SEOUL, South Korea will increase the number of its personnel tasked with excavating the remains of its troops killed during the 1950-53 Korean War, in preparation for an envisioned inter-Korean retrieval project, the defense ministry said Thursday.
Under the plan, Seoul will raise the number to 136 from the current 88 later this year, so as to create four additional expert teams, each consisting of one researcher, eight excavators and three others in charge of forensic identification.
The increase is in line with President Moon Jae-in's hope for a cross-border project to recover remains inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas, and as part of efforts to deliver on the April inter-Korean summit accord to "transform the DMZ into a peace zone."
Defense Minister Song Young-moo has said that the retrieval project is a "natural obligation" of a nation to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country's security.
The ministry, in addition, plans to quadruple the number of its personnel in charge of securing DNA samples of war dead to 40.
Seoul officials believe that the remains of some 90,000 South Korean troops are thought to be south of the inter-Korean border with those of some 40,000 troops left apparently inside the DMZ and the North.
Source: Yonhap News Agency