Who Is Lighting The Olympic Cauldron? A Beloved South Korean Figure Skater Did The Honors

Ad failed to load

The Olympic flame, one of the most iconic symbols of the Oympic games, was carried more than 1,200 miles by 7,500 torchbearers on a 100-day journey to PyeongChang. Given just how incredible it is for a single flame to travel that far, the person who is lighting the Olympic cauldron is given a huge responsibility — and a huge honor. The person selected for this job is always a national icon worthy of one of the highest honors of the Olympics, and this year was no exception.

Yuna Kim lit the Olympic cauldron at the 2018 opening ceremony. She is a South Korean figure skater lovingly referred to as "Queen Yuna." At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, she became the first South Korean athlete to ever win a medal in figure skating (it just so happened to be gold, too). In 2014, she competed in Sochi, Russia, earning a silver medal. Yuna will not compete in PyeongChang — she retired after Sochi, but was quickly named an official Olympic ambassador for the 2018 Winter Games.

First skating around a rink built at the base of the Olympic cauldron, Yuna took the torch from two members of the Korean unified women's hockey team (who had to run up an intense and steep slope to get to the top).

Ad failed to load
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

According to Nick Zaccardi, an NBC Olympic Talk editor, Yuna was the first woman to light an Olympic cauldron by herself since 2006, when Italian cross-country skiing medalist Stefania Belmondo did the honors at the Winter Games in Turin.

There have been some very notable figures who have completed this task in the past. Boxing legend and activist Muhammad Ali lit the torch at the Atlanta games in 1996. And in 1964, Yoshinori Sakai, a Japanese runner born on the same day as the atomic bombing of Hiroshima lit the cauldron.

Ad failed to load

But the prized position isn't always designated to gold medalists or athletes who have become household names in their host countries. Sometimes, they are honored for their character.

The last person to light the cauldron, Brazilian runner Vanderlei de Lima at the 2016 Rio Olympics, was grabbed by a fan during a marathon at the 2004 Athens games. Still, he continued the race, and while he didn't win the gold, he ultimately came home with both a bronze medal and the Olympic Pierre de Coubertin medal for "exceptional demonstration of fair play and Olympic values."

Pool/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
Ad failed to load

For many, the selection of "Queen Yuna" to light the cauldron was a perfect way to kick off the Olympics. Her historic performances at the Winter Games and her celebrity status in South Korea mean she perfectly fits in with those who have been honored with the job in the past.

"Yuna Kim’s fantastic performance returns to last finale torch relay scene at #PyeongChang2018. It makes me so happy to her again at Winter Olympics," South Korean reporter Jaehwan Cho wrote on Twitter.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Here's Your Horoscope For Memorial Day Weekend

We’re constantly fascinated by what our zodiac sign says about our lives, whether it's which signs are most compatible or how each sign handles conflict in relationships. That's why Bustle has enlisted Mecca Woods, a New York City-based astrologer of…
By Mecca Woods

These Are The Absolute Best Memorial Day Sales This Year

Get your credit cards ready, because this year's fashion and beauty Memorial Day sales might just be the best ones yet. There's not only major savings for the holiday, but some of the savings start days before. You know, so you can spend the entire w…
By Kali Borovic

Everything Leaving & Coming To Netflix In June To Help Get Your Summer Started

Summer is right around the corner, and so is another batch of streaming options to get excited about. On Wednesday, everything leaving and coming to Netflix in June 2018 was announced by the streaming platform. And don't worry, there's something for …
By Jamie Primeau

These Are The Beauty Products That Came Out In May That You DEFINITELY Need On Your Radar

For beauty lovers, months aren't just months: They're 28 to 31 day periods, wherein any and all product and brand launches can happen — and when they do, it feels like your birthday, no matter what time of the year you were actually born. The May 201…
By Amanda Richards

The 5 Rom-Coms You Need To Read This Summer, According To Someone Who Writes Them

