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(2nd LD) N. Korea says detained US citizen apologizes

2013/11/30 14:42

SEOUL, Nov. 30 (Yonhap) -- North Korea said Saturday that a U.S. citizen detained for more than a month has apologized for "hostile acts" against the state and alleged crimes he committed during the 1950-53 Korean War.

The North's state media released video and photos showing Merrill Newman, a 85-year-old veteran of the Korean War from Palo Alto in northern California, reading his alleged apology.

"During the Korean War, I have been guilty of a long list of indelible crimes against DPRK government," Newman said.

The DPRK refers to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's full name.

Newman then asked for forgiveness, saying that "If I go back to USA, I will tell the true features of the DPRK and the life the Korean people are leading."

   According to the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) report monitored in Seoul, Newman "committed hostile acts against the DPRK after entering the country under the guise of a tourist."

   The elderly war veteran allegedly attempted to meet with any surviving soldiers he had trained during the Korean War to fight North Korea, and brought an e-book criticizing North Korea, the KCNA said.

Newman "masterminded espionage and subversive activities against the DPRK and in this course he was involved in the killings of service personnel of the Korean People's Army and innocent civilians," it said.

Experts say that North Korea issued the apology in an apparent attempt to take steps to negotiate Newman's release.

Newman, a retired financial executive who served three years during the Korean War and currently suffers from heart disease, was taken off a plane on Oct. 26 by North Korean authorities. He visited the reclusive country on a tourist visa.

The U.S. government has not formally confirmed whether Newman is the second U.S. citizen currently detained in the North. Kenneth Bae, a 40-year-old Korean-American man, has been detained there for more than a year.

However, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that North Korea keeps making "very disturbing choices," apparently referring to Newman's detention.

In 2009, the North detained two U.S. female journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, both of whom were released to former President Bill Clinton.