American Merrill Newman, 85, who was detained by North Korea for more than a month, landed in Beijing on Saturday after being deported by Pyongyang, Japanese media reported.
The North's KCNA news agency said Newman, who was being held on charges of "hostile acts" against the state, was deported because he had admitted to his wrongdoing and apologised.
"I'm very glad to be on my way home," Newman told Japanese media at Beijing airport. "I feel good, I feel good. I want to go home to see my wife."
Newman, who was a US special forces soldier during the 1950-53 Korean War and worked with guerrillas fighting behind the lines against the socialist North, has been held by the Pyongyang regime since late October.
He was visiting North Korea as a tourist when he was pulled off an Air Koryo flight in North Korea minutes before it was due to depart for Beijing on Oct. 26.