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View Full Version : North Korea detains U.S. war veteran, 85, son says



Rusty Jones
11-21-2013, 04:56 PM
http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/article/20131121/NEWS/311210007/North-Korea-detains-U-S-war-veteran-85-son-says


SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — North Korean officials detained an 85-year-old American veteran of the Korean War last month as he sat in a plane set to leave the country, the man’s son said.

A uniformed North Korean officer boarded the plane on Oct. 26 and asked Merrill Newman, a tourist from Palo Alto, California, for his passport before telling a stewardess that Newman had to leave the plane, the son, Jeffrey Newman, said Wednesday.

“My dad got off, walked out with the stewardess, and that’s the last he was seen,” Jeffrey Newman told The Associated Press at his home in Pasadena, California.

It wasn’t clear what led to the detention. The son said he was speaking regularly with the U.S. State Department about his father, but U.S. officials wouldn’t confirm the detention to reporters, citing privacy issues. North Korea’s official state-run media have yet to comment on reports of the detention, which first appeared in the San Jose Mercury News and Japan’s Kyodo News service.

The son said that, according to his father’s traveling companion, Newman earlier had a “difficult” discussion with North Korean officials about his experiences during the 1950-53 war between U.S.-led United Nations forces and North Korea and ally China. That war ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the Korean Peninsula still technically at war. The war is still an important part of North Korean propaganda, which regularly accuses Washington and Seoul of trying to bring down its political system — statements analysts believe are aimed in part at shoring up domestic support for young leader Kim Jong Un.

The detention comes about a year after North Korea detained another American and as the U.S. State Department warns in a formal notice that Americans should avoid travel to the country, in part because of the risk of arbitrary arrest and detention.

North Korea has detained at least six Americans since 2009, often for alleged missionary work, but it is unusual for a tourist to be arrested. The North’s secretive, authoritarian government is sensitive about foreign travelers, and tourists are closely monitored. Analysts say it has used detained Americans as diplomatic pawns in a long-running standoff with the United States over the North’s nuclear bomb production, something it denies.

Speaking Thursday to reporters in Beijing, U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies wouldn’t confirm Newman’s detention but said, generally, that Washington was working with the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, which acts as America’s protecting power because Washington and Pyongyang don’t have official diplomatic relations, “to try to move this issue along and of course calling on North Korea … to resolve the issue and to allow our citizens to go free.”

Merrill Newman was traveling with his friend, Bob Hamrdla, who was allowed to return. Hamrdla said in a statement that “there has to be a terrible misunderstanding” and asked for Newman to be quickly returned to his family.

Jeffrey Newman said his father always wanted to visit North Korea and took lessons in the language before leaving on the nine-day trip. Newman said he believed the inspiration came from the three years his father spent as an infantry officer in the Korean War, but said his father never talked about his service.

Jeffrey Newman said the Swedish ambassador had delivered his father’s heart medication to the North Korean Foreign Affairs Ministry, but it was unclear whether he had received it.

Despite some recent nuclear diplomacy, tensions remain on the Korean Peninsula after a spring that saw threats from North Korea of nuclear strikes against Washington and Seoul. International disarmament talks are currently deadlocked, with North Korea demanding status as an atomic power and Washington refusing to resume the talks until the North makes progress on past disarmament commitments. The North is estimated to have a handful of crude nuclear devices and has conducted three underground atomic tests.

Davies, the U.S. envoy, told reporters that the holding of American citizens by North Korea is a further indication of its lack of sincerity on restarting a dialogue on nuclear issues.

Washington also has expressed worry about the health of American Kenneth Bae, a missionary and tour operator who was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after being arrested in North Korea last November for alleged hostile acts.

Jeffrey Newman said he believed North Korea would eventually release his father after realizing that all they have is an “elderly traveler, a grandfather with a heart condition.”

“We don’t know what this misunderstanding is all about,” he said. “All we want as a family is to have my father, my kids’ grandfather, returned to California so he can be with his family for Thanksgiving.”

Americans celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday next week.


