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Jeju hosts international underwater photography contestDivers call Jeju diving a unique and beautiful experience
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승인 2009.06.20  14:41:27
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▲ The otherworldly beauty of Jeju’s underwater world is captured in this photo of a jellyfish, by Jeju diver Kim Eok-Soo. The photo earned Kim first prize in the recent Sea Underwater Photography World Championship. Photo courtesy Korea Underwater Association & CMAS
While Jeju’s underwater marvels are no secret to native scuba divers and haenyeos, the rest of the world is offered only rare glimpses of Jeju’s scenic depths. The recent CMAS Sea Underwater Photography World Championship was one such special opportunity for Jeju to display its natural marine beauty.

CMAS stands for Confédération Mondiale Des Activités Subaquatiques, which translates to World Underwater Federation.

From May 31 to June 5, the waters off of Jeju’s sunny southern city of Seogwipo were teeming with divers vying for photo-ops falling under the five categories of the contest: wide-angle, wide-angle with diver, macro, macro with theme, and fish. Points were tallied for each category and factored into a general score.

One first-prize winning photographer, 42-year-old Korean, Kim Eok-Soo is no stranger to Jeju’s sub-tropical waters.

“I travel to Jeju about 10 times per year to train as a scuba diver and to practice my photography,” he said. Kim lives and works as a scuba instructor in Daegu. His photo of a jellyfish against an azure ocean backdrop won him the gold prize in the “wide-angle lens” category.

“I have a lot of experience photographing landscapes and daily-life scenes, but macro-photography and underwater photos are my specialty,” said Kim, who has been practicing photography for 15 years. Kim took a bronze in the general scoring, as well as a bronze in the “macro” category.

While he has been diving around the world and spent a lot of time off of Korea’s eastern coast, the waters of Jeju are a unique experience. “The seas of Jeju are different than most others I’ve been diving in. The soft-coral and purple kelp in particular are beautiful sights you can only find in Jeju,” he said.

This marked the twelfth CMAS competition, which has taken place every two years for the past 24, and has been hosted across the globe in such locations as Marseille, France, Estartit, Spain, Hurghada, Egypt, and even Pin-Island off of Cuba.

Jeju hosted the international competition once before in 1994 and remains the only Asian location to host the event. The CMAS contest drew photographers from all over the world. Participants flew in from countries such as Russia, Denmark, Portugal, and China to take part in the competition.

Other gold prize competitors included Norway’s Espen Redkall who won gold in both general scoring, and for his photo in the “macro” category. Rui Guerra of Portugal was awarded gold for “wide-angle with diver”, and Spain’s Arthur J. Thiemann and Carlos Banos, took gold in “macro with theme” and “fish” respectively.

“What I enjoy about photography is that it brings me in touch with nature,” Kim said. “In fact I think that is what is great about photo contests like CMAS, it brings global attention to the beauty of nature we take for granted.”

Through attention-grabbing underwater competitions, CMAS seeks to raise awareness of the recreational, scientific and intrinsic values the seas provide for humankind. In addition to their increasingly well-known photo contest, this August CMAS is hosting its fifteenth semi-annual Fin-Swimming World Championship in St. Petersburg Russia, as well as its fourteenth Orienteering (underwater navigation) Championship in Hungary.

CMAS was founded in 1958 as part of an international effort by countries including The United States, Germany, France, Brazil, Italy, and others to form a confederation of underwater disciplines, which would set, follow and enforce international standards for water sport safety and education. Their certifications include scuba diving, snorkeling, instructor certifications, and even specialty certifications such as night and cave diving.

Unlike PADI or NAUI, which are primarily geared toward recreational diving, CMAS emphasizes producing quality dive instructors with comprehensive knowledge of the sea and their respective disciplines, training far beyond basic dive certifications.

The CMAS website has photos from this year’s competition and more details about the organization.

ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (
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