Beijing 2008 Olympic Games torchbearer, Choi, Seung-kook,
the secretary general of Green Korea United, whose notice of absence from the relay
Refusing the torch relay for Tibet's peace !
Firstly, the decision was not an impulsive action but was taken after a long discussion with the organization members. I wish my decision can support the peace solution for the recent Tibet bloodshed.
There were many discussions when one of the sponsors suggested to join the torch relay. It was clear that the reason why the secretary general of Green Korea United was recommended to be a torch runner was symbolical ; one of the main aims of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games is 'Environmental Olympics'. China has already been facing serious environmental problems such as air pollution. It was known that China and international environmental groups see the Olympics as a major opportunity to bring these issues to the fore. Therefore, it was accepted with a wish that it will be an environmental Olympics even though people somewhat doubt it.
Soon after, the Tibetan crisis was reported.. The issue with Tibet is not new, but gets more serious and has come up as the most important issue worldwide with the Olympics. The torch relay has been widely disrupted in many countries since it started so it was not easy sitting on my hands as an environmental activist. Over time, the agony got deeper with the doubt that it is the right thing to do as a representative of a social organization to run the relay.
People probably ask, "What's the matter between Green Korea United and the torch relay with the Tibetan situation?" However, Green Korea United does not only focus on environmental issues but also the 'Realization of Non-violence and Peace' as one of 4 principles. We oppose all kinds of violence , wars, and discrimination and support the peaceful co-existence of human and nature, man and woman, and among all living creatures. In addition, we strive to equalize the rights of minorities such as the old, young, poor, women and local residents. In this respect, surely, it is not exceptional to be concerned about the current Tibetan bloodshed.
Furthermore, it should be declared that the decision was not only taken because of the situation in Tibet. However, to be regretful, the decision did not come from issues on the Environmental Olympics, either. I respect the spirit of Olympics to pursue world peace through sports games as a world citizen but the decision was unavoidable and it has been determined that the Tibetan crisis counters the spirit of Olympics as IOC president Jacques Rogge said.
As I emphasized at the beginning, there were many questions to myself seeking for the wisest decision concerning what way is the best to realize the spirit of both, the Olympics and Green Korea United as a representative of the organization. It should be told that there were important criteria in making the final decision and that what decision Green Korea United members and citizens would follow, and the conclusion was reached through numbers of debates and discussions with many different groups of people.
Moreover, it is assured that the honor to be a torchbearer would not be neglected if the spirit for peace is known to world citizens through the decision. Nevertheless, the spirit of ancient Olympics should be respected which pursues peace and equity; cease-fires were agreed during the games.
In conclusion, my action arose purely and simply from the hope of peace in Tibet without any political purpose so it should not be abused by distorting the relationship between Korea and China. I appreciate everyone who helped and advised on making the decision and also regret to inform the sponsors and Olympics officials that the mission is not completed.
April 22, 2008