Freed 85-Year-Old: I Was Bored in N. Korea

Merrill Newman says he was detained in hotel, not jail

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 9, 2013 2:19 AM CST

(Newser) – Life as a captive of the Stalinist regime he fought 60 years ago was actually a pretty dull experience, Merrill Newman says. The 85-year-old veteran, back in the US after more than a month in North Korean custody, says he was comfortable but bored during his detention, reports the Santa Cruz Sentinel. He says he was detained in a hotel room, not a prison cell, and was fed well with traditional Korean food.

Newman, who oversaw guerrilla fighters during the Korean War, smirked when he was asked about an apology he supposedly wrote for his "war crimes" against the Pyongyang regime. "Obviously, that's not my English, " he said of the statement that contained lines like "I want not punish me." Asked whether the experience had put him off international travel, he quipped that his wife is now in charge of his passport. (In other North Korea news, the country's second-most powerful official has been purged—supposedly because capitalist influences caused him to live a "depraved" lifestyle.)

Merrill Newman, center, walks beside his wife Lee, left, and his son Jeffrey after arriving at San Francisco International Airport on the weekend.
Merrill Newman, center, walks beside his wife Lee, left, and his son Jeffrey after arriving at San Francisco International Airport on the weekend.   (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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