S. Korea wraps up war remains excavation at Arrowhead Ridge in DMZ

SEOUL-- South Korea on Thursday wrapped up 2 1/2 years of war remains excavation work at a former battlefield near the border with North Korea, the defense ministry said, with Pyongyang remaining unresponsive to calls for joint work as agreed.

Under a military tension reduction accord signed on Sept. 19, 2018, South and North Korea agreed to launch a joint project to retrieve remains of soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War from Arrowhead Ridge, one of the fiercest battlefields inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two sides.

But the South carried out the work alone since 2019, as the North has stonewalled calls for joint work.

According to the ministry, the military recovered a total of 3,092 bone fragments believed to have belonged to 424 troops killed in action. Nine of them have been identified so far.

The military also found 101,816 articles that belonged to the deceased soldiers, including badges, U.S. bulletproof jackets and Chinese gas masks.

With the conclusion of the project at Arrowhead Ridge, the military will move on to another former battle site nearby, White Horse Ridge, to continue the excavation work starting later this year.

White Horse Ridge is one of the areas where the most casualties were reported during the three-year war.

South Korea earlier notified the North of its plan to expand the mission area.

"We will do our best to find every single hero buried somewhere in the mountains and rivers of the Korean Peninsula," Defense Minister Suh Wook said during a ceremony to mark the closing of the excavation work at Arrowhead Ridge, urging the North to join hands for the project.

Around 140,000 South Korean troops were killed in action and some 450,000 others injured during the war. The government estimates the number of fallen soldiers whose remains have yet to be recovered inside the DMZ to stand around 10,000.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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