DPRK Tour Operator Perspective: Merrill Newman, Detained American Tourist (Updated!)

UPDATED DEC. 8, 2013: We are very happy and relieved to hear that Merrill Newman has been released and is on his way home to his family. Some of our staff were in Pyongyang listening to the news via BBC and Aljazeera in the Pyongyang hotel, feeling glad that he was released.

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Original post:

We have read recent reports about Merrill Newman, an 85-year old American tourist, being detained in North Korea at the end of his trip. Our thoughts go out to him and his family during this time. While we confirm that he was not one of our tourists on any one of our tours, this is a very rare and unusual incident in the general DPRK tourism industry. Thousands of western tourists safely travel to North Korea per year. Safety is the highest priority for us, as well as our local DPRK partners, and in our 10+ years of operation, we have never had any such incidents on any of our tours.

Reports suggest that Mr. Newman’s history as a Korean War vet may have triggered the arrest. We have taken Korean War vets on our tours, and this alone is not a cause for concern. Western tourists in general are well received in the country.

We take all necessary precautions to ensure that people are kept physically and politically safe, and we brief all of our participants on the rules of the road in the DPRK.

Our tours have been and will continue to run as scheduled until further notice. For more information on the booking process, see our guide on How to Travel to North Korea.

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