South Korea’s Olympic committee said it removed the flags from its Olympic village in Tokyo after they generated bad memories about a past military conflict between Japan and Korea.
The South Korean delegation said on Saturday it was honoring and removing the flags, referencing a 16th-century battle between the two nations. The flags sparked protests by far-right Japanese groups, according to the AP.
The flags were displayed from the balconies of the South Korean athletes ‘rooms in the Athletes’ Village. They collectively spelled out the message, “I still have the support of 50 million Koreans.”
The reference was a paraphrase of the words of a Korean admiral during the 1592-1598 Japanese invasion of Korea. The admiral told a Korean official, “I still have 12 battleships left,” then destroyed a larger fleet of Japanese ships.
In a related matter, the International Olympic Games committee also banned the Japanese “Rising Sun” flag from stadiums and other Olympic venues. That flag is resented by many in Asia and is seen as a reminder of Japan’s militaristic past.
The Olympics officially begin on July 23.