The meeting was held on the eve of the anniversary of the Battle of Chemulpo Bay (now Incheon), in which the legendary Russian cruiser Varyag took part on February 9, 1904.
Mayor of Incheon Song Yong Gil and Professor Hong Jong took active part in organising the transfer of Varyag’s naval ensign, a military relic, to the Russian Federation.
In one of the first battles of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, the Varyag cruiser faced an unequal fight with a Japanese squadron of 14 warships in the Korean port of Jemulpo (now Incheon). The Varyag was badly damaged, and its commander Vsevolod Rudnev gave order to sink the cruiser to prevent it from being captured by the enemy. In 1905, the Japanese lifted the cruiser from the seabed. Later the Varyag relics were displayed in a museum in Korea.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good evening, friends,
I am delighted to welcome Mayor of Incheon Song Young-Gil and Honorary Consul General of Russia to Incheon Chong Hon.
Congratulations on being presented Russian state awards. The orders you will receive today signify our recognition of your contribution to the development of friendly relations between our countries.
Your support and efforts, and the support of the people of Incheon have helped to preserve the memory of these heroic events in Russia’s history. You cherish the memory of the battle, Varyag’s feat, of the battle off the Korean shore in 1904, when Russian sailors faced an unequal fight against the enemy’s vastly superior forces. Their heroism was admired not only in Russia but around the world. Let me remind you that a gunboat called the Koreyets fought in this unequal battle alongside the Varyag.
Incheon’s authorities have handed an important national relic over to Russia, the jack, the bow flag of the legendary Varyag cruiser. In 2009, the ensign was on display in Moscow, St Petersburg and at the bases of all four fleets of the Russian Navy. It travelled to the Tula Region, where the ship’s commander Vsevolod Rudnev is buried at the local cemetery. Since November 2010, the jack has been on display at the Central Naval Museum in St Petersburg, and today Varyag’s ensign has been specially delivered to Moscow, to the Kremlin for this ceremony.
It is good that both Russia and Korea have great respect for our shared historical and cultural heritage. This further strengthens the friendship and partnership between our two countries.
Dear friends, let me once again congratulate you on receiving the state awards of the Russian Federation and wish you every success in your work, and peace, happiness and prosperity to all the inhabitants of Incheon and citizens of the Republic of Korea.
Thank you very much.