Merrill Newman released by North Korea, heading home

posted at 10:01 am on December 7, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

Saying he “feels good” and is eager to get home and see his wife, Merrill Newman was deported by North Korea last night. Good news to be sure, even if the timing is rather curious.

(Reuters) – North Korea freed an 85-year-old retired American soldier on Saturday after detaining him for more than a month for crimes it said he committed during the Korean War six decades ago.

The veteran, Merrill E. Newman, flew to China from North Korea in the morning. Hours later he left on a United Airlines flight to San Francisco to be reunited with his family, sources at Beijing airport said.

North Korea’s official KCNA news agency earlier said he was being deported on humanitarian grounds and because he had admitted to his wrongdoing and apologized.

Nobody is buying the “apology” line outside of the information starved people of North Korea, of course, but I’ve seen a few comments already which have questioned some of Mr. Newman’s remarks when he greeted reporters upon his release.

“I’m very glad to be on my way home,” Newman told Japanese reporters as he arrived at Beijing airport. “And I appreciate the tolerance the DPRK government has given to me to be on my way. I feel good, I feel good. I want to go home to see my wife.”

I seriously doubt that Newman is feeling any gratitude or sympathy toward the government of North Korea. But by the same token they were talking to him only hours after his release and when he was still on foreign soil, far from his home and his family. For all we know, it didn’t even seem real to him yet at that point, and he may not have wanted to endanger his escape by saying anything too inflammatory. We’ll know more after he’s had time to get home to his wife and digest all that has taken place.

Another somewhat bright spot in all of this was that Joe Biden, who recently peered over the border from South Korea, didn’t seem to be taking credit for the release as part of his tour of the area. At least not too much credit.

Vice President Joe Biden said North Korea’s release of an elderly U.S. tourist detained for more than a month is positive news.

Merrill Newman, 85, of Palo Alto, Calif., is now in China en route to the United States, Biden’s office said. However, the vice president said he played “no direct role” in securing Newman’s release.

“I offered him a ride home on Air Force Two, but as he pointed out, there’s a direct flight to San Francisco, so I don’t blame him,” Biden said Saturday. “I’d be on that flight, too.”

I’m not sure if saying he played, “no direct role” in the release was intended to say he wasn’t involved or if it was leaving open the possibility that he’s taking credit for some indirect role in Mr. Newman’s trip back home. It also struck me as odd that Newman chose to turn his nose up at a ride on Air Force 2. Yes, there was a commercial flight straight to San Francisco, but can’t the Vice President’s plane land at pretty much any airport they want, provided there’s a long enough runway? If nothing else, the conditions have to be far more comfortable and the in flight food service is probably better, not to mention bigger seats. I have to wonder if there might not be some lingering feelings of resentment that the US didn’t take a more forceful approach to one of their citizens – a decorated veteran at that – being snatched up and taken prisoner by North Korea’s madman in chief.

Was this a snub to the administration, or just a humble man who didn’t want a big fuss made over him, insisting on flying commercial like anyone else? We may never find out the answer to that one unless Newman decides to really empty the bag after he gets back home. But in any event, as I said above, this is great news. Welcome home, sir.


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Sink the Pueblo. It’s ours, after all.

Akzed on December 7, 2013 at 10:03 AM

I don’t know the background. Why was he in North Korea in the first place? I travel extensively, and there’s no way I’d go there for any reason whatsoever.

Wino on December 7, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Stiffing Biden was the 2nd best part of the story.

hillsoftx on December 7, 2013 at 10:07 AM

Merrill Newman released by North Korea, heading home

Oppressive Yankee war criminal graciously expelled by great and merciful Leader, sent back to debauched, racist imperialist America.

/뜨거운 공기 (tteugeoun gong-gi)

mankai on December 7, 2013 at 10:09 AM

I don’t know the background. Why was he in North Korea in the first place? I travel extensively, and there’s no way I’d go there for any reason whatsoever.

Wino on December 7, 2013 at 10:06 AM

He prolly went there because they have single payer, unlike this crap hole country.

