What we owe our war deadThere is one clear measure to judge whether a country is a nation with dignity ?? how the nation and its people treat the war dead who sacrificed their lives to protect their citizens and preserve their nation. In this vein, the Ministry of Defense has recently opened a new facility for the work of exhuming and identifying the remains of war dead, with state-of-the-art equipment such as digital X-ray sensors. This is a significant milestone that will contribute to take Korea to a higher plane.
However, there is a long way to go. We have already wasted too much time due to the carelessness of previous administrations. The exhumation of war dead began in 2000.
Considering the fact that the Korean War ended 47 years ago, it is already too late. In addition, the number of staff in charge of finding bodies was just 20 people from the outset. Seven years have already passed, while we have remained idle.
This is a shame.
Next year marks the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War. However, the grievances of the bereaved families still fill us with sorrow. A war widow cried loudly on television, “I pulled my bedclothes over my head, and my eyes were swollen with tears when I was informed of my husband’s death. It is my wish that my husband’s remains be buried at the National Cemetery.”
The number of war dead and missing people with such a miserable story is as many as 130,000. However, only 2,239 remains have been found so far. We should step up our efforts to find the rest and identify them in a swift manner, before the generation left behind by the war dead - widows, sisters, and brothers - pass away. A country indifferent to its war dead and their families cannot be said to be a decent nation.
The exhumation of war dead is getting systematized day by day. However, the project’s success requires more than the army’s efforts. The sites of death and burial are too hard to find, as half a century has passed. In this regard, soldiers who fought in the Korean War and villagers should participate in the government’s effort to find bodies.
The government should make efforts with all its available energy, such as forming an effective cooperation system between the army and local governments. We should always bear in mind that our country, the Republic of Korea, would not exist now without the sacrifices of those soldiers who passed away. Now is the time to encourage people to show more concern and vigorously contribute to the cause.