Skip to main content

Bipartisan Efforts to Reunite Korean American Divided Families Pass House

July 20, 2021

Washington, DC – The House passed two bipartisan initiatives U.S. Rep. Young Kim (CA-39) helped introduce to encourage the reunifications of Korean Americans with their war-torn loved ones in North Korea.

An estimated 100,000 Korean Americans with family members in North Korea have not seen or heard from their loved ones in more than 60 years. While the South and North Korean governments have facilitated 21 reunions and 7 video reunions since they began implementing family reunions in 1985, Korean Americans with family members in North Korea have been left out of this process entirely.

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.

“Time is running out to reunite Korean Americans with their war-torn loved ones in North Korea. The United States must make this an urgent priority before it is too late,” said Congresswoman Kim. “As a Korean American, this issue is personal to me, and I have deep empathy for those longing to reunite with their relatives. I thank my House colleagues for showing bipartisan commitment to divided family reunifications today, and I urge the Senate to follow suit and take action.”
"We thank Rep. Young Kim for her bipartisan collaboration, compassion, and commitment to bringing together families torn apart by the Korean War. It is a major step towards fostering a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula," said Wonseok Song, executive director of the Korean American Grassroots Conference, the largest nationwide network of Korean American voters. "It is optimistic for the House to reaffirm its resolve on this matter, and we look forward to seeing the legislative solution enacted in the near future as the families torn apart by the Korean War are ailing and aging."

"As someone who understands both the emotional and political aspects of this humanitarian issue, Representative Kim has shown continued leadership, empathy, and commitment toward reuniting elderly Korean American divided families,” said Paul Kyumin Lee, Divided Families USA.

The House yesterday passed H.R. 826, the Divided Families Reunification Act, which Congresswoman Kim introduced with Reps. Grace Meng (NY-06) and Van Taylor (TX-03), and today passed H.Res. 294, which Congresswoman Kim introduced with Rep. Karen Bass (CA-37). Both measures passed the Foreign Affairs Committee on April 21, 2021.

The bipartisan Divided Families Reunification Act (H.R. 826) would require the Secretary of State and the U.S. Special Envoy on North Korea Human Rights Issues to prioritize helping divided Korean American families reunite with their loved ones in North Korea.

H.Res. 294 calls on the United States and North Korea to reunite Korean American divided family members with their immediate relatives as a humanitarian policy of immediate concern.

Congresswoman Kim is committed to promoting human rights in North Korea and led a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken with Rep. Meng to President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging the administration to fill the role of Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights Issues, whose priorities would include encouraging family reunifications.

Click HERE to watch Congresswoman Kim’s floor remarks in support of both initiatives.