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warmed up through the bottom

[two boys pour pails of water over Min-jeong’s head, water coursing over her body, as she stands on a small grate] [narrator] There is no tent for this Haenyeo; instead her body is heated by warm water, poured on her by her classmates Kin and Ho. [boy proudly holding a large ginger root carved like a plug, with fancy designs on the outside] [narrator] This is Hon-zhu, who made this little ginger sculpture. It is a weekly project in art class; this week he was the winner.

[rear view of naked girl bending over, legs spread, bare feet perched on widely-separated rocks, toes curling over the edges, spreading her buttocks with her hands] [narrator] The ginger sculpture has a special role. Hon zhu, this week’s winner, has the privilege of inserting it, with Professor Hin supervising. [as everyone watches girl’s anus, boy carefully pushes in ginger plug]

[Prof. Hin, interviewed previously, in her office] “The ginger root creates a mild burning sensation which creates body heat. There is a little pool connected to the shore into which Min-jeong flushes her bowels beforehand. She has learned to open her anus to accept the intrusion so that it is not painful.”

[back to naked girl bending over, boy inserting the ginger root up her butt] [voice over from Prof.] “The end of the root is flanged. Otherwise Min-jeong’s internal muscles would naturally draw it in and it would be hard to pull out.” [naked girl stands up, turns around, shy smile as everyone applauds and boy takes a jokey bow] [voiceover] “Over the course of a day’s dives we expect about half the root to dissolve through the rectal membranes, providing stimulation and heat.” [voiceover from Koy] “The ginger provokes and brings forth the child’s considerable yang energy.”

[naked girl, holding bucket, wearing diving mask, rope tied around her waist, clambers over rough rocks on way to water] [narrator] Min-jeong’s feet have to be exceptionally tough because the rocks here are sharp-edged and treacherous. Note the ginger plug in her anus which does not seem to impede her stride. [family, including siblings, waving from beach] She turns and waves at her family.

[naked girl submerges] [Prof. Hin, looking on, speaks] “Min-jeong can hold her breath for four minutes now, which allows dives down to 30 meters. At that depth one can find specimens of much greater size. We believe the water at that point is roughly 9 degrees Celsius, but she can withstand it for short periods, with physiological assistance.”

[underwater scene, naked girl swimming toward a colorful bank encrusted with very large oysters, abalones, sea cucumbers] [silence except for voice of narrator] A special camera lowered onto a rock allows us to see what Min-jeong sees. This is a world known only to her. [girl uses blade to cut free a large oyster, places in her basket; then moves away toward another bank] She is careful to harvest selectively to maximize new growth. [girl moves toward camera, then moves in profile, nipples hardened in the cold water, then anchoring with one foot to cut a large abalone; now she looks around] This quiet girl seems to enjoy the solitude and serenity of the undersea world. [she swims away from the camera] The yellow stream coming from behind is not urine, but runoff from the ginger root.

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