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South Korea’s Defense Minister vows to return as many remains of...

South Korea’s Defense Minister vows to return as many remains of UN soldiers to the bosom of families


Minister of National Defense Jeong Kyeong-doo visited DMZ to check on remains excavation work at Arrowhead Ridge
 
Accompanied by Commander of U.S. Forces Korea Robert Abrams, Minister Jeong
stressed “faithful implementation of the Sept. 19 inter-Korean military agreement”
at a ritual prayer ceremony for the presumed remains of a UN soldier that were recently found 
  


Minister of National Defense Jeong Kyeong-doo emphasized the need for the faithful implementation of the Sept. 19 inter-Korean military agreement while praising soldiers for the outcome of the basic excavation work in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), an inter-Korean joint excavation project being held on a trial basis.


On June 11th, Minister Jeong visited one of the sites of the ongoing basic remains excavation work, Arrowhead Ridge in the DMZ in Cheorwon, Gangwon Province, to check on the progress and encourage soldiers on duty. He was accompanied by U.S. Forces Commander Korea Robert Abrams and officials from the U.S. and French embassies.

“Arrowhead Ridge was the site of fierce battles where many young men, including men from South Korea, the U.S. and France, sacrificed themselves to protect freedom in the Republic of Korea during the Korean War,” Minister Jeong said while presiding over a ritual prayer ceremony over the presumed remains of a UN soldier that were discovered on June 5th. 

“The remains appear to be of a UN soldier based on the cranial, nasal and cheek bones structure and artifacts found with the remains, including combat shoes, combat uniform with buttons, and combat equipment,” he added.

“The remains recovered on the 5th appear to be of either an American or French soldier. It is the first time that we have found remains of a UN soldier during the excavation work. The remains were sent to the Agency for KIA Recovery & Identification under the Ministry of National Defense (MND). The Agency is carrying out a detailed examination and DNA analysis, and is planning to identify who the remains belong to by working in cooperation with the U.S. and France,” an MND spokesperson reported.

“Arrowhead Ridge was completely inaccessible for 66 years,” Minister Jeong said, stressing that the implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration and the Sept. 19 inter-Korean military agreement signed last year have practically eased military tensions, allowing us to excavate war remains here in the DMZ. “We will continue to push for excavation work while maintaining a firm military readiness posture to deliver its significant findings to all South Korean people,” he added.

Regarding the presumed remains of a UN soldier, Minister Jeong said: “I will do my best to bring the remains of soldiers from other countries who participated in Korean War to the bosom of their families.” 

According to the military, some three-hundred soldiers who fought on the South Korean side are believed to be buried in the Arrowhead Ridge area. After looking around the area, Minister Jeong asked officials at the scene to do their work safely, and stressed that the demining operations be carried out thoroughly to ensure safe and complete excavation work. He also called on them to work on preventive operations to prevent damage caused by heavy rain and the like in summer. The Minister reminded Commander Abrams of his commitment to strive to recover as many more remains of soldiers, including from South Korea and the U.S., as possible. “This visit meant a lot to me, as I could see the remains being excavated on the site. I will come back later to praise these soldiers for their hard work,” Commander Abrams replied. 


By Hyun-woo, Seo <lgiant61@dema.mi.kr>

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