Progress on Korean War Personnel Accounting

June 18, 2018 PRINT | E-MAIL
Korean War Statistics: Total Personnel unaccounted-for  7699
Completed North Korea Joint Field Activities (JFAs): 1996 – present  33
Completed South Korea Joint Field Activities (JFAs/KFEs): 1982 – present  57

Category Total Each Category Accounted-for

North Korea: Remains recovered and repatriated through unilateral turnover, 1990-1994 in 208 caskets[2] (K-208) or JFA in 229 caskets, 1996-2005:

K-208 (208 Caskets)
 JFA (229 Caskets)            

(K-208 - 181,
JFA - 153)


North Korea: Remains repatriated through unilateral turnover 2007

7 Individuals


National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP) in Hawaii:
Unknown remains disinterred 1999-present[3]

189 Caskets

China: Remains repatriated through JFAs 1 Individual 1
Japan: Remains repatriated through JFAs 1 Individual 1
South Korea: Remains repatriated through JFAs since 1982 - present 25 Individuals 16
Total remains identified and accounted-for, 1982 – present 459

Korean War Accounting Efforts on the Peninsula

Korean War Personnel Accounting Strategy – main avenues of pursuit are:
  • Pursuit of the Live Prisoner Issue. Finding live Americans is a high priority of our accounting effort, when and if information is presented indicating there is a live sighting of an American. Department of Defense (DoD), with the full support of the U.S. Intelligence Community, has investigated all credible reports and sightings of alleged American survivors of the Korean War in North Korea. Since 1995, more than 25,000 defectors from North Korea have been screened for information concerning Americans possibly 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, five are reported to have died in the North, and one, Sergeant Jenkins, was returned to U.S. control in 2004.
  • Repatriation of U.S. remains recovered by, and under DPRK control. On several occasions in the past, DPRK officials have indicated they possess as many as 200 sets of remains they had recovered over the years. The commitment established within the Joint Statement between President Trump and Chairman Kim would repatriate these as was done in the early 1990s and would reinforce the humanitarian aspects of this mission.
  • Identification of remains already recovered and under U.S. control. Unidentified Korean War remains are located as Unknowns at the NMCP and at DPAA’s Laboratory in Hawaii. Extensive efforts have been on-going to identify these remains using forensic anthropology, odontology, DNA and other scientific 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.
  • 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 Secretary of Defense is authorized to pay fair and reasonable compensation for the efforts associated with recovering remains, but does not pay for remains or information. Should high level U.S.-DPRK negotiations result in the resumption of field operations, subsequent planning and logistical discussions would be conducted to determine how they would be executed.
  • 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 People’s 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.

[1]  This is a working number from the Personnel Missing Korea (PMKOR) list; approximately 5,300 lost in North Korea. [2] 208 caskets of remains received from DPRK, many of which were commingled; possibly 400 remains in the 208 caskets. [3] Original estimate of 866 sets of Unknown remains located in NMCP when exhumations began in 1999. The Total displayed represents disinterred caskets to date.
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