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2 South Koreans boycott Olympic torch relay to protest Tibet crackdown

April 23, 2008

The Associated Press
Tuesday, April 22, 2008

SEOUL, South Korea: Two South Koreans slated to run in the Olympic torch
relay in Seoul said Tuesday they would boycott the event to protest
China's crackdown in Tibet.

The announcement followed a comment Monday by South Korean President Lee
Myung-bak during an appearance on a Japanese talk show that he would
attend the Aug. 8 opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. Some world
leaders have said they might stay away.

The two South Korean torch runners ? a lawyer and an environmentalist ?
said they would not carry the Olympic flame during Sunday's run.

"The decision was unavoidable and it has been determined that the
Tibetan crisis counters the spirit of the Olympics," said Choi
Seung-kook, secretary-general of the major environmental group Green
Korea, who dropped out of the run.

Park Won-sun, a lawyer who heads the Seoul-based civic group and think
tank Hope Institute, also will not participate in the relay because of
the Chinese government's crackdown in Tibet, institute official Park
Eun-ju said.

The two men joined another civic leader who announced a boycott in late
March citing a similar reason, according to Solidarity for Tibet Peace,
a Seoul-based civic group.

The three were among some 80 people picked to carry the Olympic flame,
which is to arrive in Seoul after a run in Japan. The torch then is to
travel to North Korea for a relay Monday in its capital, Pyongyang.

Several thousand activists in South Korea plan to hold protests during
the Seoul torch relay, with some expected to try to disrupt it, said Lee
Sang-rim, an official at Christians for Social Responsibility, a civic
organization that will take part in the demonstrations.

The Korea Olympic Committee refused to provide details of the torch
relay, including its route and length, citing security reasons.

Demonstrations by pro-Tibet activists ? and other groups critical of
Beijing's human rights record ? plagued the Olympic torch relay as it
passed through London, Paris and San Francisco.
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