North Korea: Detained U.S. Veteran Confesses to War Crimes

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 30 2013 11:36 AM

North Korea: Detained U.S. Veteran Confesses to War Crimes

Screengrab of video released by North Korea's state-run news agency showing Merrill Newman reading from a letter he had purportedly written as a confession

North Korea is accusing a detained U.S. veteran of having killed civilians during the Korean War six decades ago and of spying during his recent trip to the country. Pyongyang did not say whether it would release 85-year-old Merrill Newman, who was pulled off a plane more than a month ago as he was getting ready to leave the country after a tourist trip with a friend. After weeks of silence on the detention, lots of information was suddenly released Saturday by the state-run news agency, including a letter allegedly written by Newman, as well as a video.

Although it’s impossible to verify the authenticity of the letter, previous North Korea detainees have said they were coerced into writing apologetic letters that praise Pyongyang. “Newman’s letter, filled with grammatical errors and perplexing run-on sentences, appeared to be written by a nonnative English speaker,” points out the Washington Post. In the letter he not only apologizes for supposed crimes during the Korean War, but also for “hostile acts” during his trip to the isolated nation last month.  


Some highlights from Newman’s letter:

… As I gave 300 people with barbarity gone to the South who had ill feelings toward the DPRK from Chodo military education and guerilla training they later did attack against the DPRK although the armistice was signed.
Although I committed the indelible offensive acts against the Korean people in the period of the Korean War, I have been guilty of big crimes against the DPRK government and Korean People again.
I realize that I cannot be forgiven for my offensives but I beg for pardon on my knees by apologizing for my offensives sincerely toward the DPRK government and the Korean people and I want not punish me.
On this trip I can understand that in US and western countries there is misleading information and propaganda about DPRK.
If I go back to USA, I will tell the true features of the DPRK and the life the Korean people are leading.

The reference of his return to the United States “could be interpreted as a sign that the North Koreans were considering sending Mr. Newman home,” notes the New York Times.

Still, in a separate story, KCNA says that Newman “perpetrated acts of infringing upon the dignity and sovereignty of the DPRK” during his recent trip, adding that he “committed such crime as trying to look for spies and terrorists who conducted espionage and subversive activities against the DPRK.” (DPRK is short for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.)

Although it is certainly unusual to go to North Korea for tourism, groups of US veterans have previously traveled to the country without much trouble. Earlier this month the State department issued a travel warning recommending U.S. citizens against traveling to North Korea



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.


Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. Then I Married Someone Like Him.

  News & Politics
Sept. 17 2014 2:57 PM ISIS Helps Snuff Out Conservative Opposition to Government Funding Bill
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Sept. 17 2014 1:59 PM Ask a Homo: Secret Ally Codes 
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 1:26 PM Hey CBS, Rihanna Is Exactly Who I Want to See on My TV Before NFL Games
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 1:01 PM A Rare, Very Unusual Interview With Michael Jackson, Animated
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 12:35 PM IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.