Mrs Baek Bokhee aka ‘mama’ is 50% of the force that runs the 700 village. She has been running the circus together with her husband since 2002 and is a phenomenal chef, bus driver, the chief of bookings, and now also an Eyes as Big as Plated delegate!
Mama is proud of the enterprise they have built together over the last 14 years and having witnessed this powerhouse of a woman in action over the past week, we had to ask for her recipe for success. The recipe remains a secret, as mama humbly thanked everybody around her for bringing all the good energy to keep her going. Our translator explained to us how it is not part of the older generation’s mindset to focus on themselves, but on how they relate to others in a more collective consciousness.
Mama is a water person living in the mountains and for her future hobby she would love to become a ‘haenyeo’, a ‘sea woman’ who freedive for shellfish and seaweed. The only view of water in her area is the meandering river in the valley, so we headed to the tallest mountaintop in Pyongchang for a well earned break with a view.
We descended to the Potato Blossom center straight from the shoot, saw a dazzling folk dance performance and sat down to watch an extremely fitting documentary about sea women. Breathing underwater (directed by KO Hee-young) follows a community of free diving haenyeos. For these strong and independent women life is not only about holding your breath, but also about containing and controlling their desire – a few too many seconds under water to catch that last abalone might prove fatal. This balancing act translates easily to contemporary Korean women trying to combine progressive independence with tradition.