nights) the island 4 years ago after 6 nights in Seoul and before landing in Japan for our remaining 2.5 weeks vacation.

it is an amazing story of friendship between two young girls that spans decades of hardship against the backdrop of the japanese occupation and WWII and korean war to almost present day. it describes the life of the haenyeo, the generations of women divers that reap the harvests of the ocean in a sustainable manner and how their lives are totally devoted to the island and culture.

i will visit the 4.3 museum the next time (and i plan to return someday to spend more than 2 nights on jeju) i go… as a japanese american, it is painful to learn about the travesties of my ethnic ancestors, but i hope learning the truths that were hidden or forgotten will help us all better appreciate one another’s similarities and differences, pain and pride, to become one community of understanding and support.


    I finished this book today, too, after it being recommended by another Beanie. I did not know much about the Japanese and American occupations of Jeju, so I found it very informative. I liked how the story involved many generations of haenyeo. I thought the story was a bit slow in the beginning, but overall a great read!