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Families Hope For Release of Americans Detained in North Korea

Amanda Casanova | Contributor | Monday, December 2, 2013

Families Hope For Release of Americans Detained in North Korea

Two families in the U.S. are hoping two detained Americans in North Korea are released soon— especially with the Christmas season underway.

Both Merrill Newman, 85, and Kenneth Bae are being held in North Korea despite pleas from the U.S. government to free the men.

“We remain deeply concerned about the welfare of the US citizens held in custody in the DPRK (North Korea),” said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.

In October, Newman had gone on a 10-day private tour of North Korea when just minutes before his plane departed to return home, North Korean authorities took him off the plane. Then Saturday, the North Korean government said they held Newman because of his service in the Korean War.

"After I killed so many civilians and (North Korean) soldiers and destroyed strategic objects in the DPRK during the Korean War, I committed indelible offensive acts against the DPRK government and Korean people," Newman said in a released "apology.”

Bae, who is also being detained, was arrested in November 2012 in North Korea. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor due to “hostile acts” against the Korean government.

Bae was in North Korea helping orphans, although some organizations have suggested that Bae may have taken photos of the orphans or other North Korean activities. Those photos could have been considered “an act of anti-North Korean propaganda,” said Do Hee-youn of the Citizens’ Coalition for the Human Rights of North Korean Refugees.

Both men are suffering from chronic health conditions.