Analysis of U.S. Soldiers’ Remains from Korean War Will Take Months

Emilie Cochran | August 16, 2018 | 1:36pm EDT
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( - It will take months to determine how many U.S. soldiers’ remains have been returned by North Korea, according to officials responsible for analyzing the 55 boxes of remains from the Korean War.

The remains were returned as a result of a deal brokered during the Singapore summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean President Kim Jong Un, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced at the White House Tuesday.

On Aug. 1, the remains of some American soldiers from the Korean War were returned to Hawaii. North Korea returned 55 boxes of remains of unaccounted for soldiers to the U.S. It will take months to find out how many people are in those boxes of the 7,700 that remain unaccounted for.

The remains are undergoing analysis at the hands of Byrd and his forensic team, McKeague said.

“We would characterize the preservation of the remains as moderate to poor, as a general consideration,” Byrd said. “However, what our lab specializes in is making identifications in circumstances where you have very little to work with, and so I’m confident that we’re going to do well with the remains in these 55 boxes over the coming months and maybe the next several years.”

McKeague said his team has “high confidence” that the majority of the remains are American soldiers. Byrd also said his team did a cursory inspection of the boxes in Wonsan before they were loaded onto the aircraft to make sure “at least some of what was in each box was human.” Additionally, the team spent two days in Osan going through every box to ensure that every item was human remains.

On relations with North Korea, Byrd said he felt as though they are better than in the past. He worked there from 1996 until 2000 and went back on July 27 of this year to Wonsan to collect the remains.

“It was a much more friendly, welcoming, and collegial approach this time compared to the way it used to be,” Byrd said.

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