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(LEAD) S. Korea to repatriate 117 sets of remains of Chinese troops

Defense 16:02 September 26, 2020

(ATTN: CHANGES photo)

SEOUL, Sept. 26 (Yonhap) -- The remains of 117 Chinese soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War were casketed Saturday to be sent back to their homeland the following day, the defense ministry said.

In 2014, Seoul pledged to repatriate the remains of fallen Chinese soldiers in a symbolic gesture of friendship, and 599 sets have since been returned, including 10 last year.

This year's repatriation ceremony will take place at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on Sunday, according to the ministry.

Of the total, 103 sets were excavated from Arrowhead Ridge inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that bisects the two Koreas. Since last year, South Korea has been carrying out demining and excavation operations on the hill, which was one of the fiercest battlefields during the war.

Other remains were uncovered in other parts of South Korea and later identified as those of Chinese soldiers.

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

Along with the remains, 1,368 items believed to belong to Chinese troops will also be sent home, according to the ministry.

The repatriation was supposed to take place around March or April but has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

South Korean and Chinese officials hold a ceremony to put the remains of Chinese soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War into coffins for their repatriation at a provisional mortuary inside the Army's 17th Division in the western city of Incheon on Sept. 26, 2020, in this photo provided by the defense ministry. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)
Soldiers excavate the remains believed to be from a South Korean soldier killed in the 1950-53 Korean War at Arrowhead Ridge in the central section of the Demilitarized Zone in Cheorwon, Gangwo Province, in this photo released by the defense ministry on May 8, 2020. Since the military resumed the excavation project for this year on April 20, it has discovered a total of 23 pieces of bones and 3,426 articles at the ridge, a site of fierce battles in the three-year conflict. (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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