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North Korea Returns Remains of 55 U.S. Soldiers

Kim Jong-un Asks Trump for American Aid in Putting Korean War Dead to Rest


Following North Korea’s return of the remains of 55 U.S. soldiers killed in the 1950–53 Korean War on Thursday, it has been reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has written President Trump asking for U.S. aid in locating and identifying the remains of those North Koreans killed by America’s forces who’ve never been buried or accounted for.

One anonymous U.S. official told a major national newspaper that the administration would certainly consider Kim’s request and would like to help as a sign of American good faith, but cautioned that such an effort would be difficult to carry out. 

For one, he said, “While the U.S. keeps a meticulous record of American casualties, North Koreans were then viewed as subhuman—for instance the New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Hanson Baldwin described North Koreans as ‘locusts,’ ‘Nazis,’ and ‘vermin’—so you can understand why we didn’t pay much attention to keeping records of their dead.”

According to this official, the task would be further complicated by the enormous number of North Koreans killed—an estimated two million civilians and 500,000 soldiers. “And that’s not even counting the 900,000 People’s Republic of China volunteers who were also killed in the war,” he added.  In addition, many North Koreans were killed by the half-million tons of bombs or the 32,557 tons of napalm dropped by U.S. forces. “You have to remember,” the official said, “we destroyed every North Korean building over one story high, so those casualties would have been dismembered by the blast or buried in rubble. And those hit with napalm would be even more of a challenge because those folks would have been literally burned to ashes. So certainly I think the public would understand why we’d have real difficulty in identifying these North Korean remains even with our most advanced forensic techniques.” 

“Finally, we have to be concerned about a political backlash here in America,” the official concluded, “which is why we haven’t released the full contents of Kim’s letter to the public.  Many patriotic Americans may see Kim’s request as an insult and affront to our great country. Democrats and Republicans all understand that American lives are far more important than others, including Koreans. So even suggesting there’s some equivalence between our 55 ‘great and beloved missing fallen,’ as President Trump tweeted, and the 2.5 million North Korean dead, or that America should spend precious time and money accounting for North Korea’s dead would be seen by millions of Americans as an outrage.”

So, this official concluded, all this would make Kim’s request very difficult for this country to fulfill, even as the Trump/Pence administration was striving to “Make America Great Again!” 

Marines in village street with prisoners.
Korea was devastated by the end of the war. Millions were killed and in the North, every building over one story was destroyed. Here, in September 1950, early in the war, U.S. Marines take prisoners from one bombed village. (Photo: U.S. Department of Defense/U.S. Marine Corps/S. Sgt. John Babyak, Jr.)



Find out more:

American Crime Case #93: U.S. Invasion of Korea—1950


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