The Olympic flame was handed to organizers of the 2018 Pyeongchang Games on Tuesday, and it will now head off on a 100-day journey across South Korea before the opening ceremony on February 9.
Dressed as a high priestess, actress Katerina Lehou led the 90-minute ceremony in Athens at the Panathenian Stadium, a horseshoe-shaped marble venue where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896.
The flame, placed in a lantern, was handed over to Greek Olympic Committee president Spyros Capralos, who passed it to Lee.
The South Korean leg of the relay will involve 7,500 torch-bearers and visit 17 cities and provinces across the country.
Preparations for the February 9-25 games are being held amid escalating tension on the Korean peninsula following nuclear and missile tests by North Korea. Lee has promised the games will be safe, but he made no mention of the crisis in his remarks in Athens.