IMTV Hatches Series Based on Lisa See Novel ‘The Island of Sea Women’

Korean indie production house, IMTV is developing and will produce a drama series based on the New York Times best-selling novel, “The Island of Sea Women” by Lisa See. 

The story is set largely on the remote Korean island of Jeju, among the community of ‘haenyo,’ women who earn a living by free diving for mollusks, seaweed and other sea life from the depths of the ocean.

Representatives of a rare semi matriarchal society, the women work while the menfolk typically stay at home, though property is passed down along male lines.

Celebrated activist and Nobel Prize-winner Malala recently boarded a documentary project about the haenyo of Jeju that is set up at the A24 U.S. indie studio.

See’s wholly minutely-researched, but fictional, story is an evocative tale of two best friends whose bonds are both strengthened and tested over decades by forces beyond their control. The best-selling author (“Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” “The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane”) is expected to remain with the project as a consultant.

IMTV is currently in post-production on a dystopian sci-fi series for Netflix with the working title “Goodbye Earth.” It starts Yoo Ah-In and Ahn Eun-jin and is directed by Kim Jin-Min (“My Name,” “Extracurricular”). The show is adapted from the novel by Kotaro Isaka, who also wrote the book behind Sony Pictures’ recent “Bullet Train.”


IMTV is currently attaching screenwriters for “The Island of Sea Women” and expects to produce the series with a streaming platform.

“When we’ve spoken to them, the streaming companies see parallels with ‘Pachinko’ which has given a momentum to this kind of historical epic,” Joseph Jang, IMTV CEO, told WmLeader at the Busan International Film Festival. “And they are looking at it running to multiple seasons.”

“We see this an amazing beautiful human drama. Friendship across generations. It’s all about redemption, forgiveness and hope. It has the potential for very great impact as it places the ‘haenyos’ of Jeju against a backdrop of historical struggles, prejudices and atrocities faced by the islanders, ranging from Japanese occupation, WWII to the Korean War,” said Jang.


“I think the Malala documentary project is great for us, because there has not been that much content outside of Korea, about the haenyo, Jeju or the whole culture of these incredible women who free dive in the ocean,” said Jang.