Korean mermaids are coming to Apple TV+ | Cult of Mac

Korean mermaids are coming to Apple TV+

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A commemoration of the haenyeo stands on Jeju Island.
A commemoration of the haenyeo stands on Jeju Island.
Photo: Pixabay

“Korea’s mermaids,” also affectionally known as “rowdy grandmas,” are elderly free divers who for generations have caught seafood off South Korea’s Jeju Island to feed their community.

They’re known in Korean as the haenyeo. Apple TV+ said Tuesday an upcoming documentary film will tell their story, including how younger generations are filling their ranks to keep the time-honored — and environmentally sustainable — tradition from dying out.

Apple TV+ documentary about haenyeo, ‘Korea’s mermaids’

The new title from Apple Original Films is actually untitled, so far. But it seems promising. It’s the first fruit harvested from a partnership between Apple TV+ and Nobel laureate and women’s rights activist Malala Yousafzai. The director tapped for the project is Peabody Award nominee Sue Kim (The Speed Cubers).

The doc will tell the story of the legendary free divers — meaning they dive without oxygen tanks — who work in difficult and dangerous conditions to catch seafood off the coast of Jeju Island. It’s a great way to stay fit. But time stops for no one, as they say.

“Matriarchs, breadwinners and rowdy grandmas, the haenyeo’s numbers have dwindled in the past few decades. But now their youngest descendants are helping to revive the revered and often dangerous lifestyle of their ancestors, while fighting to protect the ocean from looming environmental threat,” Apple TV+ said in Tuesday’s press release.

First project in Apple TV+ partnership with Malala Yousafzai

The co-production hails from Extracurricular, Yousafzai’s production company. It will work alongside A24, a company collaborating with Apple on an upcoming documentary about legendary comic, actor and banjo player Steve Martin.

The haenyeo documentary joins Apple’s growing slate. It includes the four-part Earvin “Magic” Johnson docuseries They Call Me Magic, the Emmy Award-nominated Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurrythe Critics’ Choice Documentary Award-nominated The Velvet Underground, and the new film Sidney, which honors iconic actor Sidney Poitier.

To date, Apple Original films, documentaries and series have earned 276 wins and 1,153 award nominations, Apple said.

Apple TV+ is available by subscription for $4.99 per month with a seven-day free trial. You also can get it via any tier of the Apple One subscription bundle.