NCNK Issue Briefs
NCNK Issue Brief: Korean War POW/MIAs
There are approximately 8,000 Korean War POW/MIAs from the United States who remain unaccounted for, with an estimated 5,500 buried in North Korea. This issue brief reviews the history of POW transfers at the end of the Korean War, and details the remains recovery operations that have occurred since then.
US Suspends Efforts to Recover Fallen Troop Remains in North Korea
(March 21, 2012) The Washington Post reports that the US is suspending planned remains recovery missions in North Korea. Spokespersons for the Pentagon cited the DPRK's planned satellite launch, bellicose statements about South Korea, and linkage of the missions to US-ROK joint military exercises led to the decision to suspend the operations. The US left open the possibility of resuming the missions if the situation improves.
Hunt for Missing U.S. Troops Set to Begin in North Korea
(March 8, 2012) The Associated Press reports that the US military is preparing to begin POW/MIA remains recovery missions in North Korea. A US ship transporting equipment arrived in the country earlier this month, and a US advance team is expected to arrive soon; searches are expected to begin in April. A Pentagon spokesperson said that North Korea would receive $5.7 million for four missions to last through September, compensation for services including food, fuel, labor, transportation, water, and security.
Remains Recovery Operations to Begin in March
(January 26, 2012) The Washington Post, citing a letter from Sen Richard Lugar to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, reports that operations to recovery the remains of US POW/MIAs killed in North Korea will begin in March. A Pentagon spokesperson confirmed that by March 1, the North Korean military will begin preparations for the arrival later that month of a US advance team, which will evaluate conditions and prepare for the operations.
Kim Jong-il's Death Complicates Search for Remains
(December 19, 2011) The Washington Post reports that, in the wake of Kim Jong-il's death, the future of the remains recovery missions in North Korea agreed to in October remains uncertain. “We’re just trying to remain positive, and believe that the recovery agreement will hold,” said Rick Downes, president of the Coalition of Families of Korean & Cold War POW/MIAs. “It’s something the North Koreans have wanted for a long time now, and I would think they still want that.”
Agreement Reached on Remains Recovery Operations
(October 20, 2011) After three days of negotiations in Bangkok, the Defense Department has released a statement announcing that US and North Korea have reached an arrangement to resume operations to recover the remains of US servicemen unaccounted for during the Korean War. Under the agreement, US teams will work in two areas of North Korea: Unsan County, and around the Chosin Reservoir.
US, North Korea Resume Talks on War Remains
(October 17, 2011) The Associated Press reports that Pentagon officials will meet with their North Korean counterparts in Bangkok this week to resume efforts to identify and repatriate the remains of US troops unaccounted for during the Korea War. The US delegation will be led by Robert J. Newberry, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/MIA Affairs. The remains recovery program, initiated in 1996, was suspended in 2005 amid rising tensions between North Korea and the United States.
Government Web Sites and Reports
CRS Letter: Korean War POW/MIA Punchbowl Remains
This letter from the Congressional Research Service was written by Specialist in Military Manpower Policy Charles Henning in response to an August 3, 2011 letter from Sen. Richard Lugar. It addresses remains of Korean war POW/MIAs buried in the Hawaiian cemetery known as the Punch Bowl, and related issues. The letter is dated September 27, 2011.
POWS and MIAs Status and Accounting Issues (CRS RL 33452)
This Congressional Research Service report covers all POWs and MIAs from 20th Century wars, as well as the ongoing Iraq War. Korean War POWs/MIAs are specifically addressed on pages 8-9. This report was updated on June 1, 2006.
Improving Recovery and Full Accounting of POW/MIA Personnel from all Past Conflicts A transcript of a hearing held on April 2, 2009 before Military Personnel Subcommittee of the House Committee on Armed Services. Government witnesses include Rear Adm. Donna L Crip and Deputy Assistant Secretary Charles A. Ray. Other witnesses include POW/MIA advocate Ron Broward, former Marine Frank Metersky and Robin Piacine, Coalition of Families of Korean and Cold War POW/MIAs.
