February 19, 2010 11:20
Korean boys and girls aged 14 to 17 who fought in the Korean War will be formally recognized for their services to their country 60 years later and a complete record of their actions published.
A Defense Ministry official said Thursday, "Marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War, we have decided to recognize the sacrifices made by children who fought in the war, formally consider them soldiers and compile a record of their actions." The official added the efforts are intended to prompt a fresh look at their roles and sacrifices.
The ministry plans to complete the process of formally recognizing their military contributions by the end of this year. The Army, Navy and Air Force began reviewing military records in December, identifying child soldiers who served during the Korean War and identified around 7,000 out of an estimated 14,400 who fall into the category.
It will divide the compilation of the records into three different stages and complete the process by the end of next year. Around 4,700 former child soldiers are believed to be still alive.
The move follows a recommendation of the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission. But the process has been slowed down as a group representing child soldiers demand that they be classified differently from partisan soldiers and student volunteer troops who did not receive soldiers' serial numbers. After the war, most child soldiers faced harsh lives as they could not finish their studies by joining the war and some of them were drafted again after they turned 18, being required to serve between four to five years in the military.
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