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[Newsmaker] Identity of Korean killed in Battle of Tarawa confirmed

The identity of a Korean laborer who died during the Battle of Tarawa in World War II has been confirmed, according to government data.

A DNA test conducted on the remains of the victim -- who was only identified as “Tarawa No. 46” -- and a man who claimed to be his son showed a 99.9999 percent probability that the two are related, National Forensic Service data obtained by Democratic Party of Korea lawmaker Rep. Kwon Mi-hyuk revealed Monday. 


The discovery marked the first result of the government’s efforts to retrieve the bodies of Koreans who were killed during the four-day battle between the US and Japan in the Pacific Ocean. Nearly 1,100 Koreans were killed in the Battle of Tarawa from Nov. 20-23, 1943.

Last November, the government launched a project under the Interior Ministry to recover the remains of victims who were forcibly expatriated abroad during Japanese colonial rule.

In April, the government received the genetic samples of 145 bodies of Asians recovered from Tarawa from the US Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. It analyzed the samples with DNA information obtained from 184 family members of the victims.

The government plans to retrieve the body, currently kept in Hawaii, early next year.

By Choi Ji-won (