...if you're not sure of how horrifying this actually is, I suggest reading up on North Korean gulags. Those things are no joke.

At the same time, I have to question the intelligence of anyone who would actually set foot into North Korea of their own volition.

imported_WILDJOKER5
11-21-2013, 05:02 PM
They are just a utopian progressive country that got what they want to tell their citizens how to live.

And yes, we need to get him back.

Rusty Jones
11-21-2013, 05:10 PM
We need to get him back? It's hard to feel obligated to rescue someone who should have known better. On top of that, he opens his trap about having fought in the war. He was begging to get sent to the gulag.

Juggs
11-21-2013, 05:38 PM
We need to get him back? It's hard to feel obligated to rescue someone who should have known better. On top of that, he opens his trap about having fought in the war. He was begging to get sent to the gulag.

So you'll just leave a Korean War veteran to die in a North Korean prison. Good to know what kind of person you are. I wouldn't fly into NK because I can't stand that place, and I have no connection to that place. Being a veteran of two wars myself, if I happen to find those two countries habitable in a few decades I wouldn't mind going back and seeing it.

I'm still not willing to leave a guy in a NK prison to die.

Rusty Jones
11-21-2013, 05:48 PM
So you'll just leave a Korean War veteran to die in a North Korean prison. Good to know what kind of person you are. I wouldn't fly into NK because I can't stand that place, and I have no connection to that place. Being a veteran of two wars myself, if I happen to find those two countries habitable in a few decades I wouldn't mind going back and seeing it.

I'm still not willing to leave a guy in a NK prison to die.

He was an adult who made a decision, and having fought in the Korean War does not absolve him from the responsibility of the decision that he made. If attacking North Korea was an easy decision, we'd have done it over a decade ago.

Juggs
11-21-2013, 05:54 PM
He was an adult who made a decision, and having fought in the Korean War does not absolve him from the responsibility of the decision that he made. If attacking North Korea was an easy decision, we'd have done it over a decade ago.

Who said anything about attacking? Diplomacy first always. He was an 85 yr old man. Not some dumbass reporter walking into Iran. I'd trust the Nks before Iranians.

Rusty Jones
11-21-2013, 05:58 PM
Who said anything about attacking? Diplomacy first always.

We have no diplomatic relations with North Korea. That's not an option.


He was an 85 yr old man. Not some dumbass reporter walking into Iran. I'd trust the Nks before Iranians.

You'd... WHAT?

71Fish
11-21-2013, 06:06 PM
I'm wondering how he got there in the first place. He ccouldn't go there on his American passport. Maybe he is a dual citizen somewhere.

Edit: However he got there, we need to get him back.

Juggs
11-21-2013, 06:10 PM
We have no diplomatic relations with North Korea. That's not an option.



You'd... WHAT?


We don't have any right now, but they do have ways of exchanging words. They're humans also.

What part confused you? Yes I would trust the North Koreans before I would trust the Iranians.

TJMAC77SP
11-21-2013, 06:20 PM
We don't have diplomatic relations with Iran either but still manage to engage in talks with them.

Rusty Jones
11-21-2013, 06:27 PM
We don't have any right now, but they do have ways of exchanging words. They're humans also.

It's not that simple. North Korea has been detaining tourists for years, and not just Americans.


What part confused you? Yes I would trust the North Koreans before I would trust the Iranians.

The part that confused me is the fact that you seem to be clueless about one or both of these countries, and if it's only one it's probably North Korea. In terms of human rights, Iran is one of the better countries in the region (not saying it's "good;" just saying it's one the better in the region). They may be our enemy, but that's something we can't take away from them. North Korea, on the other hand has been known to flat out deny things even after we show them proof to their faces. For example, they deny the existence of their gulags. They also have their people convinced that North Korea is a first world country, while the rest of the world is poor - the reason they tell the people that outside media is blocked, is because they don't want them them to be horrified by seeing the living conditions outside of North Korea.

None of that is going on in Iran.

And you trust North Korea before Iran? You might want to reassess that.

