South Korea on Friday returned the bodies of 437 soldiers from China who were killed during the Korean War six decades ago. The repatriation follows a landmark agreement made between Seoul and Beijing last year, indicating a strengthening of ties between the two nations.
The New York Times reports that the remains had previously been kept in a burial ground north of Seoul which was, until recently, referred to as the “enemy cemetery”.
Although some tourists visited the site in recent years, the burial ground didn’t draw much attention in the South.
An agreement to return the remains was made between Seoul and Beijing in December after South Korean President Park Geun-hye initially made the offer during a trip to China in June.
The soldiers returned to China were among at least a million Chinese troops sent to assist North Korea when it invaded South Korea in 1950.
“The repatriation today will be a landmark for the two countries in healing the trauma from the past and moving toward co-prosperity,” Baek Seung-joo, South Korea’s deputy defense minister, said during a ceremony at the Incheon International Airport just west of Seoul.
The remains of 770 North Koreans killed during the war are still at the cemetery, and while South Korea reportedly offered to return the bodies, Pyongyang did not reply to the offer.
[Images via ECNS.cn]