S. Korea expects U.S. bill to build institutional ground for reunions of separated families

SEOUL, July 23 (Yonhap) — South Korea hopes that a recently passed U.S. House bill will help create an institutional foundation for Korean Americans to meet their war-severed families in North Korea, the unification ministry said Friday.

Earlier this week, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the bill that calls for cooperation between the United States and South Korea to hold reunions, including through video links between Korean Americans and their families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

“Our government positively sees the passage of the bill,” Cha Deok-cheol, the ministry’s deputy spokesperson, said during a regular press briefing. “We think it would contribute to creating an institutional basis for people in the U.S. to meet their separated famines regardless of diplomatic and military situations between the North and the U.S.”

Cha reiterated the government’s commitment to pushing for reunions of separated families as one of the most urgent humanitarian issues.

“When inter-Korean dialogue resumes, we will continue to have consultations with the North to find practical solutions to the separated families issue, including those staying in the U.S.,” he said.

Tens of thousands of people remain separated from their families in the North since the Korean War, which ended in a truce. Most of the survivors are older than 80.