History of Government & Legislative Initiatives

We have worked tirelessly to make reunions possible since 2000.

March 2000: Chahee Lee Stanfield, divided family member from Chicago, reported to Congressional Candidate Mark Kirk about the Korean American divided families.

March 2001: Congressman Mark Kirk introduced the divided family issue on the Floor of the House.

September 2001: Congressman Mark Kirk and the Korean American Coalition of the Midwest met with Secretary of State Colin Powell and Assistant Secretary of State James Kelley. At the meeting, Chahee Lee Stanfield reported about the divided families in the United States, and the US policy on the divided families was adopted. The policy is that when the United States and DPRK normalize the relationship, the divided family issue will be treated as a top priority.

November 2001: Resolution supporting the US government policy was passed in the House.

February 2002: Resolution supporting the policy of the US government and the House was passed in the Senate.

February 2006-January 2008: The Saemsori (샘소리) project initiated by Congressman Mark Kirk was launched by Dr. Steve Linton of the Eugene Bell Foundation in February 2006 with Alice Jean Suh as the director, Se Heum Hong as the President of the Board of Directors, and Chahee Lee Stanfield as the spokesperson. Alice Suh reached out to the Korean communities as well as to mainstream America throughout the country promoting public awareness and taking registrations from the divided family members. She built the road to the passage of the first law on the divided families, HR2595, Section 1265, in the House and in the Senate, which was eventually signed by President George W. Bush. She and her interns visited Congressional offices as a daily routine, and she formed the Congressional Commission on the Divided Families with two co-chairs and 9 congressmen and congresswomen. She built an internship program for college students, who worked on her Divided Family History Project. She inspired the leaders of her generation to take the divided family issue as their own heritage and their mission.

September 2007: The Congressional Commission was founded by Saemsori.

October 2007: Michigan Senator Carl Levin introduced the first divided family bill, HR1585, Sec. 1234 in the Senate. See the Senator’s bill and news release.

January 2008: The Divided Family Bill, HR2595, Section 1265 initiated by Congressman Mark Kirk was passed in the Senate in October 3, 2007, was passed in the House in December 22, 2007, and was signed by President George W. Bush on January 28, 2008.

July 28, 2008: HR2595, Section 1265 expired. See President Bush’s report.

September 2008: The Coalition to Reunite Korean Americans with their North Korean Families was founded. It was registered as a nonprofit organization with the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State in 2009.

February 2009: The Coalition members met with Congressman Mark Kirk in his DC office and discussed strategy with the congressman.

December 2009: The Divided Family Bill, HR3288 initiated by Congressman Mark Kirk was passed in the House in July, 2009, and was passed in the Senate in December, 2009, and was signed on December 16, 2009 by President Barack Obama.

December 2009: President Obama appointed North Korea Human Rights Ambassador Robert King as the Divided Family Ambassador.

February 2010: The coalition meets with Ambassador Robert King in DC.

March 2012: The coalition meets with the American Red Cross officials in DC.

March 2012: The coalition meets with Ambassador Robert King in Los Angeles.

April 2012: The Coalition changes its name from The Coalition to Reunite Korean Americans with their North Korean Families to the National Coalition on the Divided Families.

December 2016: H.Con.Res.40., sponsored by Representative Charles Rangel and Ed Royce, passed in the House on November 29, 2016, by voice vote and passed in the Senate on December 10, 2016, by unanimous consent.