Nightly News   |  November 21, 2013

North Korea's behavior ‘unacceptable,’ Kerry says

North Korea is holding 85-year-old retired teacher and Korean War veteran Merrill Newman among others, something Secretary of State John Kerry says is “very, very disturbing.”  NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> now to the other story that our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell has been following for us today. an elderly american veteran, an 85-year-old man, detained on a tourist trip to north korea . and as andrea reports for us tonight, there are tense negotiations under way to set him free.

>> reporter: merrill newman fought as an infantry officer for three years during the korean war . the retired teacher's life dream was to go to north korea , say family members. after nine days on a tour of the world's most isolated nation, newman is a friend were about to leave when a military officer boarded their plane, taking newman away. he hasn't been seen since. alarming family and friends from his retirement home .

>> i think they're all worried.

>> reporter: now it's a matter of high stakes diplomacy.

>> what can you say to the north koreans about the american being held?

>> well, north korea really needs to recognize the dangerous steps it has been taking on many fronts. this is obviously one of those moments where north korea needs to figure out where it's heading, and they have other people, too. so these are all very, very disturbing choices by the north koreans , this kind of behavior.

>> reporter: another american, kenneth bay, has been held for more than a year and has been forced to perform hard labor for three months. his sister says he's diabetic and now hospitalized.

>> we beg for mercy for them to grant an amnesty.

>> reporter: dennis rodman visited north korea to rescue bay, even called kim jong un his friend for life. but no luck bringing bay home.

>> reporter: kim's father got two tv reporters who walked across the border.