Fireworks and festivities greet the Olympic flame
The Olympic Torch Relay has continued its epic journey through the Republic of Korea over the last fortnight, revealing yet more of the past, present and future of this fascinating country and ringing in the new year along the way. We bring you up to date with the latest events as the Olympic flame heads ever closer to PyeongChang.
The PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Torch Relay headed out of the western city of Cheongju on Wednesday December 20 and made for Jincheon, where it paid a visit to the Republic of Korea's National Athletes' Training Centre.
The day's roster of torchbearers included Kim Ji-yeon, the 2012 Olympic women's sabre fencing champion, and national cycling team head coach Cho Ho-sung, who climbed on to his bike and took the flame for a tour of the track.
Rising swimming star An Se-heyon also got in on the act, swimming sidestroke for 50 metres in the pool while holding the Torch aloft with her right hand.
After taking in Chungju on Thursday December 21, the Olympic Torch Relay paused for a day following a tragic fire in the city of Jecheon, which had been its next scheduled stop. The Torch Relay then resumed on 23 December in Danyang.
The Olympic flame ascended Yangbang Mountain for a spot of paragliding, a very popular sport in the area. The intrepid torchbearer was joined in the air by several other paragliders for a 15-minute flight that ended at Waterfront Park on the banks of South Han River. On landing they formed a large emblem symbolising PyeongChang.
The Yeongju Girls' Middle School Choir formed part of the celebrations that greeted the Olympic flame's arrival in Yeongju on Sunday 24 December. And there was a festive theme to the following day's events as the Torch Relay stopped off at the Santa Village in Bonghwa, from where the Olympic flame was carried to Buncheon Station for a trip on the V-train, a local tourist railway that runs through an area of outstanding natural beauty.
The festivities continued on Tuesday 26 December, when the Olympic Torch Relay received a truly unique welcome at Andong Hahoe Village, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site and home to the famous Seonyujul Fireworks. This time-honoured annual event, which sees bags of charcoal powder suspended from ropes across the Nakdong River and lit to create a spectacular scene, was staged especially to honour the Olympic flame's arrival.
After taking in Gumi on Wednesday 27 December and then breaking off for a day's rest, the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Torch Relay made its way to Daegu for the first of three days in the city, which lies 300 kilometres south of the capital, Seoul.
Following a Modeumbuk drum performance, a Hope-Dalseo fireworks display greeted the Olympic flame's arrival in Duryu Park. The Torch Relay then wrapped up its 2017 campaign in the city on Sunday 31 December, bidding farewell to the old year with a traditional bell ringing ceremony at the city's National Debt Redemption Movement Memorial Museum, which was followed by an impressive firework display.
The Olympic flame was greeted by the first sunrise of 2018 at Homigot Sunrise Plaza in the city of Pohang, on the country's eastern coast. The sight of the sun climbing up over the horizon and casting its rays on Sangsaeng's Hand – a two-part bronze sculpture – made for a spectacular start to the day. It ended at Yeongildae Beach, the largest stretch of sand on the entire east coast, where the traditional music group SA-E and the Kim Dong-Eun Dance Troupe extended a typically graceful Korean welcome to the Olympic flame.