South Korea

South Korea opposition chief stabbed in neck, in intensive care

Reuters

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

South Korea opposition chief stabbed in neck, in intensive care

OPPOSITION LEADER. South Korea's opposition party leader Lee Jae-myung speaks during his visit to Busan, South Korea, January 2, 2024.

Yonhap via REUTERS

(2nd UPDATE) Lee underwent surgery at Seoul National University Hospital and was in an intensive care unit recovering and conscious, party spokesperson Kwon Chil-seung tells reporters

Content warning: Stabbing

SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea’s opposition Democratic Party leader Lee Jae-myung was stabbed in the neck during a visit to the southern city of Busan on Tuesday, January 2 and was airlifted to Seoul after receiving emergency treatment, party and emergency officials said.

The suspect, wearing a paper crown with Lee’s name on it, approached and asked for an autograph as Lee spoke among a throng of supporters and reporters. He then lunged forward and attacked him, video footage showed.

Lee, who narrowly lost the 2022 presidential election, underwent surgery at Seoul National University Hospital and was in an intensive care unit recovering and conscious, party spokesman Kwon Chil-seung told reporters. He condemned the attack as “political terror.”

Kwon said earlier medical staff suspected damage to a jugular vein.

The attack by the assailant unfolded quickly while Lee was touring the site of a proposed airport.

An official at the Pusan National University Hospital, where Lee first received emergency care, said the transfer to Seoul was possible after medical staff determined his condition was not life-threatening based on initial treatment and a CT scan.

Party spokesman Kwon Chil-seung, speaking outside the hospital soon after Lee was airlifted by helicopter, said medical staff suspected damage to a jugular vein that carries blood from the head to the heart.

“There is concern that there could be large haemorrhage or additional haemorrhage, according to medical staff,” Kwon said.

The attack by the assailant, seen in video footage and photographs, unfolded quickly while Lee was touring the site of a proposed airport in Busan.

Television footage and a video clip on the social media platform X showed the man lunging with his arm stretched out and stabbing Lee in the neck, the force of the attack pushing Lee back into the crowd behind him.

Lee grimaced and collapsed. News photographs showed Lee lying on the ground with his eyes closed and bleeding, and people pressing a handkerchief against his neck.

A Busan police officer, Son Je-han, told a news briefing the assailant was born in 1957 and used an 18-centimeter knife bought online. He did not identify the suspect and said the motive was being investigated.

Police will seek a charge of attempted murder, media said.

Jin Jeong-hwa, a Lee supporter who was at the scene livestreaming the event, told Reuters there were more than two dozen police officers present.

The assailant was quickly subdued by party officials and police officers, the footage showed.

ATTACKED. South Korea’s opposition party leader Lee Jae-myung falls after being attacked by an unidentified man during his visit to Busan, South Korea, January 2, 2024. Yonhap via REUTERS
President condemns attack

President Yoon Suk Yeol condemned the attack and instructed best care be given, his office said.

“This type of violence must never be tolerated under any circumstances,” his office quoted Yoon as saying.

A former governor of Gyeonggi province, Lee narrowly lost to conservative Yoon, a former chief prosecutor, in the 2022 presidential election. He has led the main opposition party since August 2022.

Lee is currently on trial for alleged bribery stemming from a development project when he was mayor of Seongnam near Seoul. He has denied any wrongdoing.

South Korea’s next parliamentary elections are slated for April.

South Korea has a history of political violence although it has strict restrictions on gun possession. There is police presence at major events, but political leaders are not normally under close security protection.

Lee’s predecessor, Song Young-gil, was attacked in 2022 at a public event by an assailant who swung a blunt object against his head, causing a laceration.

Then-conservative opposition party leader Park Geun-hye, who later served as president, was stabbed at an event in 2006 and suffered a gash on her face that required surgery.

Her father, Park Chung-hee, who was president for 16 years after taking power in a military coup, was shot and killed by his spy chief in 1979 at a drunken private dinner. – Rappler.com

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI
Download the Rappler App!