A torch for the 100th Korean National Sports Festival, the nation's biggest annual sports competition, was lit on the easternmost islets of Dokdo on Thursday.
The ceremony was held at dawn at the heliport of the islets, to which Japan also claims sovereign rights.
The fire will be combined at Seoul Square on Sept. 29 with flames from other symbolic places of the country. The sports contest will be held in Seoul from Oct. 4-10.
"We stand on Dokdo to remember the 100 years of the National Sports Festival and commemorate the firm resolve of the nation's self-determination," Kim Saeng-whan, vice chairman of the Seoul Metropolitan Council, read from the lighting declaration.
He noted this year also marks the centennial of the March 1 Independence Movement and the establishment of the nation's provisional government in Shanghai, China, in 1919 during Japan's colonial rule (1910-45).
The torch was lit jointly by Kim and Kim Byung-soo, chief of Ulleung County, and carried by the chief and a member of the Dokdo guard unit to the wharf. It was set to arrive at the nearby Ulleung Island later in the day.
South Korea conducted the largest-ever biannual military drills for the defense of Dokdo late last month amid a growing feud with Japan over history and trade. (Yonhap)