The sun shone as the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic flame arrived in the Land of the Morning Calm.
It landed at Incheon, in the North West of the country, on an aircraft.
Emblazoned on its fuselage, set against a gold background, were the words “Let Everyone Shine”, the philosophy of the entire Torch Relay.
Vancouver 2010 skating gold medalist Kim Yuna had accompanied the flame on its flight from Greece.
Kim carried it from the aircraft in a special safety lamp along with South Korea’s Culture Minister Do Jong-hwan.
Then she lit the first cauldron with Prime Minister Lee Nak Yeong.
“Our dream has become a reality,” said Pyeonchang 2018 President Lee Hee-beom.
“Today is a very important and proud symbol of our work and passion in bringing one of most exciting winter sporting events ever to our country.”
The organizers followed the example of 1988 when the first Torchbearers had been children of school age.
Here, the first of 7,500 runners was 13 year-old You Young, a figure skater.
She received the torch from the Prime Minister before running the first 200 meters on Incheon Bridge.
She won her first national title at 11 years of age and hopes one day to follow in the footsteps of Kim.
“It is my dream to represent my country at an Olympic Winter Games and I am working hard to make that dream a reality very soon,” she said.
“The Games will really inspire me and will be an experience I will never forget.”
Television star and comedian Yoo Jae-suk then continued the relay which will cover exactly 2018 kilometers before it reaches the Olympic city of Pyeongchang.
Olympic champion speed skater Lee Sang-hwa and International Olympic Committee Athletes Commission member Ryu Seung-min were also among 101 Torchbearers on the first day.
In the evening, 2018 supporters of the flame linked hands at the Songdo Moonlight festival Park to celebrate its arrival.
The linking of hands has a real resonance for Koreans.
In 1988, the song Hand in Hand had been emblematic of Olympic harmony at the Games in Seoul.
R&B star Insooni sang Let Everyone Shine, the song which will provide a soundtrack for the 2018 Relay.
Just as 30 years ago, musical and artistic performances will form an important backdrop to the Relay celebrations.
Taeyang, another honorary ambassador, has recorded a special song Louder to celebrate the Games.
It seems a long time since Park Ji-sung received the flame on a road in Ancient Olympia but it was in fact only a week ago.
He was the first of two Koreans to carry the flame on Greek soil.
Yesterday, triple Olympic short track gold medallist Kim Ki-hoon did so in Athens.
Now the focus shifts to their compatriots.
The chosen Torchbearers are called “Achievers and Dreamers”.
The flame now heads to Jeju Island for day two of the Relay.
This was the place where the 1988 Seoul Torch Relay had first landed, amid rain clouds which cleared just as the flame arrived.
Organizers will be hoping the same good fortune attends the entire relay.
Within the first week it will also travel on a steam train, a marine cable car in Yeosu and, on the fourth day in Daeju and Jejon, it will be carried by a robot.
By Philip Barker
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.