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“South Korea repatriates the remains of Chinese soldiers: A stepping stone to improvement in South Korea-China relations”

First Chinese repatriation ceremony attended by South Korea's Defense Minister since 2014

Remains of 589 soldiers, including the remains of twenty soldiers, returned home after five years

China's representative expressed appreciation for the efforts of the Agency for Killed In Action Recovery and Identification


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Defense Minister Song Young-moo emphasized that the repatriation of the remains of Chinese soldiers will be an important stepping stone to enhancing the relationship between South Korea and China, as a symbol of friendly cooperation and trust between the two countries.

"Historically, the repatriation of the remains of soldiers between the two countries involved in a battle is a humanitarian move, and also carries a peaceful message of healing past wounds and moving mutual ties forward," Song said in a speech at the fifth repatriation ceremony held at Incheon International Airport at 10AM on March 28.

This repatriation ceremony was the first one attended by South Korea's Defense Minister since they were first held in 2014. According to an official from the defense ministry, South Korea's Defense Minister hosted the ceremony as a way of acknowledging the efforts China's ministry of civil affairs have made while repatriating the remains so far. Korea's defense ministry will continue to develop relations between the two countries, including through continued repatriation of the remains of Chinese soldiers to be unearthed in the future. China plans to transfer the repatriation work to the department of veterans affairs within the year due to some government restructuring.


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The handover ceremony for the remains of twenty Chinese soldiers was attended by Defense Minister Song and Gao Xiaobing, China's Vice Minister of Civil Affairs, as delegates for their respective countries. The ceremony was also attended by the chief of the national defense policy office and the chief of the Agency for Killed In Action Recovery and Identification from South Korea, and the Chinese ambassador to South Korea, the vice minister of patriots and veterans affairs, the councilor of the ministry of foreign affairs, and the vice chief of the political maneuver agency of the Central Military Commission from China. In January 2014, South Korea agreed to hand over the remains of Chinese soldiers unearthed on its soil to their country before Qingming Festival each year, based on international law and a humanitarian spirit. As a result, South Korea's government has repatriated the remains of 569 Chinese soldiers in a total of four ceremonies, which have been held once a year from 2014 to 2017.

“For South Korea and China, this repatriation is a token of their friendly relations, helping the people of both countries to feel a true friendship, in addition to a strategic partnership between the two countries, and I expect that South Korea and China will continue to advance their relations through these ceremonies, and further increase trust between the two countries,” Song said.

“We appreciate the devotion and efforts of South Korea's related ministries, including the defense ministry, in handing over the remains, and we would like to express our special thanks in particular to the delegate from South Korea and the members of the Agency for Killed In Action Recovery and Identification,” Gao Xiaobing said in a speech. "The handover ceremony was held with a great deal of support and high interest of the leaders of China and South Korea, and both sides could feel the friendly cooperation and devotion based on humanitarian principles. We hope to make steady efforts to develop ties between the two countries,” he added.

 

 


By Yeong-Sun, Lee < ys119@dema.mil.kr >

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