South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Monday made a surprise visit to a Seoul hospital to meet U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert, who was attacked by a knife-wielding man last week. The South Korean leader arrived at the Yonsei Severance Hospital after she returned Thursday from her week-long visit to the Middle East.
Park had also reportedly made a phone call from Abu Dhabi to Lippert on Thursday after he was attacked. The attacker, who has been identified as Kim Ki-jong, was arrested on charges of attempted murder, violence against a foreign envoy and obstruction of business, Yonhap reported.
In 2006, Park was also reportedly admitted to the same hospital after she was attacked by a knife-wielding man during an election rally in Seoul. The American ambassador said he and his wife were moved by the support they received from her and other government officials, according to The Associated Press. On Friday, a man had also tried offering dog meat to the ambassador, in a gesture wishing him speedy recovery.
Lippert, who may be discharged on Tuesday, had undergone a two-hour surgery and received 80 stitches after the attack. Kim, who has since been arrested by the police, was formally charged with attempted murder on Friday. It was also revealed during questioning that Kim had kept ready a knife and a razor, which he didn’t use for the attack, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported, citing District Police Chief Yun Myeong-Seong.
“He said he had ... no intention to kill,” Yun said, according to AFP, adding: “But given the deep wounds on the ambassador’s face and arms and the fact that Kim chose the kitchen knife instead of a razor, we believe that he clearly had an intention to murder.”
Kim had said he attacked Lippert to show his resentment against the ongoing South Korea-U.S. army drills, which have reportedly soured the relationship between the two Koreas. Officials said that Kim had made seven visits to North Korea and also tried creating a memorial in Seoul for the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il in 2011. The North reportedly appreciated the attack on Lippert. Officials are now investigating Kim’s links to the country.
North Korea had called the attack a "deserved punishment and act of justice," a "righteous act" and a "reflection of public sentiment in the South," Asia One reported, citing a statement on KCNA, North Korea’s official news agency. The country had also said that the attack was a "just punishment for U.S. warmongers."
"(Seoul's probe) stems from Seoul's vicious attempt to stamp out pro-unification, patriotic forces and adhere more to its anti-North Korea campaign," North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, said in a statement, according to Asia One, which cited KCNA. "Based on Kim's records of visiting the North, (Seoul) is turning him into a pro-North Korean figure, whipping up anti-North Korea sentiment and insulting the supreme dignity (the North Korean leader)," the statement added.