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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs