After moving to the U.K. and observing the lack of high-quality Korean products, I resolved to make natural Korean condiments – free from artificial ingredients – available to British food lovers.
I wanted to create mouthwatering, versatile products, based on authentic recipes that use the finest Korea-sourced ingredients.
MAMA HALLA originates from my home island, Jeju-do; a part of Korea famed for its unique natural landscapes and spirit. There, my grandmother was a haenyeo, Jeju-do’s renowned community of fiercely independent, resilient, and courageous women divers. For centuries, haenyeo have practiced a form of free diving for seafood, earning their own income in the process.
So, moved both by this spirit and the recipes that my grandmother left behind, with MAMA HALLA I aim to enable everyone to experience and enjoy the taste of Korea, healthily.
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Our name, MAMA HALLA, speaks to the history and mythology of Jeju-do’s Halla Mountain, and the abiding importance of women throughout Jeju’s history. It is deeply rooted in the place that I grew up, Jeju-do.
Jeju-do is a young volcanic island, formed only 2 million ago by the eruption of a still-active volcano today known as Halla Mountain. Eruptions of Halla Mountain over millennia have indelibly marked Jeju’s, with a landscape characterised by abundant basalt, lava, lush green vegetation, and cone vents.
But it is Halla Mountain itself that is omnipresent, embodying a dependable point of reference for navigation and having a strong hold over islanders’ sense of identity.
The importance of women on Jeju-do – one of the island’s so-called ‘three abundances’ – is born both of a unique culture and of tragedy.
Jeju’s renowned haenyeo (‘sea women’) form close-knit free diver collectives made up today only of women. For centuries, this highly challenging profession has provided Jeju’s women a route to social and economic participation in an otherwise relatively patriarchal society.
More tragically, following the Jeju Uprising in the 1940s, during which around 10% of the island’s population (principally male) was killed, Jeju was left with a high proportion of women. This dark period in Jeju’s history affected every family in Jeju; the legacy of which remains manifest in the island’s demography.