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S. Korea, China postpone this year's repatriation of Chinese troop remains due to coronavirus

All News 07:00 May 16, 2020

SEOUL, May 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is discussing with China when to repatriate remains of Chinese troops killed during the 1950-53 Korean War as a planned repatriation event set for this spring was canceled due to the coronavirus, officials said Saturday.

In 2014, Seoul pledged to send remains of fallen Chinese soldiers to their homeland in a symbolic gesture of friendship, and it has since repatriated 599 sets of remains, including 10 last year.

"This year's event was also supposed to take place in around March or April, just as the two sides had done each year until 2019. But it was canceled due to the coronavirus," a defense ministry official said.

"Discussions are under way between the two sides to rearrange the event," he added.

It is not exactly known how many remains will be sent this year, but the number will likely be "larger than that of last year," as South Korea launched excavation work on Arrowhead Ridge inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in 2019, another official said.

The ridge located in the central part of the inter-Korean border in Cheorwon, Gangwon Province, was one of the fiercest battlefields during the war.

At that time, China fought alongside North Korea against the U.S.-backed Allied forces. Nearly 1 million Chinese soldiers are believed to either have died, have been wounded or remain missing, according to Seoul government data.

Chinese Ambassador to South Korea Qiu Guohong drapes a Chinese flag over a box containing the remains of a Chinese soldier killed in the 1950-53 Korean War at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on April 3, 2019. The repatriation was the sixth of its kind since South Korea and China agreed in 2014 to bring back the remains of Chinese soldiers who were killed while fighting alongside North Korean soldiers during the three-year conflict. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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