This photo provided by the defense ministry on Tuesday, shows South Korean troops excavating remains and items believed to be from soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War at Arrowhead Ridge in Cheorwon, Gangwon Province. (Ministry of National Defense)
South Korea discovered 28 more bone fragments believed to be from troops killed in the 1950-53 Korean War as well as thousands of artifacts inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) so far this year, the defense ministry said Tuesday.
The military resumed a demining and excavation operation on Arrowhead Ridge in Cheorwon, about 90 kilometers northeast of Seoul, on April 5, after months of hiatus during winter, to continue the project launched in 2019.
Over the past two months, the military has discovered 26 bone pieces from the ridge, one of the fiercest battlefields during the war.
On the nearby White Horse Ridge, it found two additional bone fragments while carrying out preparatory work for the actual excavation in the second half, according to the ministry.
It also unearthed 9,633 articles believed to have been left by deceased service members, such as body armor, ammunition and a flashlight, along with two underground positions believed to be used during the war, it added.
This year's excavation work will continue through November, and the authorities have been carrying out a detailed examination and DNA analysis to identify the origins of the bone pieces and items.
"We will do our best to find and bring back the last remaining victims to their loved ones," the ministry said.
Under a military tension reduction accord signed on Sept. 19, 2018, South and North Korea agreed to launch a joint excavation project inside the DMZ. But the South has carried out the work alone since 2019, as the North has remained unresponsive.
"The ministry proactively makes preparations for the beginning of the joint excavation work with North Korea at any time, while making efforts to encourage the North to respond to the project just as agreed upon in the Sept. 19 pact," it said.
During the three-year war, around 140,000 South Korean troops were killed in action and about 450,000 others injured. Remains of around 10,000 fallen soldiers have yet to be retrieved, according to government data. (Yonhap)