South Korea has yet to return more than 600 sets of remains of North Korean soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War amid Pyongyang refusing to accept them, a lawmaker said Monday.
South Korea has 614 sets of remains of North Korean soldiers retrieved since 2000, according to figures provided by the Defense Ministry to Rep. Chung Hee-soo of the ruling Saenuri Party.
The ministry has excavated 7,652 sets of remains since 2000. The total breaks down to 6,667 South Korean soldiers, 614 North Koreans, 360 Chinese soldiers and 11 members of the U.N. forces.
The United States and 15 other U.N. members took part in the Korean War against invading North Korean soldiers aided by communist ally China.
All of the remains of South Korean soldiers have been buried at national cemeteries and those of U.N. soldiers sent back to relevant countries.
“The South Korean government has asked the North Korean government to accept the remains of North Korean soldiers, but the North has refused to do that,” Chung said. “The remains of Chinese soldiers have yet to get back to their homeland due to North Korea refusing to take them.”
In the first such incident, South Korea got back in May the remains of 12 South Korean soldiers killed in the Korean War with the help of the U.S.
The 12 sets of remains of South Korean soldiers are part of 226 sets recovered in North Korea by a U.S. excavation team between 2000 and 2004.
Washington halted the digging operation in North Korea in 2005 amid concerns over the safety and security of its workers.
About 30,000 to 40,000 remains of South Korean soldiers are believed to be buried in North Korea.