US Ambassador to S. Korea attacked with a knife during a breakfast meeting in Seoul

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SEOUL, South Korea — US Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert underwent a surgery after being slashed in his right cheek and left hand with a knife by a Korean activist during a breakfast meeting in central Seoul Thursday.

Lippert, being bleeding from wounds, was removed from the Sejong Centre for the Performing Arts with the aid his entourage while the assailant was apprehended.  He was taken to a nearby hospital for emergency treatment, and then he was transported to Shinchon Severance Hospital, where he received stitches.

“I’m OK. Hey guys, don’t worry,” he told officials of the US Embassy when he got out of a car in front of the hospital. Lippert, who had changed into a patient’s gown walked out of the hospital by himself.

Minister-Counselor for Public Affairs Robert W. Ogburn said in a briefing that Lippert’s injury is not life-threatening, and he was in a stable condition after surgery.

According to witnesses, the ambassador was preparing for his speech at the table in the meeting, organized by the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation (KCRC).  A man offered his hand for Lippert to shake and then suddenly attacked him with a 10-inch fruit knife, after shouting “South and North Korea should be reunified!”

The man expressed his hostility towards the joint US-South Korea military exercises that has begun this week, and he had handed out leaflets opposing the war exercises just before he approached Lippert. Police who arrested him identified the attacker on location as 55-year-old Kim Ki-Jong, and he was taken to a police station.

Kim was taken to Jongno Police Station in Seoul.
Kim was taken to Jongno Police Station in Seoul.

Kim is a head of the pro-Korean unification group “Woori Madang,” police said. The activist had been sentenced to a three -year suspended prison term over another attack in 2010, after throwing two pieces of concrete at a Japanese ambassador. The police are inquiring into his specific motive for the attack.

It was revealed that the official of the KCRC, who had an acquaintance with Kim, allowed him to take part in the meeting, although a security officer restricted his access, as he was not on the guest list of the meeting.

The KCRC made a public apology, and the chairperson expressed his resignation, taking responsibility for the incident.

US President Barack Obama has called Lippert to wish him “the very best for a speedy recovery,” the White House sad.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye said in a statement during her Middle East tour that what happened was “an attack on the Korea-U.S. alliance and we will not tolerate it.” She was also attacked similarly nine years ago.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Mark Lippert has updated his condition on his Twitter account, after having an operation over two hours and 30 minutes.

Mark Lippert

Photo by EJ Monica

Feature Photo: Footage of YTN News

Photo by EJ Monica




Yonhap News

Chosun Media



Feature Photo: Footage of YTN News

Photo by EJ Monica