Korean battle flags tied to Kim Jong Un ancestor unearthed at US Naval Academy

Korean battle flags purportedly connected to Kim Ung-u, a direct ancestor of Kim Jong Un, were found this month at the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Naval Institute (USNI) said Friday.

Workers had been opening display cases for the first time since 1920 to remove British flags, according to the institute in Annapolis, Maryland. “Staff from the Naval Academy Museum found several dozen flags hidden behind the framework including the Korean standards that are still vivid.”

It's likely the flags were kept behind other items on display because there just wasn't enough space to show them all, officials said.

FILE PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during the Second Plenum of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang October 8, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS.    ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.   REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT/File Photo - RC15F23BC720

The flags have been tied to Kim Ung-u, an ancestor of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (pictured).  (KCNA/via REUTERS)

The USNI said the USS General Sherman, a merchant ship, went to Pyongyang in 1866 to try opening the country to trade - but Koreans, believing the ship’s purpose was to loot temples, murdered the crew and set the ship ablaze.

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“The incident is still celebrated in North Korea as a strike against American imperialism with the claim that Kim Ung-u, a direct ancestor of Kim Jong Un, planned and led the attack though there is no historical evidence of his involvement,” the institute explained.

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A North Korean postage stamp depicting the attack on the USS General Sherman.  (USNI News)

Kim Ung-u was the great-great-great-grandfather of Kim Jong Un, North Korean officials said.

Five warships from the U.S. moved toward Korea’s coast in 1871, seeking to ask about what happened to the other ship and set up diplomatic relations, USNI says. The Koreans fired before the “U.S. Marines captured several coastal forts and removed the flags.”