Published : 2013-12-06 11:29
Updated : 2013-12-06 11:29
South Korea enshrined the remains of 666 soldiers on Friday, more than 60 years after they were killed in the three-year Korean War that ended in a truce in 1953.
Prime Minister Chung Hong-won, Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin and 400 other government and military officials attended an enshrinement ceremony at Seoul National Cemetery for the remains excavated this year.
A total of 731 sets of remains were recovered after searching 77 former battlefield sites from March to November, of which 666 have been confirmed to be those of South Korean soldiers, according to a government report.
The other remains have been determined to be those of enemy forces, meaning North Korean and Chinese troops.
Following the ceremony, the Defense Ministry's Agency for Killed in Action Recovery and Identification (MAKRI) will begin analyzing the remains to identify them, the report said.
The agency, which has collected 26,490 DNA samples of bereaved families, will use the data to verify the identity of the fallen soldiers so that their bodies can be returned to their loved ones, the ministry said.
Meanwhile, the remains of North Korean and Chinese soldiers will be temporarily buried at the so-called "enemy cemetery" in Paju, just south of the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas, it said.
In 2000, the South Korean army launched a three-year mission to search for the remains of its soldiers killed in the Korean War.
With widespread public support, the government established MAKRI in 2007 with troops with expertise in history, forensic science and archeology.
MAKRI has been conducting operations nationwide to find the remains of the 130,000 soldiers still unaccounted for out of the 160,000 who are classified as missing or killed during the Korean War.
A total of 7,658 bodies have been recovered since 2000, but it has only been possible to return 83 of them to their families. The rest of the remains are awaiting DNA and other forensic tests. (Yonhap News)