/MSNBC

mankai on December 7, 2013 at 10:14 AM

North Korea
12h
====

Vice President Joe Biden says he is unsure why North Korea released Newman, says he played no role in release – @mitchellreports

canopfor on December 7, 2013 at 10:18 AM

As bad as flying commercial is, at least you’re guaranteed not to have the Vice President sitting next to you. Nothing ruins a flight like a screaming child.

Flange on December 7, 2013 at 10:19 AM

the vice president said he played “no direct role” in securing Newman’s release.

“I offered him a ride home on Air Force Two, but as he pointed out, there’s a direct flight to San Francisco, so I don’t blame him,”

It’s sad when Joe Biden has more class than the president.

Kafir on December 7, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Vice President Joe Biden says he is unsure why North Korea released Newman, says he played no role in release – @mitchellreports canopfor on December 7, 2013 at 10:18 AM

“We had nothing to do with it. We didn’t give crap.” -Joe Biden

Akzed on December 7, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Vice President Joe Biden says he is unsure why North Korea released Newman… Or why anyone would want to leave such a workers’ paradise. Universal health care, government housing, government jobs… Nirvana, baby!

mankai on December 7, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Raw: American Tourist Released From North Korea

Published on Dec 6, 2013

An elderly US tourist deported from North Korea on Saturday said he was very pleased to be heading home. Merrill Newman spoke to reporters at Beijing airport in China on his way back to the United States. (Dec. 7)
========================================================================

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vadir8g0fSM&feature=share&list=UU52X5wxOL_s5yw0dQk7NtgA

canopfor on December 7, 2013 at 10:34 AM

I’m glad he’s out but why in the world was he there? Nork is not exactly a tourist mecca. It is if you want to be tortured and executed.

Philly on December 7, 2013 at 10:38 AM

MeanWhile,..back at the DMZ:

Reuters Top News ‏@Reuters 18h

Aide to North Korean leader’s ousted uncle seeks asylum in South: media http://reut.rs/IWvgfv
======================

Reuters Top News ‏@Reuters 19h

North Korea could be facing its most serious defection in 15 years http://reut.rs/1aEygTi

https://twitter.com/Reuters

canopfor on December 7, 2013 at 10:41 AM

I don’t know the background. Why was he in North Korea in the first place? I travel extensively, and there’s no way I’d go there for any reason whatsoever.

Wino on December 7, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Yeah … I’d be very curious to find out why he was there also. Can’t imagine why a Korean War vet would want to go to North Korea in any case. How far under a rock must he have been for the past 60 or so years to know that the place is likely a worse hellhole now?

PatriotGal2257 on December 7, 2013 at 10:42 AM

Obama will claim credit for the release.

albill on December 7, 2013 at 10:44 AM

As bad as flying commercial is, at least you’re guaranteed not to have the Vice President sitting next to you. Nothing ruins a flight like a screaming child.

Flange on December 7, 2013 at 10:19 AM

Heh.

davidk on December 7, 2013 at 10:44 AM

Welcome home, sir.

davidk on December 7, 2013 at 10:45 AM

Raw: Biden Praises Release of US Tourist

Published on Dec 6, 2013

US Vice President Joe Biden praised North Korea’s release of an elderly US tourist on Saturday, but admonished the North for detaining him in the first place and called for another detained American to be swiftly released. (Dec. 7)
==================

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tl6-NiGgiCU&list=UU52X5wxOL_s5yw0dQk7NtgA

canopfor on December 7, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Glad he’s on his way home…That must have been harrowing for him and his family.

workingclass artist on December 7, 2013 at 10:55 AM

Well, did the research as no one else came forward with the answer. He went there because it was an “attempt to visit the North as a tourist six decades after he oversaw a group of South Korean wartime guerrillas still loathed by Pyongyang… so he could reconnect them with their wartime colleagues living in South Korea, and that he had criticized the North during his recent trip.”

The article I found failed to mention that this was a dumbfusk idea.

