RECOGNIZING THE 12TH ROUND OF INTER-KOREAN FAMILY
Congressional Record: November 10, 2005 (Extensions)][Page E2331]
RECOGNIZING THE 12TH ROUND OF INTER-KOREAN FAMILY REUNIONS NOVEMBER 5-
HON. XAVIER BECERRA
in the house of representatives
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Mr. BECERRA. Mr. Speaker, since the landmark Joint Declaration was
signed during the inter-Korean summit that took place on June 15, 2000,
11 rounds of family reunions between South and North Korea have taken
place. Over these 5 years, more than 10,000 people have been given the
chance to do something they have not done in over 50 years--and that is
to once again feel the warm embrace of their family. This past
Saturday, November 5, 2005, a 12th reunion began at North Korea´s Mount
Kumgang Resort and will last through today, November 10, 2005.
And so Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize this historic event, as
these incredibly emotional and heart-warming reunions underscore the
unimaginable pain experienced by families forced apart in 1950 at the
outbreak of the Korean War. A renewed sense of urgency surrounds these
reunions as divided family members are well into their senior years;
many of whom have already passed away and were never afforded the
opportunity to do that which so many of us are blessed to do daily:
converse face to face with a daughter or brother or mother or father.
Great strides have been taken to expand the breadth and depth of
these reunifications to allow for greater participation. In addition to
the face to face meetings, South Korea has incorporated live television
and video feeds for those family members who cannot make the trip to
Mount Kumgang. South Korea has also committed to hold family reunions
on a regular basis and institutionalize both the exchange of letters
and the process of confirming the fates and whereabouts of separated
family members. Already, the status of some 20,000 individuals--living
and deceased--have been confirmed. Furthermore, South Korea is
currently constructing a family reunion center that will serve as the
permanent location for hosting future reunions.
A seldom-cited fact is that there are more than 10 million separated
family members--a staggering one quarter of the nation´s population--
currently in South Korea. In addition, there are more than 500,000
Korean Americans here in our own country who also share the pain of
having separated family members in North Korea.
The South Korean government has held talks with North Korea on the
topic of including Koreans from all over the world in the reunification
efforts. As a result of the second and third round of ministerial
meetings that were held in 2000 between the two Koreas, 115 Koreans
living overseas, including 84 Korean Americans, have been afforded the
opportunity to see and be with their separated family members.
The South Korean government has stated that it will make all efforts
possible to continue to create greater opportunities for Koreans living
abroad to meet their divided family members. So far, about 1,000
Koreans living overseas have applied to participate in the reunions,
600 of whom live right here in the United States.
For these reasons, Mr. Speaker, I wish to recognize and pay tribute
to the 12th round of inter-Korean family reunions. Perhaps it is also
fitting for all of us here in this body to take a moment to reflect on
the importance of family, recognizing that the time we spend with them
is so precious and must never be taken for granted. I also wish to
express my personal appreciation and commend the government and people
of South Korea for all they have done to institutionalize these
important reunions and encourage them to continue their full commitment
to family reunification.
(Congressional Record) 11/20/2005
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