SEOUL — The Department of Defense announced this week that the remains of a soldier killed during the Korean War had been identified and returned to his family.

Army Cpl. Pastor Balanon Jr. — missing in action since Nov. 2, 1950 — was to be buried Thursday at Arlington National Cemetery, Va.

His remains were identified using dental records and DNA samples compared with samples taken from his brother and sister, who live in California, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

His family had never given up hope that he might be alive.

“Some said there were Americans still alive in North Korea after the war,” the Chronicle quoted his younger brother Esteban. “You never know what happened.”

The Army corporal was reported missing after Chinese forces routed his unit, Company L, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, near Unsan, North Korea.

His remains were recovered in 2001 by a joint U.S.-North Korean team excavating a burial site in Kujang County.

His remains were one of 44 sets of remains found by the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command that year.

Since 1996 the Pentagon-based command repatriated 229 sets of remains through joint field activities in North Korea; of those only 43 have been identified.

According to the command’s Web site — — more than 3,000 U.S. military remains are believed to be in North Korea.

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