Wino on December 7, 2013 at 11:03 AM

Well, did the research as no one else came forward with the answer. He went there because it was an “attempt to visit the North as a tourist six decades after he oversaw a group of South Korean wartime guerrillas still loathed by Pyongyang… so he could reconnect them with their wartime colleagues living in South Korea, and that he had criticized the North during his recent trip.”

The article I found failed to mention that this was a dumbfusk idea.

Wino on December 7, 2013 at 11:03 AM

I’m glad he’s okay but WTH was he thinking.

gophergirl on December 7, 2013 at 11:06 AM

Sorry, if OT…

Any news on Pastor Saeed Abedini?

Glad the Mr. Merrill Newman is heading home.

Fallon on December 7, 2013 at 11:16 AM

“the” Mr.?

Take away my posting privileges for one day.

Sheesh.

Fallon on December 7, 2013 at 11:17 AM

I’m glad he’s okay but WTH was he thinking.

gophergirl on December 7, 2013 at 11:06 AM

I’m guessing he was thinking I’m old and only have a few more years to live, or at least a few more years of being healthy enough to travel. Korea was a significant event in his life and he wanted to revisit it, and old friends, before he dies. I’m not saying it wasn’t risky, or that I’d do it, but I think others have visited North Korea without having been singled out. There are more important things than being super safe all the time.

Fenris on December 7, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Sorry, if OT…

Any news on Pastor Saeed Abedini?

Glad the Mr. Merrill Newman is heading home.

Fallon on December 7, 2013 at 11:16 AM

I don’t believe Obama is too concerned about the welfare of Christians anywhere.

celtic warrior on December 7, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Agree with Fenris. Doing crazy things is not always a bad idea.

Chriscom on December 7, 2013 at 11:32 AM

I’m glad he’s okay but WTH was he thinking.

gophergirl on December 7, 2013 at 11:06 AM

I’m guessing he was thinking I’m old and only have a few more years to live, or at least a few more years of being healthy enough to travel. Korea was a significant event in his life and he wanted to revisit it, and old friends, before he dies. I’m not saying it wasn’t risky, or that I’d do it, but I think others have visited North Korea without having been singled out. There are more important things than being super safe all the time.

Fenris on December 7, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Were the others that made the trip as useful for propaganda purposes?

workingclass artist on December 7, 2013 at 11:36 AM

I meant NOKO propaganda purposes btw…

The head accountant for Junior’s family has defected to China and the Uncle has been summarily ousted.

workingclass artist on December 7, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Were the others that made the trip as useful for propaganda purposes?

workingclass artist on December 7, 2013 at 11:36 AM

Propaganda, in this context, has reached the point of farce. Both inside and outside of N Korea. Maybe some true believers are buying their schtick, but what utility does that have?

Fenris on December 7, 2013 at 11:41 AM

Yeah … I’d be very curious to find out why he was there also.

Funny…they had his son on CNN, and he described his Dad as a “curious cat,” which is kind of neat. But, yeah, if you put yourself in situations like these, what do you expect?

bobs1196 on December 7, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Good news is always welcome!

Joe Biden? Useless senile, past his prime phart. Who cares what he did/didn’t do.

avagreen on December 7, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Propaganda, in this context, has reached the point of farce. Both inside and outside of N Korea. Maybe some true believers are buying their schtick, but what utility does that have?

Fenris on December 7, 2013 at 11:41 AM

Agreed.

Maybe it was meant to be a distraction from the head accountant defection to China?

workingclass artist on December 7, 2013 at 12:09 PM

workingclass artist on December 7, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Only the shadow knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men.

Fenris on December 7, 2013 at 12:12 PM

The idiot gave the dick-tators a reason to claim “humanity” and “goodness” for letting him go, after he read that infamous letter.

He can burn in Hell, along with the N.Korean swine.

Schadenfreude on December 7, 2013 at 12:32 PM

Propaganda, in this context, has reached the point of farce. Both inside and outside of N Korea. Maybe some true believers are buying their schtick, but what utility does that have?

Fenris on December 7, 2013 at 11:41 AM

Thank you for being so sane!!!

