Signing between Canada and Republic of Korea marks military milestone

July 2, 2021 - Defence Stories


The Memorandum of Understanding signed by the CAF and the Korean Armed Forces on June 23 marks a significant step in bringing closure to the families of the 16 Canadian Army soldiers who went missing in action more than 70 years ago during the Korean War. At the Canadian portion of the virtual signing, held at NDHQ Carling, were Casualty Identification Program coordinator Dr. Sarah Lockyer and Commander Military Personnel Command LGen Steven Whelan.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed Wednesday, June 23 marked an important milestone in the longstanding military relationship between Canada and Korea. The virtual signing signifies mutual support of the work of the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of National Defense Agency for Killed in Action Recovery and Identification, known as MAKRI, and the Canadian Armed Forces’ Casualty Identification Program. Within the Directorate of History and Heritage, the Casualty Identification Program identifies missing war dead from the First World War, the Second World War and the Korean War and provides them with a proper military burial.

The Republic of Korea and Canada agreed to expedite efforts to discover and identify Canadian troops who went missing during the 1950-53 Korean War. Sixteen Canadian Army soldiers remain missing in action. Under the MoU, the Republic of Korea indicated it will establish a system to better manage the discovery of the remains and storage of their DNA information, while Canada indicated it will cooperate to provide DNA information of the bereaved families required for the identification.

In next steps, the families of those listed as missing will be sought to discuss a possible DNA donation. To facilitate identification, the CAF is asking anyone who may know someone whose family member was declared Missing in Action between 1950 and 1953 to inform them of the Casualty Identification Program and encourage them to fill out the form found at the related links. Personal information will be protected in accordance with the Privacy Act.

To date, one of the 16 families of the Canadian Army soldiers declared Missing in Action has registered and it is hoped that more families will learn of the registry soon.

“Today marks a significant step in bringing closure to the families of the 16 Canadian Army soldiers who went missing in action more than 70 years ago far away from home,” Commander Military Personnel Command LGen Steve Whelan said in his opening remarks at the signing. “It also underscores what we already know to be true ­– that Canada and Republic of Korea will never forget our fallen.”

The MoU is a continuation of the enduring defence relationship with the Republic of Korea, which dates back to 1950. At that time, Canada declared its support for the Republic of Korea following its invasion by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and contributed the third largest number of soldiers among United Nations countries. Between 1950 and 1953, 26,791 Canadian soldiers were deployed to the Republic of Korea, and 516 made the ultimate sacrifice.

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