Meet the NYU Senior that helped carry the Olympic Torch to PyoengChang

‘I have the Olympic torch at home’

The world watched as the South Korean 2010 Olympic Figure Skating champion Yuna Kim lit the Olympic cauldron at the Opening Ceremony for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyoengChang. But she did not do it alone. There were actually 7,500 other people responsible for getting the Olympic Torch to PyoengChang for that very moment. NYU senior Tae Young Woo was one of the people chosen to be a torch bearer for these Olympics. He made history by joining a group of select few in the world to have ever had such an opportunity.

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The Olympic Torch Relay has origins rooted in Ancient Greece, the birthplace of the Olympic Games. Tae Young explained, “Every Olympics, whether it is winter or summer, there is a Torch Relay that starts from Olympia, Greece…the fire is lighted by sunlight using old Greek technology…and then the torch is brought to the host country.”

For 101 days, torch bearers ran across the entire country of South Korea, with this group of 7,500 representing the 75 million people that live in both North and South Korea. Tae Young called this sentiment a "meeting of unity" for Korea as a nation. Most of these torch bearers were nominated, but some applied and were selected that way. Tae Young was nominated by one of the Olympic sponsor companies to be a part of the relay. He carried the torch for 200 meters from Seoul, South Korea to the Han River (the river that bisects the city of PyoengChang in two).

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For Tae Young, this was a “once in a lifetime experience." He was admittedly nervous about all of the cameras around, which served as a reminder to him that the relay was being "broadcast around the world." He told The Tab NYU, “As a torchbearer, I have a pride of being a part of the Olympics, and it is very special to Korea as a whole…especially at this stage where there is a lot of tension in the peninsula and around the world, especially with North Korea. It seems like the tension is less."

Tae Young hopes that as a result of the success of the PyoengChang 2018 Olympic Games "…the conversation about Korea as a nation and culture will shift from this dangerous nuclear tone, to a more welcoming tone." He elaborated that "the government and the people of Korea wanted this to be a peaceful Olympics and to have the opportunity to show the world what Korea is like."

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So what is next for the East Asian Studies senior? Well, he owns his own event production company in Korea and says he’ll be back in Korea soon to continue running his company. But of course, there's the small task of graduating to get through. And to the question of whether anything else can top his Olympic moment, Tae Young answered, "Who knows what the future will hold?”

I'd say his future is looking pretty lit.

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