North Korea on Saturday deported an elderly U.S. tourist, apparently ending the saga of Merrill Newman‘s return to the North six decades after he advised South Korean guerrillas still loathed by Pyongyang.
North Korea made the decision because the 85-year-old Newman, who was detained since late October, apologized for his alleged crimes during the Korean War and because of his age and medical condition, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.
“I am very glad to be on my way home,” a smiling Newman told reporters after arriving at the airport in Beijing from Pyongyang. “And I appreciate the tolerance the (North Korean) government has given me to be on my way.”
Last month, Newman read from an awkwardly worded alleged confession that apologized for, among other things, killing North Koreans during the war. Former South Korean guerrillas who had worked with Newman and fought behind enemy lines during the war disputed some of the details.
Members of the former South Korean guerrilla group said in an interview last week with The Associated Press that Newman was their adviser. Some have expressed surprise that Newman would take the risk of visiting North Korea given his association with their group, which is still remembered with keen hatred in the North. Others, however, were amazed Pyongyang still considered Newman a threat. Park Chan-wu, a former guerrilla who worked with Newman during the war, said Saturday. “It’s been 60 years since he worked as our adviser.”
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf urged Pyongyang to pardon “as a humanitarian gesture” another American, Kenneth Bae, who has been held in the North for more than a year.
Before Newman, North Korea detained at least six Americans since 2009. Five of them have been either released or deported after prominent Americans like former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter travelled to Pyongyang.
[AP]Tags: Merrill Newman, north korea
This entry was posted in Humanitarian Aid and Relief by Grant Montgomery.