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Rep. Young Kim Fights for Korean American Divided Families

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Young Kim (CA-39) spoke on the House floor urging her colleagues to support H.R. 826 and H.Res. 294, two bipartisan initiatives Congresswoman Kim helped introduce to encourage the reunification of Korean Americans with war-torn family members in North Korea.

Congresswoman Kim is one of the first Korean American women to serve in Congress and serves as Vice Ranking Member of the Asia Subcommittee. She has long fought for Korean Americans to be able to reunite with family members since before her time in Congress. 

You can watch her speech here and read her remarks as prepared below.

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you Mr./Madam Speaker.

Thank you, Ranking Member Smith, for yielding. I’m proud to stand in support of H.R. 826, the Divided Families Reunification Act and want to thank Congresswoman Meng for introducing this bill and for the House Foreign Affairs Committee for ensuring a speedy passage of this timely legislation.

I’m also proud to co-lead another bill under consideration today that addresses this issue, H.Res. 294 from Congresswoman Bass.

Since implementing family reunions in 1985, the South and North Korean governments have facilitated 21 in-person reunions and 7 video reunions. However, the nearly 100,000 Korean Americans with family members in North Korea have been left out of this process entirely.

As a longtime advocate for human rights and humanitarian aid in North Korea, I have consistently spoken on the need to prioritize these issues, especially by appointing a Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights Issues, which has remained vacant since 2017 and remains unfilled under President Biden.

Time is running out for separated family members, as many are in their 80s and 90s and their numbers continue to dwindle.  Congress and the Biden Administration must come together to make Korean American participation in reunifications a reality before it’s too late.

My mother-in-law was one of the many Koreans who made the brave journey across the 38th parallel to bring her family to South Korea. She crossed five times to go back and forth and bring family members across to South Korea.

 As an immigrant from South Korea whose family lived through the Korean War and now as one of the first Korean American women to serve in Congress, I’m proud to use my voice in support of this issue that is deeply personal to me and our Korean American community.

I want to again thank Representatives Meng and Bass for introducing these measures and for working to garner strong bipartisan support. I urge my colleagues to support House passage of these measures today and for the Senate to prioritize consideration of this issue on behalf of the tens of thousands of Korean Americans alive today waiting to reunite with their long-lost family members.

Thank you, I yield back.

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