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North Korea says detained American tourist apologizes

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 07:42 a.m. HST, Nov 30, 2013

SEOUL >> North Korea state media said today that an elderly U.S. tourist detained for more than a month has apologized for alleged crimes during the Korean War and for "hostile acts" against the state during a recent trip.

There was no direct word from 85-year-old Merrill Newman, and his alleged apology, which was dated Nov. 9, couldn't be independently confirmed. Pyongyang has been accused of previously coercing statements from detainees.

North Korean authorities released video showing Newman reading the apology.

The statement, carried in the North's official Korean Central News Agency, said the war veteran allegedly attempted to meet with any surviving soldiers he had trained during the Korean War to fight North Korea, and that he admitted to killing civilians and brought an e-book criticizing North Korea.

It wasn't clear what would happen to Newman now. But the statement alleges that Newman says if he goes back to the U.S. he will tell the truth about the country -- a possible indication that Newman could be released.

The apology can be seen as Pyongyang taking steps needed to release Newman, said Yoo Ho-Yeol, a professor of North Korea studies at Korea University in Seoul. North Korea likely issued the confession in the form of an apology to resolve Newman's case quickly without starting legal proceedings, Yoo said.

North Korea is extremely sensitive about any criticism and regularly accuses Washington and Seoul of seeking to overthrow its authoritarian system through various means -- claims the U.S. and South Korea dismiss. The State Department has repeatedly warned Americans about traveling to the country, citing the risk of arbitrary detention.

Newman, an avid traveler and retired finance executive, was taken off a plane Oct. 26 by North Korean authorities while preparing to leave the country after a 10-day tour. His traveling companion seated next to him, neighbor and former Stanford University professor Bob Hamrdla, was allowed to depart.

Newman's son, Jeffrey Newman, said his father wanted to return to the country where he spent three years during the Korean War.

North Korea has detained at least six Americans since 2009, including two journalists accused of trespassing and several Americans, some of whom are of Korean ancestry, accused of spreading Christianity. Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary and tour operator, has been detained for more than a year. North Korea sees missionary work as a Western threat to its authoritarian government.

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Maneki_Neko wrote:
There was a time when our country actually protected its citizens all around the world.
on November 29,2013 | 05:39PM
808warriorfan wrote:
I bet Kim Chee III, the grandson, feels real tough about taking on an 85 year old man. Bring it on garlic breath, rock and roll w/ the US of A tough guy !!!!!
on November 29,2013 | 05:41PM
hon2255 wrote:
Totalitarian dictator. Oppressed people. Picking on a 85 year old man. Kiss my a- s Kim jun ahole
on November 29,2013 | 06:48PM
localguy wrote:
Totally dysfunctional North Korea is the laughing stock of the world.
on November 29,2013 | 08:15PM
Roosevelt wrote:
Maybe North Korea will keep Dennis Rodman following his next visit
on November 29,2013 | 08:41PM
st1d wrote:
there's something about north korea that would make me want to apologize if i were a tourist there. don't know what it is, the state department travel warning, the lack of food, or the ambiance of a tyranny.
on November 29,2013 | 10:50PM
cojef wrote:
Just another method to pose as a world threat to peace. Only method to get headline coverage for rogue nation.
on November 30,2013 | 06:28AM
Ronin006 wrote:
Newman's son, Jeffrey Newman, said his father wanted to return to the country where he spent three years during the Korean War. Three years? Something is not right with that number. The entire war lasted three years and one month. A point system was used to determine how long troops served in Korea. Thirty-six points were needed for rotation. Troops in combat zones received four points per month. Troops further back out of range of most hostile artillery fire received 3 points and those in rear echelons received 2 points. Troops in Asia outside Korea received 1 point per month and additional points when they entered Korea like air crews stationed in Japan. If Newman spent three years in Korea during the Korean War, he must have been on R&R the entire time.
on November 30,2013 | 07:31AM
bullturd wrote:
Wow, talk about nit picking! so you're questioning if Mr. Newman was in the military and if he really did serve in the Korean War? Somehow the North Koreans did and that's why he was detained as the "Poster Man" for NK propaganda machine. Having said that, Mr. Newman should have known better to go there. Read my comments below this one.
on November 30,2013 | 11:19AM
Ronin006 wrote:
No, I am not questioning if Mr. Newman was in the military or served in Korea during the war. I am questioning the 3 years his son says he served in Korea during the Korean War which, coincident6ally was 3 years long. Newman would have had to have been there during the entire war which is highly unlikely.
on November 30,2013 | 02:06PM
bullturd wrote:
Korea, Democratic People's Republic of October 1, 2013 "The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens about travel to North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK). Travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea is not routine, and U.S. citizens crossing into North Korea, even accidentally, have been subject to arbitrary arrest and long-term detention. Since January 2009, four U.S. citizens have been arrested for entering North Korea illegally, and two U.S. citizens who entered on valid DPRK visas were arrested inside North Korea on other charges. This replaces the Travel Warning issued for North Korea on March 14, 2013, and it reminds U.S. citizens about the serious risks involved in traveling to the DPRK." Mr. Newman did not heed the no travel warning zones from our U.S. Department of State.
on November 30,2013 | 09:22AM
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