World DNA Sampling of Remains From North Korea to Take Months

22:15  09 august  2018
22:15  09 august  2018 Source:   newsweek.com

Presumed US war remains begin journey home from South Korea

  Presumed US war remains begin journey home from South Korea The remains of dozens of presumed American war dead are beginning their journey home decades after the end of the Korean War. North Korea handed over the remains in 55 boxes last week and allowed a U.S. military transport plane to move them to the U.S. Osan Air Base near Seoul in South Korea. While it was an apparent goodwill gesture by North Korea toward the United States, the return comes amid growing skepticism about whether the North will follow through on its pledge of nuclear disarmament.

Sampling the DNA from remains of American troops recently transferred from North Korea to the U.S could take six months , with identification taking several months more, the anthropologist leading the team of experts has said.

If a DNA analysis is called for, samples are sent to a military DNA lab at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Tiny samples of bone or teeth, no bigger than But in other cases, it can take decades. He noted some remains recovered from North Korea from 1990 to 2005 are still awaiting identification.

a group of people standing around a plane © Provided by IBT Media Sampling the DNA from remains of American troops recently transferred from North Korea to the U.S could take six months, with identification taking several months more, the anthropologist leading the team of experts has said.

"Once we start DNA sampling next week, under normal circumstances it will take six months to obtain the first results," Jennie Jin, the director of the Korean War Project told South Korea’s Yonhap news agency Wednesday. "And then the identification begins ... that could take several months, although that varies,” she added.

The remains, allegedly belonging to U.S. soldiers from the Korean War, were returned to the U.S at the end of July as a goodwill gesture from Pyongyang, following the historic Singapore summit between strongman leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump in June. According to Yonhap, some 7,700 American soldiers remain unaccounted for from the conflict, which lasted from 1950 to 1953. Around 5,300 of these remains are believed to be in North Korea.

Kentucky soldier killed in Korean War identified

  Kentucky soldier killed in Korean War identified A Kentucky soldier who went missing in 1950 during the Korean War has been identified by his remains. Pfc. Joe Stanton Elmore was 20 when he died on Dec. 2, 1950, in Changjim County, Hamgyeong Province, North Korea.

But North Korea provided only a single military dog tag with the 55 boxes. The anthropologists also study remains to determine their sex, race, size and age. The lab does this by taking DNA samples from bones and teeth.

The lab does this by taking DNA samples from bones and teeth. About 7,700 U.S. soldiers are listed as missing from the 1950-53 Korean War, and 5,300 of the remains are believed to still be in North Korea . Some could take several months while others could take years.

Pyongyang’s July transfer wasn’t the first time the country has returned American soldiers remains to the U.S. In the 1990s, 208 boxes were transferred containing the remains of 400 individuals, and more were received as recently as 2005. In this recent goodwill gesture, North Korea sent 55 boxes, but it is still unclear how many soldiers’ remains are included.

As a result, the U.S. team of scientists must work diligently to identify the remains and determine the number of soldiers.

“The North Koreans gave us data on where the remains were found, what each box contains, including the number of artifacts," Jin told Yonhap. "Based on that, my team in Hawaii is drawing up an inventory to be entered into a database this week."

Despite the uncertainty, John Byrd, director of analysis for the U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency told reporters: "There's no reason at this point to doubt that they do relate to Korean War losses," following the official transfer. South Korea's Osan air base, where a repatriation ceremony was held, also said that the initial "field forensic review" suggests the "remains are what North Korea said they were.”

Pence receives Korean War remains

  Pence receives Korean War remains Identifying the remains will be challengingIdentifying the remains will be a challenge. When North Korea handed over 55 boxes of bones it claimed are the remains of America's soldiers, it provided only one military dog tag and no other information to help U.S. forensic analysts to determine identities. The remains will be tested in Hawaii.

Scientists will extract DNA and compare it to DNA samples collected from families of troops still missing from the war. But North Korea only provided one dog tag with the 55 boxes it handed over last week. It could take months or years to determine their identities.

But North Korea provided only a single military dog tag with the 55 boxes. The anthropologists also study remains to determine their sex, race, size and age. The lab does this by taking DNA samples from bones and teeth.

Despite popular crime shows suggesting that DNA testing and identification can be done within a matter of hours, the process is actually much more difficult. As BBC Science explained: “99.9 percent of the DNA from two people will be identical. The 0.1 percent of DNA code sequences that vary from person to person are what make us unique.”

a close up of a man © Provided by IBT Media

Just because two DNA samples do not match, it does not necessarily mean they aren’t from the same individual. For more accurate results, scientists must test multiple genetic markers. Forensic DNA tests, such as those to be conducted by the Korean War Project, generally test six to ten markers, according to the BBC. This makes the results far more accurate, but also requires more time.

"One can guess how old an individual was based on their bones," Jin told Yonhap, also explaining that a person’s bones continue to grow until around the age of 30. "Many of the soldiers were between the ages of 18 and 23, so many of their bones weren't even fully adjoined yet. You can tell just by looking at the bones,” she said.

Until the experts' work is complete, the identities and origins of the remains will be open to speculation. As Defense Secretary Jim Mattis pointed out in July, the soldiers could also potentially belong to any of the 16 other U.N. member countries that fought alongside the U.S.

"We don't know who's in those boxes," he said. "They could go to Australia. They have missing, France has missing … There's a whole lot of us. So, this is an international effort to bring closure for those families."

North Korea slams US for lacking ‘basic decorum’ in nuke talks .
<p>North Korea ripped the U.S. government on Thursday for insisting that Pyongyang fully denuclearize, claiming that Trump administration officials are "going against" President Trump by criticizing the nation.</p>The North Korean government said in a statement that it has halted nuclear missile tests, dismantled a nuclear test site and begun to return the remains of Americans killed in the Korean War, but lamented continued criticism from U.S. officials.

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