SEOUL, Sept. 22 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea and the United States kicked off their first joint underwater excavation project earlier this month to recover the remains of American soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War, the defense ministry said Friday.
Some 10 South Korean military personnel, and 20 from the U.S. Forces Korea and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency began the joint excavation work in waters off the southeastern city of Busan, 320 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Sept. 7, according to the agency.
The project, which will continue through Wednesday next week, aims to recover the remains of three U.S. servicemen who were presumed to be aboard a B-26 bomber that crashed into the sea shortly after takeoff from the K-9 air base in Busan in January 1953.
Officials deployed for the operation, including divers and researchers, scanned some 200,000 square kilometers of area using underwater detection equipment. Divers then used remote control detectors to verify detected debris.
“Through the search operation that was conducted on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the South Korea-U.S. alliance, both countries were able to strengthen their cooperation to recover war remains,” Lee Keun-won, head of the defense ministry’s Agency for KIA Recovery and Identification, said. KIA stands for killed in action.
The two sides plan to review additional on-site searches to recover the remains after wrapping up their first underwater operation next week.
Seoul and Washington have made joint efforts to find the remains of U.S. soldiers killed during the conflict after signing an agreement to conduct such excavations in 2011.