North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Searching for a Soldier's Grave


KBS reports that the US State Department has rejected the DPRK proposal on recovery of US service members killed during the Korean War.


Recovery of the remains of US service members (soldiers) killed during the Korean War may resume, according to the Honolulu Advertiser.  This would be the first recovery mission since 2005.  From the Korean War, there are 8,034 US soldiers presently not accounted for, of whom 5,100 are in the DPRK.  A total of 408 remains were recovered on previous missions, which primarily took place in Unsan (South Pyongan) and Kujang (North Pyongan) Counties.   The DPRK proposal was announced by Admiral Robert F. Willard, Commander of the US Pacific Command:

“It’s a complex problem. We’ve been in (North Korea for recovery missions) before, and it appears that we’re being invited to consider going back again,” Willard said. “It’s something that we’ll take seriously and we’ll enter into dialogue with them and find out where it will lead.”

No timetable was given for a possible return date.

The communist nation recently called for “an end to the hostile relationship” with the United States, even though it tested a nuclear device in May. The U.S. wants North Korea to return to six-party nuclear disarmament talks.

Willard said he can’t speak to the North’s motivations for choosing to re-engage with the United States on the recovery issue.

“If the overture is being made to allow that tiny bit of engagement to occur, we think there is likely benefit to be derived from it — in addition to what it accomplishes in our own personnel accounting,” he said.

(n.b. “Searching for a Soldier’s Grave” is a beautiful old song which was performed by, among others, Hank Williams [Sr.] , The Louvin Brothers and Kitty Wells. It saw a renewed popularity during the Korean War.  Williams performed the tune on his radio show Mother’s Best Flour Hour.  The Louvin Brothers included it on an LP titled Weapon of Prayer that also included a song titled “From Mother’s Arms to Korea.”)


This article was written on 28 Jan 2010, and is filled under DPRK External Relations, DPRK-US Relations, Korean People's Army (KPA).

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