HomeKorean AmericanNew bill introduced to reunite Korean American families

New bill introduced to reunite Korean American families

After decades of Korean Americans struggling to reunite with family members in North Korea, U.S. representatives introduced the Divided Families Reunification Act with the intent to support Korean Americans’ reunification efforts with their family members, the Augusta Free Press reported.


Since the 1950s after the Korean War, thousands of Korean American families have waited for the opportunity to connect with their relatives in North Korea. Through this legislation, which was proposed by U.S. representatives Jennifer Wexton and Michelle Steel, Korean Americans may finally get the chance to reconnect with their loved ones.


“Korean American families across the U.S. have felt the pain of being forcibly separated from their families during the Korean War for more than 70 years,” said Wexton in a statement. “It’s long past time to do the right thing and help bring these families back together. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan legislation alongside Rep. Steel to give Korean American families hope and take a step towards creating opportunities for them to see their loved ones again.”


The bill would establish a national registry of Korean Americans and the relatives who they were separated from. With this data, the U.S. State Department would support reunification efforts either through travel or digital means,


The introduction of the Divided Families Reunification Act follows years of efforts from legislators to promote potential reunion efforts among Korean American families.


In December 2022, U.S. representative Grace Meng, the vice chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, sponsored the legislation as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.


“My heart continues to ache for the thousands of Korean Americans who continue to be separated from their loved ones,” said Meng in a statement. “For decades, they have been desperately hoping to be reunified with family members, and continue to do so. Helping to end this long and painful ordeal so that they can see their loved ones again has been
a top priority of mine.”


Since 1985, the South and North Korean governments supported the face-to-face reunification of 21 families in addition to seven virtual reunions, according to Young Kim.


The progress, while successful in reconnecting some Korean American families, leaves an estimated 100,000 Korean Americans still disconnected from their relatives in North Korea, according to a 2000 census report.

Kim, the first Korean American to serve in Congress, said she has committed her career to fighting for the reunification of Korean American families and explained that “time is running out” for family members to be reunited.


“We must continue our momentum to reunite Korean Americans with their war-torn loved ones in North Korea before it’s too late,” said Kim in a press release on her website. “As Indo-Pacific Subcommittee Chair, I look forward to ensuring timely implementation of the Divided Families Reunification Act, and I am proud to lead this bipartisan resolution to demonstrate united support for making long-overdue reunifications for so many a reality.”

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