The Olympic flame for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang was lit on Friday, marking the climax of the opening ceremony. Former figure skating star Kim Yu-na was chosen as the final torchbearer and lit the cauldron to mark the crowning moment of the quadrennial sporting event.
It is the second time in 30 years that Korea has hosted an Olympics, after the Seoul Summer Olympics in 1988. The alpine city of Pyeongchang in Gangwon Province waited for this moment for about 20 years, realizing its ambition to host the Olympics on the third attempt.
The cauldron will remain alight for 17 days until Feb. 25, serving as a beacon of hope for world peace. A total of 2,925 athletes from 92 countries will compete for a record 102 gold medals.
The opening ceremony started at 8 p.m. with 35,000 spectators in attendance. In accordance with tradition, athletes from Greece, the birthplace of the Olympics, were the first to march out, with the rest of the countries following in alphabetical order. The South and North Korean athletes were the last to emerge, marching together under the "unification" flag.
The U.S. fielded the most athletes, with 241, while 18 nations sent only one athlete to compete.
The Olympic torch was carried by 7,500 people over a distance of 2,018 km through 17 cities and provinces across the country after arriving at Incheon International Airport on Nov. 1. The number 7,500 symbolizes the population of the two Koreas, with 2,018 being the Olympic year.
Kim, who won a gold medal at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010, lit the cauldron amid huge applause and shouts of joy. The 25-m-tall cauldron was inspired by a traditional Korean moon jar.
Kim played an active role in Pyeongchang's bid to host the Olympics. She has also worked hard to promote the event.
Athletes and sports officials of the two Koreas enter the stadium during the opening ceremony of the Winer Olympics in Pyeongchang on Friday.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and first lady Kim Jong-sook applaud during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang on Friday. Seated behind U.S. Vice President Mike Pence are North Korea's titular head of state, Kim Yong-nam, and Kim Yo-jong, a sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Former figure skater Kim Yu-na holds up a torch before lighting the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang on Friday.