[KS] Korean War Cemetaries

KENNETH QUINONES ckquinones at msn.com
Fri Jun 30 21:15:18 EDT 2006

Dear Mr. Kwon:

The U.S. Army has compiled a comprehensive inventory of burial sites in North Korea where soldiers who fought under the United Nations flag were buried during the Korean War, 1950-53.  These materials are located at the Department of Defense DPMO (Defense Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Office) in Alexandria, VA.  Similar materials are kept at the Central Identification Laboratory in Honolulu, Hawaii (CILHI).  I do not have the contact information for DPMO, but I am certain you can locate it on the internet, Defense Department web site.

Between 1995 and 1997, I was the U.S. State Department representative to the Joint U.S. Army-(North) Korean People's Army (KPA) Joint Recovering Operation.  The effort continued until May 2005 when Secretary of Defense Rumfeld ordered its discontinuation.  In May 1996, the US Defense Department and KPA signed an agreement to jointly recover the remains of US military personnel buried in North Korea.  In June 1996, we concluded a detailed plan of implementation and in July 1996, the first group of US Army personnel arrived in Pyongyang (I was attached to them as liaison to the DPRK government) to commence the first 30 day operation to locate US soldiers remains near Unsan, DPRK.  Subsequent missions went to the so-called "Gauntlet" south of Kyechon, DPRK, then to the northeast corner of the DPRK near the Chosen Reservoir.  Reportedly, there are other cemeteries located  on the Chinese side of the China-DPRK border where prisoners of war from the UN forces were buried.  DPMO has maps of these sites.

The joint recovery effort was one of the most successful and enduring US-DPRK efforts.  It was even more successful that the KEDO nuclear reactor project.  The recovery effort continued for 9 years, except for a brief disruption in the fall-winter of 1996-97.  Unfortunately, Mr. Rumsfeld failed to recognize the benefits of having officials and soldiers from mutually adversarial nations working together to recover the remains of war dead.  

C. Kenneth Quinones
Professor of Korean Studies
Akita International University
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