N. Korea Detains Another American—and He's 85
Palo Alto tourist Merrill Newman has been held for 3 weeks
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2013 6:37 PM CST
Two North Korean soldiers watch the south side of the border village of Panmunjom in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

(Newser) Kenneth Bae may have some company: North Korea detained an 85-year-old American tourist from California three weeks ago, reports the Bay Area News Group. The report says Merrill Newman—who fought in the Korean War—got yanked off a tourist plane that was about to leave the country last month. An avid traveler, Newman had gone to the country with a Palo Alto neighbor via a tourist company based in Beijing. "I hope that the North Koreans see this as a humanitarian matter and allow him to return to his family as soon as possible," says the neighbor, who called the detention a "terrible misunderstanding."

Neither North Korea nor the US State Department has confirmed the detention, notes the San Francisco Chronicle, but the US agency said it was aware of the reports and issued a travel advisory to Americans warning of "arbitrary" arrests in the North. Another friend of Newman's says the detainee's wife is trying to arrange to get her husband's medications to him. The Chronicle, meanwhile, quotes a Berkeley professor who thinks the North might be looking for attention because of all the fuss over the current international nuclear talks with Iran.

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Showing 3 of 19 comments
Nov 21, 2013 7:44 PM CST
Sometime this guy probably spoke about his former visit to North Korea. Going there as a tourist is about as safe as wandering the streets of Juarez looking for some aspirin I guess we'll have to expend some taxpayer money to get his butt back here!
Nov 21, 2013 6:09 PM CST
I would never go to communist country for any reason, I know because I used to live in one. There is no joking with them and North Korea is a proof. If anyone wants to have socialism here, they should think about this example.
Nov 21, 2013 10:15 AM CST
I'm trying hard to feel sorry for this guy, but I just can't do it. If you're so fukking dumb that taking a trip to that shithole seems like a good idea, well...