Gov’t confirms identity of Korean victim of Japan’s forced labor
The government has confirmed that remains belonging to a Korean, forcibly brought by Japan to Tarawa Island in the central Pacific Ocean to work for its military during World War II, matches genetic information from a member of his family, data from a national forensic agency and the interior ministry revealed Monday.
The data, submitted to ruling Democratic Party lawmaker Kwon Mi-hyuk, revealed that a DNA test on a sample of the Korean man’s remains and a South Korean man believed to be his son, showed a 99.9999 percent certainty that they had a parent-child relationship.
It was the first time the government had confirmed the identity of a forced labor victim in the Pacific Ocean. The government plans to have the remains repatriated early next year in cooperation with the United States and Japan.
The identification of the remains came after the government established an arm of the interior ministry in November last year to seek the repatriation of the remains of Koreans who were forcibly taken to battlefields in the war.
Japan ruled the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945, a time during which historians say millions of Koreans were mobilized into forced labor.
In April, the department tasked with the repatriation of Korean remains received samples of the remains of 145 Koreans excavated on the island that were deemed to be possible subjects for DNA tests, from the U.S. government’s Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. The remains were part of a larger set of remains of Asian people.
In this file photo, provided by the National Archives, Korean laborers carry an injured compatriot on a stretcher on Tarawa Island in the central Pacific Ocean.