'Tis the season for rom-coms. The weather is warm, the sun is shining, and everyone is rocking the flirtiest items in their wardrobe. I don't know about you, but summer always takes me back to my teenage years — and that automatically makes me want t…
By Cristina Arreola

11 Tiny Sunglasses That Will Make You Look Even Cooler Than Kylie Jenner

You know what they say — the tinier the sunglasses, the more stylish the outfit. OK, that's not really a saying, but it seems to be the case these days. Basically every celebrity, model, and It person has been spotted sporting tiny sunglasses as part…
By Sara Tan

I've Paid $18,000 To A $24,000 Student Loan, & I Still Owe $24,000

It all became real the summer before my senior year of college. It was 2010, and my home phone still had a cord, which I wrapped around my fingers as I waited not-so-patiently for the apathetic representative on the other end to tell me the bad news …
By Kaitlyn Cawley

12 Personality Quizzes That Will Help You Determine Your Exact Strengths

Learning more about yourself can be tough. It's so easy to observe others to learn what makes them tick, what areas they really excel in, and the things they could be better at. Doing that to yourself, however, is a whole different story. That's exac…
By Jessica Booth

5 Brand New Short Story Collections You Can Finish In One Sitting This Weekend

Since 2013, May has been known by book-lovers by another name: Short Story Month. If you're ready to kick off this year's celebration the right way, make sure to pick up a short story collection to read over the weekend. Modern life moves more than …
By Sadie Trombetta

I Got Styled By 'Queer Eye's Tan France & Realized I Still Have A Lot Of Fashion "Rules" To Unlearn

When I walked into a New York City Express store on May 2 to get styled by Queer Eye's Tan France, I was ready for anything. And I mean truly anything. I am such a massive fan of the show and Tan that if he had instructed me to wrap myself in tin foi…
By Olivia Muenter

It Isn’t Bad To Have A “Princess Fantasy” — Mine Made Me The Woman I Am Today

What do you want to be when you grow up? If you were anything like me as a kid, at some point, the answer to that question was "a princess." Thanks to good old-fashioned gender stereotypes, most little girls born in the '90s (and even now) grew up in…
By Nicole Pomarico

Here’s How To Get A FREE 30-Minute Facial At Sephora That Sucks Your Pores Clean

Sephora has long been a mecca for both serious and amateur beauty lovers alike, where they not only have makeup artists that help answer questions about products, but free samples to let you play with new collections. But now they have upped the ante…
By Marlen Komar

Kris Jenner Is FINALLY Launching A Makeup Line With Kylie

Maybe you don't have a favorite sister of the Kar-Jenner clan, and that's perfectly fine. The one thing you can't deny, though, is that when it comes power, no one in that family has more than the world famous momager. Now, Kris Jenner x Kylie Cosmet…
By Shea Simmons

This Kendall Jenner “Diva” Moment Is Really Being Taken Out Of Context

The fashion always takes center stage at the Met Gala, but there's usually a little drama, too. And this time, a member of the Kardashian-Jenner family is involved. People are buzzing about how Kendall Jenner shoved someone at the Met Gala, but after…
By Nicole Pomarico

Feel Like You've Seen Everything On Netflix? Add These Movies To Your Watch List

The weekend may feel too far away, but if you're lacking formal plans, a Netflix marathon session is always a good idea. If you're an avid viewer, however, you probably feel like you've seen everything the streaming platform has to offer already. In …
By Ashley Rey

Hillary Clinton Says She's Ready To Fight Like A Republican — EXCLUSIVE

Hillary Clinton Is Not Going Away Quietly. Can Hillary Clinton Please Go Quietly Into The Night? Unlike Losers Before Her, Clinton Is Not Going Gently Into the Night. These headlines, which appeared in various news outlets over the course of the last…
By Catherine Thompson and Jenny Hollander

Here's The Very Best Time To Book Your Summer Vacation If You're Trying To Save Money

Summer is a great time to travel, for obvious reasons. The weather is better. Many offices are more lax about time off. If you have kids, they’re out of school. But there’s one very important element that makes summer not a great time to travel: Cost…
By Emma McGowan