The man who tried to immolate himself, 45-year-old Son Jong Hoon, had led an unsuccessful public campaign to save his brother from execution in the North, where he was accused of spying after the two met secretly in China. About an hour into the relay, Son poured gasoline on himself and tried to light himself on fire, but police stopped him.
At the start of the relay, a protester rushed toward the Olympic flame and tried to unfurl a banner calling for China to respect the rights of North Korean refugees. Dozens of police surrounding the torch quickly whisked him away. As it approached the city center, another North Korean defector also tried to impede the run and was arrested. . . .
Scuffles broke out near the park between a group of 500 Chinese supporters and about 50 demonstrators. The Chinese side threw stones and water bottles at the others as some 2,500 police tried to keep the two groups apart.
A rock hit a journalist in the head, but there were apparently no other injuries.
Sadly, this is not the first instance in which acts of violence have been perpetrated by Chinese supporters against Tibetan protesters. I have posted concerning reports of similar incidents in Sydney and Kuala Lumpur.
I live-blogged torch relays in Bangkok and Jakarta. CNN noted in story about the Seoul relay: "In other recent Asian legs of the relay, a large number of Chinese students have attended. In Bangkok, Thailand, students told CNN the Chinese Embassy there provided their transportation and gave them shirts to wear." This does not surprise me. Why did the Chinese Embassies not give their demonstrators instructions about how to behave. . . or did they?
Update: Beth is live-blogging the relay from Seoul. She has posted some photos and writes:
...what a day it's been! I was (literally) in the middle of a clash today between hundreds and hundreds of Chinese people and a small group of anti-China protestors as the Olympic Torch made its way through Seoul.
Beth says she took an "amazing video" which she presently trying to edit.
Update #2: Julia protested (for Tibet) and live-blogging the Seoul relay. She has lots of photos and tells an interesting story; about what it was like for her and her friends to cope with the Chinese students. I thought this passage was hilarious:
To lighten the mood a little Rodney, myself and some others started to sing the Backstreet Boys song, "I Want It That Way". The funniest thing ever happened, once we started to sing the song the Chinese thought we were singing some chant in favor of Tibet, so they started their chants again. It was hysterical. Rodney and I kept singing after everyone else stopped including the Chinese because we knew all the words, so we had to finish the song and it was hysterical to see the Chinese students faces while we were singing.I couldn't stop laughing when I read that.
Update #3: More Seoul relay live-bloggers:
- Sakura, a Japanese blogger I presume, has great photos of the torch relay.
- A Swiss-German blogger, Swiss Kimchi, was live-blogging the event. Some photos, strives to maintain "Swiss neutrality" in terms of comments.