U.S. military bulletproof vest discovered among bodies of Korean War dead in DMZ


A team from MAKRI, an agency that recovers South Korean soldiers' remains, discovered Korean War artifacts and remains at a DMZ site excavated in spring 2019.

A team from MAKRI, an agency that recovers South Korean soldier remains, discovered Korean War artifacts and remains at a DMZ site excavated in spring 2019. (Courtesy of South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense)

A team from MAKRI, an agency that recovers South Korean soldiers' remains, discovered Korean War artifacts and remains at a DMZ site excavated in spring 2019.

A team from MAKRI, an agency that recovers South Korean soldier remains, discovered Korean War artifacts and remains at a DMZ site excavated in spring 2019. (Courtesy of South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense)

In the spring of 2019, a gas mask believed to be made in China was discovered at a DMZ site during a search for the remains of a Korean War soldier.

A gas mask believed to be made in China was found at a DMZ site during a search for the remains of a Korean War soldier in spring 2019. (Courtesy of South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense)

During a search in the spring of 2019, a bulletproof vest believed to belong to a U.S. soldier from the Korean War was discovered at the DMZ site.

During a search in spring 2019, a bulletproof vest believed to have belonged to a U.S. soldier from the Korean War was found at a site in the DMZ. (Courtesy of the South Korean Ministry of National Defense)


SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s Defense Ministry said Thursday that a U.S. soldier’s bulletproof vest and a Chinese-made gas mask have been found alongside the remains of a Korean War soldier killed in action in the heavily guarded border area that divides the Korean peninsula.

According to a press release, since April 1, searchers have found 321 bone fragments and approximately 23,000 items from soldiers killed in fierce fighting in what would later become the DMZ.

The Pentagon said earlier this month it had given up hopes of resuming a joint U.S.-North Korean search for remains this year, due to a diplomatic impasse over efforts to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

But South Korea has made efforts to recover the remains of soldiers killed in the DMZ during the 1950-53 war, which ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty.

The search area, known as Arrowhead Ridge, or Hill 281, was the site of fierce fighting where American, French and South Korean soldiers fought to repel Chinese forces attempting to invade from the north. But since the war ended, the area has long been a no-go zone, flanked by barbed wire and landmines.

The two Koreas began removing mines in the fall to allow searches for remains in the area as part of efforts to improve bilateral ties alongside stalled U.S.-North Korea nuclear talks.

The South Korean government unilaterally resumed excavation work on April 1, and the Ministry of Defense announced that it had discovered five U.S. military bulletproof vests, 14 Chinese-made gas masks, and French soldier identification tags. It also released photographs of what appears to be a U.S. soldier’s bulletproof vest.

Searchers from the defence ministry’s agency for the collection and identification of war dead (MAKRI) said this week they had found 101 bone fragments, bringing the total to 321. Officials said the number found was yet to be determined, pending DNA testing.

More than 7,600 U.S. troops are missing from the war, including 5,300 believed to be missing in North Korea, according to the Defense Department’s POW/MIA Accounting Agency. More than 133,000 remain missing, according to South Korean authorities.

Hopes were raised last year when North Korea returned 55 remains as part of a return pledge agreed at the first summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

So far, the bodies have been identified as three US soldiers.

U.S. officials tried to extend the agreement to joint searches in North Korea, but North Korea’s intelligence agency said on May 8 that it had not heard from the Pyongyang side since late February, when the second summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un ended without an agreement.

That left insufficient time to “plan, coordinate and conduct on-the-ground operations” in North Korea this year, spokesman Lt. Col. Kenneth Hoffman said in a statement.

The United States conducted joint searches in North Korea from 1996 to 2005 and found hundreds of servicemen, but the searches were suspended due to rising tensions.

email address: twitter: @Kim Gamel

Email: chang.kyong@stripes.com





Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *