North Korea Returns the Remains of U.S. Soldiers
North Korea’s strategic move towards diplomatic relations

The president of the United States, Donald Trump, has shown gross incompetence in dealing with international diplomacy. His use of inappropriate words coupled with a lack of understanding of foreign policy has propelled several dire moments within his administration. Therefore, when he met with North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, on June 2018 in Singapore, the world had their heart on their palms. The meeting, which had the potential to start a full-fledged war, instead turned into a platform which propagated the friendship between the two. The summit also resulted in North Korea return the remains of 55 U.S. soldiers who were killed during the Korean War.

The Korean War was fought between South Korea and the communist-led North from 1950-1953. The U.S. joined the forces of the south and deployed more than 300,000 soldiers on the battleground. The war ended with two countries signing an armistice, and resulted in around 5,300 unaccounted American soldiers, who were either believed to be dead or held captive in North Korea. Although more than 200 remains were returned between 1990 and 2005, North Korea’s nuclear ambitions halted the repatriation process. As the relatives of the unaccounted soldiers waited on American soil to finally achieve closure, North Korea started testing nuclear weapons to find any conceivable reason to attack the U.S.

The Singapore summit was the first meeting of leaders of the two nation, the U.S. and North Korea, in history. The aim of the summit was to establish peaceful relations between the two nations and ask North Korea to take the route towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. As both leaders shook hands and laughed, the meeting was criticized for a lack of detail on how and when North Korea would renounce their nuclear weapons.

One of the points of the meeting was to ask North Korea to return the bodies of American soldiers who passed away during the Korean War. On 26th July, marking the 65th anniversary of the signing of the armistice between the two Korean nations, Pyongyang send the remains of 55 U.S. troops back to America to honor the agreements made during the summit. While the act marked as the latest move in developing cautious diplomatic relations between the two countries, it also brought renewed hope to families waiting for closure for over half a century.

However, critics have been quick to point out that the remains might not be of American soldiers, as troops from Britain, Australia, and Belgium also lost their lives in the Korean War. The remains are set to undergo forensic tests to identify for certain if they belong to deceased U.S. heroes. The identification process could take years before the results are divulged. Former UN ambassador, Bill Richardson, remained skeptical and claimed that North Korea might also start charging the U.S. to locate and identify the remaining bodies.

Nonetheless, the symbolic gesture showcased by North Korea has struck a nerve with the U.S. government, and said it was, “encouraged by North Korea’s actions and the momentum for positive change”. The act will definitely be seen as a significant moment in history towards developing fruitful relations between the two countries.