Pop sensation Psy brought the housedown 'Gangnam Style' as Incheon laid out the red carpet for over 13,000 competitors from 45 countries with an exhilarating opening ceremony to launch the 17th Asian Games at the main stadium at Incheon on Friday.
Psy's performance was the high point of the spectacular show as the world's second-biggest multi-sports spectacle after the Olympic Games was kickstarted with customary fanfare, including fireworks and breathtaking visual effects.
South Korean singer Psy performs during the opening ceremony of the 17th Asian Games in Incheon. (Reuters/Tim Wimborne)
Korean President Park Geun-hye declared the Games open amid thunderous cheers from a capacity crowd as dazzling fireworks lit up the evening sky.
The competing teams marched into the stadium in the final act of the evening. The Indian athletes trooped in after Iran with hockey skipper Sardar Singh leading out the smartly-dressed contingent.
Flag bearer of India Sardar Singh leads the team into the Opening Ceremony of the 17th Asian Games in Incheon. (Reuters Photo)
The Indians were attired in black blazers with the women athletes dressed in blue sarees. The smiling athletes walked in waving the tri-colour. India have sent a nearly 700-strong contingent for the event and will take part in 28 disciplines.
The flame was lit up by celebrated Korean actress Lee Young-ae, setting the stage for two weeks of action in the city -- the second Korean venue for the Games in the last 12 years.
As is the custom, the event was divided into the informal and formal parts.
It began with a welcoming performance, lasting close to 80 minutes, to greet the spectators at the 60,000-capacity stadium that was filled to the brim.
Fireworks explode over Incheon Asiad Main Stadium during the opening ceremony for the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. (AP Photo/Yonhap, Sung Yeon-je)
It included a cultural heritage performance of Pungmul Play, performance by a cheering squad, a congratulatory video of celebrities, and K-Pop boy group EXO's performance to get the spectators revved up for the main event.
The session was divided into three parts -- "Incheon, the magnet of dreams," "Incheon, where all of us become friends," and "Tomorrow, dreamed by all of us." Initially a video introducing the 17th Asian Games and a promotion video introducing the major facilities was displayed on the big screen.
Dancers perform a routine during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Asian Games at the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium in Incheon. (AFP Photo)
This was followed by a display of Korea's traditional drums and cymbal-type instruments before emcees Kim Sung-ju and Youn Soo-young came on stage.
Then, a cheering team formed by the city's children, including the squads Impact, Rainbow Air and K Sungsuk Jumping Angels took centrestage, performing to a remix of songs from past sports events held in Korea, including the theme song of the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and the 2002 FIFA World Cup.