Sherman Introduces Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced the Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act. Among other things, the bill calls for serious, urgent diplomatic engagement in pursuit of a binding peace agreement constituting a formal end to the Korean War.
In 1953, the parties to the Korean War signed an Armistice Agreement that pledged an end to “all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peaceful settlement is achieved.” Common sense tells us that this conflict ended in July 1953. But in fact, we only signed an armistice. Therefore, we technically remain in a state of war with North Korea. This situation does not serve anyone’s interest.
On April 27, 2018, in Panmunjom, the leaders of South Korea and North Korea declared that “a new era of peace has begun on the Korean peninsula,” and committed “to declare the end of war” on the Korean peninsula 65 years after the signing of the armistice agreement. The Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act expresses support for the commitments made at Panmunjom and urges the Secretary of State to pursue serious, urgent diplomatic engagement with North Korea and South Korea in pursuit of a binding peace agreement constituting a formal and final end to the state of war between North Korea, South Korea, and the United States. The bill also requires a report from the Secretary of State that describes a clear roadmap for achieving a permanent peace agreement on the Korean peninsula.
The Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act also expresses the sense of Congress that given such commitments made at Panmunjom and Singapore, the Secretary of State should seek to enter into negotiations with North Korea to establish liaison offices of the DPRK and the United States in the respective capitals of each such country.
One major consequence of the continuation of the Korean War is that the United States does not have formal relations with North Korea. The current restrictions barring United States nationals from traveling to North Korea have had profound effects on Americans with relatives living in North Korea. The Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act requires the Secretary of State to conduct a full review of the restrictions in place conditioning the travel of Americans to North Korea, and to submit a report to Congress detailing such a review. The review shall examine:
- the nature of travel to North Korea that qualifies as ‘‘in the national interest’’ of the United States;
- the ‘‘compelling humanitarian considerations’’ that qualify a United States national for travel to North Korea; and,
- whether travel to North Korea for the purposes of attending to or witnessing funerals, burials, or other religious and family commemorations of relatives of United States nationals does or should qualify as ‘‘compelling humanitarian considerations’’ meriting issuance of Special Validation Passports to such individuals.
“The continued state of war on the Korean Peninsula does not serve the interests of the United States nor our constituents with relations in North and South Korea,” said Congressman Brad Sherman. “Serious, urgent diplomatic engagement is needed to achieve peace between North and South Korea. Many do not realize that there are approximately 100,000 Americans with relatives living in North Korea. A comprehensive review of our restrictions on travel to North Korea is necessary so that Korean Americans can attend major family events, such as funerals, burials, or other religious and family commemorations in North Korea.”
Congressman Sherman is pleased to be joined his colleagues Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA), Representative Andy Kim (D-NJ), and Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) in introducing the Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act.
To see the text of the bill, click here.
To see Congressman Sherman's letter to his colleagues on this bill, click here.