Schadenfreude on December 7, 2013 at 12:33 PM

Thank you for being so sane!!!

Schadenfreude on December 7, 2013 at 12:33 PM

Assumes facts not in evidence.

Fenris on December 7, 2013 at 12:41 PM

The first time I read about this thing with Biden offering up AF2…the first thing that came to mind was ol’ Joe trying to associate the man’s release with the Obama Administration. Nothing new in the way of tactics.

JetBoy on December 7, 2013 at 1:16 PM

OT – Londonistan

Schadenfreude on December 7, 2013 at 1:20 PM

Richardson claims that he saved the old fool, and that the old dick-tator in N. Korea was “nicer” than the young one.

I hope Richardson goes back to N. Korea and gets sent to a camp, never to return, along with the black fool who went there and partied with the thugs.

Schadenfreude on December 7, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Uh oh. I think we better see how he reacts to the Queen of Hearts.

BMF on December 7, 2013 at 1:26 PM

North Korea
12h
====

Vice President Joe Biden says he is unsure why North Korea released Newman, says he played no role in release – @mitchellreports

canopfor on December 7, 2013 at 10:18 AM

He probably thinks he’s in the Hamptons.

RovesChins on December 7, 2013 at 1:37 PM

Merrill Newman told reporters he was sure glad to be deported from North Korea and happy to be headed home to see his wife before he heads off for a hiking trip along the Iran-Afghan on Dec. 14th. When Newman returns from his hiking trip he plans to hand out Bibles in Medina, Saudi Arabia.

Wallythedog on December 7, 2013 at 1:58 PM

51m
======

Photo: Merrill Newman back on US soil at the San Francisco airport after being detained in North Korea – via @joshkeppel
see original on twitter.com

http://www.breakingnews.com/topic/california-man-reportedly-detained-in-north-korea/
================

https://twitter.com/joshkeppel/status/409377989021794304/photo/1

https://twitter.com/joshkeppel/status/409377989021794304/photo/1/large

canopfor on December 7, 2013 at 2:03 PM

canopfor on December 7, 2013 at 10:18 AM

He probably thinks he’s in the Hamptons.

RovesChins on December 7, 2013 at 1:37 PM

RovesChins:Yup, and sitting with a biker chic:0

canopfor on December 7, 2013 at 2:21 PM

Why even go to North Korea in the first place?

Tasha on December 7, 2013 at 2:42 PM

This is what I hate about journalism today. How can you tell us this story and fail to answer the obvious question; Why is he there in the first place?

No Chop Charlie on December 7, 2013 at 3:44 PM

I wouldn’t hold his comments about NK while in China against him. If I’d been held captive, I wouldn’t say anything that could evenly remotely jeapordize my release until I was on planted firmly on US soil.

Mayday on December 7, 2013 at 4:59 PM

Very excellent news.

Now, does the administration have anything to say about the Americans being held in Iran?

If only we could engage Iran in negotiations where they wanted something we have… Oh wait

kpguru on December 7, 2013 at 4:59 PM

I don’t think Merrill is the sharpest tool in the shed.

bluegill on December 7, 2013 at 6:45 PM

Merrill Newman told reporters he was sure glad to be deported from North Korea and happy to be headed home to see his wife before he heads off for a hiking trip along the Iran-Afghan on Dec. 14th. When Newman returns from his hiking trip he plans to hand out Bibles in Medina, Saudi Arabia.
Wallythedog on December 7, 2013 at 1:58 PM

LOL

bluegill on December 7, 2013 at 6:46 PM

The Norks were using an old stratergy of seizing and holding for propaganda purposes a war criminal. It didn’t get much play anywhere so they let him go. Now if they had taken in for asylum a Snowden type, it might have worked out better. Iran and their bomb is getting all the world stage hype, not to mention aide money, little Kim must have been jealous.

Kissmygrits on December 8, 2013 at 9:23 AM

When he gets home, his family should have him committed. No sane person volunteers to go to North Korea for a visit.

savage24 on December 8, 2013 at 10:07 AM