The remains of South Korean soldiers killed in North Korea during the Korean War returned home on Friday via the U.S., marking the first such repatriation of South Korean war dead since the 1953 armistice.
Twelve sets of remains, two of which have been positively identified, were among 226 sets recovered in the northern part of North Korea by a U.S. excavation team between 2000 and 2004, before Washington halted the joint recovery mission with Pyongyang due to concerns over the safety and security of its workers.
After conducting DNA tests, the U.S. Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) in Hawaii confirmed last August that some of the remains were those of Asian soldiers.
Since then, Seoul and Washington have conducted joint analyses to identify the remains and 12 sets were confirmed to be from South Korean soldiers, officials at Seoul's defense ministry said.
The 12 sets of remains were flown Friday to a military airport in Seongnam, south of Seoul, where they were met with an honor guard ceremony attended by President Lee Myung-bak, Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin and U.S. Army Gen. James Thurman, the commander of U.S. Forces Korea. (Yonhap News)