North Korea returns remains of U.S. soldiers

More than 5,000 American service men went missing in action during the Korean war. North Korea turn overed the remains on Friday of some those troops to the United States.


A US Air Force plane carrying what are believed to be the remains of US troops killed during the Korean War some 65 years ago arrived Friday morning at Osan Air Base in South Korea.

Troops from various nations serving in South Korea under the United Nations Command (UNC) presented an honor guard before the plane, as white-gloved troops in different uniforms descended the ramp of the US Air Force C-17, carefully holding cases wrapped in the UN flag.

The cases were transferred to silver minivans waiting on the runway.

North Korean officials handed over the probable remains on the anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended the conflict, which claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Americans, more than 600,000 Chinese, 600,000 Korean soldiers and more than a million Korean civilians.

It may take months of detailed DNA analysis to determine how many American service members can be identified.

Details of what specifically the U.S. had picked up were unclear, but reports said previously that Pyongyang would return about 55 sets of remains from the 1950-53 war. About 7,700 U.S. soldiers are listed as missing from the Korean War, and 5,300 of the remains are believed to still be in North Korea.

The remains are expected to be flown to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii for scientific testing to identify them.

Last month, the U.S. military said that 100 wooden "temporary transit cases" built in Seoul were sent to the Joint Security Area at the Korean border as part of preparations to receive and transport remains in a dignified manner. U.S. Forces Korea spokesman Col. Chad Carroll also said, at the time, that 158 metal transfer cases were sent to a U.S. air base and would be used to send the remains home.

The remains are believed to be some of the more than 200 that North Korea has held in storage for some time, and were likely recovered from land during farming or construction. The vast majority of the war dead, however, have yet to be located and retrieved from cemeteries and battlefields across the countryside.

Between 1996 and 2005, joint US-North Korea military search teams conducted 33 recovery operations that collected 229 sets of American remains. The last time North Korea turned over remains was in 2007, when Bill Richardson, a former UN ambassador and New Mexico governor, secured the return of six sets.

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