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Hip-hop and heraldry will welcome torch to Seoul

Jan 12,2018
History will once again be made at the heart of Seoul in Gwanghwamun Square - this time with only one flame. The PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (Pocog) announced on Wednesday that the Olympic torch will make its way to Gwanghwamun in Jung District, central Seoul, tomorrow.

The square is a particularly significant place as it served as the gathering spot for the April 19 Movement in 1960 against then President Syngman Rhee, the June Democracy Movement in 1987, the outdoor screenings of the 2002 World Cup and most recently the candlelight vigils, where millions of people poured onto the streets calling for the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye in late 2016.

Befitting the theme of the meeting of the past and present, the torch will travel on a royal carriage used by kings, carried by a torchbearer acting as King Sejong in a traditional royal carriage procession, while drone racing champion Kim Min-chan will lead the torch through a mixed reality (MR) presentation, which will involve a mix between the past and the future.

Kim, 12, received the nickname “Drone Genius” when he won the Asia Cup Shanghai in July. He’s already won nine different competitions in and outside of Korea and earned more than 100 million won ($93,000) in prize money.

Four-time Olympian Kang Kwang-bae, the first Korean to compete in the luge, skeleton and bobsleigh and now the sports director for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, and pistol shooter Jin Jong-oh, a two-time gold medalist at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, are also expected to participate as torchbearers for the relay.

Before reaching Gwanghwamun Square at 5:30 p.m., Cha Bum-kun, a footballing legend and former head coach of the Korean national football team, will lead the group relay with rising Korean football stars in front of the Seoul World Cup Stadium.

KT will introduce its 5G technology at the event with a b-boy performance, and interactive displays from Coca-Cola, the torch relay’s presenting partner, will also be available for visitors to view.

After the relay, a city celebration will take place with a contemporary dance group performing to music by a group playing gugak, traditional Korean music. Performances by K-pop groups BtoB and Cosmic Girls are also scheduled for the event.

“The special relay that will take place at Gwanghwamun, a significant gathering place that maintains the cultural and historical legacy of the nation,“ said Lee Hee-beom, president of Pocog, “will introduce the merging of the past, present and future, to represent Korea’s advancements in communication. Through this [relay], I hope the culture of the Republic of Korea will spread globally once again.”

The torch will continue its relay for four days in the capital. Having traveled around the country the torch arrived in Incheon on Wednesday and has 28 days left before reaching the opening ceremony for the Olympics on Feb. 9.

BY LAURA SONG [song.hankyul@joongang.co.kr]