The Last POW
Completely unaware that he was a household name in the United States, Merrill Newman passed his days in isolation on the 36th floor of the Yanggakdo Hotel in Pyongyang. Apart from the “investigator” who conducted the interrogations, his only other human contact came from his guards, the interpreter, and a doctor and nurse,...
A month after his return, Merrill got a call from the State Department. The North Koreans had given a document to the Swedish ambassador to send to him. Merrill wondered: What on earth could it be?
In a gesture of astonishing chutzpah, the North Koreans were submitting a bill of $3,241 for his enforced stay at the Yanggakdo Hotel. They’d even broken the room rate down, with six days at the “tourist season” rate of $75/day, and 36 days at the “ordinary season” rate of $60/day. Plus $591 for meals, $14 for dessert, and $23 for the phone call to Lee. And, as a final insult, there was a $3 fee for “a lost plate.”
Merrill asked the State Department whether paying might help the other Americans detained in North Korea, and was told no.
The bill remains unpaid