Rusty Jones
11-21-2013, 06:29 PM
We don't have diplomatic relations with Iran either but still manage to engage in talks with them.

We do by proxy through the Swiss.

Juggs
11-21-2013, 06:38 PM
It's not that simple. North Korea has been detaining tourists for years, and not just Americans.



The part that confused me is the fact that you seem to be clueless about one or both of these countries, and if it's only one it's probably North Korea. In terms of human rights, Iran is one of the better countries in the region (not saying it's "good;" just saying it's one the better in the region). They may be our enemy, but that's something we can't take away from them. North Korea, on the other hand has been known to flat out deny things even after we show them proof to their faces. For example, they deny the existence of their gulags. They also have their people convinced that North Korea is a first world country, while the rest of the world is poor - the reason they tell the people that outside media is blocked, is because they don't want them them to be horrified by seeing the living conditions outside of North Korea.

None of that is going on in Iran.

And you trust North Korea before Iran? You might want to reassess that.

With NK you know what you're getting. I don't need to reassess anything. I'm not the one writing off an 85 year old man.

Also yes by proxy, but it's it ill there.

Rusty Jones
11-21-2013, 06:47 PM
With NK you know what you're getting. I don't need to reassess anything. I'm not the one writing off an 85 year old man.

They've shown themselves to be less trustworthy than Iran. That's the point.


Also yes by proxy, but it's it ill there.

With Iran. Which does nothing for the man in North Korea.

Kalbo607
11-21-2013, 07:08 PM
After reading this I will give my son clear instructions that if I am ever 85 and want to go to North Korea to please stop me.

TJMAC77SP
11-21-2013, 07:39 PM
We do by proxy through the Swiss.

And Sweden does the same for the US with North Korea.

AJBIGJ
11-21-2013, 07:44 PM
I won't go as far as to say "let the guy rot" but I have to agree NK is a very strange place for an 85 year old veteran of the Korean War with heart conditions to be vacationing!

Rusty Jones
11-21-2013, 07:53 PM
And Sweden does the same for the US with North Korea.

Given all of the information available on North Korea's human rights history, Kim Jong Un, and how we've interacted in the past... do you think that North Korea is simply going to hand him because if we ask nicely?

Rusty Jones
11-21-2013, 07:58 PM
"Let him rot" is not the ideal thing, but unfortunately... it's the real thing.

Let's say we do as Juggs suggests... we ask nicely. It doesn't work. Now what?

The US has already got a million and one other reasons to break its foot off in North Korea's ass. I seriously doubt that this will be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

AJBIGJ
11-21-2013, 08:07 PM
"Let him rot" is not the ideal thing, but unfortunately... it's the real thing.

Let's say we do as Juggs suggests... we ask nicely. It doesn't work. Now what?

The US has already got a million and one other reasons to break it's foot off in North Korea's ass. I seriously doubt that this will be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

I'd say this is accurate to an extent, if history is the judge to go by we keep trying until NK relents or we in turn have to try for his remains. Often these processes take quite a long period of time to resolve if the country we're in negotiations with is non-compliant (Iran is actually a pretty good example of our history with such things). The problem here is it may be time this gentlemen does not have all considering.

efmbman
11-21-2013, 08:22 PM
I'm wondering how he got there in the first place. He ccouldn't go there on his American passport. Maybe he is a dual citizen somewhere.

Edit: However he got there, we need to get him back.

From what I read on CNN early this morning, this man was issued a visa from NK and was part of a tour group. Again, detaining someone is not a new thing for the North Koreans. Despite the rights this man enjoys as a US citizen, none of those rights are enjoyed in North Korea. The act of getting him released may very well hinge on concessions from the US. The State Dept warns people that they cannot guarantee protection when travelling to North Korea. It is much like people that refuse to evacuate in path of a natural disaster and then insist that first responders risk their lives in resue operations.

TJMAC77SP
11-21-2013, 08:55 PM
Given all of the information available on North Korea's human rights history, Kim Jong Un, and how we've interacted in the past... do you think that North Korea is simply going to hand him because if we ask nicely?

