News / USA

US Advances in Identifying Korean War Vets’ Remains

FILE - In this 2009 photo, Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command members, right, work with South Korean soldiers in searching for U.S. soldiers' remains.
FILE - In this 2009 photo, Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command members, right, work with South Korean soldiers in searching for U.S. soldiers' remains.
Sungwon Baik

The process of identifying American remains from the Korean War has picked up speed. Out of the 208 boxes of U.S. remains that Pyongyang handed over to Washington in the early 1990s, a total of 49 were identified in the last three years.

That is a large increase from earlier efforts, when only 61 bodies were identified between 1992 and 2011. The progress came after the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) launched its "K208 Project Team" in 2011.

The process sped up significantly with the use of state-of-the-art DNA identification technology based on the remains’ location information.

In an interview with the VOA Korean service, forensic anthropologist Jennie Jin, who’s leading the project, attributed the advancement in DNA analysis and comparison technology to the breakthrough in JPAC’s findings.

Forensic anthropologist Jennie Jin says DNA testing is crucial.Forensic anthropologist Jennie Jin says DNA testing is crucial.
x
Forensic anthropologist Jennie Jin says DNA testing is crucial.
Forensic anthropologist Jennie Jin says DNA testing is crucial.

"There were many instances where remains that look like they are from one person actually had different people’s bones assembled together," Jin said. "In such cases, [a] DNA test is crucial."

Boxes’ contents confusing

While Pyongyang claimed each box represented a single U.S. service member lost during the war, the American team found that most boxes contained remains from more than one individual.

According to K208, the boxes from Pyongyang also contain remains of South Korean and possibly other United Nations Command soldiers.

The minimum number of remains in the 208 boxes is estimated to be around 600.

"We have to use anatomical, anthropological testing, as well as precise DNA identification," Jin said.

Relatives’ DNA helps

The Korean-American manager said DNA samples acquired from surviving family members contributed greatly to speeding up the process. According to Jin, the information found in DNA testing is not very useful until it can be compared to the DNA testing results of their family members.

"Back in 1999, we could only attain 15 percent of DNA samples from the family members. Now we have 89 percent," Jin said. That means JPAC acquired DNA samples of around 14,000 people in the last decade.

In addition to the work by JPAC, the U.S. military also has identified more than 30 remains from the Korean War through other projects.

Jee Abbey Lee contributed to this report, which was produced in collaboration with VOA's Korean Service.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Kay Reed from: Yorktown, In
September 02, 2014 12:54 PM
I hope my uncle Capt. Maurice Metzcar, returns home someday. He was taken captive April 1951 and declared dead in Sept 1951. He is listed as dying as a POW from malnutrition.


by: Mark from: Virginia
September 02, 2014 7:02 AM
a gruesome task, but a necessary one....

Every soldier who has fallen in battle should return to the country they were born in, No One Left Behind. There are still so many unaccounted war dead from World War II, soldiers who have not 'come home' yet.

People talk about how the Ukrainian crisis is bringing out possible war crimes on both sides....any war or conflict is a crime. Humans killing other humans is a crime.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid