Remains of 10 Chinese soldiers killed in the Korean War (1950-53) return to China on April 3, 2019. (Photo: Cui Meng/GT)
The remains of six Chinese volunteer soldiers who died in combat during the Korean War (1950-53) have been reunited with their relatives after more than 65 years after their identities were confirmed through DNA technology.
At a ceremony held by China's Ministry of Veterans Affairs on Sunday afternoon at a martyr's cemetery in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, the remains of six martyrs returned home, after a four-year investigation which used DNA to find the identities of the deceased and their living relatives.
It is the first time that the identities of unknown martyrs of the Chinese People's Volunteers (CPV) were confirmed through DNA technology.
The six martyrs -- Chen Zengji, Fang Hongyou, Hou Yongxin, Ran Xubi, Xu Yuzhong and Zhou Shaowu, were aged between 19 and 31 when they died in battle during the early 1950s, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
The remains were previously repatriated from South Korea, and the investigation was conducted by military scientists in China.
A total of 599 heroes' remains have been returned from South Korea, however, most have not been identified.
China Central Television (CCTV) and the Ministry of Veterans Affairs and other media have launched a project named Finding Heroes, which aims to connect with martyrs' families.
A research team from a Beijing-based institute of military medicine has made great efforts to reunite repatriated soldiers with their families since 2015. According to CCTV, the institute is now able to deal with DNA extraction of martyrs' remains and has established the first DNA database for martyrs in China. The six heroes' reunion with their family was due to the technology of the institute.
"We lost all connection with my brother in 1949, until we got word of his death in 1953," Chen Hushan, an 82-year-old soldier who fought in Korea told CCTV.
His elder brother Chen Zengji was killed in battle during the war. The only reminder his family had of him was a photograph taken when he was 19.
Chen said that he never expected his brother could come back this way because he was so unknown. And he is proud that China is strong now.
At Sunday's event, Chen wore his old military uniform.
"We are brothers and comrades-in-arms. It was glorious to see my brother this way. I want to say to him, after 70 years, we finally meet!" Chen told CCTV.
"Every martyr has their family and our government has shown respect toward them, which is a humane move that adheres to the values of our nation," Xu Guangyu, a senior consultant at the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times on Sunday.
Xu said the Chinese nation has experienced many hardships, and many people sacrificed for it. Therefore, it is necessary to remember those martyrs and their contribution in establishing new China and defending the country.
According to the Xinhua News Agency, Chinese leaders will pay tribute to national heroes at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Monday September 30, which is Martyrs' Day in China.
Just two days ahead of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, the commemoration in Shenyang is sure to spark a universal feeling of patriotism across the entire Chinese nation, and giving thanks to all those who contributed to people's happy life today, Xu noted.
"It is a vivid lesson in patriotism, which will inspire the whole country. Those martyrs taught us that if our country is in trouble, we must be brave and not be afraid of sacrifice," Xu said.
The Chinese People's Volunteers fought side by side with the North Korean army in the Korean War against the South Korean army and US-led UN forces between 1950 and 1953.
During the war, 197,653 Chinese soldiers died on the Korean Peninsula, which ended in a truce in 1953.