March 06, 2015 09:32
U.S. ambassador Mark Lippert was attacked by a knife-wielding extremist in downtown Seoul on Thursday morning and sustained serious injuries to his face and hand.
Lippert was preparing to speak at a forum in the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts when the man, identified as Kim Ki-jong (56), attacked him with a 25-cm blade, slashing his right cheek and stabbing his left hand.
It was the first time that a U.S. ambassador was attacked on Korean soil.
Lippert was rushed to hospital, where he sat through more than two hours of surgery. Doctors at Severance Hospital said Lippert sustained a 3-cm-deep gash extending for 11 cm from his right cheek to his chin and other wounds and had to receive 80 stitches.
He suffered nerve damage in his left little finger, according to the hospital.
The hospital said Lippert would take six months to a year to recover fully.
Kim, dressed in traditional Korean garb or hanbok, was sitting at an adjacent table at the event before he lunged at Lippert.
He screamed that the U.S. was an unwelcome guest in South Korea and that the two Koreas must reunite. He also passed out fliers denouncing massive annual South Korea-U.S. military drills that are currently underway.
Kim is a known offender who was given a suspended sentence for trying to attack the Japanese ambassador to Seoul in 2010.
The slasher served on a unification committee during the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations and visited North Korea eight times from 2006 to 2007. In December 2011, he attempted to set up a memorial altar in downtown Seoul for North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
After the surgery, the U.S. ambassador tweeted that he was "doing well and in good spirits." "Will be back ASAP to advance [U.S.-South Korea] alliance! Let's go together."
North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency hailed the attack as a "just punishment" for what it called "U.S. warmongers."
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com