Page last updated at 10:59 GMT, Monday, 20 October 2008 11:59 UK

War remains sought in Korea's DMZ

South Korean soldiers walk along the DMZ perimeter
The remains of thousands of war victims are probably buried in the DMZ

South Korean and American officials are to search the border dividing North and South Korea for the remains of troops killed in the 1950-53 Korean War.

It will be the first ever search in the demilitarised zone (DMZ) - which in spite of its name is the world's most heavily armed frontier.

The move was announced by South Korea's defence ministry.

It said more than 13,000 South Korean troops and about 2,000 US troops were believed to be buried in the zone.

The search of the DMZ - a 4km (2.5-mile) thick ribbon that stretches across the waist of the Korean peninsula - will go on until 25 November, the South Korean defence ministry was quoted as saying.

It will involve officials from the US Joint POW/MIA ( Prisoners of War/ Missing in Action) Accounting Command and from South Korea's agency for recovery and identification of missing Korean soldiers.

"The joint search... will be conducted to help provide valuable experience for future excavation projects inside the DMZ, and it will mark the first search ever inside the DMZ," the ministry said in a statement.

In a separate development, the joint search group will also try to locate the wreckage of a US fighter jet which is thought to have crashed near the city of Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, in March 1953.


The Korean War - which pitted North against South Korea, but which also deeply embroiled several foreign powers - was extremely brutal and destructive.

More napalm was dropped in those three years than during the entire Vietnam war, and the frontline swept up and down the peninsula, leaving behind flattened cities in its wake.

Estimates suggest that more than three million people - civilians and soldiers - were killed.

Country profile: South Korea
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