VietNamNet Bridge – Coming to Vietnam to study, soldiers of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) wanted to go into battle like real airmen. They shot down tens of enemy aircraft but many of them died for Vietnam’s independence and freedom.
The tombs of 14 DPRK soldiers are located on Rung Hoang hill in Tan Dinh commune, Lang Giang district of Bac Giang province. The tombs are fenced by an old wall, near a commemoration house.
A big stele is noted: “Here is the last resting place of DPRK soldiers.” The 14 tombs lie quietly. On tomb steles, the names of DPRK soldiers are carved on one side in Korean and on the other side in Vietnamese.
According to these steles, the fallen DPRK soldiers include 12 officers and 2 soldiers of the DPRM army.
The youngest soldier is 19 years old. They died from 1965 to 1968.
Mr. Duong Van Dau, 68, a war invalid, said that these tombs were taken care of by an old woman since 1967. After the woman died, these tombs have been looked after by Dau since 2000.
Dau said that DPRK people went to several provinces like Hai Duong, Bac Ninh and Bac Giang to find a good place for burying fallen soldiers. They chose this place because from this hill, they can view to the east, where their country is situated.
In June 2002, DPRK sent a delegation to Vietnam to take the remains of 14 soldiers back home.
“Of 14 tombs, the 13th tomb did not have bones,” said Mr. Dau’s wife, Nguyen Thi Thien.
Not very far from the tombs of DPRK soldiers are seven vaults, which are called “DPRK vaults.” The vaults are very strong. They were built by Chinese workers during the war.
Mr. Trinh Van Vu, 64, said that DPRK soldiers were very friendly to local people. Whenever they returned after each triumphant battle, they danced and shared confectionary and dry provisions to local residents. When a DPRK sacrificed, they were silent and cried very much.
The seven vaults have not been managed by the authorities. They have become garbage dumps or catfish ponds.
Major General Phan Khac Ky, Political Commissar of Air Force High Command at that time said that in 1966, a DPRK air force unit with nearly 150 people went to Vietnam. This unit was managed by Regiment 923, garrisoned in Lang Giang district, Bac Giang province. The Vietnam Army supplied aircrafts, food and medicine to this unit.
Twenty four DPRK soldiers were assigned with warplanes and 113 others did other missions, under the command of a DPRK senior lieutenant colonel.
DPRK soldiers were taught by Vietnamese air force officers to use warplanes and fighting techniques. After learning basic techniques, DPRK soldiers asked to go into battle like Vietnamese airmen.
They shot down many enemy aircrafts. According to General Hy, in 1966-1969, Vietnamese airmen shot down 222 American aircraft, took alive 51 pilots. DPRK soldiers shot down 26 aircraft. Besides fallen soldiers, DPRK soldiers were granted the hero title when they returned home.
After the Vietnam War, DPRK delegations usually paid visit to the tombs of DPRK soldiers in Bac Giang on the DPRK Army anniversary day (May 24).
In 2002, when the remains of DPRK soldiers were moved to their home country, Vietnam built a commemoration house and 14 model tombs. Since then, nobody has paid visit to this place.
“Since they (DPRK soldiers) were moved, my husband has taken care of that quiet cemetery without pay,” said Ms. Thien.