The Olympic flame begins a long cross-country journey through South Korea Wednesday that marks the official countdown to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
A plane carrying the iconic Olympic flame landed in Incheon International Airport earlier in the day after a flight from Athens, Greece, the birthplace of the Olympic Games. Moments after its arrival, Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yu-na and South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon used the flame to light a ceremonial cauldron and a specially designed torch.
Later Wednesday, the torch will begin a 2,018-kilometer, 100-day relay to Pyeongchang in time for the opening ceremony on February 9, 2018. Teenage figure skating star You Young will be the first of 7,500 torchbearers that will carry the Olympic flame through nine provinces, eight major cities and over 150 counties and districts before arriving at its final destination.
The Olympic flame last burned over South Korea during the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul.
Final preparations for the 16-day Pyeongchang Olympics are taking place under the cloud of rising tensions with rival North Korea over its nuclear weapons program and ballistic missile tests, with only 340,000 tickets sold so far.