Merrill Newman fought in the Korean War
The 85-year-old lives in Palo Alto, California
He "apologized" for killing North Koreans during the war
Merrill Newman, the 85-year-old American who North Korea detained and held for more than a month, is a Korean War veteran and a retired financial consultant from Palo Alto, California.
His war service may have caused North Korean authorities to remove him from a U.S.-bound plane on October 26 at the end of his 10-day organized private tour of the country. After weeks of detention, he has been “deported”, North Korea’s state news agency said Saturday.
He has a wife, Lee, and a son, Jeff Newman, who calls his father “old school.”
“My father is a (Korean War) veteran and wanted to see the country and culture he has been interested in for years,” Jeff Newman told CNN last month. “He arranged this with a travel agent that was recommended and said was approved by the North Korean government for travel of foreigners. He had all the proper visas.”
The elder Newman served as an Army infantry officer during the Korean War, which saw North Korea fight South Korea, the United States and the United Nations between 1950 and 1953.
“His time that he spent in the service was an important part of his life as a young man, and he was, I think, trying to put closure on that,” Lee Newman told CNN recently.
About a week ago, North Korean authorities released a videotape in which Newman apologized for killing North Korean soldiers and civilians during the war. He said he advised the Kuwol Unit, part of the “intelligence bureau” fighting against North Korea.
He detailed how he commanded troops to collect “information” and wage various deadly attacks.
“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.
Newman was one of two American citizens being held in North Korea.
The other, Kenneth Bae, was arrested in November 2012 and sentenced in May to 15 years of hard labor. The North Korean government has said he was found guilty of “hostile acts” and attempts to topple the government. He is still being held.
CNN’s Greg Botelho and Sarah Baker contributed to this report.