2:00 pm EDT - 4:00 pm EDT

Past Event

Between the U.S. and North Korea: Americans and their divided families

Thursday, June 09, 2016

2:00 pm - 4:00 pm EDT

Brookings Institution
Falk Auditorium

1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC

Family divisions since the Korean War and North-South efforts at family reunions are an acknowledged part of inter-Korean relations. Less known is the fact that an estimated 100,000 Americans of Korean descent have family members in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with no ability to communicate or visit with them. The lack of diplomatic ties between the United States and the DPRK and the tensions over the North’s nuclear and missile programs loom large over the desires of Korean-Americans, especially the elderly, to reunite with their kin. But many Korean-Americans have been documenting their family history of division and have received bipartisan congressional support since 2001 for the reunion of U.S. citizens with their divided family members in North Korea.

On June 9, the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at Brookings featured a presentation by Nan Kim on her book, “Memory, Reconciliation, and Reunions in South Korea: Crossing the Divide” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016), and an excerpted screening of the documentary film, “Divided Families” by Dr. Jason Ahn. Due to the Senate voting schedule, Legislative Assistant Jason Geske provided remarks on behalf of Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) on Senate bill 2657, which calls for the U.S. Department of State to pursue opportunities for the reunion of Korean-Americans with their family members in North Korea. Chahee Lee Stanfield discussed the efforts of the National Coalition on the Divided Families to seek family reunions, and Sam Yoon discuss ed different perspectives on the issue among Americans.

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