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Remains found at Baekma Hill

Staff sergeant Cho Eung-seong, casualty of the Korean War, returned to the bosom of his family

Family relations confirmed by sampling his daughter’s DNA

Remains found at Baekma Hill


The remains of Korean War dead found at Baekma Hill in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) have been identified as those of late staff sergeant (corporal, presently) Cho Eung-seong. This is the eleventh case, and the second of identification at Baekma Hill, since the start of the remains excavation work in the DMZ began in earnest in 2018.


On March 17, the Ministry of National Defense Agency for KIA Recovery & Identification (MAKRI) said in a statement that “the remains MAKRI and the Army’s 5th Infantry Division soldiers found at Baekma Hill on October 28 last year were identified as those of Staff Sergeant Cho. It is presumed that Cho, who belonged to the 30th Regiment of the 9th Division, was killed during the Battle of Baekma Hill (395 Hill) while defending against a major offensive by Chinese troops in October 1952.”


Traces of how Cho died remained intact on his remains and helmet. The first investigation for identification was made after the discovery of Cho’s hip bone during basic excavation work conducted by soldiers belonging to the 5th Division. The soldiers found the upper body of the remains of the deceased lying in a prone position in a foxhole.


They also found some ammunition and articles, including a pen, a ring, and a spoon, which are believed to have been his private holdings.


For the soldiers on the excavation team, finding his helmet and skull that had been pierced by a bullet made the work emotionally difficult.


DNA sampling from the bereaved family was a decisive part of Cho’s identification. While initially there were high hopes that the remains could be identified on their own, as many articles believed to belong to the deceased were found, there was no single article bearing his name. Even the design engraved on the ring was difficult to identify because of the severe abrasion.


Since the start of the remains excavation work at Baekma Hill, MAKRI has investigated the data on all those who were killed during the Battle of Baekma Hill, including military registration records, and it found Cho’s daughter Cho Yeong-ja. MAKRI then confirmed their family relationship two days after sampling Cho’s daughter’s DNA through a mobile inquiry on October 26, 2021.


Cho was born in Uiseong, Gyeongsangbuk-do, on February 1, 1928, the second son in a family with three sons and three daughters. The Korean War broke out when he had started a family and was working in farming with his parents. After a short evacuation, he joined the 1st Army Training Camp in Jeju in May 1952, leaving his wife and his two five-year-old and three-year-old daughters behind.


MAKRI held an ‘event for the return of a national hero’ at the house of Cho’s daughter in Namdong-gu, Incheon. At the event, MAKRI handed over a box containing the notice of identification of the fallen and his articles, and explained how he took part in the war and the results of the remains excavation work.


“Now I can believe that I have found my father. My father bought me some squid one day, and I enjoyed it. It seemed like he bought it for me with the feeling that he should say goodbye. I can’t forget how he looked at me,” the daughter recalled.

By Chul-Hwan, Kim < >

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