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Kaine & Rubio Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Reunite Separated Korean American Families

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), introduced the Divided Families National Registry Act, bipartisan legislation to help reunite Korean Americans who have been separated from their relatives in North Korea since the Korean War. For Korean Americans who have immigrated to the U.S. since the war, there is no official channel to reunite with family members still in North Korea. Virginia is home to the sixth largest Korean American population in the country.

“Many Koreans immigrated to the United States following the Korean War, leaving behind family members in North Korea. They found solace in pursuing the American dream, with hopes of one day reuniting with their loved ones,” said Kaine. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to help make it easier for Korean Americans, including over 66,000 Korean Americans in Virginia, to finally reunite with their relatives after decades of being apart.”

“Attempts to assist Korean American families, who have long been separated from their loved ones by the war and Kim Jong Un’s oppressive regime, should be part of any potential talks with North Korea. We hope this bill will help advance that cause,” said Rubio.

Specifically, the Divided Families National Registry Act would:

  • Create a national registry through the State Department’s Office of the Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights Issues with information on divided Korean American families and their relatives in North Korea.
  • Allow the U.S. government to access the registry to facilitate in person or virtual opportunities for living and willing family members to meet.
  • Encourage dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea.

Companion legislation led by U.S. Representative Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10) passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee by a 49-0 vote in February 2024.

Full text of the bill is available here.