Dear Secretary of State Pompeo,
I am writing to encourage you to prioritize the reunion of Korean American divided families who have been separated from their families in North Korea for seven decades. It is far past time that these war-torn families be given the opportunity to reunite with the family members they were separated from so many years ago. No one has felt the division between the two Koreas more acutely than those families – including Korean American families – that remain separated by the DMZ. An estimated 100,000 Korean Americans have been separated from their relatives in North Korea and have long sought an opportunity to be reunited, but time is quickly running out for this generation.
As the Republican Congressional candidate for the 39th District of California, a former California State Assembly Member, and a Korean-American myself, I understand and have great empathy over the continued separation of Korean-Americans from their war-torn families in North Korea. I write to urgently ask for your support of a formal US-DPRK divided family reunion particularly in light of the ROK-DPRK family reunions that took place on August 20, 2018.
When the South and North Korean governments began implementing family reunions in 1985, American citizens were excluded from that process. Since then, there have been 21 reunions and 7 video reunions for Korean citizens, while American citizens have had zero formal reunions. While some American citizens have been able to go through private channels, the majority have not been able to reunite with their families and require the US government to facilitate this process. Those US citizens who’vemanaged to locate their families in North Korea through private channels have not been able to see their loved ones since the North Korea travel ban.
In 2001, divided families leaders met with then Secretary of State Colin Powell and reported on the estimated 100,000 divided family members in the US. A private reunion pilot program with the help of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was on the cusp of being realized until it was abruptly canceled in the summer of 2011.
The US-DPRK family reunion has been brought to the State Department’s attention. In the past year, the leading advocacy organization, Divided Families USA, submitted a list of 53 divided family members willing to participate in a reunion pilot program to the State Department. They also met with the Vice President’s Office to plead their case. They spoke with National Security Adviser John Bolton several weeks before the Singapore summit, providing documents regarding the issue. They delivered letters to both President Trump and Chairman Kim pleading the governments to facilitate reunions.