California War Veteran Held Against His Will in North Korea

Family makes plea for the 85-year-old vet to be released in time for Thanksgiving.
3:00 | 11/25/13

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Transcript for California War Veteran Held Against His Will in North Korea
korea where tonight a korean war veteran from california is being held against his will. The big question, why would the regime detain an 85-year-old grandfather on a nostalgic tour. Tonight his family wants to know how he is, whether he's getting the heart medication he needs and they're pleading to have him home for thanksgiving. Abc's bob woodruff has their story. Reporter: It's been 30 days since lee newman last heard from merrill newman, her husband of 56 years. Now she is breaking her silence. We just hope whatever that misunderstanding is will be resolved very quickly and that he can return and be at our table for the holidays. Reporter: The newman family's big question -- why was merrill arrested while all of the other tourists with him were allowed to fly home? They had checked out of the hotel, gone to the airport, boarded the plane. We understand were five minutes from taking off when the korean official came aboard and asked to see his passport. He's been there ever since. Reporter: Merrill newman, served in the korean war, which remans a very sensitive topic in north korea. I have reported from there five times, always under tight supervision by a government minder. I feel like I'm being guided. Reporter: We were encouraged to watch films claiming north korea won the war. Some accusing americans of war crimes. But we know other american vets have traveled there without incident. So why would merrill newman be an exception? That's part of the puzzle. He wasn't breaking any new ground there. Reporter: And one of the family's main concerns, his heart condition. We want our grandfather and father and uncle and husband and friend returned to us as quickly as he can be. Reporter: Now as for negotiations, the u.S. Does not have any relationship with north korea, no ambassador, no american diplomats. We're now relying on the swedish ambassador to try to get merrill newman home hopefully by thanksgiving but that's only three days away. Such a strange one. A family drama is unfolding

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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