According to Newman's son Jeffrey:
"My dad got off, walked out with the stewardess, and that's the last he was seen."Until now, no-one knew for sure what was going on, or why he was detained, other than some info from his traveling companion who said the old fool got into it with some DPRK officials about his time there during the 1950-53 Korean War. Not the smartest thing to do considering there never was a peace treaty so technically the two Koreas are still at war, and the certifiably insane leadership keeps the memory of that war fresh in the minds of the people on a daily basis.
Son Jeff seemed to think that his father would be released after North Korea realized they made a mistake and that Merrill was simply an "elderly traveler, a grandfather with a heart condition." But that doesn't seem likely any time soon, since we now have a 'confession' from Merrill, admitting to war crimes.
Of course, it's doubtful those are his words, but he's obviously playing their game.
Regarding his arrest:
The Korean Central News Agency released the following report on Saturday:
A relevant institution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea recently put in custody U.S. citizen Merrill Edward Newman who committed hostile acts against the DPRK after entering the country under the guise of a tourist. After entering the DPRK as a member of tourists' group in October he perpetrated acts of infringing upon the dignity and sovereignty of the DPRK and slandering its socialist system, quite contrary to the purpose of tour. He also committed such crime as trying to look for spies and terrorists who conducted espionage and subversive activities against the DPRK in the area of Mt. Kuwol during the last Fatherland Liberation War as well as their families and descendants and connect them with the "Kuwol Partisan Comrades-in-Arms Association," an anti-DPRK plot-breeding organization of south Korea. According to the results of the investigation, he was active as adviser of "Kuwol Unit" of the UN Korea 6th Partisan Regiment part of the Intelligence Bureau of the Command of the U.S. Forces in the Far East since early in 1953. He is a criminal as he masterminded espionage and subversive activities against the DPRK and in this course he was involved in 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. He admitted all his crimes and made an apology for them.
The San Jose Mercury News has some interesting information regarding Newman's part during the war including:
New revelations that 85-year-old Merrill Edward Newman had served in a once-top-secret U.S. Army unit nicknamed the "White Tigers.''And that he trained anti-communist guerrillas fighting in North Korea. Even more reason not to go there. Kim Chang-Sun, one of those fighters he trained, believes the North Koreans knew who he was.
"Those bastards already knew Newman before the war was over. They obtained the roster of our entire regiment."
I feel terrible for the old man, but if my dad had fought over there and wanted to take a trip to North Korea, I'd confiscate his passport. Newman had no business traveling to a communist country with a generation of leaders that have violated the rights of the people in such a horrendous way, especially considering what he did during the war.
I hope they release him, but he's now considered a prisoner of war. As crazy as they are, that does not bode well.