US lawmakers reintroduce bill to put formal end to Korean War

Posted on : 2023-03-03 17:26 KST Modified on : 2023-03-03 17:26 KST
The Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act would also pursue a binding peace agreement and establish liaison offices for both the US and North Korea
Rep. Brad Sherman of the US Democratic Party speaks at a press conference announcing the introduction of the ‘‘Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act’’ on March 1. (Lee Bon-young/The Hankyoreh)
Rep. Brad Sherman of the US Democratic Party speaks at a press conference announcing the introduction of the ‘‘Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act’’ on March 1. (Lee Bon-young/The Hankyoreh)

A bill that promotes efforts to end the Korean War and establish a US-North Korea liaison office has been reintroduced in the 118th US Congress.

The proposal is being led by Rep. Brad Sherman, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Sherman held a press conference on Wednesday where he announced that he was reintroducing the bill together with 19 other members of Congress.

Known commonly as the “Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act,” the bill was first introduced in 2021, during the last session of Congress, and received 46 signatures from both Democrats and Republicans, but ended up being scrapped when that congressional session ended.

The bill calls for the US to declare an end to the Korean War between the South, North, and US; to pursue a binding peace agreement; and for both the US and North Korea to establish liaison offices. The bill also calls for the current travel ban barring US citizens from traveling to North Korea to be reviewed for separated families living in the US.

“The continued state of war on the Korean Peninsula does not serve the interests of the United States nor our constituents with relatives in North and South Korea,” Sherman said. “Serious, urgent diplomatic engagement is needed to achieve peace between North and South Korea.”

Regarding how the bill was being reintroduced on March 1, which marks the anniversary of a massive movement for Korean independence from Japanese colonial rule in 1919, Sherman expressed his hope that the day would also come to be known as “a day where we take a step toward peace in the 21st century of the Korean Peninsula.”

Addressing critics of the bill, Sherman also made it clear that “this is not a bill designed to cause America to withdraw its defense commitment, it is a bill designed to take one step forward toward peace on the Korean Peninsula,” adding that he doesn’t see this bill as a “concession” to the North.

The bill was co-sponsored by 18 other members of Congress, including Korean American lawmakers Andy Kim and Marilyn Strickland, as well as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle including Ro Khanna, Cori Bush, Ilhan Omar, and Republican Congressman Andy Biggs.

Casey Kwang-chul Choi, executive president of the Korean American Public Action Committee (KAPAC) also spoke at the press conference that day.

“This bill should be treated in a totally bipartisan way,” Choi said, adding that “I really hope that members of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, will look at this bill and [offer their] full support.”

Meanwhile, on the same day, the US Treasury Department imposed additional sanctions on individuals and companies that it accused of illicitly generating foreign currency for the North Korean government. Both the Chilsong Trading Corporation and Korea Paekho Trading Corporation were sanctioned.

According to the Treasury Department, the Chilsong Trading Corporation was being used by North Korea to earn foreign currency and collect intelligence while the Korea Paekho Trading Corporation is accused of earning foreign currency through conducting art and construction projects throughout the Middle East and Africa.

The Treasury Department explained that Hwang Kil-su and Pak Hwa-song, who have also been sanctioned, established a company in the Democratic Republic of Congo to earn revenue from construction and statue-building projects with local governments.

For years, North Korea has been earning foreign currency through the construction of large statues in several African countries. The UN banned the import of North Korean statues through Resolution 2321 back in 2016.

By Lee Bon-young, Washington correspondent

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