The U.S. and North Korea have reached an agreement concerning the search for remains of approximately 5,500 U.S. servicemen who died during the Korean War and are thought to be buried in what is now North Korea, according to a report from Reuters. Past searches have yielded some results, but difficult diplomatic relations with North Korea in recent years has stalled efforts. A statement from the Pentagon says that efforts will resume next year. Find out more about North Korea and the Korean War from National Geographic magazine:
- Escape From North Korea (February 2009): “Defection is daunting. So is starting a new, free life,” reports author Tom O’Neill. Along with tens of thousands who are hiding in China, some 15,000 North Koreans have reached safety, most in South Korea. The punishment for crossing the border is imprisonment in labor camps, and worse for those who reach out to missionaries. The refugees sometimes end up in the hands of those who take advantage of their plight. O’Neill describes the efforts of Pastor Chun Ki-won of the Durihana Mission, who helped two young women who had escaped across the North Korean border to China, but were then imprisoned in a room and forced to work in the Internet sex industry. Follow along with O’Neill as he witnesses their trip to safety and difficult adjustment to life in the South. Photos by Chien-Chi Chang.
- Korea’s DMZ: Dangerous Divide (excerpt; July 2003): Tom O’Neill visits the DMZ (demilitarized zone), a 2.5-mile-wide buffer zone between North and South Korea, where no heavy weaponry is allowed. What is allowed? Plenty of mental war games, complete with stare-downs across the line; you literally need to “stand tall” if you want to guard the Military Demarcation Line on either side. O’Neill visits Panmunjon, where the North Koreans and UN Command meet and witnesses the “body repatriation” of four North Koreans who had washed downstream to the South. Photos by Michael Yamashita. The site includes a map showing the DMZ and number of troops on each side.
- The GI and the Kids of Korea (May 1953): Robert H. Mosier, a Technical Sergeant with the United States Marine Corps, recounts the affection that developed between the GIs and the children of Korea, and how the GIs tried to help where they could. Help they did, with airlifts, food, money and warm clothes. Mosier reports that the numbers they usually heard were 3,500,000 Korean refugees, and 100,000 orphans. He shares some stories: a lieutenant with the 1st Marines wrote home to Springfield, Missouri about the cold and ragged children, and three-quarters of a ton of clothes were sent via a clothing drive; the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing sent 20 kids to school and pooled their money to buy food for orphans. Mosier didn’t forget the other military branches. He notes that even offshore, the Navy passed the word from ship to ship about the orphans and children in need and collected warm winter gear and money, giving examples of donations from the USS Kearsarge and USS Los Angeles. And the Army? Along with numerous clothing drives, donations, and other assistance, the GIs in the 40th Division scraped together $14,000, found an architect, and built a school to house 600 students in Kapyong, which had been particularly hard hit during the fighting. Numerous photos include Kodachromes by Mosier of fighting at Changdo-ri, refugees braving a blizzard, and some of the orphan children he met along the way. One photo is of a very small boy during “Operation Orphan Annie,” when the U.S. Air Force diverted 15 cargo planes to ferry a thousand orphans to a safe island (Cheju Do) as China’s army threatened Seoul. The photo was captioned “The Kid Who Walks Alone: War’s Little Old Man Ascends the Ramp to a Rescue Plane.”
Note: To find previously published National Geographic magazine articles check your local library or purchase the Complete National Geographic on DVD/Hard Drive.