Gwanghwamun Square torch relay shows 600 years of history

<Image: The torch for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games is delivered by Lee Hong Bae (left), the chair of Dae Han Imperial House, who played the role of King Sejong the Great during the ceremony, to Kang Kwang-bae, the first Korean to compete in the luge, skeleton or bobsleigh.>

The Olympic torch for the upcoming Winter Games finished its first day in Seoul with a special torch ceremony that showed 600 years of history in just an hour, at Gwanghwamun Square on Jan. 13. 

The torch began its journey at the Digital Magic Space in Sangam-dong, Seoul, earlier that day and traveled past the Dongdaemun History & Culture Park, the War Memorial of Korea and the Seoullo 7017 raised parkway, and finally was passed to a torch bearer dressed as King Sejong the Great (세종대왕, 世宗大王) (r. 1418-1450) in front of Gwanghwamun Gate at Gyeongbokgung Palace. 

Lee Hong Bae, the chair of Dae Han Imperial House, played the role of King Sejong, the fourth Joseon monarch, who came to the throne exactly 600 years ago in 1418. He sat on a royal carriage and carried the torch to the next torch bearer. He was preceded by 300 escorts, including a chwitadae traditional band (취타대). He waved to the crowds that were trying to capture the moment on their phones. 

“A royal march was held when a Joseon king would head to an official event outside of the palace. That was when the monarch could communicate directly with the people,” said Lee. “It's very meaningful to replicate such a march, to gather people’s hearts as they wish for a successful PyeongChang 2018 Olympics.” 

<Image: Drone racing world champion Kim Minchan, the final torch bearer of the day, gazes at the drone that brings the Olympic flame to him, at Gwanghwamun Square on Jan. 13.>

For the first time in Seoul, a flying drone at night was permitted, and it took part in the Olympic torch relay. 

The Olympic torch was installed on an 11-kg 5G drone that flew 150 m from the 40th anniversary monument of Gojong’s enthronement to the next torch bearer, drone racing world champion Kim Minchan. 

Drone footage of the moment, shot from the air, was distributed by an 11-m long, 41-kg airship that had a 5G repeater onboard. The people gathered at Gwanghwamun Square were able to see the torch relay through the live video on their smartphones, as free WiFi was also provided by the airship. 

The four-day torch relay in Seoul will hit the Seoul Sports Complex in Jamsil, the Seoul Arts Center and the National Museum of Korea on Jan. 15, and the Seoul National Cemetery and Yeouido Hangang Park on Jan. 16. The torch will then be handed over to torch bearers in Gyeonggi-do Province on Jan. 18. 

Image: Olympic Broadcasting Service (OBS) employees celebrate a 'torch kiss' with a high-five at the Seoullo 7017 raised walkway, with Seoul Station in the background, on Jan. 13.