Meng Legislation to Help Korean American Families Reunite with Family Members in North Korea Passes the House
Mar 9, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C – Bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) that seeks to reunite Korean American families with loved ones in North Korea was passed tonight by the full U.S. House of Representatives. The measure now heads for a vote in the United States Senate.
Meng’s bill, the Divided Families Reunification Act (H.R. 1771), would require the U.S. Secretary of State, or a designee of the Secretary, to consult with South Korean officials on potential family reunion opportunities for American families and their relatives in North Korea. It would also require the U.S. Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights Issues to consult biannually with representatives of Americans who have family members in North Korea about its efforts to support family reunions, and to inform Congress of opportunities to utilize video conference technology to encourage virtual reunions.
Thousands of Korean Americans have been separated from their relatives in North Korea since the Korean War. Since 2000, South Korea and North Korea have held over 20 family reunions; however, there has not been an official channel for Korean Americans to be included.
“I thank my colleagues in the House for supporting this important legislation and I’m pleased that the divided families issue is finally being addressed by Congress,” said Meng. “The separation of family members after the division of the Korean Peninsula has been heartbreaking, and continues to pain thousands of Korean Americans all these years later, particularly elderly individuals for whom any chance of a reunion with loved ones grows less likely each day. The Senate must immediately pass my bill so that we can give them hope before it’s too late. I have met with some of these Korean American divided families, and my heart aches for them. While the Korean War is sometimes known as the ‘Forgotten War,’ we must let these divided families know their pain and heartache will never be forgotten.”
A Senate version of Meng’s bill, the Korean War Divided Families Reunification Act (S.3395), was introduced in the Senate last week by Senators Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska).
A copy of the Congresswoman’s legislation that passed the House can be viewed here.