ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on March 26th, 2012 at 3:09 am

Pentagon Decides To Suspend Efforts To Recover Korean War Era Remains Within North Korea

» by in: Korean War

Via a reader tip comes news that the Pentagon is stopping its efforts to recover the remains of Korean War servicemembers within North Korea:

Marines of the First Marine Division pay their respects to fallen buddies during memorial services at the division's cemetery at Hamhung, Korea, following the break-out from Chosin Reservoir, December 13, 1950. Cpl. Uthe. (Marine Corps)

The Pentagon has suspended efforts to recover the remains of U.S. troops in North Korea, officials said Wednesday, the latest indication that recently negotiated agreements between the two countries are at risk of falling apart.

Less than a week ago, North Korea said it intends to use a rocket to blast a satellite into space — a move that is being interpreted as a thinly veiled missile test, which would violate U.N. resolutions.

“Look, fundamentally, this is about them meeting international obligations,” Navy Capt. John Kirby, a spokesman for the Pentagon, said Wednesday. “This launch they said they’re going to conduct violates those obligations. And we have to hold them [to] account for that.”  [Washington Post]

What I find interesting about this is that when the Pentagon agreed to the deal with North Korea last October it was stated that this deal was not linked to other issues:

The Pentagon statement said the talks will address a “stand-alone humanitarian matter” and are not linked to other issues, which include most prominently the North Korean nuclear program and U.S.-supported international sanctions aimed at stopping North Korean weapon proliferation.  [Associated Press]

Why make such a deal when you know the North Koreans are going to eventually cause some kind of provocation?  Claiming that this deal is a stand alone humanitarian matter and then back out of it when the North Koreans act up puts into question why anyone would have made such a deal in the first place?

This is an issue that is quite difficult to reconcile because the recovery of Korean War remains has been shut down since 2005 because the program had become a money maker for North Korea.  At the same time though it is nice to be able to provide the families of missing in action the return of their loved ones for burial.  The way I have always felt on this issue is that this is an area of cooperation with North Korea I don’t mind as long as they don’t try and charge some extravagant price for the return of Korean War dead.  You can read more about my views on this here.

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  • Sapper
    5:12 am on March 26th, 2012 1

    GI, the question becomes, “…what is an extravagant price…” for our fallen soldiers? How do you put a price on their remains? Is someone’s brother or uncle worth more than someone else’s? Tough decisions. On the other hand it sucks to have to give nK cash just to search for them. No easy decisions.

  • Thomas Lee
    7:43 am on March 26th, 2012 2

    Do what the fallen would want… and I don’t think they would want their remains to be recovered if it meant paying their “killers” an exorbitant amount of money and all while they continue to destabilize the peninsula.

  • Colonel louis T Dechert
    9:53 am on March 26th, 2012 3

    “GI,” on this matter you have been perhaps the most consistent and constant observer over the years. And it is an issue that will never go away so long as one fallen warrior is not accounted for.
    As many know I was involved in this area of military affairs for several years at national and sometime international levels, in uniform and then in civvies. So I can agree entirely with you and the families, even if not with the US Government.
    We had no business “returning to the Panmunjom” Propaganda Show in Clinton’s days, interrupted and resumed by other administrations several times since then—US politicians seem slow to learn from the mistakes of others, it seems. Various pubs will show over the years that I warned “do not do it then” and have said so many times since—including in ROK DROP.
    The DPRK is, after all, the grand masters of mind games—“brainwash.” We had ample proof of that dark aptitude decades ago. They have not changed. Indeed the same old guy (twice removed in body) and his colleagues are still in the dictator seat in DPRK. They do not change; and unfortunately, US fools do not do change either—they still think that one more ounce of US flesh will bring the evil power north of DMZ to a reasonable—or at least bargaining—position. The fundamental problem is, as I have pushed before, that “you cannot gain at the negotiating table what you have already lost on the battlefield” (Gen W B Smith, Ike’s CofS, WWII). That is why the US/GB terms in WWII were unconditional surrender.
    It is entirely understandable that families of the missing grow angry and frustrated in light of the seeming constant irresolution (“flip flopping”) of the US Government re: dealing with DPRK.
    Frustration—and covering politician’s posteriors, can often lead to refusing to use all the initiatives and latitudes remaining in our possession to continue progress.
    In this case almost 8000 are still missing. The accounts which you have cited indicated something over 5000 are north of the DMZ—in the enemy’s hands. Other records indicate that the majority of that 5,000 number relate to the vicinities of ANJU-GAECHEON-UNSAN AREA and the CHANGJIN-FUNCHILIN-HUNGNAM AREA—please overlook mixed old-new, Japanese-Korean-US spellings if I mixed them.
    OK! HENCE, almost 3000 sites remain either in South Korea, China-Mongolia, or in seas adjoining ROK. Note that I left Russia off the list—they had some, too. So let’s get busy in those areas and stop whining about the inaccessible areas. I suspect this has not been done because it is easier to complain about what we can’t do than to get busy doing what we might do.
    As I recall—and reported over three years ago—the ROK announced intentions for their own evidently unilateral recovery operations in the ROK proper. Surely the US should have greeted, supported and participated in that effort. Few of the inhibiting diplomatic hurdles should have been necessary to be negotiated to do so. What happened??
    While we cannot do everything, let’s do all that we can—that is surely the reasonable expectation and plea of the kin and families of the 8.000.
    LTD, Past President, Korean War Veterans Association, USA

