The South Korean government will disclose the list of the remains of about 4,500 unidentified Koreans, who were forced into overseas labor and died in foreign lands during Japan’s colonial rule, as part of efforts to bring them home, a committee dealing with the matter said Wednesday.
The Commission on Verification and Support for the Victims of Forced Mobilization under Japanese Colonialism in Korea, a subcommittee of the Prime Minister’s Office, said they will make the list public for the first time to help track the identities of the dead laborers and find their family members.
Included on the list were information the committee gathered on the cemeteries and remains of the unidentified victims buried in Japan or Sakhalin in Russia where they were dispatched to work and ended up dying in during the Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula, according to the committee.
Names, dates of birth and hometown addresses are also included on the list, so that families of the victims can verify their identities and help the committee bring home their relatives’ remains, it noted.
The list will be posted on the committee’s Web site from the beginning of November, it said.
“We have been verifying the identities and families of (forced labor) victims through information taken from Japan or our own investigation, but on these 4,500-something victims, we had no way (to verify their identities) and decided to disclose them to the public,” a committee official said.
Through discussion with Japan and Russia, the committee plans to find ways to bring home the remains of those whose identities get verified through the latest disclosure upon the request of the victims’ families, it said.
Historians say millions of Korean men were forcibly drafted into the Japanese workforce during the colonial rule, and more than 200,000 women from Korea and other Asian nations were sexually enslaved to serve wartime Japanese soldiers.
Remains of many unidentified labor victims remain buried or enshrined in mass graves, charnel houses and temples in Japan and Russia. (Yonhap News)