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Remains From Korea a 'Modest Diplomatic Coup' for Trump

55 war dead reportedly beginning their long journey home after ceremony at South Korean air base
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 27, 2018 6:37 AM CDT
A soldier carries a casket reportedly containing remains of a US soldier who was killed in the Korean War during a ceremony at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, on Friday.   (Kim Hong-Ji/Pool Photo via AP)

(Newser) – The remains of US soldiers who died in the Korean War finally appear to be coming home—a "modest diplomatic coup" for President Trump, reports Reuters. At a ceremony Friday at Pyeongtaek's Osan Air Base in South Korea, a US military plane arrived from North Korea's Wonsan city, bearing 55 small cases that were carried by soldiers decked out in dress uniforms and white gloves to silver vans. The remains were taken to an unspecified location ahead of a formal repatriation ceremony Wednesday. After that, the remains will head to Hawaii to be processed by the US Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. "It's [a] huge development for all of the war families," says the head of the DNA unit for the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, per Time. "It's something they have been looking forward to and needing for the last 26 years, if not the last 60 years."

"The Remains of American Servicemen will soon be leaving North Korea and heading to the United States!" Trump tweeted late Thursday. "After so many years, this will be a great moment for so many families. Thank you to Kim Jong Un." The repatriation of the remains comes after an agreement reached by Trump and Kim at June's summit. Time takes a closer look at what's involved in finding and bringing remains back to the US after decades overseas, including challenges like body decomposition and political tensions. The BBC also notes forensic testing is needed to determine if the remains really are those of US soldiers. Meanwhile, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson tells the Washington Post that he fears North Korea could eventually "milk" this. "They'll give a certain amount of remains for free right away ... and then they'll start charging," he says. (Read more North Korea stories.)

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