SEOUL, South Korea found two sets of Korean War remains for the first time during its demining work in a notorious battle site inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) this week, Seoul's defense ministry said Thursday.
On Wednesday, the ministry's Agency for KIA Recovery and Identification retrieved the remains from Arrowhead Ridge, or Hill 281, which was a site of fierce battles during the 1950-53 Cold War conflict. KIA stands for "killed in action."
The two Koreas have been demining the area to ensure safety ahead of a joint project to retrieve war remains from April to October next year. The project is part of a military agreement the two Koreas' defense ministers signed after the third summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang last month.
Aside from the remains, the agency found a military identification tag of South Korean Sgt. Pak Je-kwon. The agency plans to take DNA samples from his two surviving sisters to conduct tests to determine if one of the two sets of remains from the ridge belongs to him.
According to the ministry's document, Pak, born in October 1931, was killed during a battle on the ridge July 10, 1953. He belonged to the 7th Company of the 31st Regiment of the 2nd Army Division.
There were three key battles against communist forces on the notorious ridge from 1952-53. The remains of more than 200 South Korean soldiers and dozens of U.N. Command (UNC) forces, such as U.S. and French troops, are thought to be buried there.
The ministry plans to hold a ceremony for them and place the remains in a temporary military site pending the forensic identification process.
"It is estimated that within the DMZ, there are some 10,000 sets of South Korean troop remains," the ministry said in a press release. "This highlights the need for the inter-Korean excavation project."
The demining work on the ridge began Oct. 1 and will continue through Nov. 30. As of Wednesday, the military has found 1,252 items during the mine clearance process, including 14 landmines and 187 explosives.
Source: Yonhap News Agency