The Olympic Torch relay hit the streets of Seoul only to create demonstrations from groups including ethnic Chinese who expressed their pride to North Korean defectors who regard China as a supporter of the oppressive North Korean regime. Han Chang-kwon, head of a union of North Korean defectors, stated bluntly, “I believe China isn’t qualified to hold the Olympics. They’re using the Olympics to send North Koreans back to their country, which is why I came to rally to publicize their in humane actions.”
At one point an angry North Korean attempted to set himself on fire, but was prevented by the police. More than 8,300 police officers were moblized to protect the 22 kilometer Olympic march. Even while Koreans protested against, thousands of Chinese expressed their admiration for China and wanted the world to know they have pride in the Chinese nation.
The Olympics was to be an opportunity for China to enter the world stage as a leading nation in the 21st century. Instead, its actions in Tibet, its crackdown on Chinese dissidents, and its policy of returning fleeing North Koreans back to the oppressive world of North Korea increasingly turn supporters of China into disappointed friends.