Someone mentioned diplomacy as an option you dismissed that with "We have no diplomatic relations with North Korea. That's not an option." I pointed out that isn't true. Asking nicely isn't the question or issue

Rusty Jones
11-21-2013, 09:04 PM
Someone mentioned diplomacy as an option you dismissed that with "We have no diplomatic relations with North Korea. That's not an option." I pointed out that isn't true. Asking nicely isn't the question or issue

The issue is whether or not we can realistically expect to get him back through peaceful means. Rather than discuss that, you want to talk about technical matters regarding diplomatic relations. Sounds like something Pullinteeth would do.

TJMAC77SP
11-21-2013, 11:49 PM
The issue is whether or not we can realistically expect to get him back through peaceful means. Rather than discuss that, you want to talk about technical matters regarding diplomatic relations. Sounds like something Pullinteeth would do.

Actually it seems that having facts put before us in the discussion is important.

Juggs
11-22-2013, 01:56 AM
We ask nicely. And the say no, then we begin bargaining. Like we have in the for dumber people.

Rusty Jones
11-22-2013, 01:58 AM
We ask nicely. And the say no, then we begin bargaining. Like we have in the for dumber people.

What makes you think North Korea can be bargained with?

Juggs
11-22-2013, 02:09 AM
Because they want sanctions removed. Therefore it can most likely be done.

Rusty Jones
11-22-2013, 02:17 AM
Because they want sanctions removed. Therefore it can most likely be done.

No they don't. I suggest you familiarize yourself with the North Korean doctrine of "Juche."

They can't be bargained with, because feeling the need to bargain in the first place would be in violation of Juche.

You're not very well-read on North Korea.

AJBIGJ
11-22-2013, 02:19 AM
Because they want sanctions removed. Therefore it can most likely be done.

Interestingly enough, I think the precise opposite is true at the governmental level in the DPRK. I think you're right if you're saying the NK people, but the regime that oppresses them I think rely on those very same sanctions to sustain the power they hold to continue what they do absent an overthrow. We see more minor examples of it here in the US, it's just amplified by a factor of probably a couple hundred over there. Oppression builds discontent, poverty brings dependency, demagoguery from those in power will cause the blame to be misplaced towards a scapegoat, and voila, you have a recipe for a somewhat sustainable legacy of despotism.

Juggs
11-22-2013, 02:22 AM
No they don't. I suggest you familiarize yourself with the North Korean doctrine of "Juche."

They can't be bargained with, because feeling the need to bargain in the first place would be in violation of Juche.

You're not very well-read on North Korea.

No I'm going off of past experiences with them. These countries always want sanctions lifted. Doctrine is always manipulated to fit the situation.

You're not very open minded. Also, you've already written the guy off leaving him there.

Rusty Jones
11-22-2013, 02:27 AM
No I'm going off of past experiences with them. These countries always want sanctions lifted. Doctrine is always manipulated to fit the situation.

You're not very open minded. Also, you've already written the guy off leaving him there.

...and you continue to talk out of your ass. Just stop.

Juggs
11-22-2013, 02:29 AM
And you continue to simly write off an 85 year old Korean War vet. Good to know. Glad I never had to serve with you since you would just leave somebody behind.

What we can do is drop with the asinine comments so we both start going at each other again and that will lead to both of us being banned.

Rusty Jones
11-22-2013, 02:38 AM
And you continue to simly write off an 85 year old Korean War vet. Good to know. Glad I never had to serve with you since you would just leave somebody behind.

What we can do is drop with the asinine comments so we both start going at each other again and that will lead to both of us being banned.

Look, if you don't know anything about North Korea; fine. But at least admit it. We can all stand to learn something. The problem is, you're judging North Korean leaders by "normal people" standards. If you knew anything about North Korea, you'd know that you can't do that.

If you don't know something, fine. But at least be quiet and learn.

Juggs
11-22-2013, 02:44 AM
Look, if you don't know anything about North Korea; fine. But at least admit it. We can all stand to learn something. The problem is, you're judging North Korean leaders by "normal people" standards. If you knew anything about North Korea, you'd know that you can't do that.

