Merrill Newman POW

Long Before The 2013 North Korean Detention of Merrill Newman, There Were the Ashley Five Americans Confirmed Alive in North Korean Hands But Never Returned Newman Was Returned, They Never Were An Intriguing Connection Between Both Events See Their Story Here

Gilbert Ashley & Hidemaro Ishada: Never Returned by North Korea

The Secret US Documents Behind Imprisoned US Vet Merrill Newman’s Korean War Unit Plus: Why Would Pyongyang Imprison an American Senior Citizen?

Merrill Newman was a member of the Korean War 8240th Army Unit, which operated anti-communist Korean “partisans” in North Korea, most in the western part of the country. See below the declassified US Army review of these operations. You can also see the CIA’s review of broader special operations during the Korean War, conducted by the Combined Command Reconnaissance Activities (CCRAK). 8240th ops are discussed here as well.

This topic is not just sensitive in North Korea; the US government still refuses to declassify 50-year-old and older records relating to this topic from during and the years soon after the Korean War. See an example below of a 1955 report; we requested it earlier this year and the US National Archives says it is still properly classified. We have spent years trying to get some of these files released, mostly because of the information they hold on American POWs kept by the communists after the Korean War (see

US-sponsored clandestine action in North Korea did not end with the Korean War Armistice in 1953. In other worlds, the US and its South Korean allies kept sending agents into North Korea years after the war (as the North Koreans were sending their agents the opposite direction). For Pyongyang, Mr. Newman’s efforts might be seen as the early part of a long-running operation…one that is in some ways still going on.

The North Koreans – masters themselves of such clandestine ops – are extremely sensitive about these efforts by the US and South Koreans to insert agents into North Korea over the years. Some of the 8240th missions involved “stay behinds” as well (agents who were to remain behind after the fighting ended), creating a real – if now long-in-the-tooth – connection to North Korean internal security today.

Re Mr. Newman’s “apology” cum forced-confession carried on the North Korean news… From “DMZ War’s” perspective as a student of Korean War special ops and visitor to North Korea: Obviously, as we know from our US POWs during the war, the Pueblo crew and others, we cannot assume the confession is accurate. It was clearly also written by somebody who is not entirely literate in English and who spouts characteristic North Korean communist bombast.

If Mr. Newman did indeed ask a North Korean contact “to help me look for the surviving soldiers and their families and descendents” (of anti-communist guerrillas), this would certainly raise issues. If there were indeed survivors of Mr. Newman’s unit after the Armistice, they may well have kept up the fight against the communists, actively or passively. They and their families, including children and grandchildren, would be considered “hostile” to the North Korean regime even to this day (under the North Korean class system), based just on the actions of the partisans during the war.

The North Koreans take great pains to keep American and other foreign visitors away from citizens they consider untrustworthy, which includes people whose parents or grandparents fought with the US during the war (plus people from Christian and business-owning families, etc.).

Asking a regime insider to contact such “enemies of the state,” especially if there was a link to a group of former anti-communist guerrillas in South Korea, would raise all sorts of issues. If it happened, I can see why the North Korean who was asked to do this would turn in Mr. Newman, if only out of fear that if he didn’t, the regime would learn about the exchange later and accuse him of being a traitor for not immediately passing on Newman’s comments (which may have been recorded) to internal security.

We can see Mr. Newman thinking he was acting on a humanitarian basis, not understanding how the North Korean security state might take his efforts.

The issue of Mr. Newman’s alleged hope to “pray for the souls of the dead soldiers in Kuwol Mt.,” if true, would also be extremely irritating to North Korean officials, who do not have any desire to “forgive and forget” those who fought against them after the war.

Mr. Newman may have believed “bygones should be bygones” on the Korean peninsula. Pyongyang does not.

One final consideration: Pyongyang sometimes decides to grab Americans simply for negotiating purposes. If the word was out to snatch a Yankee to bargain for some concession from the Obama Administration, Mr. Newman was in additional jeopardy to begin with.

(DMZ War: 11/30, pm)

[Dmzwar: See below the forced “apology” of Merrill Newman carried by North Korean official media. The grammar and communist rhetoric make clear it was written for him.

Apology of U.S. Citizen for His Hostile Acts in DPRK

Pyongyang, November 30 (KCNA) — The following is an apology U.S. citizen Merrill Newman presented to a relevant institution after his detention in the DPRK:

I am Merrill Newman living in California, USA.
During the Korean War, I have been guilty of a long list of indelible crimes against DPRK government and Korean people as advisor of the Kuwol Unit of the UN Korea 6th Partisan Regiment part of the Intelligence Bureau of the Far East Command.
As I gave 300 people with barbarity gone to the South who had ill feelings toward the DPRK from Chodo military education and guerilla training they later did attack against the DPRK although the armistice was signed.

I also gave 200 soldiers under my command in Mt. Kuwol the task to harass the rear base such as collecting information on the movement and the arm equipment in KPA, attacking and destruction on the communication system, the rice storage, railroad and munitions train by dispatching the several elements to Hwanghae Province Area.

According to my order they collected information of the KPA and attacked the communication system and killed 3 innocent operators, delayed the munitions supply using explosives obtained from attacking the mine and they attacked the KPA and harassing operations of the rear base 10 times in the Hwanghae Province Area.

They killed about 50 soldiers in the process of the operation. In the process of following tasks given by me I believe they would kill more innocent people.

As I killed so many civilians and KPA soldiers and destroyed strategic objects in the DPRK during the Korean War, I committed indelible offensive acts against the DPRK government and Korean people.

Although 60 years have gone by, I came to DPRK on the excuse of the tour as a member of 33 Tour Group from U.S. on October 17, 2013.
Shamelessly I had a plan to meet any surviving soldiers and pray for the souls of the dead soldiers in Kuwol Mt. during the Korean war. Following the itinerary I asked my guide to help me look for the surviving soldiers and their families and descendents because it was too hard for me to do myself.

If I had the opportunity to visit Kuwol Mt. I was going to pray for the souls of dead soldiers. If I saw surviving soldiers in Mt. Kuwol, I was going to connect them with the members of the Kuwol Partisan Comrades-in-Arms Association which I had already connected with, anti-Communist strategic plot organization.

All the members of the Kuwol Partisan Comrades-in-Arms Association escaped from the DPRK to South Korea. So I asked the guide to help me to look for their families and relatives living in DPRK and I gave the document written with their address and e-mail address to the guide in the Yanggakdo Hotel.

I also brought the e-book criticizing the Socialist DPRK on this trip and criticizing DPRK.
Although I committed the indelible offensive acts against the Korean people in the period of the Korean War, I have been guilty of big crimes against the DPRK government and Korean People again.

I realize that I cannot be forgiven for my offensives but I beg for pardon on my knees by apologizing for my offensives sincerely toward the DPRK government and the Korean people and I want not punish me.

Please forgive me.

I will never commit the offensive act against the DPRK Government and the Korean People again.
On this trip I can understand that in US and western countries there is misleading information and propaganda about DPRK.
If I go back to USA, I will tell the true features of the DPRK and the life the Korean people are leading.
Merrill Newman
Nov 9, 2013

Many US Files About Korean War Special Operations During and After the Korean War Remain Classified
We’ve Been Trying to Get Them for Years
Below is a Still-Classified Report from 1955 Concerning a Follow-On Unit Related to the One Merrill Newman Served in

Elsewhere on DMZ War

RoK Troops Track North Korean Infiltration Team (Nov. ’68). The US Military Provided Air Support and Combat Cameraman. Find Out What Happened and See the Video Here

Previously Secret ’59 Army Intel Report on NK Infiltration Tactics

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