Bring our boys home

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Bring our boys home

The remains of 12 South Korean soldiers who fought in the 1950-53 Korean War finally came home after nearly six decades.

They were among the remains of missing servicemen that North Korea handed over to the United States following long negotiations. The last time bodies of South Korean soldiers came home was immediately after the Korean War ended with an armistice agreement.

It is believed that an estimated 50,000 bodies of South Korean soldiers remain buried around North Korea and the border zone. The government should renew efforts to recover and bring home the bodies of South Korean servicemen from North Korea.

We honor and pay tribute to the spirit of such patriots who died for their country. The government has continued efforts to recover and honor the ancestors who devoted their lives for liberation from the Japanese colonial rule.

It only began endeavors 12 years ago to recover soldiers who went missing during the war on our soil. Due to such a short history, it has made scant progress, recovering just 6,600 of 130,000 men went missing during the three-year war.

Moreover, South Korea has never been involved in exhuming bodies of its soldiers scattered in North Korea and the Demilitarized Zone. The two Koreas in defense ministerial meeting in 2007 agreed to pursue a joint search for soldiers on different sides of the border, but have yet to follow up on the project.

The government considered proposing talks to persuade North Korea to return bodies of South Korean soldiers two years ago, but again did not make any action. In contrast, Washington has been working and negotiating with North Korea to bring home their men since 1988.

Recovering missing soldiers is a demonstration that their country has not forgotten their sacrifice. The government, therefore, must not cease efforts regardless of the challenges.

We should learn from the U.S., which promises financial rewards to enemy states if it can bring home men. The U.S. is said to have paid North Korea more than $28 million to excavate American soldiers who died fighting for South Korea during the war.

The joint-venture business of the two countries in Kaesong Industrial Complex keep going despite bad inter-Korean relations. The joint search and recovery of soldiers who died during the war, too, should be pursued regardless of political and military stalemates.

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