If you don't know something, fine. But at least be quiet and learn.

I know what has happened in the past. That's what I'm judging off of. I know their leaders are batshit, but I also know they want sanctions removed.

April 2013 they were asking for sanctions to be removed.

AJBIGJ
11-22-2013, 02:58 AM
I know what has happened in the past. That's what I'm judging off of. I know their leaders are batshit, but I also know they want sanctions removed.

April 2013 they were asking for sanctions to be removed.

I would contend you know they were "asking for the sanctions to be removed", unfortunately when one considers the smoke and mirrors sometimes used by that level of a power-oriented paranoia that is not the same as actually "wanting".

We can be certain they "want" their constituents to believe their leaders "want" it. If not, that shatters any illusion that the leadership is actually concerned about the people's best interest. So in fact they have to ask whether they are really concerned about getting it or not.

But one has to look at the history holistically as well, these are fairly intelligent dudes, piled on top of a whole lot of crazy. Is it our impression they were "asking" in a manner with the expectation of "getting" or just "asking" to show they went to bat and lost? I think they probably had/have a decent idea of what they can realistically achieve via negotiations, the fact that every such negotiation seems to get torpedoed somewhere down the line certainly lends for at least suspicion towards the motive of the requests.

I'll submit, there's possibly, to some extent, people in our government who seek to sustain the status quo for their own set of reasons.

There is a legitimate reason they say "power corrupts"!

TJMAC77SP
11-22-2013, 03:53 AM
Look, if you don't know anything about North Korea; fine. But at least admit it. We can all stand to learn something. The problem is, you're judging North Korean leaders by "normal people" standards. If you knew anything about North Korea, you'd know that you can't do that.

If you don't know something, fine. But at least be quiet and learn.

Seems we all have something to learn about North Korea. For instance, diplomatic standings and procedures.

I will agree with you that applying standard and rationale thought process to the leadership of NK is a dangerous game.

Capt Alfredo
11-22-2013, 04:13 AM
Seems we all have something to learn about North Korea. For instance, diplomatic standings and procedures.

I will agree with you that applying standard and rationale thought process to the leadership of NK is a dangerous game.

You guys all need to look up "mirror-imaging" and other biases that affect analytical thought.

Juggs
11-22-2013, 12:56 PM
You guys all need to look up "mirror-imaging" and other biases that affect analytical thought.

No. Here we just have a bunch of assholes (me included) spewing half knowledge about country we all apparently know only small amounts about.

AJBIGJ
11-22-2013, 01:05 PM
You guys all need to look up "mirror-imaging" and other biases that affect analytical thought.

There's a pretty decent piece on that concept at least coming from JHU.
http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/sais_review/v028/28.1witlin.html

AJBIGJ
11-22-2013, 01:05 PM
http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/sais_review/v028/28.1witlin.html

Rusty Jones
11-22-2013, 01:37 PM
You guys all need to look up "mirror-imaging" and other biases that affect analytical thought.

Mirror-imaging - when you assume that the people you're looking at think the same way you do. That's exactly what Juggs is doing, and that's what I'm trying to get him to snap out of.


No. Here we just have a bunch of assholes (me included) spewing half knowledge about country we all apparently know only small amounts about.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't know everything there is to know about North Korea. However, I am well-read on its history and current events. And that's where I'm speaking from. You, on the other hand, are speaking from assumptions on what you think people are going to do... which, in itself, isn't a bad thing if you were up to speed on the specific people in question and had a valid basis for such assumptions. You, however, base your assumptions on what you or "most people" would do.

TJMAC77SP
11-22-2013, 01:41 PM
Mirror-imaging - when you assume that the people you're looking at think the same way you do. That's exactly what Juggs is doing, and that's what I'm trying to get him to snap out of.



I'll be the first to admit that I don't know everything there is to know about North Korea. However, I am well-read on its history and current events. And that's where I'm speaking from. You, on the other hand, are speaking from assumptions on what you think people are going to do... which, in itself, isn't a bad thing if you were up to speed on the specific people in question and had a valid basis for such assumptions. You, however, base your assumptions on what you or "most people" would do.

