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‘Dead’ S Korean soldiers turn up for reunion
Seoul, Nov 1 (Agencies):
Published on 2 Nov. 2010 12:16 AM IST
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A group of “dead” South Korean soldiers turned up alive at the weekend at a reunion for families divided by the 1950-53 war in Korea, according to the Seoul defence ministry.
The authorities will now revise their list of South Koreans killed during the conflict, officials said after the three-day reunion ended.
The four men’s families were informed just days before the event that they were still alive, reports said.
“We are discussing whether to leave them on the war dead list or name them as prisoners of war by consulting with their families and the ministry of veterans’ affairs,” a defence ministry spokesman said.
While the ex-soldiers are obviously alive, an official reclassification could affect pension and other government benefits which their relatives in the South have been receiving.
Since 2000, 28 former South Korean soldiers who were listed as killed in action have been confirmed alive in the North, with 13 of them showing up for reunions.
In addition to those listed as dead, Seoul estimates that about 500 prisoners of war were never sent home during prisoner swaps in 1953 and are still living in the communist North.
It also says some 480 South Korean civilians, mostly fishermen, have been abducted to the North in the post-war years. The North says it holds no South Koreans against their will.
“Now, with many ex-soldiers believed to be alive in the North, we are planning to reorganise and update the (war-dead) list,” the spokesman said.
He said the government is handling the issue “very cautiously” and may allow families to decide the status of former soldiers.
“I know it sounds strange. But this is a very sensitive issue since the soldiers’ families are victims of the war themselves,” the spokesman said.
The two nations have remained technically at war since 1953 because no peace treaty was ever signed. There are no mail, telephone or email exchanges between ordinary citizens across the heavily fortified border.
Many do not even know whether relatives are alive or dead.

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