Soldiers from various nations who served under UN command in South Korea presented a honor guard in front of the plane as white-gloved soldiers in various uniforms dropped down the US Air Force's C-17 ramp UN flag [19659002Thecasesweretransmittedtosilverminivanswaitingontherunway
The C-17 had left Osan Air Base on Friday to fly to Wonsan in North Korea before completing the return journey. The White House said in a statement.
In Wonsan, the North Koreans handed over what they say are an initial 55 cases, a US official told CNN.
It may take months for detailed DNA analyzes to be performed to determine how many American service agents can be identified.
In a tweet, US President Donald Trump described the return of the remains as "a great moment for so many families" and thanked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Every case of remains should be opened and photographed in North Korea before being transferred. US forensics specialists are to investigate the remains and an investigation of military uniforms, identification marks or documentation on the Osan Air Base in more detail. This review could take up to five days.
"It was a successful mission after full coordination," said United Nations Command (UNC) and Commander of US Forces Korea (USFK), Commander General Vincent K. Brooks. "Now we will prepare to honor our fallen before continuing their journey home."
General Brooks will host a full tribute on Wednesday, August 1
The South Koreans welcomed the move from North Korea as a "humanitarian measure that can help heal the suffering of veterans of the Korean War who could not return home more than half a century and their survivors."
"The South Korean government will continue to consult with the North so that the (remnants) of our soldiers killed during the Korean War can return to their families as soon as possible through a joint search for remnants," the South Korean Foreign Ministry said.
The transfer has since been postponed repeatedly. At one point, North Korean officials canceled a meeting with American colleagues to discuss the surrender. Still at the beginning of Friday there was still uncertainty about whether the transfer would take place.
"Today, the Chairman is fulfilling part of his commitment to the President to return our fallen American soldiers," reads the White House statement. "We are encouraged by North Korea's actions and the momentum for positive change."
"This repatriation is an action based on the agreement between Heads of State and Government at the North Korea-US Summit on June 12. We assess that this is a significant step towards building confidence between the two sides can contribute. " the South Korean Foreign Ministry. "We hope that the efforts of the parties involved to promote peace and stability on the Korean peninsula will be further accelerated."
Korea was divided into two parts under Japanese rule before and during World War II. After the Japanese surrender, the Soviet Union occupied the area north of the 38th latitude and the United States occupied the area south until 1948.
Of the nearly 8,000 Americans killed or missing in the battle, more than 5,000 were killed were believed to be in North Korea. Since 1990, North Korea has repatriated the remains of 340 US soldiers.
Alexandra Field of CNN reported on Osan Air Base in South Korea, Jamie Tarabay reported from Hong Kong, Sophie Jeong reported on Seoul and Barbara Starr, and Ryan Browne contributed to this Washington DC report.