Sen. Hirono Reintroduces Bill Reuniting Korean Americans with Family in North Korea
US senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) reintroduced the bipartisan Korean War Divided Families Reunification Act, which directs the US Secretary of State to establish a formal process to help Korean American families reunite with family members in North Korea.
When the Korean War Armistice Agreement was signed on July 23, 1953, there became minimal to no contact between Korean Americans and family members who remained in North Korea. However, since 1985, North Korea and South Korea have had multiple video and face-to face reunions, providing 24,500 Koreans with the opportunity to briefly see their family. The last reunion took place in August 2018 and did not include Korean Americans.
“For nearly 70 years, too many Korean Americans have been separated from their loved ones in North Korea,” Sen. Hirono said. “Carol Li, a constituent of mine from Honolulu, understands this pain firsthand. Her maternal grandparents were separated from their siblings when they fled North Korea to South Korea during the Korean War. While her grandparents passed away before they were able to reconnect with their siblings, Carol wants the opportunity to meet her North Korean relatives during future reunions. This bipartisan legislation works to make that happen.”
Sen. Sullivan said: “An enduring tragedy of the Korean War is the thousands of families whose ties, like the peninsula, were severed along the thirty-eighth parallel. Fathers, mothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters awoke one day to the reality that they would likely never see or hear from their families again, all due to an impenetrable border and hostilities between the North and South. I believe there is new hope for these family members to connect and possibly reunite, if even for a short time.”
The bill also is cosponsored by US senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV).
Senators Hirono and Sullivan previously introduced this bill in 2020.
The Korean War Divided Families Reunification Act bill text is available here.