Merrill Newman, the 85-year-old Korean war veteran who had been held by North Korea for more than a month, has been freed. Newman had been visiting the DPRK as a tourist in October, when he was pulled off a plane and arrested by North Korean authorities, who considered him an American spy.
"I feel good," Newman said before his flight from Beijing to San Francisco. "I am very glad to be on my way home." Newman had declined an offer by Vice President Biden to fly back home on Air Force 2.
On his departure from North Korea, Newman said he respected "the tolerance the government has given me to be on my way." In the Korean War, Newman had trained anti-communist forces that performed raids on North Korea. North Korea, which has never formally concluded the 1950-1953 war, considered Newman an enemy agent.
After releasing a video last week that showed Newman apologizing for his actions during the Korean War, North Korea cited Newman's "sincere repentance" for his actions as the reason for his release. Newman was inspected by an embassy medical officer in Beijing, who gave him his medications and confirmed he was well enough to fly.