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

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs