Meng Secures Commitment from Secretary of State to Address Korean American Divided Families Issue

Jun 8, 2021
Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations – which has oversight over the U.S. State Department – announced today that she received a commitment from Secretary of State Tony Blinken to address reunifying Korean American families with their loved ones in North Korea.
 
Meng secured the pledge when the Secretary testified before the subcommittee yesterday. The hearing was held to review the State Department’s annual budget request when Meng asked him if the divided families issue would be included in any talks with South Korea and North Korea.
 
“We will absolutely work on this including with our South Korean partners to make sure that the interests of Korean Americans who’ve been separated from families are reflected in the efforts that we make and that are made,” Secretary Blinken said during the hearing. “As you know it’s very challenging and we don’t know what kind of engagement we’re going to get from the DPRK. But thank you for putting a light on this issue.”
 
Meng’s questioning of Blinken during the hearing can be viewed here.
 
“I thank and commend Secretary Blinken for being responsive to this issue and for understanding how important it is to Korean Americans,” 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. This is especially true for elderly Korean Americans for whom the possibility of reunions gets more distant as they to grow older. I have met with several Korean American divided family members where I have seen and felt their pain firsthand. We must do everything we can to help make these reunions possible, and I will continue to work on this issue and look forward to partnering with the Secretary on it.”
 
Earlier this year, Meng reintroduced the bipartisan Divided Families Reunification Act that seeks to help Korean Americans reunite with their families in North Korea. The measure passed the House during the last session of Congress but was not taken up by the Senate.