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North Korea returns US service members’ remains and they are en route back to US

President Donald J. Trump with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un | June 12, 2018. (Shealah Craighead/White House)
July 26, 2018

The White House released a statement this evening stating that a military plane containing the remains of US service members from the Korean War is en route back to the United States.

The remains have reportedly left North Korea and will most likely land at Osan Air Base in South Korea and then be identified in Hawaii.

AMN previously reported that the repatriation of U.S. remains from North Korea was set to take place on Friday, after several weeks of back-and-forth between U.S. and North Korean officials.

It is still unclear how many exact remains are being returned but reportedly at least 50 and up to 55 U.S. troops’ remains are expected to be transferred.

Earlier this week, a State Department official told NK News that the transfer will take place at North Korea’s Kalma Airport, instead of the traditional truce village of Panmunjom just inside South Korea’s border from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the two countries.

The transfer marks several milestones. The date marks the 65th anniversary of the Korean Armistice Agreement, and is the first repatriation transfer in more than a decade. It is also the first time a U.S. military aircraft will land at the Kalma Airport.

The anniversary of the agreement is typically treated as a holiday filled with anti-U.S. propaganda, formerly celebrated as the “Day of Victory in the Great Fatherland Liberation War.”

However, North Korea appears to be cutting down on anti-U.S. propaganda. They eliminated anti-U.S. propaganda from a June 25 holiday marking the beginning of the Korean War, and took earlier efforts to remove anti-U.S. propaganda from streets and shops.

The actions, coupled with the transfer of remains, appear to be an effort by North Korea to build trust with the U.S., signaling progress in relations with the two nations.