Progress on Korean War Personnel Accounting

July 27, 2017

Korean War Statistics: Total unaccounted-for  7740[1]
Total joint field activities (JFAs) completed in North Korea: 1996 – present  33
Total joint field activities (JFAs/KFEs) completed in South Korea: 1996 – present  54


Category Total Each Category Accounted-for
Remains recovered and repatriated through JFAs 229 144 (63%)
Remains repatriated through North Korean unilateral operations, 1990 – 1994 in 208 boxes[2] 400 172 (43%)
Remains repatriated through North Korean unilateral operations 2007  6 6 (100%)
Remains disinterred from the “Punchbowl” Cemetery in Hawaii, 1999 – present 123 79 (64%)
Remains repatriated through recovery operations in China 1 1 (100%)
Remains repatriated through recovery operations in Japan 1 1 (100%)
Remains repatriated through recovery operations in South Korea, since 1982 21 13 (62%)
Total remains identified and accounted-for, 1982 – present 781 416 (53%)

Korean War Accounting Efforts on the Peninsula

Korean War Personnel Accounting Strategy – main avenues of pursuit are:
  • Resolution of the Live Prisoner Issue. Finding live Americans is the highest priority of our accounting process. Department of Defense (DoD), with the full support of the U.S. intelligence community, aggressively investigates all credible reports and sightings of alleged American survivors of the Korean War living in North Korea. Since 1995, more than 25,000 defectors from North Korea have been screened for information concerning Americans possibly living in the North. To date, this effort has produced no useful information concerning live Americans. Most reports of live Americans in North Korea pertain to six known U.S. military defectors. Of the six defectors, only one remains alive in North Korea. Four are reported to have died in the North, and one, Sergeant Jenkins, was returned to U.S. control in 2004.
  • Joint Field Activities (JFAs) in North Korea. JFAs consist of investigative and recovery operations. The U.S. conducted 33 JFAs in North Korea from 1996 through 2005. The U.S. government pays fair and reasonable compensation for the efforts associated with recovering remains, but does not pay for remains or information.
  • Identification of remains already recovered and under U.S. control. Unidentified Korean War remains are located at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and at DPAA’s Laboratory in Hawaii. Efforts are underway to identify these remains using DNA and other methods.
  • Investigative and remains recovery operations in South Korea and China. Approximately 950 remains are located in South Korea and fewer than 20 are known to be in China.
  • Korean War era archives. DoD continues to conduct archival research in the U.S., South Korea, Russia, Eastern Europe, and China. We have also conducted research in North Korean archives, and currently we have an arrangement with China for the Peoples Liberation Army to search its military records for information on U.S. personnel. Chinese Communist Forces administered and operated the POW camps in North Korea for most of the war.
  • Oral history programs in the U.S., South Korea, Russia, and China. DoD periodically interviews Korean War veterans in the U.S., South Korea, Russia and China. These efforts are designed to uncover information that will help determine the circumstances of loss for missing servicemen; build our knowledge base of Korean War loss incidents; and gain eyewitness accounts of prison camp life and prisoner movements.

Cold War Loss-Sea of Japan

On April 15, 1969, North Korean fighter aircraft shot down a U.S. Navy EC-121 aircraft carrying a crew of 31 over the Sea of Japan. U.S. Navy ships recovered two remains; 29 U.S. service members are still unaccounted-for as a result of this incident.


[1]  This is a working number from the Personnel Missing Korea (PMKOR) list. [2] 208 boxes of remains received from DPRK unilateral operations; many remains were commingled; possibly 375-400 remains in the 208 boxes.


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