General’s Flag Returns Home From US
By Chung Ah-young
A historic Korean flag, which was taken by the U.S. Navy during a military clash with Korean forces, known as the ``Sinmiyangyo'' in 1871, has been returned home after 136 years, the Cultural Heritage Administration announced Monday.
The administration unveiled the 4.5 meters square flag of General Eo Jae-yeon to the public at the National Palace Museum of Korea. General Eo was the commander of Gwangseongin, a fortress on the island of Ganghwa.
The flag is regarded as a rare and crucial military source called ``sujagi'' _ the general's flag _ which was used in the field and at the main gate of the barracks at the end of the 19th century.
The administration said that the Annapolis Naval Academy's museum based in Maryland, the United States, has agreed to lease the flag to Korea for 10 years.
The administration originally hoped that the museum would permanently return the flag, but the academy decided to lease it on a long-tern basis as permanent return requires the revision of a relevant law and congressional and presidential approvals.
The lease was made by behind-the-scene negotiations between Korean and U.S. chiefs of naval operations and other top-level officers.
The flag will be on display at the National Palace Museum of Korea and Incheon City Museum and the Ganghwa Island Museum starting from next March.
The flag's long-term lease is expected to open the possibility of the return or long-term lease of other cultural assets taken by other countries, such as the ``Oegyujanggak,'' stolen royal documents of the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910) that were kept on Ganghwa Island off South Korea's west coast, the administration said.