Oversight and Status of
A transcript of a hearing held on July 10, 2008 before the Military
Personnel Subcommittee of the House Committee on Armed Services, addressing topics such as the resumption of
joint field operations in the DPRK and the rate of identification of remains
Status of POW/MIA Negotiations with North Korea This is
a transcript of a hearing held
on June 20, 1996 before the Military and Personnel Subcommittee of the House
Committee on National Security. Witnesses include Insung O. Lee, DPMO Analyst
and Paul Cole, Researcher and former DOD Archivist in Russia and East Europe.
Cold War, Korea, WWII POWS This is the transcript of the two days of hearings before the
Select Committee on POW Affairs held
November 9-10 1992 regarding Cold
WW II POWs. The Select Committee, which had been created as a result of a
Senate resolution, initially focused on POWs in Indochina.
However, the original mandate included POWs from other wars. Witnesses included Rand researcher Paul Cole,
Lt. Col. Philip Corso, who had served in the NSC during the Eisenhower
administration and Charles Kartman, then director of the Office of Korean
Affairs in the U.S. Department of State.
Laws and Resolutions
National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2013 -- Language Relevant to POW/MIA Issues
This Report on the
House version of the FY 2013 NDAA (H.R. 4310) contains language directing a
review of the Defense Department’s efforts to increase its identifications of
unaccounted-for personnel from previous wars, including the Korean War. H.R. 4310 also contained
a provision allowing volunteers to assist the Defense Department in efforts to
account for missing personnel.
H. Res. 376 -- Calling for the repatriation of POW/MIAs and abductees from the Korean War
This resolution, submitted by Representative Charles Rangel to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on July 27, 2011, calls upon North Korea to repatriate any living American and South Korean POWs and civilian abductees from the Korean War, and calls upon the US government to resume search and recovery operations for the remains of American POWs in North Korea. The Resolution was passed by voice vote on December 13, 2011.
National Defense Authorization Act FY 2010 Section on POW/MIA Identification
As part of the funding authorization for the US military in FY 2010, Congress required the Secretary of Defense to implement a program to identify unaccounted for POW/MIAs from conflicts including the Korean War. The law requires the Department of Defense to provide enough resources to identify at least 200 missing persons annually, beginning in FY 2015.
Public Statements from Government Officials
Senator Lugar letter to Secretary Panetta
In this January 17, 2012 letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Senator Richard Lugar, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urges Secretary Panetta to "request all available information about the approximately 8,000 missing Americans from the Korean War," and to find information on whether any missing American military personnel remain alive in North Korea.
Kelly Ayotte letter to Secretaries Panetta, Clinton
In this August 24, 2011 letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) calls on the government to "resume joint search and recovery operations in North Korea as soon as possible."
Senator Lugar requests report on unidentified remains of Korean War casualties
On August 3, 2011, Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) requested a report from the Congressional Research Service on the Punch Bowl National Cemetery in Hawaii, which contains the remains of unidentified American casualties from the Korean War. Senator Lugar asked for information on the progress of identifying the remains, among other related topics.
John Kerry calls for rethinking US approach to North Korea
In a June 26, 2011 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) argues that US policy toward North Korea has been "inadequate," and calls for the United States to directly engage North Korea. He argues that cooperation on humanitarian issues, including the resumption of remains recovery operations and carefully monitored food aid to vulnerable populations in North Korea, would provide the initial steps toward broader engagement.
Coalition of Families of Korean and Cold War POWs/MIAs
Korea Cold War Families of the Missing
Korean War MIA/POW Network
Korean War Casualties Database (part of the Korean War Project)
Korean War Veterans Association (can also click here )
National Alliance of Families
Ken Quinones: The US-DPRK Agreed Framework and the U.S. Army's Return to North Korea. This paper describes the negotiations leading to the joint recovery missions that took place in the DPRK between 1996 and 2005.
Operation Glory: Condensed from Graves Registration Division
Korean Communications Zone (KCOMZ) Historical Summary July-December
Coalition of Families Summer 2012 Newsletter This newsletter describes how the US-DPRK agreement to resume joint remains recovery operations in North Korea fell apart, and outlines other issues relevant to the mission to repatriate and identify U.S. service members who remain unaccounted for from foreign wars.