California Veteran Released From North Korea Speaks Out (Video)
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Merrill Newman, the 85-year-old Korean War veteran detained in North Korea for more than a month, returned home to his grateful family in California on Monday.
Newman has now released a statement detailing his captivity.
In the two-page document, Newman summed up why the North Koreans detained him for his service in the Korean War, which took place from 1950 until 1953:
"I just didn't understand that, for the North Korean regime, the Korean War isn't over and that even innocent remarks about the war can cause big problems if you are a foreigner."
Those remarks, according to the San Jose Mercury News, included questions Newman asked his tour guides about reconnecting with North Koreans he had served with during the war.
Newman's detainment began on Oct. 26, when he was removed from a plane that was about to depart North Korea.
Newman was held captive in a Pyongyang hotel, and later coerced into reading a confession of war crimes - a confession which was videotaped and released to international media.
NBC News reports Newman has now explained in his statement why he read that confession:
“Anyone who knows me, knows that I could not have done the things they had me ‘confess’ to...
“My interrogator made it clear that if I did not cooperate I could be sentenced to jail for espionage for 15 years."
As Home Post first reported last month, Newman traveled to North Korea with friend Bob Hamrdla on a trip booked through a London-based tour company. Newman's son Jeffrey explained:
"He's always wanted to go to North Korea; it's been a lifelong thing. Like the guys who go back to Normandy, the World War II veterans. These places had profound, powerful impacts on them as young men, and he wanted to see it again."