The Olympic torch relay in Seoul, the 17th leg of the Olympic flame's global tour, started Sunday in the Olympic Park after a launching ceremony.
Overseas Chinese cheer for the Olympic torch relay in Seoul, South Korea，April 27, 2008. Seoul is the 17th stop of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games torch relay.
Li Binghua, vice executive president of the Beijing Organizing Committee of Olympic Games (BOG), handed over the torch kindled with the sacred Olympic flame from ancient Olympia of Greece to Rah Jin-Koo, deputy mayor of Seoul.
Kim Jong-Kil, chairman of South Korea's Olympic Committee, received the torch from Rah, kicking off the torch relay as the first runner at 2:18 pm local time (0518 GMT).
"I feel greatly honored to be the first runner of the torch relay," Kim told reporters.
Rah Jin-Koo (R), deputy mayor of Seoul and Kim Jung Kil, chairman of South Korea's Olympic Committee, hold the torch ahead of the Olympic torch relay in Seoul, South Korea, April 27, 2008. Seoul is the 17th stop of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games torch relay.
"During the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, many of the games were held at the stadiums in the Olympic Park. The Beijing Olympic flame relay starts from the very place which has more symbolic significance," said Kim.
In the launching ceremony, Roh said that this year marks the 20th anniversary of the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, and 20 years later the Olympic flame returned to Asia. He hoped that the torch relay will provide a favorable opportunity to promote the relations between China and South Korea as well as the friendship among Asian countries.
"The Olympics belong to the whole human kind," said the deputy mayor. "I wish the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games an enormous success."
Torchbearer Moon Dae Sung runs with the torch during the Olympic torch relay in Seoul, South Korea, April 27, 2008. Seoul is the 17th stop of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games torch relay.
Starting by the South Korean Olympic chief, 70 plus runners, selected from distinguished representatives from various circles of life including Lee Sei-Kee, chief of the China-South Korea Friendship Association, Heo Nam-Soo, mayor of Pusan city, actresses Chang Nara, Kim Mi-Jung, movie director Kim Jong-Seok, and Olympic gold medalists Moon Dae-Sung, Ahn Hyun-Soo, Nam Eun-Young and Kim Soo-Nyung, will run along the 22-kilometer route that covers Seoul's most famous landmarks and historical sites and concludes at the City Hall Plaza.
The Olympic flame is to reach a total of 21 cities on five continents outside the Chinese mainland before arriving in Beijing for the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 8.
Chinese overseas students cheer for the arrival of the Olympic torch in Seoul, South Korea, on April 27, 2008.
(Xinhua News Agency April 27, 2008)