I’m somewhat perplexed as to why any American — let alone one 85 years old — would want to travel to North Korea, where we recently reported on the execution of North Koreans because they possessed South Korean videos or were Christians.
Nonetheless, Merrill Newman did, and has been detained for more than a month. Yesterday, as reported by the Associated Press,
North Korea state media claimed he apologized for alleged crimes during the Korean War and for “hostile acts” against the state during a recent trip.
North Korea has detained at least six Americans since 2009, including two journalists accused of trespassing and others, some of whom are of Korean ancestry, accused of spreading Christianity. Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary and tour operator, has been detained for more than a year. North Korea sees missionary work as a Western threat to its authoritarian government.
Tourism is picking up in North Korea, despite strong warnings from the State Department, most recently this week. Americans travel there each year, many as part of humanitarian efforts or to find long-lost relatives or to see a closed society few outsiders get to visit.
A similar situation exists in Iran which is still holding American Christian Pastor Saeed Abedini and others including several hikers. I don’t understand why North Korea and Iran aren’t on no travel lists for Americans.
There’s no reason for any American to believe this current administration will instill any fear or respect in rogue regimes such as North Korea or Iran. We must stop allowing these authoritarian and totalitarian governments to create embarrassing moments for our country. More importantly, we need to ensure none of these terrorist-centric nations feel comfortable in illegally detaining any American. But that would take a projection of strength and resolve — something severely lacking in the White House.