Terror Attack Can't Shake S.Korea's Partnership with U.S.

      March 06, 2015 13:13

      The U.S. ambassador was attacked by an assailant armed with a knife in downtown Seoul in broad daylight. Ambassador Mark Lippert was about to deliver a speech at a breakfast forum when a 56-year-old activist, who had attempted to assault the Japanese ambassador back in 2010, lunged at him. Lippert sustained serious wounds to his face and arm and was rushed to hospital.

      Afterwards, attacker Kim Ki-jong shouted slogans demanding an end to the South Korea-U.S. joint military drills. Kim apparently visited North Korea six times in the mid-2000s and in 2007 attempted to set himself on fire in front of Cheong Wa Dae.

      North Korean state-run media have hailed his latest act of terror.

      Kim is a violent anti-American activist who is well known to the authorities, yet he was somehow able to attend a seminar hosted by a government-affiliated group without any restraint. This is unacceptable. It is a disgrace that a country as economically advanced as South Korea is so naive about the threat of terror. No time must be wasted improving security.

      The slogans Kim shouted sounded as if they were lifted straight from the pages of a North Korean propaganda manual. North Korea has spent much of the first months of this year demanding an end to the massive South Korea-U.S. military exercises. But the drills, which began earlier this month, are annual exercises and are aimed at defending the South against a North Korean attack. It is ludicrous for the North, which is armed with nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and missiles, to demand that the South dismantle its defenses.

      It remains to be seen whether Kim was a lone deranged assailant or was put up to his attack by others.

      What is certain is that Kim’s attack will not shake the Korea-U.S. alliance, and an atrocious attack like this will not persuade others in this country that the U.S. Forces Korea should leave. If there are occasional disagreements over technical matters, they can be solved through friendly dialogue. 

      Lippert (42), who was appointed late last year, has made commendable efforts to approach the South Korean public. He even gave his newborn son a Korean middle name. This is why the attack against him upsets so many people here.

      The U.S. media gave breaking news coverage to the attack and reported that leftwing South Koreans view the U.S. as an obstacle to reunification with North Korea. But only a small handful of South Koreans feel that way. The vast majority cherish the alliance.

      Koreans need to let Americans know this and reaffirm their commitment to the partnership with the U.S. 

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