S. Korea wraps up excavation work for war remains on eastern border

SEOUL-- South Korea has wrapped up the excavation work along the eastern section of the border with North Korea to retrieve remains of soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War, the defense ministry said Thursday.

The military launched the project in April this year on Arrowhead Ridge inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas in the country's northeast, in line with the inter-Korean military accord signed between Seoul and Pyongyang in September last year.

But the project has proceeded without the North's participation, as it has remained unresponsive to the South's call to jointly carry out the project as agreed. The South Korean military has taken on the operation alone.

Over the eight-month period ending in November, the military found some 2,030 bone pieces believed to have belonged to about 261 troops killed in the war, the defense ministry said in a release.

Of those, 117 sets of remains are believed to be of Koreans, with 143 others presumed to belong to Chinese troops and another set to U.N. forces.

They also discovered a total of 67,476 articles believed to have been left by the deceased soldiers, including identification tags, gas masks and body armor.

Forensic processes have been under way to identify the remains using DNA samples and other techniques, the ministry added.

During the three-year conflict, 178,569 South Korean and U.N. soldiers were killed, and 42,769 others still remain missing. Of them, 124,000 bodies have yet to be retrieved, according to government data.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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