An elderly tourist, held more than a month by North Korea, has issued an “apology” for committing “hostile acts’ against the Korean people.

A statement, purportedly from Merrill Newman, an 85 year old Korean War veteran from Palo Alto, CA, detailed Newman’s supposed “crimes” he committed during the Korean War.


“After I killed so many civilians and (North Korean) soldiers and destroyed strategic objects in the DPRK during the Korean War, I committed indelible offensive acts against the DPRK government and Korean people,” Newman said, according to the “apology” reported by KCNA.

His statement ends: “If I go back to (the) USA, I will tell the true features of the DPRK and the life the Korean people are leading.”

This story claimed that Newman tried to “look for spies and terrorists who conducted espionage and subversive activities against the DPRK.” Investigators determined that, as a member of the U.S. military, he “masterminded espionage and subversive activities … and, in this course, he was involved in the killings of service personnel of the Korean People’s Army and innocent civilians.”

“The investigation clearly proved Newman’s hostile acts against the DPRK, and they were backed by evidence,” the KCNA story added. “He admitted all his crimes and made an apology for them.”

Until now, Pyongyang had not explained why it was holding Newman.

There was no apparent immediate response from the U.S. government to the reported apology or the accompanying North Korean official news report.

Washington does not have diplomatic relations with Pyongyang, and it has been working through Sweden — the U.S. protecting power in North Korea — to obtain information about the American.

The retired financial consultant was last seen aboard a flight from Pyongyang to Beijing. Just minutes before the plane was to depart, he was removed from the flight by North Korean authorities.

According to his family, he had been on a 10-day organized private tour of North Korea. From phone calls and postcards he sent, the trip was going well and there was no indication of any kind of problem, his son said.

It’s a shame we’ve become so civilized. Treating Kim Jong Un like a Barbary pirate who snatched an American citizen on the high seas would certainly have its emotional benefits.

But that’s what Dear Leader has done. He has acted like a pirate and the international community should treat him as such. Instead, he will use poor Mr. Newman as a bargaining chip to extort more food from the US to feed his starving population.

China doesn’t seem very interested in reining in Kim and his odorous regime. One wonders what Beijing would do if Kim kidnapped a Chinese national. Somehow, I don’t think the prospect of a reward for bad behavior would be forthcoming. More likely, a cut off of Chinese aid and some typically inscrutable — but menacing — warnings would be issued and the Chinese citizens would be returned with some alacrity.

Let’s hope that Mr. Newman is released in time to celebrate Christmas with his family.