Remains of 18 Koreans returned from Russia, decades after being forced into laborUpdated: 2014-08-29 22:05:26 (KST)
Some 70 years after they were forcably sent to the Soviet Union by Japan, 18 Koreans have finally come home.
The ashes of the 18 were handed over by Russia to Korea on Thursday.
They're just a fraction of the 30-thousand Koreans who were forcefully drafted to Sakhalin in the late 1930s by Japan during its colonization of the Korean peninsula.
Not even liberation in 1945 meant freedom for the victims.
Many were not able to return to Korea for a number of reasons.
"Being at the scene showed me how many hardships Koreans went through back then. It's tragic that they weren't able to come home before they died."
"My father passed away at the age of 86, and now I am 86. Bringing him back at this age makes it all the more special."
Forced into harsh labor conditions at construction sites and coal mines during the war, many of the Korean victims were the target of mass slaughters towards the end of it.
The return of these 18 Korean nationals is the second such event, following the return of one victim last year and comes as the result of consultations between the Korean and Russian governments.
"Before bringing the remains to Korea, the families of the deceased were able to witness the excavation of the remains and were even able to conduct funerals. It's the first time they've been allowed to do both."
The ashes of the now 19 Korean victims now lie at National Mang-Hyang Cemetery in Chungcheongnam-do province, which serves as a resting place for Koreans who resided and passed away in foreign lands.
The nation's foreign ministry and the Commission of Forced Mobilization Under Japanese Colonialism are working to bring the remains of the thousands of other Korean victims home in the near future.
Shin Se-min, Arirang News.
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