New Issue Brief: U.S.-North Korea Divided Families

May 6, 2020

In a new NCNK Issue Brief, Paul K. Lee looks at efforts to reunite Korean-Americans with their long-separated family members in North Korea.

There are an estimated 100,000 or more Korean Americans with relatives in North Korea. There have been limited opportunities for some members of this community to reunite with their family members in the DPRK after many decades apart. However, barriers to travel and communication, as well as the lack of a formal family reunion mechanism agreed upon by the U.S. and North Korean governments, have meant that most of these divided families have remained apart. NGOs and Korean-American divided family members have advocated for the U.S. government to raise this issue in negotiations with North Korea, and have had some success in putting the issue on the agenda of Congress and the Executive Branch. Nonetheless, amidst deadlocked U.S.-DPRK negotiations there has been little tangible progress on this issue, and - given the seven decades that have passed since the start of the Korean War - the window of opportunity for Korean-Americans with memories of their North Korean relatives to see them one last time is closing quickly.

The Issue Brief is available here.