South Korean football legend Cha Bum-kun and reigning Olympic fencing champion Park Sang-young were unveiled as torch runners for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics on Wednesday.
Coca-Cola, a presenting partner for the torch relay, said Cha and Park will carry the Olympic flame in a group with youths from different walks of life. They have been named "Dream Mentors" for the young people, ranging from aspiring football stars to equestrians and dancers.
Joining Cha and Park are Cha Du-ri, Cha Bum-kun's son and current national men's team assistant coach; Lee Bong-ju, the 1996 Olympic marathon silver medalist; Sean, a recording artist and an honorary ambassador for PyeongChang 2018; Jeong Jin-woon, a member of boy band 2AM; and Cho Sei-hon, a photographer and a PyeongChang 2018 honorary ambassador.
Torch runners for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics pose with the torches at a ceremony held in Seoul on Sept. 27, 2017. From left: former marathon Olympic silver medalist Lee Bong-joo; singer Sean; former football star Cha Bum-kun; singer Jeong Jin-woon; photographer Cho Sei-hon; and fencer Park Sang-young. (Yonhap)
Coca-Cola said Cha Bum-kun, an iconic star who rose to prominence in the Bundesliga in the 1980s, will be running with nine young players from his football academy, FC Chaboom. Cha Du-ri, who represented South Korea at two FIFA World Cups, plans to run with former national football player Shin Young-rok, who suffered a heart attack during a match in 2011. Shin regained consciousness after 50 days in a coma. Sean, a rapper-turned-philanthropist, will run with students famous for their volunteering activities at school.
Cha Bum-kun, who coached South Korea at the 1998 World Cup, said he wants nothing but success for PyeongChang 2018.
"I'm thrilled to take part in the torch relay for the first Winter Olympics in South Korea," he said. "I also hope these young athletes, who are little stars now, will grow into big shining stars in the future. Hopefully, this torch relay will take them closer to their dreams."
Lee Bong-joo, whose national record of 2:07:20 has stood for 17 years, will run with a local student named Yang Jun-hwan, who's dreaming of becoming a physical education teacher. Lee also participated in the torch relay for the 1988 Seoul Olympics as a high school student.
"After carrying the torch that year, I was able to nurture my dream of becoming a marathon runner," Lee said. "I hope Jun-hwan will also take this opportunity to realize his dream."
The torch relay will begin Nov. 1, when the countdown to the Olympics reaches 100 days. The route will cover 2,018 kilometers -- the same number as the year in which the Olympics is taking place -- through nine provinces, eight major cities, and 151 counties and districts.
The relay will have 7,500 runners in total. (Yonhap)