SEOUL – The United Nations Command, led by the United States army, held on Wednesday a solemn repatriation ceremony for the remains of 55 soldiers, who had died in the Korean War.
The remains were recently handed over to the US by North Korea as part of a deal signed by US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore in early June.
“The Korean War fallen have never been forgotten by the United States of America nor the 16 other states that comprise the United Nations Command. UNC never leaves troops behind, living or deceased, and will continue the mission of repatriation until every Service Member returns home,” the UNC said in a statement.
Wednesday’s ceremony was held at the Osan air base, 70 kilometers (43.4 miles) south of Seoul, five days after Pyongyang had allowed a US aircraft to carry back the remains from Wonsan in North Korea to South Korea.
Around 500 people took part in the ceremony, including UNC Commander Vincent Brooks, US Ambassador to South Korea, Harry Harris and South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo.
After the ceremony the remains would be taken to the headquarters of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) in Hawaii for identification.
Since 1990, the remains of 629 US soldiers, who died in North Korea, were returned to their families, according to the UNC.
More than 36,000 US military personnel died in the Korean War and nearly 7,000 disappeared, out of which 5,300 are believed to have gone missing at the 38th parallel north.
North Korea hopes that this gesture would help convince the US of the need for an imminent peace treaty to replace the armistice, which had ended the Korean War.
However, Washington has not yet committed fully to the peace treaty, maintaining that Pyongyang needs to take more concrete actions to show its commitment to the denuclearization of the regime as agreed during the Singapore summit.