Mark Lippert, U.S. ambassador to Korea, was attacked by a man with a knife in Seoul Thursday morning.
The assailant, Kim Ki-jong, attacked Lippert as he was sitting at a table during a breakfast lecture hosted by the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation at the Sejong Center.
Kim slashed the right side of Lippert’s face opening a five-centimeter gash while shouting that South and North Korea must be unified and the military training to prepare for war must halt.
Kim shouted “Oppose the war” and “For the unification of South and North Korea” as he was taken away in the police car.
Lippert was sent to Kangbuk Samsung Medical Center as he was severely bleeding from his face and arm but his injuries are not fatal. He has moved to Severance Hospital at Sinchon for an operation.
The attack took place at 7:40 a.m. when they were just about to have breakfast. Lippert arrived at Sejong Hall around 7:30 a.m and was to give a speech at 8 a.m.
“We apologize for the ineffective security and will take responsibility for anything that happens as a result of this incident,” Kim Young-man, a spokesman for the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, said.
Kim is a political activist who has been involved in the anti-war movement for about 30 years.
He is the head of Urimadang Dokdo Jikimi, a civic group advocating Korea’s sovereignty of the Liancourt Rocks, a group of islets in the East Sea/Sea of Japan that both Korea and Japan claim ownership.
Japan claims it legitimately annexed the Liancourt Rocks, which it calls Takeshima, in 1905. Korea calls the islets as Dokdo and claims that Japan unlawfully seized the islets and should renounce its claims to the disputed islets.
Kim Ki-jong is also a member of the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation.
He was sentenced two years in prison with three years of probation for throwing a chunk of concrete at a Japanese ambassador in 2010. He also attempted burning himself to death in front of Cheong Wa Dae in 2007.
Mark Lippert became the U.S. ambassador to South Korea last October and was previously Chief of Staff to the U.S. Secretary of Defense.
The chief of Jongro Police announced that the U.S. ambassador did not request special guard for the breakfast lecture.
Curtis Scaparrotti, commander-in-chief of the South Korea-U.S. combined forces command, said that the annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises, joint and combined field training exercises with the South Korean military forces, will continue.