Service members carry out excavation work looking for remains of soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in this photo provided by the defense ministry on May 14, 2020. (Yonhap)
South Korea discovered 11 bone fragments, believed to be from soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War, inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on the border with North Korea, the defense ministry said Thursday.
The pieces were found during a demining and excavation operation on Arrowhead Ridge from last Friday through Wednesday, according to the ministry. The ridge located in Cheorwon, some 90 kilometers northeast of Seoul, was one of the fiercest battlefields during the war.
Since April 20 when the military resumed the excavation project for this year, it has discovered a total of 34 pieces of bone and 7,009 articles believed to have been left by the deceased service members, according to the ministry.
It remains unclear how many people the pieces belonged to, and the authorities will carry out a detailed examination and DNA analysis to identify their origins, it added.
The military had also found 61 landmines and 913 blind shells as of Wednesday, the ministry said.
"We will do our best to find and bring back the last remaining victims to their loved ones," the ministry said in a release.
Under a bilateral military accord signed on Sept. 19, 2018, the two Koreas agreed to launch a joint excavation project on Arrowhead Ridge. But the South has carried out the project alone since last year, as the North did not respond to calls for joint work.
"The ministry will proactively make preparations for the resumption of the joint excavation work with North Korea at any time, and continue to make efforts to encourage the North to respond to the project just as agreed upon in the Sept. 19 pact," it added.
Last year, the military found around 2,030 bone fragments believed to have belonged to about 261 troops killed in the war. Of them, 117 sets of remains are believed to be of Koreans, with 143 others presumed to belong to Chinese troops and another set to UN forces, according to the ministry. (Yonhap)