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Private Kim Hyeon-taek, who sacrificed his life for the country ...

Private Kim Hyeon-taek, who sacrificed his life for the country in the Korean War, is returned to his family after 72 years

- The remains, excavated on three occasions in Cheorwon-gun, Gangwon-do, were genetically identified by his daughter
- He served in the 2nd Infantry Division of South Korea and was killed in a battle against the Communist Chinese Army during the Battle of Hill 734

A Korean soldier who died for his country during the Korean War has been returned to his family after 72 years.

The MND Agency for KIA Recovery & Identification (MAKRI, led by Lee Geun-won) confirmed the identity of the remains of a soldier killed in the Korean War, found in Mahyeon-ri, Cheorwon-gun, Gangwon-do, in June 2010 as being those of the late Private Kim Hyeon-taek from the 2nd Infantry Division.

The identification was done through a mobile investigation by visiting bereaved families based on the military records of the deceased. The mobile investigators of MAKRI checked the hometown (Shinan-gun, Jeollanam-do) in his military record and compared it with his family register in the administrative office. They then visited his daughter, Kim Deuk-rye (age 73), in April 2016 to collect genetic samples from her. After precisely comparing and analyzing the genetic samples of the remains and his daughter, the investigators confirmed they were father and daughter.

Consequently, the remains were returned to his family, marking the 212th confirmed case of identification since the initiation of the excavation.

The late Private Kim’s remains were collected by modern soldiers on three occasions over a 13-year period from 2010 to 2022.

In June, 2010, MAKRI and 100 soldiers of the 15th Infantry Division collected a thigh bone during excavation in an area presumed to have been a private shelter during the Korean War. Additionally, they collected hip bones, thigh bones, and other bones about 12-40 meters away from the first excavation site in two excavations in October 2010 and November 2022.

A number of personal belongings were excavated around the remains, including spoons, medicine bottles, and M1 shells that had been with the deceased until his last moments, but no specific clues to identify him were found at the time.

The late Private Kim Hyeon-taek from the 2nd Infantry Division was killed in action during the Battle of Hill 734, which lasted from August 2 to September 3, 1951.

The late Kim Hyeon-taek was born in February 1926, the second of four sons and three daughters in Jeungdo-myeon, Shinan-gun, Jeollanam-do. Before his enlistment, he farmed with his parents in his hometown and was a father of one.

He enlisted in the army in May 1951, trained on Jeju Island, and was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division. He was killed in action at the age of 25 during the Battle of Hill 734 in Cheorwon-gun, Gangwon-do, which lasted from August 2 to September 3, 1951. His death occurred on August 15, 1951.

The location of the Battle of Hill 734 was a crucial strategic point connecting Jeokgeunsan Mountain and Gimhwa-gun in Cheorwon-gun, Gangwon-do. The area saw many intense battles.

Today, a "Homecoming of the Patriotic Heroes" ceremony will take place at the home of the bereaved family in Suwon, Gyeonggi-do, on June 23.

This ceremony is held to return the remains of a soldier who was buried in the mountains and fields during the Korean War back to their families.

The program details include explaining to the bereaved families how the deceased participated in the war and how the remains were excavated. They will deliver the ‘Package of the Patriotic Heroes’ containing a return plaque of the patriotic hero, personal belongings, and an identification confirmation, along with words of comfort.

Kim Deuk-rye, his daughter, said, "The fact that my father's remains have been found makes me feel like I have finished my life's homework. I am very grateful to everyone who worked hard to find his remains."

The identification of the fallen during the Korean War deeply relies on the participation of Korean citizens.

Genetic sampling is available anywhere across the nation. Relatives of the fallen, up to third cousins on both the mother’s and father’s sides, can apply for sampling. A reward of KRW 10 million will be granted once the provided samplings successfully lead to identification of the fallen.

Given the length of time since the Korean War, the aging of war veterans and bereaved families makes it increasingly difficult to find family members. Amid this race against time, the citizens’ enthusiastic interest and participation are crucial to identifying the excavated remains.

The MAKRI investigators are committed to visiting bereaved families across the country. If you, as a family member, wish to participate in genetic sampling, but find it difficult due to impaired mobility or other issues, please feel free to contact us at 1577-5625 (Oh! 6.25) anytime. We will visit you in person and collect your samples. You may be the person we’re looking for.


  • (Presentation and Follow-on discussion)