This photo, taken on Wednesday, shows the Jeju National Cemetery on the southern island of Jeju. (Yonhap)
The ministry held a ceremony opening the Jeju National Cemetery, the first such facility on the island, with the attendance of some 100 people, including Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum, Veterans Affairs Minister Hwang Ki-chul and bereaved families.
The bereaved families had called for the establishment of such a memorial facility on the island, as many have laid to rest their loved ones in private burial sites in part because state cemeteries are located on the mainland.
“We plan to make the national cemetery a place to honor, memorialize and lay to rest the people of national merit, as well as an educational site for citizens and future generations to remember and emulate the noble, patriotic spirit of the heroes,” the ministry said in a press release.
Nestled in Mount Halla, the cemetery spanning 270,000 square meters can accommodate up to 10,000 fallen national heroes and patriots, ministry officials said. It was built as part of a 50.5 billion won ($42.95 million) project.
The first person to be buried at the cemetery is Staff Sgt. Song Dal-seon. He died in a fierce battle at the height of the Korean War in May 1951. His remains were recovered in 2011 and recently identified as his. (Yonhap)