South Korea begins exhuming Korean War soldiers' remains without the North

Members of South Korea's Agency for KIA Recovery and Identification prepare the remains of a Chinese soldier who fought in the Korean War.
Members of South Korea's Agency for KIA Recovery and Identification prepare the remains of a Chinese soldier who fought in the Korean War.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (DPA) - South Korea has begun excavating the remains of missing soldiers from the Korean War on the border between the two Koreas, without the involvement of North Korea, local media reported on Monday (April 1).

The two countries had agreed to start the excavation work together, but no one from North Korea showed up at the agreed site in the eastern part of the demilitarised zone (DMZ), South Korean radio stations reported.

According to the Defence Ministry in Seoul, North Korea has not responded to inquiries about the project. The joint search for missing soldiers killed in the Korean War between 1950 and 1953 was part of an agreement signed by the defence ministers of both countries at a summit in Pyongyang in September.

The agreement also included clearing the area in the DMZ of landmines. From April 1 to the end of October, 100 soldiers from both countries were due to take part in the search.

South Korea's Ministry of Defence has now said it will proceed with the excavation and mine clearance work in such a way that joint work can begin immediately if North Korea sends its own soldiers.

Since the failure of the second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump at the end of February in Vietnam, there have been concerns that the communist leadership in Pyongyang could put the brakes on inter-Korean cooperation projects.