But apparently not well read enough to understand the current standing of US contact with North Korea.

Rusty Jones
11-22-2013, 01:58 PM
But apparently not well read enough to understand the current standing of US contact with North Korea.

But well-read enough to know the likelihood of getting this man back through peaceful means.

TJMAC77SP
11-22-2013, 02:03 PM
But well-read enough to know the likelihood of getting this man back through peaceful means.

I am willing to bet.................

1. The man will be released.

2. We won't go to war with North Korea.

(I haven't even read the article that prompted this whole ridiculous discussion)

Rusty Jones
11-22-2013, 02:06 PM
I am willing to bet.................

1. The man will be released.

2. We won't go to war with North Korea.

(I haven't even read the article that prompted this whole ridiculous discussion)


IF he's released, it will likely be a decision made solely by the North Korean government without influence from the US.

It's my understanding that he's not the only American detainee there, and that there are also detainees from other countries that have been there for years.

AJBIGJ
11-22-2013, 02:08 PM
Mirror-imaging - when you assume that the people you're looking at think the same way you do. That's exactly what Juggs is doing, and that's what I'm trying to get him to snap out of.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't know everything there is to know about North Korea. However, I am well-read on its history and current events. And that's where I'm speaking from. You, on the other hand, are speaking from assumptions on what you think people are going to do... which, in itself, isn't a bad thing if you were up to speed on the specific people in question and had a valid basis for such assumptions. You, however, base your assumptions on what you or "most people" would do.
I don't think the majority of us have access to the Kim Jong's private throughts, and can only speculate as such. I also think you're not far off, but I would caution against attributing the purveyors of the dogma (in this case juche) towards being strict adherents to said dogma. I think in many dictatorships, especially those that lean totalitarian. Often the purveyors are very knowledgeable of the subject but because they tend to see it more as a tool to repress than a standard they would hold themselves to as a personal standard (Saddam Hussein comes to mind). For instance, I think the desire to maintain independence from the rest of the world would be a good incentive to use to convince the people they need to remain isolationist in the purest sense of the term (not just "non-interventionist" the way we typically see the term). I think understanding Dictators and Dictatorships is a challenge for most people because I think to do so, it requires one to apply a disproportionate amount of narcissism, confidence in purpose, and a desire to sustain ones power at any cost. This does not come naturally to most people, although appears to happen very naturally to people who have access to that level of personal power. From my limited understanding on the subject, the big difference lies in who the dogma believes is essentially the "deity" in the given situation.

Juggs
11-22-2013, 03:10 PM
Mirror-imaging - when you assume that the people you're looking at think the same way you do. That's exactly what Juggs is doing, and that's what I'm trying to get him to snap out of.



I'll be the first to admit that I don't know everything there is to know about North Korea. However, I am well-read on its history and current events. And that's where I'm speaking from. You, on the other hand, are speaking from assumptions on what you think people are going to do... which, in itself, isn't a bad thing if you were up to speed on the specific people in question and had a valid basis for such assumptions. You, however, base your assumptions on what you or "most people" would do.

I guess April when they asked for sanctions to be lifts wasnt current or recent enough for you.

Rusty Jones
11-22-2013, 03:13 PM
I guess April when they asked for sanctions to be lifts wasnt current or recent enough for you.

I guess you didn't read AJBIGJ's response.

Juggs
11-22-2013, 03:20 PM
I guess you didn't read AJBIGJ's response.

No I read your response to my post.

TSgt"M"
11-22-2013, 03:23 PM
Dennis Rodman will negotiate his release.

Rusty Jones
11-22-2013, 03:25 PM
No I read your response to my post.

What are you trying to do? Win a pissing contest? I'm not interested in your mid-argument Google research that you try to pass off as "knowledge." The information is out there on the Kim family, North Korean leadership, the gulags, their human rights violations, and their forced isolationism on the people. Get up to speed and come back when you're done.