As the United States urges Pyongyang’s release of US veteran, Merrill Newman, who has been detained for more than a month in North Korea, the country’s official KCNA news agency reports that the elderly Palo Alto resident has issued an apology to the secretive country.
Newman 86, read an apology for crimes he allegedly committed during the Korean war and for “hostile acts” against North Korea during a recent visit to the country.
Newman’s alleged apology, dated 9 November, could not be independently verified. This is not the first time that North Korea has been accused of coercing statements from detainees.
There has been no word from Newman directly and curiously, the apology was riddled with stilted English and grammatical errors, such as “I want not punish me”.
“I have been guilty of a long list of indelible crimes against DPRK government and Korean people,” Newman purportedly wrote in a four-page statement, adding: “Please forgive me.”
According to The Guardian, the statement said the war veteran allegedly attempted to meet with any surviving soldiers he had trained during the Korean War to fight North Korea, and that he admitted to killing civilians and brought with him an e-book criticizing North Korea.
Newman was taken off a plane on October 26 by North Korean authorities while preparing to leave the country after a 10-day tour.
Newman’s son, Jeffrey Newman, said his father had wanted to return to the country where he spent three years during the Korean war.
International affairs experts believe North Korea may have issued Newman’s apology in order to begin talks with the United States for his release.
“North Korea wants negotiations with the United States on his release,” said Yang Moo-Jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.
“The release of Newman, probably together with another American detained earlier, may come before the end of this year if Washington sends a special envoy,” he said.
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