On Thursday, March 6, United States ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert was attacked and slashed with a knife by a man who disapproves of South Korean-U.S. military drills. Lippert was attacked prior to the speech he was supposed to give at the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, an event held to promote peace between the two Koreas.
After the brief yet brutal attack, Lippert underwent more than two hours of surgery. During the surgery, he needed a whopping 80 stitches in his face in order to close his wounds. He was in stable condition the whole time. Lippert was then kept in the hospital for the following three to five days to allow some recovery.
The man responsible for the attack was Kim Ki-Jong who was apprehended and arrested immediately after the attack. Kim, 55, has a history of unruly behavior and could be facing charges for attempted murder along with various other charges. Officials stated that Kim had traveled to North Korea several times between 1997 and 2007 which may be why he has such powerful opposition to the United States and South Korea working together in a military fashion. Kim was seated at a table near Lippert’s and when the U.S. ambassador headed towards the podium to give his speech Kim lunged from his seat at Lippert yelling anti-U.S. remarks as the attack began. A nearby man may have saved Lippert’s life when he jumped on top of Kim to get him off of the ambassador. Later, witnesses saw the knife used in the attack. It was nothing special but the knife was 10 inches long.
In regards to his injuries, there are a few. He has an inch deep cut on the right side of his face going from the cheekbone down to his lower jaw. Also, he has five deep gashes on his on his left hand and arm as well but doctors are saying they will not affect the functioning of his arm.
According to CNN.com, the South Korean president, Park Guen-hye said,“ This incident is not only a physical attack on the U.S. ambassador, but an attack on the South Korea-U.S. alliance and it can never be tolerated.” On the other hand, North Korea described the attack as “a knife attack of justice.”
This attack was one that won’t soon be forgotten and it goes to show how countries so close together can have such different sentiments towards the United States.