Saturday
November
01
2014
1:18 am
Weather

  Home
  Local News
  State / National / World
  Sports
  Opinion / Letters
  Business
  Arts / Entertainment
  Lifestyle
  Obituaries
  Calendar
  Submit Event
  Comics / Games
  Classifieds
  DJ Designers
  Archives
  Advertise With Us
  About Us
 
 
 
 

Check out our archive of Dining Guides - Yum!

Local vet Merrill Newman returns home from North Korea
December 09, 2013, 05:00 AM By Haven Daley The Associated

SAN FRANCISCO — A tired but smiling 85-year-old U.S. veteran detained in North Korea for several weeks returned home to applause from supporters, yellow ribbons tied to pillars outside his home and the warm embrace of his family.

Merrill Newman arrived at the San Francisco airport Saturday after turning down a ride aboard Vice President Joe Biden’s Air Force Two in favor of a direct flight from Beijing. He emerged into the international terminal smiling, accompanied by his son and holding the hand of his wife amid applause from supporters. He spoke briefly to the assembled media, declining to answer any questions or discuss his ordeal.

“I’m delighted to be home,” he said. “It’s been a great homecoming. I’m tired, but ready to be with my family.”

He also thanked the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, North Korea, and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing for helping to secure his release.

Newman was detained in late October at the end of a 10-day trip to North Korea, a visit that came six decades after he oversaw a group of South Korean wartime guerrillas during the 1950-53 war.

Last month, Newman read from an awkwardly worded alleged confession that apologized for, among other things, killing North Koreans during the war. Analysts questioned whether the statement was coerced, and former South Korean guerrillas who had worked with Newman and fought behind enemy lines during the war disputed some of the details.

North Korea cited Newman’s age and medical condition in allowing him to leave the country.

Barbara Ingram, a friend and neighbor of Newman’s at the senior citizen complex where they live said residents broke into applause when news of Newman’s release was announced Friday during lunch.

“A great cheer went up,” Ingram said. “We are all so very relieved and grateful.”

Newman’s detention highlighted the extreme sensitivity with which Pyongyang views the war, which ended without a formal peace treaty, leaving the Korean Peninsula still technically in a state of war. The conflict is a regular focus of North Korean propaganda and media, which accuse Pyongyang’s wartime enemies Washington and Seoul of carrying on the fighting by continuing to push for the North’s overthrow.

The televised statement read last month by Newman said he was attempting to meet surviving guerrilla fighters he had trained during the conflict so he could reconnect them with their wartime colleagues living in South Korea and that he had criticized the North during his recent trip.

Members of the former South Korean guerrilla group said in an interview last week with The Associated Press that Newman was their adviser. Some have expressed surprise that Newman would take the risk of visiting North Korea given his association with their group, which is still remembered with keen hatred in the North. Others were amazed that Pyongyang still considered Newman a threat.

“As you can imagine this has been a very difficult ordeal for us as a family, and particularly for him,” Newman’s son Jeff Newman said in a statement read outside his home in Pasadena Friday night, adding that they will say more about this unusual journey after Newman has rested.

Newman’s release comes as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visit to the region brought him to Seoul. Biden said Saturday that he welcomed the release and said he talked by phone with Newman in Beijing.

———

Associated Press writers Eun-Young Jeong, Hyung-jin Kim, Foster Klug and Josh Lederman in Seoul, Martha Mendoza and Paul Elias in San Francisco, and Didi Tang and Aritz Parra in Beijing contributed to this report.

 

 

Tags: newman, north, korea, during, newman, korean,


Other stories from today:

 

 
Print this Page Print this Page  |  Bookmark and Share
<< Back
 
Return To Archives
 
  


 
 
 
Daily Journal Quick Poll
 
Of the state propositions on the ballot, which one are you most in favor?

Proposition 1
Proposition 2
Proposition 45
Proposition 46
Proposition 47
Proposition 48
All
None

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
Virgin Galactic says space tourism rocket lost
MOJAVE, Calif. — Virgin Galactic reported that its SpaceShipTwo space tourism rocket has been lost..
Judge rejects Ebola quarantine for nurse
FORT KENT, Maine — Kaci Hickox can travel unrestricted after a Maine judge rejected the state's bi..
Wall Street caps wild month with stock rally
NEW YORK — The U.S. stock market is capping a seesaw month by jumping to all-time highs just two w..
Burkina Faso army general takes power
OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — An army general took power in Burkina Faso Friday after President Blai..
More >>  
 
 
  
 
  
 
©2014 San Mateo Daily Journal
San Mateo County open houses