Korean War remains set to return in April

China Daily
Li Jiayao
Soldiers escort coffins containing the remains of Chinese soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War during a burial ceremony at the Cemetery of Revolutionary Martyrs in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning province, March 29, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

More remains of Chinese soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War will return home from the Republic of Korea on April 3, the Ministry of Veterans Affairs said. It will be the sixth transfer of its kind.

The ministry did not disclose the number of remains involved, nor when or where they were found.

From 2014 to 2018, the remains of 589 soldiers were returned to China.

This year, on April 1, officials from the two countries will hold a repatriation ceremony in the ROK. The remains will arrive in China before the April 5 Tomb Sweeping Day-the Chinese holiday for commemorating the dead-according to the schedule published on Thursday by the Ministry of Veterans Affairs and the ROK's Ministry of National Defense.

Both sides have agreed to continue the transfers based on friendly exchanges, practical cooperation and a humanitarian spirit. The ROK has agreed to return any additional remains uncovered in the future, officials from the two ministries said during a meeting on Wednesday in Beijing.

The ROK began exhuming the remains of Chinese soldiers buried in the city of Paju at the end of 2013, and consultations have been undertaken every year.

The bones and belongings of the 20 Chinese soldiers returned in the previous handover had been exhumed from multiple sites in the ROK's northeastern province of Gangwon, according to the ROK defense ministry.

The handover ceremony for that earlier batch of remains took place in March last year. The remains of the 20 Chinese soldiers, each resting in its own casket covered by a Chinese national flag, departed via Chinese military plane from ROK's Incheon International Airport for China's Shenyang Taoxian International Airport.

"Historically, the repatriation of remains of soldiers involved in a battle is a humanitarian move. It also carries a peace message of healing past wounds and moving mutual ties forward," Song Youngmoo, former ROK defense minister, said in a speech during the ceremony last year.

The Chinese People's Volunteers fought beside soldiers of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea during the Korean War. They opposed the ROK and the US-led United Nations forces.

About 200,000 martyrs of the Chinese People's Volunteers were listed by China's Ministry of Civil Affairs in 2014, with most killed during combat and buried on the Korean Peninsula.

In October, China's Ministry of Veterans Affairs organized a youth delegation to the DPRK to sweep the tombs of Chinese soldiers and honor the fallen.

Both sides have agreed to continue searching for martyrs' remains and to repair cemeteries as a means to uphold the lasting national friendship, Wang Zhiming, director of the ministry's general office, told a group of reporters on Wednesday.

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