The remains of Chinese soldiers that have laid in South Korea for more than 60 years, ever since the Korean War, have been returned to their homeland. The repatriation is seen as a sign that the two countries are becoming closer, possibly at the expense of Chinese-North Korean relations. Is China abandoning North Korea for its wealthier neighbor?
China intervened in the Korean War in 1950. The Americans and the South Koreans, under the leadership of General MacArthur, were on the verge of winning the war. He had outflanked the North Koreans, with an amphibious landing at Inchon. The North Koreans who had occupied the majority of the Korean Peninsula were thrown back. The Chinese came to the aid of the Communist North and drove the Americas and South Koreans out of the North.
The Chinese suffered many casualties during their almost three-year involvement in the war. There are many unmarked graves of Chinese and Korean soldiers scattered around the Peninsula’s old battlefields.
Within sight of the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas is Cemetery 4. It is full of the graves of unknown Korean and Chinese soldiers who died in that war between 1950 and 1953.
The graveyard was once full of dilapidated wooden signs marking the graves. As relations improved, the signs were replaced with proper gravestones. Now, the gravestones mark where the tombs used to be, as the remains have been moved to the Chinese cemetery called the Resist America and Help Korean Martyrs Cemetery in Shanyang.
North Korean soldiers are still buried there as relations still have not improved between the two Koreas. North Korea does not recognize the existence of two Koreas so the authorities feel the soldiers’ remains are already home.
As China and North Korea become more ideologically estranged, China and South Korea are becoming closer trade partners. China is now South Korea’s biggest trading partner, bigger than the U.S. Many also believe that the Chinese are increasingly frustrated by the North Koreans.
Many also believe that the Chinese are increasingly frustrated by the North Koreans. The North has frequently threatened South Korea and their claims of having a nuclear weapon and ballistic technology is destabilising the region.
As South Korea discovers more Chinese soldiers buried in various places around the country, it allows China to examine them to for identification and then bury them in China. This will undoubtedly improve South-Korean and Chinese relations even further.