Gloria Chang Dives With the Women of Jeju Island

To the Ocean Floor and Back in a Single Breath

Gloria Chang dives with the women of Jeju Island, South Korea.

By Gloria Chang

“Just hold your breath and dive!” yells 73-year-old grandmother Kang Soon-Yi. As the waves chop and the wind howls, I duck my head underwater, pushing with my arms and kicking furiously. It’s no use: eight kilograms on my weight belt aren’t enough to counteract the buoyancy of an extra thick wetsuit on this cool November afternoon. I flail helplessly on the surface.

I try to explain, but choke on a mouthful of seawater instead. Kang, bobbing seal-like among the waves, cackles with laughter. She dives effortlessly and comes back to the surface with a sea urchin as I try to catch my breath. Read the full story here.

Jeju Island is the island on which Lisa See’s The Island of Sea Women is based. The novel is one of our current Books in the Bag book club favorites! Please consider joining us for Books & Bathrobes with Lisa See on April 2, 2020.

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