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[AP EXCLUSIVE] US remains in N. Korea lost in political limbo

March 24, 2016
In this Dec. 3, 2015, photo, human remains, which village elders claim belong to soldiers who fought in the Korean War, is laid out next to a burial site on Ryongyon-ri hill in Kujang county, North Korea. "Until They Are Home" is one of the most sacred vows of the U.S. military, yet there are 5,300 American GIs missing in North Korea from the Korean War whose remains are potentially recoverable. It has been more than a decade since any U.S. search teams have tried, and with construction projects across the country moving forward, many could already be lost forever. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

In this Dec. 3, 2015, photo, human remains, which village elders claim belong to soldiers who fought in the Korean War, is laid out next to a burial site on Ryongyon-ri hill in Kujang county, North Korea. “Until They Are Home” is one of the most sacred vows of the U.S. military, yet there are 5,300 American GIs missing in North Korea from the Korean War whose remains are potentially recoverable. It has been more than a decade since any U.S. search teams have tried, and with construction projects across the country moving forward, many could already be lost forever. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

RYONGYON-RI, North Korea [ASSOCIATED PRESS] — The village elder put his shovel aside, stooped down by a scraggly bush and pulled a sack from the freshly turned dirt. Spreading open the sack, he reached in to reveal femurs, skull and jaw fragments, boots and a rusted green helmet.

“These are your American GIs,” Song Hong Ik said at a burial mound near the top of a small hill.

Perhaps they are. But for more than a decade, no one has been trying to find out.

“Until They Are Home” is one of the most sacred vows of the U.S. military, yet Washington has long suspended efforts to look for 5,300 American GIs missing in North Korea whose remains are potentially recoverable. The countries’ abysmal relations suggest that no restart is coming soon. [READ MORE]

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