  • Ian Saunders
    4:03 pm on March 26th, 2012 4

    US families of Korean War MIA’s are fortunate to some extent whereas your JPAC military MIA arm all year round continually physically monitors the recovery of remains in ROK in cooperation with their MIA recovery arm, MAKRI. ROK itself has 130,000 residents and Army MIA. To my knowledge, the only remains that have been identified in 60 years of recoveries from ROK / NK are those of US military. Other than US and ROK military no other UN country who were involved in the War has initiated similar successful recovery and identification procedures. Australia has 43 MIA of 17,00 servicemen who served in the Korean War and our military has just ‘picked up the baton’ on this issue based on the evidence I accumulated over 13 years. It is hoped that we can gather assistance from JPAC / MAKRI in endeavours to recover our MIA’s.

  • Colonel louis T Dechert
    4:56 pm on March 26th, 2012 5

    Ian Saunders and RADM Ian Crawford, Korean War veterans are almost solely responsible for the development of the issue then the undertaking to account for Australian and attached MIA over four years ago now. It is worth describing their efforts before memories are extinguished.
    I was honored to be able to be associated with these men in the International Federation of Korean War Veteran Associations (Seoul). As I recall I believe that they encountered the assertions from their government that there were no unaccounted for MIA from their forces. Ian Saunders personally gathered information. At his request I sent the information to USFK, 8th Army. An outstanding crew in G3 went to work and provided considerable details, locations, etc., to Saunders and Crawford. (Thanks to Colonel Gus Blum and General BB Bell).
    Their personal efforts continued until I believe they finally located some of their unaccounted for MIA buried by the US Army at the UN Cemetery in lower ROK. Sad to say that even getting this close has raised only new questions and leads, false and otherwise. Right now they are seeking identification of US Quartermaster Graves Registration personnel from the Pusan UN Cemetery Area who might have more specific information.
    While we cannot do everything, let’s do all that we can.
    Thank you Aussies for being always faithful!!

  • Tom Langley
    8:23 pm on March 26th, 2012 6

    This is one of those issues that make me glad that I’m not in charge. On one hand you have the families of the missing in action who should be able to bring closure to their lives. The spouses of the missing, their siblings, their children, and maybe even some parents are aging and are passing away & we all would like to resolve as many of these missing in action as possible & as soon as possible. On the other hand you have one of if not the most odious regime in the world & no one wants to give the Kimdom any cash which they could use to buy weapons to threaten their neighbors & to oppress their own people. I just hope this part of the axis of evil (whatever you think of Bush this was a completely true characterization of the regime) collapses & collapses soon.

  • Tell them that, OK!
    1:25 pm on April 25th, 2012 7

    What you see in print is what any government want you to see, that don’t mean that there is all it is. It is just their public release for public comsumption.


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