|Soldiers of the Chinese People's Liberation Army carry coffins containing remains of soldiers of the Chinese People's Volunteers (CPV) dead in the 1950-53 Korean War, during a handover ceremony at the Incheon International Airport of South Korea, March 28, 2014. South Korea on Friday handed over to China the remains of 437 CPV soldiers dead in the Korean War. (Xinhua/Yao Qilin)|
INCHEON, South Korea, March 28-- South Korea on Friday handed over to China the remains of 437 Chinese volunteer soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War.
A transfer ceremony was held Friday morning at the Incheon International Airport, about 50 km west of the capital of Seoul, where remains and belongings of the fallen soldiers were handed over to a Chinese delegation.
Zou Ming, an official from the Chinese Civil Affairs Ministry, and Moon Sang-gyun, an official from the South Korean Defense Ministry, signed a transferral protocol.
The Chinese delegation paid homage to the flag-draped coffins before a Chinese honor guard escorted them to a plane bound for Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province, where a solemn welcome ceremony will be held.
Zou said China and South Korea had jointly contributed to the handover of the remains on the basis of a sincere, friendly, cooperative and humanitarian spirit.
China appreciated the cooperation and efforts made by the South Korean authorities, as well as the friendship and goodwill the South Korean media and public showed toward the repatriation, he added.
The two countries agreed to establish a long-term cooperative mechanism to return the soldiers' remains before the traditional Chinese Tomb-Sweeping Day every year.
The Chinese People's Volunteers (CPV) fought side by side with the Korean People's Army of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the Korean War against the South Korean army and U.S.-led UN forces. Tens of thousands of CPV soldiers died on the Korean Peninsula during the war, which ended in an armistice in 1953.
The Chinese soldiers were buried scatteredly to the south of the Military Demarcation Line on the peninsula. In recent years, their remains had been excavated, identified and reburied in South Korea's border city of Paju.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye offered to repatriate remains of the fallen Chinese soldiers in June 2013.
The excavation in Paju started in December and lasted for three months as the remains have to be cleaned, dried and identified in extremely cold weather.
Around 14,000 South Korean soldiers, experts and technicians were involved in the excavation and identification procedures, according to Seoul's Defense Ministry.
On March 17, China and South Korea started encoffining remains of the Chinese volunteer soldiers.