U.S. body armor and Chinese gas masks found during DMZ excavation

Ali Hansburg, May 23, 2019, 9:01 a.m.


Body armor believed to belong to U.S. soldiers and gas masks of Chinese forces who fought in the 1950-53 Korean War have been found during excavation work inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on the border with North Korea, Seoul's defense ministry said Thursday.

The military found five pieces of body armor used by American service persons and 14 pieces of Chinese soldiers' gas masks during the excavation and demining project under way on Arrowhead Ridge, a former battle site inside the DMZ that separates the two Koreas.

During the war, the U.S. led the 21-nation Allied Forces to help South Korea repel the Chinese-backed communist troops invading from the North. More than 40,000 U.N. troops, most of them from the U.S., were killed in action during the conflict. China has said 116,000 of its troops died.

"We will share relevant information and discuss related issues with the U.S. and China, respectively, including how to repatriate the items," the ministry said.

Along with them, the military has discovered 101 pieces of bone this week, bringing the total number of pieces found so far to 321.

Noting that it remains unclear how many persons the bone pieces belong to, the military said it will carry out a detailed examination and DNA analysis to identify their origins.

Under the inter-Korean military accord aimed at reducing tensions and building trust, Seoul and Pyongyang had planned to carry out the joint excavation project for about six months from April.

But the North has remained unresponsive to calls to jointly carry out the project as agreed, leaving the South Korean military to conduct it alone.

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