South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in a joint ceremony between South Korea and the United States in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Wednesday (local time) for transfer of the remains of South Korean and U.S. troops killed during the Korean War that a declaration of the end of war will bring hope and courage not only to people on the Korean Peninsula but also to everyone else who longs for peace. Becoming the first South Korean president to preside over the ceremony in question, President Moon took it as another opportunity following a keynote speech in the U.N. General Assembly held on the previous day to emphasize the need to declare the end of war as part of his efforts to handle the current stalemate in the denuclearization process around the end of his presidential term.
President Moon made it clear in the ceremony to transfer the remains of the fallen heroes during the Korean War held at Hangar 19 of Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu that the two nations’ fallen heroes may aspire to see a complete level of peace across the Korean Peninsula. The Hawaii-based air force is home to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).
The ceremony this year aimed to commemorate the transfer of 68 sets of South Korean remains dating back to the Korean War from Hawaii to their motherland and six sets of U.S. soldiers’ remains to their home. The two allies mutually transfer remains identified by South Korea as U.S. troops to Washington and those identified by the United States as South Korean forces out of remains delivered from North Korea to Seoul. Two out of 68 bodies transferred to South Korea were identified as the remains of Private First Class Kim Seok-ju and Jung Hwan-jo who turned out to have died in the Battle of Changjin Lake joining as members of Korean Augmentation Troops to the United States Army.
“It took our heroes’ sacrifices to allow around 100,000 war refugees including my parents to enjoy freedom. It was all thanks to their sacrifices that I am allowed to be here now,” said President Moon. The remains of South Korean troops covered with the national flag of Korea were moved onto an aircraft leaving for their home country. The remains of Private First Class Kim Seok-ju and Jeong Hwan-jo and those of the rest 66 bodies not identified yet were transferred to Seoul Airport by a presidential airplane and a KC-330 or a multi-purpose air-to-air refueling aircraft with South Korean National Defense Minister Suh Wook onboard, respectively. Wrapping up a three-night stay in the United States with the ceremony for transfer of the remains in Hawaii, President Moon returned to the country on Thursday afternoon.