The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 4, 2013

US veteran being held in N. Korea had reached out to old 'Comrades' before trip

(Continued)

In an interview with The Associated Press, Park Boo Seo, 80, also raised a question that has caused much consternation: “Why did he go to North Korea? The North Koreans still gnash their teeth at the Kuwol unit.”

The Korean War may have ended 60 years ago, but the stories of the guerrilla groups that bedeviled the North Koreans were fresh when Newman returned seven weeks ago.

In recent years, after their top-secret missions were declassified in the late 1990s, stories of the heroic exploits of these North Korean rebels fighting against their own communistic regime flooded the South Korean airwaves and seeped into the north. Just last year, a South Korean television network aired a four-hour documentary about these so-called White Tigers and the munitions dumps they exploded, the supply lines they intercepted, the soldiers they killed, the spies they sent to infiltrate the North Korean Army.

“They hated us because they knew we were leading the North Korea citizens that hated the communist form of government and we were the advisers in North Korea,” said Col. Ben Malcom, who was an infantry officer, like Newman, during the war. He wrote about his guerrilla unit in “White Tigers,” a 1996 book that inspired many of the radio and TV reports that have recently aired.

For a totalitarian regime bent on controlling media propaganda, a country that in some ways is still fighting the Korean War despite a cease-fire 60 years ago, the stories that glorified the humiliation they suffered at the hands of their own could not have been welcomed.

Into this walked Newman, who had led a unit called Donkey 6. He told his neighbors in mid-October at the Channing House retirement complex in Palo Alto, which offers movie nights on Tuesdays, bingo on Thursdays and a jigsaw puzzle in the lobby, that he was heading off for a sightseeing trip.

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