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More Korean War remains discovered this year: ministry

Yonhap Korea Stories 14:07 September 01, 2019

SEOUL, Sept. 1 (Yonhap) -- The number of remains of soldiers believed to be killed during the 1950-53 Korean War and retrieved so far this year more than doubled from a year earlier, the defense ministry said Sunday.

During the first phase of this year's excavation project carried out across the country until July, the military found bone pieces believed to come from 457 war dead, up from 222 remains discovered during the same period last year, according to the defense ministry.

The surge is attributable to the national drive to expedite the excavation, including the launch of the project on Arrowhead Ridge inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in April.

After a two-month break, the military is set to resume this year's excavation work on Monday across the country, which will continue through the end of November.

"We will continue to strive to bring as many remains of our comrades as possible to their families," ministry official Huh Wook-koo said, asking for public support and interest in collecting DNA samples to identify their origins.

Under the inter-Korean military accord aimed at reducing tensions and building trust, Seoul and Pyongyang had planned to carry out the joint excavation project on Arrowhead Ridge for about six months from April. Arrowhead Ridge was a battle site where South Korean, American, and French soldiers fought invading Chinese and North Korean forces at the height of the war.

But the North has remained unresponsive to the South's call to jointly launch the project as agreed, leaving the South Korean military to carry out the operation alone.

During the three-year conflict, 178,569 South Korean and U.N. soldiers were killed, and 42,769 others still remain missing. Of them, 124,000 bodies have yet to be retrieved, according to government data.

Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo (2nd from R) salutes before the remains of a South Korean soldier killed in the 1950-53 Korean War inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on June 11, 2019. The remains were found during a recent excavation project on Arrowhead Ridge, a former battle site in the northern border county of Cherwon. (pool photo) (Yonhap)

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