Korean Sports Day Photo Essay

Recently I was fortunate enough to experience ‘Sports Day’ at a Korean elementary school. What a true spectacle it was. The entire school shut down normal functions for two days as kids, teachers and parents flooded the field and surrounding areas. In a country known for serious academic pursuits (even at a young age) it was nice to see kids being kids on the field with plenty of smiling faces. The radiant faces along with the competitive spirit of the children was rather apparent. The sports event corresponded perfectly with the purchase of my new Sony Alpha A65 dSLR body which features an impressive 10 frames per second burst mode. To capture some of these intense sports action shots I really needed this boost. The following a photo essay featuring one high speed video capturing the event:

A Korean girl leaps to clear a hurdle on Sports Day.

A Korean girl leaps to clear a hurdle on Sports Day.

A group of Korean boys take a tumble on the mat doing somersaults.

A group of Korean boys take a tumble on the mat doing somersaults.

Some Korean boys enjoy piggyback wars with plenty of smiling faces.

Some Korean boys enjoy piggyback wars with plenty of smiling faces.

Korean students push a large white ball while thoroughly enjoying the moment.

Korean students push a large white ball while thoroughly enjoying the moment.

A group of Korean boys race around a pylon with hoops.

A group of Korean boys race around a pylon with hoops.

Some young Korean girls compete in a relay event.

Some young Korean girls compete in a relay event.

A slow motion video capturing all of the sports events

A Korean mother and her son enjoy jump-rope together.

A Korean mother and her son enjoy jump-rope together.

Some adorable Korean girls wave at me.

Some adorable Korean girls wave at me.

As the gun fires these Korean boys are off to the races.

As the gun fires these Korean boys are off to the races.

A group of Korean boys pose for the camera.

A group of Korean boys pose for the camera.

An action shot of a Korean student in clearing a hurdle.

An action shot of a Korean student in clearing a hurdle.

A Korean boy leaps from hoop to hoop.

A Korean boy leaps from hoop to hoop.

A shot of Korean students stretching before the sports events.

A shot of Korean students stretching before the sports events.

An action shot of some Korean boys leaping over a hurdle.

An action shot of some Korean boys leaping over a hurdle.

A shot of Korean girl clearing a hurdle.

A shot of Korean girl clearing a hurdle.

A shot of one of my students jumping.

A shot of one of my students jumping.

A cute Korean girl poses for the camera with a peace sign.

A cute Korean girl poses for the camera with a peace sign.

A Korean elementary student leaps.

A Korean elementary student leaps.

A shot of one of my students jumping.

A shot of one of my students jumping.

A group of boys laugh and share a candid moment.

A group of boys laugh and share a candid moment.

A Korean boy smiles.

A Korean boy smiles.

An action shot of some Korean boys competing in a ball rolling competition.

An action shot of some Korean boys competing in a ball rolling competition.

A lovely Korean girl wearing glasses poses for the camera.

A lovely Korean girl wearing glasses poses for the camera.

Korean kids dart towards the finish line.

Korean kids dart towards the finish line.

Some Korean boys enjoy a relay event.

Some Korean boys enjoy a relay event.

A Korean elementary school student shows fine form with this jump.

A Korean elementary school student shows fine form with this jump.

A Korean boys hides in a garbage can for an event.

A Korean boy hides in a garbage can for an event.

A Korean mother takes a tumble during a race with her son.

A Korean mother takes a tumble during a race with her son.

Korean parents enjoy an intense race.

Korean parents enjoy an intense race.

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  6. says: Megan Jones

    These images are fantastic. I have rarely seen such unadulterated happiness and joyfulness on the face of children. You can really tell that they are having the time of their lives! The colors are so vibrant and the expressions are so authentic. Great job capturing the feeling in the air!

  7. says: Turtle

    I reckon this is one of the best set of shots you’ve had for ages (not to say there’s anything wrong with the other ones). But I just love the way the faces and the action have captured the mood and the energy of the day so well. And everyone looks so happy – love it!

  8. says: Lauren

    Love these photos! You’ve captured Sports Day so well…I used to think it was such an odd event, but after experiencing a few at my school, it seems completely normal. I love how creative the events are – especially hiding in a trash can!

  9. says: Pete

    Some fantastic shots here Samuel, my faves were your very first one with the hurdle and the 2 kids skipping with the young kid and his eyes closed, great moment. What’s up with a kid hiding in a garbage can? I had a pretty good laugh with that one.

  10. says: RyukyuMike

    Awesome photos and ya gotta love those kids doing their best on Sports Day. We have our event like this during October, in Japan and I always look forward to it. Thanks for sharing.

  11. says: Andrew

    What amazing action shots. I guess having a new toy that can take so many frames a second is really helpful to catching such things. I am still learning my Olympus and happen when I get buildings straight at the moment. People seem much harder to shoot pictures of. Looks like they had a lot of fun.

    1. Thanks Andrew,

      One of the keys to taking action shots (aside from fast frames per second) is having a fast shutter speed. I typically shoot wide open (with the largest available aperture) and I’ll also boost the ISO higher than usual if I’m finding the shots aren’t as sharp as I’d like them to be.

  12. says: prebble

    Excellent action shots…and yes i agree the average Korean child is much healthier than an average Canadian child 🙂

  13. says: Bodlagz

    Wonderful job Sam, your timing is immaculate, I don’t how many photos you must have taken to end up with this collection, but it really is quite collection.

  14. This reminds of the sports festivals I use to attend while in elementary school (in Taiwan!) To us the kids the best part was if we did well, out teachers would spoil us with free milk tea drinks in the end ^_^ Parents love this because they can gather, watch us, and gossip in the back at the same time.

    1. Annie, it sounds like the format is very similar. The kids were treated to lots of nice snacks and a picnic meal with their families. I had a lot of fun taking shots all day and helping out with some of the events.