In general, a ship used by women divers is simply referred to as a women divers ship. Unlike the modern women divers' boat, they used a wind ship and/or a taewoo in the recent past. During the Japanese colonial rule, people used non-motorized craft such as a duckpan ship and ssaumpan. When it comes to its speed, the motorized ship is the fastest followed by the wind ship, ssaumpan, duckpan, and finally the taewoo.
Taewoo is a tae ship in the Jeju dialect but it has also been called taewie, turbae, tae, and taewo. The taewoo is a primitive boat with oars, also called a burl ship in Chinese characters, which was used on rivers and the sea around the world
Built of natural wood, the taewoo has a narrow bow and a streamlined stern. It was easy to sail because it floats on the waves, flexing as needed. The taewoo was made of 8~12 logs with nets shaped like a ladle and scull that hung off of it.
Traditionally, the taewoo was made out of Korean fir from Halla Mountain but now is made of a hemp tree in Japan. The taewoo was rarely capsized by waves because it floats right on the sea surface. However, it is the slowest ship because the oars only scull at the end of the ship. In some cases, a choseok made of a braid and cotton cloth dyed with persimmon juice was used as an anchor.
The taewoo was particularly useful for gathering sea plants such as dumbouk(for fertilizer) or gamtae(the raw material for an alkinsan). Female divers set bonfires to make warm their wet bodies. Working with taewoo was popular until the end of the 1960s but the mass production of chemical fertilizers quickly reduced the need for dumbouk, hence lessening the practical use of the taewoo.
Interestingly, fishermen still use the taewoo to catch jaridom, a delicious and popular fish. The taewoo is featured in the Bomokri Jari Festival in Jeju.
The deockpan ship(or dangdori ship), a large ship made of wood to transport goods or people, was invented as a female divers' ship after the taewoo. It is not confirmed when the deockpan ship was first used but it was in use along with taewoo and ssaumpan from the end of the 19th century to the Japanese colonial rule. The deockpan ship sailed by wind and had a narrow bow to the taewoo but a broader echelon-shaped stern. Moreover, the sides of the ship were slightly built up to a height 6 ~7cm with about 3cm in width.
With its increased buoyancy and speed, the deockpan ship could sail out farther than the taewoo. With an anchor made of straw mat, the deockpan ship even sailed to the mainland. In spite of its advantages, its use was discontinued earlier than the taewoo because of its inconvenient bulkiness.
Jeju Island banded together with the Korean Broadcasting System and requested that Kim Choel-Yoen of Sihuengri, Sungsanup in Jeju-si to restore a deockpan ship to working order. Later the ship was exhibited outside of the National Museum.
After the deockpan ship, the ssaumpan, also known as the ssangpan, ssang ship, and ssangpan sekki, was built and used during the same period as a women divers ship.
Because of its lightweight straight grain, and resistance to sea-worms, the hemp tree from Tsushima was used to build the ship. In contrast to the deockpan and the taewoo, the pointed bow produced less wave resistance in the same fashion as a sailing ship. It has three sculls and 'wings'(Parak) from which to hang twin sea anchors and to prevent rough seas from swamping the boat.
The ssaumpan was the only boat that was systematically equipped to meet the needs for the Jeju diving women. The 'gungueli' is used as a frame to put out the anchor as well as a place to store sea plants while the divers warmed themselves beside the fire. The 'ganpan', was used as a small dressing room and a locker room. Moreover, it had a submerged ladder that gave easy access to the sea.
Along with the taewoo, the wind ship(sailing ship, or sailing boat) is the oldest and continues to be used by some women divers. It is also named according to the number of anchors it carries. For example, a small ship with one anchor is called 'dandaebati', 'dandaesun', a ship with two anchors is a 'idaebatiI', 'dodaeguli',and 'idae-seon' and a ship with three anchors is called 'samdaebati',and 'samdae-seon'. Female divers usually use the idae-seon or dandaesu; however, the samdae-seon was occasionally used to gather sea products on distant shores or when a group of divers worked together in one area.
Because the women divers operate the boat by themselves, they often did not carry an anchor. They were famous for singing sailing songs to encourage or refresh themselves during their exhausting work. The ship used to take a small rowboat called 'jeonma-seon', or 'demma' to get to port if they were unable to land for any reason. The wind ship also had a charcoal fire to warm themselves up with. The ship was not used after the motorized boats were introduced.
The motorized boat is now the only working ship for the women divers. Known as a motorboat, engine, power ship, and engine ship, it has an engine instead of a scull. With the use of the new ship, the female divers started to wear modern diving suits.