An employee of Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) said one of its Olympics reporters arrived in Beijing on Monday and walked from the International Broadcast Centre to the Birds Nest, as the Olympic stadium is nicknamed.
Sun Weide, a spokesman for the Beijing games organising committee, said he had only learnt of the footage on Wednesday.
"We went, and nobody stopped us. So we just shot"
The Wall Street Journal
quoted him as saying that SBS had obtained the footage "through irregular means" and said the broadcaster had not acted "in conformance with professional ethics".
With just over a week until the Olympics begin, Al Jazeera's Beijing correspondent Melissa Chan said the breach was embarrassing for Chinese authorities who have deployed a huge security operation in an effort to ensure the games pass off without a hitch.
A reporter at SBS in Seoul denied the broadcaster had acted inappropriately to obtain the footage.
"We went, and nobody stopped us. So we just shot," the unnamed reporter told Reuters.
The footage can be seen online.
|The ceremony features huge projections on the stadium walls
Unsurprisingly the ceremony appears to be built around traditional Chinese themes, but with a distinctly high-tech edge and stunning visual effects, beginning with a countdown and thunderous drums.
A giant scroll painting unfurls, revealing a lone rhythmic gymnast.
Other highlights include the projection of whales on giant screens that appear to run around the interior lip of the stadium roof and dozens of airborne acrobats dressed as fairies.
SBS did not, however, show footage of how the Olympic flame will be lit – the grand finale to every opening ceremony.
The broadcaster said it believed that a golden phoenix was expected to swoop down into the stadium for the climactic event.
For several days part of the Olympic stadium has been topped by an inflatable structure, apparently designed to conceal a key element of the opening ceremony.
Posts on Chinese blog sites accused the South Korean broadcaster of in effect breaking state secrecy laws by showing the footage.
|China has deployed heavy security around games venues [GALLO/GETTY]
"How could such a network be so unprofessional? They are no better than paparazzi!" fumed one comment posted on popular Chinese web portal Tianya.
Another user called for a boycott of Korean goods in protest.
But other bloggers called for calm and said the TV station should not be blamed for a lapse in security that allowed them to film.
"We should look for the reason within the measures and system to guarantee the opening ceremony's secrecy. Blaming others doesn't solve anything," a commentary posted on web portal Sina.com said.
The opening ceremony is scheduled to begin at 8:08pm Beijing time on August 8 (08/08/08). The number eight is considered lucky in Chinese culture.
The ceremony is expected to last for three-and-a-half hours.