Find our soldiers’ bodiesA dented pocket watch. A rusty cartridge belt and a cross. These are the articles that used to belong to student soldiers who died in a battle in the highlands of Mount Jiri during the Korean War. Their belongings were excavated 57 years after they died.
We can imagine the courage and fear that the young soldiers must have felt in the battle, so we feel tremendous sorrow for them.
The student soldiers did not expect to earn specific rewards when they went to battle. They only wanted to serve their country and to prevent it from becoming communist. With that goal in mind, they picked up their rifles and risked being killed.
Our country owes an enormous debt to these people because their sacrifices were crucial to the fight to keep our country intact.
However, what have we done for them so far?
Including the student soldiers, there are as many as 135,000 bodies that we have not yet found. Only about 1,200 bodies have been found. Only about 20 bodies have been identified by their family members.
Meantime, the United States has found more than 200 bodies of soldiers who were killed in foreign lands and brought them home.
But we have not found the bodies buried in our own land. That is truly shameful.
When a country neglects finding the bodies of soldiers who sacrificed themselves in a war for more than 50 years, it is not a decent country.
It is even worse when we think that our country hasn’t taken full responsibility for its soldiers.
In this sense, we should learn from the United States, which has gone to every corner of the earth for decades to find its dead solders.
But in Korea, the bodies of student soldiers who sacrificed their lives at such a young age were buried under the ground for nearly 60 years. Who would hold up rifles for our country now if we faced a similar case?
It is good news that the government has increased its support for people who are searching for the bodies of the soldiers. However, the budget of 300 million won ($320,000) and an organization of some 80 people are not sufficient for the task.
A larger budget and more manpower must be allocated for the job, particularly for the next couple of years. The project heavily depends on the decreasing number of Korean War veterans, so the job must be done before it becomes too late.