We sent a letter to the State Department about the North Korea travel ban

Dear Friend,

As you may be aware, the State Department, unfortunately, decided to renew the Trump-era ban on US citizens traveling to North Korea. This travel ban is not only unnecessary but harmful.

In response, we sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken expressing our disappointment and urging him to amend or lift the ban. We believe the ban should be lifted for the following reasons: to enable Korean Americans, especially the elderly, to reunite with their loved ones in North Korea before it’s too late; to allow civil society efforts and people-to-people exchanges that are crucial to building trust; to help facilitate the repatriation of U.S. servicemen remains from the Korean War and bring closure to thousands of American families; and to allow U.S. humanitarian organizations to resume their life-saving work.

The letter is signed by prominent American leaders representing a diverse cross-section of civil society, including Gloria Steinem, Kee Park of Harvard Medical School, filmmaker Abigail Disney, Jack Rendler of Amnesty International, and Governor Bill Richardson.

Read the full letter here.

Crossings screenings continue

In other news, August was a busy month for Crossings. The film screened at the Asian American International Film Festival in New York on August 4 and was featured in Forbes, which noted “Crossings is an inspiring film about activism—in which a group of women set out to accomplish a seemingly impossible mission and, despite serious obstacles and setbacks, succeed in making an important statement.” Clips of the film were also screened at a benefit for Women Cross DMZ organized by LAKMA (Los Angeles Korean American Musicians’ Association) at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on August 6, pictured below. This concert was attended by more than 1,500 people and featured stirring performances — including Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, and a unique interpretation of Arirang — for peace.

Also in Los Angeles, Women Cross DMZ and GYOPO held a standing-room-only screening of Crossings at the Robinson S.P.A.C.E on August 7, followed by a Q&A with me, Deann Borshay Liem, and Aiyoung Choi, moderated by activist and attorney Cathi Choi, who is also the new co-coordinator of the Korea Peace Now! Grassroots chapter in Los Angeles!

Crossings filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem, Women Cross DMZ Executive Director Christine Ahn, WCDMZ Board President Aiyoung Choi, and attorney and activist Cathi Choi.

Other updates

We’re also happy to share that Rep. Peter Welch [D-VT-At Large] signed on to H.R. 3446, the Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act, making him the 43rd co-sponsor.

Last month we published the seventh article in the Feminist Peace Initiative’s series on RIMPAC in Foreign Policy in Focus. Activists Kozue Akibayashi and Suzuyo Takazato write about how RIMPAC exacerbates the patriarchal and racialized defense cooperation between the U.S. and Japan.

Later in the month, Women Cross DMZ’s Advocacy Director Colleen Moore authored a special edition of the Progressive Foreign Policy Debrief for Win Without War about the Biden administration’s decision to exempt the Korean Peninsula from its commitment to limit the use of landmines. She was also a featured guest on No Alibis, a segment on KCSB – FM91.9. Finally, I was featured on KPFA’s UpFront to discuss the implications of the recent joint U.S. and South Korea military exercises — the largest in five years.

Upcoming Events:

  • Crossings will be featured in the fifth annual meeting of the Presbyterian Peace Network for Korea on September 7, 12 pm ET. An in-person and virtual discussion will follow after the screening. Check Women Cross DMZ’s Crossings page for the latest updates on upcoming screenings.
  • On September 10 at 2 pm ET/11 am PT, Rosa Kwak will teach us how to make her award-winning kimchi buns in a virtual cookalong webinar. 🍞 A recipe list will be sent a week before the event, and we’ll all cook together on Chuseok! This event is sponsored by the LIFT campaign, Nodutdol, and Korea Peace Now. Register here.

Finally, please join me in welcoming Women Cross DMZ’s new Communications Associate, Giboom Park! Giboom was one of Women Cross DMZ’s Feminist Korea Peace Fellows last year and is a recent graduate of Northwestern University. Welcome, Giboom!

Thank you for supporting us!

Christine Ahn


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