Olympic torch stops in Seoul ahead of 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games

Olympic torch stops in Seoul ahead of 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games
From Al Jazeera - January 13, 2018

Seoul- South Korea tapped into some of the best of its past and future in an effort to flare up the public's lackluster interests in the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

The Olympics torch arrived in Seoul on Saturday for a four-day relay throughout the capital city.

The torch first started to travel on a royal carriage used by kings during Korea's last kingdom of Joseon (1392-1910), carried by the head of the royal family acting as Korea's most revered King Sejong, from the main Gyeongbok Palace to the iconic Gwanghwamun Square.

At the last leg of the relay on Saturday, the torch was put on a drone and flew over the sky.

The live footage of the torch relay was transmitted and shown on screens in the square through South Korea's indigenous 5G technology.

But to the disappointment of the organisers, the well-choreographed event, also joined by high-profile politicians and K-pop signers, failed to bring people to the streets with many parts of the square remaining quite empty until the end of the relay.

The rather chill reception of the torch by the public epitomises the hardship that South Koreahas been facing in promoting its first Olympicsin 30 years, both domestically and internationally.

North Korea to send Olympic delegation

One relief is that security concerns among foreign athletes and visitors over North Korea's threats were allayed, as the two Koreas held a landmark meeting earlier this week and announced that North Korea will send not only athletes, but also a cheerleading squad, an art troupe, and spectators.

While a majority of the public welcomes North Korea's participation in principle (81.2 percent), 49.4 percent say they are opposed to the idea of the two Koreas entering the opening ceremony together under a flag depicting a unified Korean Peninsula, and 52.4 percent say South Korea should not help cash-strapped North Korea in paying for travel expenses, according to a recent poll jointly commissioned by local broadcaster SBS and the Office of the Speaker of the National Assembly.

Furthermore, 72.2 percent say they are against the idea of forming a unified sport team, and 70 percent say the annual joint South Korea-US military exercises, to which North Korea always reacts angrily, should be resumed.

The sentiment was quite apparent in the square, as we spoke to people.

"I think it is unreasonable for South Korea to pay [for North Korea's travel expenses]," Lee Joo-yeon told Al Jazeera "Countries around the world are coming. North Korea should not be an exception."

Kim Yeon-Joo said that "North Korea's participation might help the Olympics, but not necessarily South Korea", adding that she was concerned that South Korea might end up paying too much for the North Korean delegation.

South Korean's shifting attitudes of North


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