U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert leaves a lecture hall for a hospital in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, March 5, 2015 after being attacked by a man with a roughly 10-inch blade.
U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert was attacked by a man wielding a knife with a roughly 10-inch blade while giving a lecture in downtown Seoul Thursday morning local time, according to South Korean media.
Media images showed a stunned-looking Lippert staring at his blood-covered left hand and holding his right hand over a cut on the right side of his face, his pink tie splattered with blood.
Lippert was taken to a hospital to treat his non-life threatening wounds after the attack, which happened at a performing arts center as the ambassador was preparing for a lecture about prospects for peace on the divided Korean Peninsula. He is in stable condition, the U.S. Embassy says.
As Lippert was briskly escorted to a car after the attack, he held his bleeding face, according to video footage captured by Yonhap News.
The suspect has been identified as 55-year-old Kim Ki-jong, who allegedly screamed during the attack, "South and North Korea should be reunified." He also expressed his discontent with joint South Korean-U.S. military drills that started this week before carrying out the attack, according to Yonhap News.
The drills aim to prepare both militaries against North Korean attacks. North Korea has described the training, which is scheduled to run through April, as preparation for an invasion, but U.S. and South Korean officials say they are defensive and routine.
A witness, Ahn Yang-ok, the head of the Korean Federation of Teachers' Associations, told YTN that Lippert had just been seated for breakfast ahead of the lecture organized by the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation when the suspect ran toward the ambassador from a nearby table and slashed him with a knife.
Kim, who was dressed in a modern version of the traditional Korean hanbok, also shouted anti-war slogans after he was detained.
A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still happening, said the suspect in 2010 threw a piece of concrete at the Japanese ambassador in Seoul.
|A suspect in the attack on U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert, identified by police as 55-year-old, surnamed Kim Ki-jong, is overwhelmed by participants at a lecture hall in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, March 5, 2015.|
South Korean media reported that in August 2010 that Kim Ki-jong was sentenced to a three-year suspended prison term over the attack. Kim, who was protesting Japan's claim to small disputed islands that are occupied by South Korea, missed the ambassador with the concrete and hit his secretary instead, the reports said.
President Barack Obama called Lippert after the attack to express his thoughts and prayers for a speedy recover, the White House said.
"We strongly condemn this act of violence," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. She had no other details.
Lippert, 42, became ambassador last year and has been mostly popular during his time in Seoul. His wife gave birth here and the couple gave their son a Korean middle name. Lippert was formerly the U.S. Assistant Secretary Defense for Asian affairs.
Tags: English, SOUTH KOREA, WORLD