News / Asia

White House Urges N. Korea to Release US Citizen

In image released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), U.S. citizen Merrill E. Newman puts thumbprint on paper after being taken into custody by North Korea as tourist, undisclosed, Nov. 30, 2013.
In image released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), U.S. citizen Merrill E. Newman puts thumbprint on paper after being taken into custody by North Korea as tourist, undisclosed, Nov. 30, 2013.
VOA News
The White House is calling on North Korea to release an elderly American and veteran of the Korean War who has been held in North Korean custody since late October.
A White House statement Saturday urged Pyongyang to allow 85-year-old Merrill Newman, who suffers from a heart condition, to "return home and reunite with his family."
Newman, a California native, was visiting North Korea with a valid visa when he was removed from an airplane October 26 as he prepared to depart the country.
Earlier Saturday, the North's official Korean Central News Agency confirmed it had detained Newman. The report said he had apologized for "crimes" during the Korean war, and for "hostile acts" against the state during his October visit.
According to reports by Reuters, KCNA said Saturday that Newman "allegedly tried to meet with surviving soldiers he had trained to fight the North during the Korean War."
KCNA posted a video of Newman reading the purported apology aloud. It was not clear whether the American wrote the statement or if he was coerced into writing it.
The White House statement also called for the release of Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae, who is serving a 15-year prison term for "state subversion."
The 46-year-old Christian preacher was detained in November 2012, after entering the country as a tour operator. His family says he has diabetes and is in ill health.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: James from: Florida
December 01, 2013 6:17 PM
Hr may have had good motives for his visit, albeit risky. At 85 it might be very important to him.
NK is using him to taunt us and create pulp for it's suffering masses. I am surprised there has not been a demand for food or fuel to ransom this patriotic American. Dennis Rodman should call his ugly pal, In, and seek immediate release.
In Response

by: John from: USA
December 02, 2013 3:17 AM
James, I don't understand the logic behind more and more idiots venturing into N.Korea and getting caught and then having to send some past US presidents there to secure their release. If it was an isolated case I can understand. Carter had to go there a couple of times to get the release of 2 people, then Clinton went to get the release of 2 girls, then the New Mexico governor Bill Richardson went to get the release of some one else. Now 2 more people need to get released from there. When will we ever learn?

by: John from: USA
December 01, 2013 6:14 PM
Technically US is still at war with North Korea. The cease fire agreement signed between the 2 nations was torn off by the North Korean dictator about a year or so ago. I am not sure why US state department lets any civilian to travel to North Korea. There are so many other places in this world where this 85 year old could have visited, and he has to be a moron to go back to a country where he fought against those people and another American Mr.Bae is still held captive. I wonder whether there was some book deal involved where he could make some money by writing about the horrible conditions in North Korea.

by: Anonymous
December 01, 2013 6:07 PM
wheres dennis rodman when you need him?

by: Kool Lucian from: Thailand
December 01, 2013 5:42 PM
Mr Obama, say "Please"? Or go ask for China's help.

by: jon from: Michigan
December 01, 2013 5:35 PM
If Reagan were in office he would have been home three weeks ago.
In Response

by: Kool Lucian from: Thailand
December 01, 2013 7:07 PM
Quite right. These Dem libs can't be trusted with US foreign policy. Maybe it's time for a patsy US to pass the baton to China as the world's keeper of "peace" but keep your piece (pun intended) well or China will grab it.

by: Randy from: USA
December 01, 2013 5:13 PM
I'm tired of hearing about North Korea doing this or doing that. They are just going to keep being an annoyance until someone wipes them off the map.

by: Tony from: St Petersburg, FL
December 01, 2013 4:53 PM
You have got to be the dumbest human being on the face of this earth to travel North Korea, especially if you are an American. I mean seriously, do these people live under a rock or something? There is always someone being detained against their will on a regular basis over their.

by: JT from: CA, USA
December 01, 2013 4:47 PM
The world should stand united against human cruelty. It would be good to strike a war with Nkorea, destroy their nuclear facilities and make them understand the consequences of doing such actions.

Can't the US or UN do something to help the people living in North Korea. Free them from the dicator. Can't human rights not help during this situation.

by: rocket7777 from: universe
December 01, 2013 2:46 PM
History is written by winners and people only know prapaganda history. Usa had "kill em all" and even killed kids and babies so all usa troops are guilty of atrocity and war crime.
Google “Kill 'em All': The American Military in Korea”
This guy trained others do even worse. North korea also canceled armistice earlier this year so it is at war.

Untold history you can wiki:

by: Mike from: Dallas, Texas
November 30, 2013 9:06 PM
If I go piss directly into the wind, will the White House buy me new pants?
Comments page of 2

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs