North Korea’s Accidental Tourist

Merrill Newman – the 85-year-old former US Army officer who recently returned home after more than a month of detention in North Korea – asserts that he went to the country to gain long-overdue closure on his experience during the Korean War. What Newman did not realize was that he would, yet again, be stepping into a war zone.

WELLESLEY, MASSACHUSETS – Merrill Newman, the 85-year-old former US Army officer who recently returned home after more than a month of detention in North Korea, had gone to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to gain long-overdue closure on his experience during the Korean War. What Newman did not realize was that he would, yet again, be stepping into a war zone.

For DPRK authorities, closure without a peace treaty is unthinkable – as is accommodating individuals’ psychological and emotional need to reconcile their past and present toward the end of their lives. Simply put, if Newman was an enemy combatant 60 years ago, he is an enemy combatant today.

And Newman was very much an enemy of the regime. He trained Koreans to join the Kuwol unit, an anti-communist guerilla force tasked with disrupting North Korean military operations. Kuwol survivors claim to have killed 1,500 North Korean soldiers and captured 600 during the war. The unit – which the DPRK asserts also killed civilians – was “hated and feared” by North Korean fighters and was considered a major threat to the regime.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To continue reading, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you are agreeing to our Terms and Conditions.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/cxxGcVJ;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.