Saemsori was founded in 2006 as a project of the Eugene Bell Foundation.


About the Saemsori Project

Saemsori (샘소리) in Korean means the sound of refreshing waters. Inspired by Proverbs 25:25, our name reflects our faith and heritage.
"As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country."
Proverbs 25:25
"먼 땅에서 오는 좋은 기별은 목마른 사람에게 냉수 같으니라"
잠언 25:25

(in Korean 샘소리 소개)

What Saemsori wants:
A transparent and accountable channel through the US and DPRK governments for humanitarian family contacts and family reunions between citizens of the US and the DPRK. Time is running out for these people, and many have already died. This is strictly a humanitarian matter concerning American citizens and must be kept separate from political concerns, such as nuclear weapons, and human rights.

Over half a century ago, the Korean civil war killed 3 million civilians and separated an untold number of families. Under the anti-communist governments in South Korea, divided families feared revealing their family ties to the north. Many were blacklisted from jobs and universities. Tens of thousands of these refugee families later settled in the United States, where their American children and grandchildren have come to represent the very best of our country¡¯s ideals and values.

Communications and travel from North Korea have been extremely limited for over 60 years. Currently, family reunions between the United States and North Korea are available only to the wealthy and the well-connected. About 80 Korean Americans have taken part in North-South Korean family reunions, but only as relatives of South Korean citizens. Other Korean Americans have been desperate enough to pay brokers in third countries to find their relatives, or to contact the North Korean government directly. These channels, however, are unmonitored and pose risks to American citizens. Those who attempt to send money or gifts to relatives in North Korea may find themselves in trouble with US law.

Over the years, EugeneBell has received countless heartbreaking requests from our donors seeking to find their missing relatives. When we attempted to look for a safer way for these families to contact their families, we found that our government simply was not capable of handling them. There was no embassy, no office, not even a database where they could register their names for family reunions.

Our Strategy:

EugeneBell has now had over a decade of experience of cooperation on food aid and medical assistance projects in North Korea. Our strategy is to put the US Congress between divided families and the DPRK government as a buffer.

In June 2006, Saemsori began a pilot program with Representative Mark Kirk (R-IL) to officially request both the US and the DPRK governments to arrange a family reunion for Cha-hee Lee Stanfield, a Chicago librarian. These letters were sent to both the US State Department and to the DPRK Permanent Mission to the United Nations, asking both governments to start negotiations on this humanitarian matter apart from political concerns.

Saemsori aims to involve Members of Congress throughout the United States, so that contacts between divided families and the DPRK government will have a safe intermediary.