America's Ambassador to Seoul Mark Lippert, after being slashed by

a knife-wielding pro-unification activist. While officials on both sides

insist there has been no damage to relations, the events leading up to

the assault suggest the assailant had help and anger over U.S. forces.



Seoul in Damage Control After U.S. Envoy Suffers Bloody Attack (The Korea Times, South Korea)


"The attacker shouted demands calling for a halt to the annual Korea-U.S. military exercised now underway. … The assailant was invited to the event but didn't RSVP. The organizer allowed him to enter even though he wasn't on the list of attendees. … The government said cooperation will be crucial following remarks by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman. … Concerns were raised that Washington may have taken sides with Tokyo in regard to Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's efforts to whitewash the colonial misdeeds of his country. However, the assailant told police that he had no accomplices, and denied the assault had anything to do with Sherman's remarks."


By Yi Whan-woo


March 6, 2015


South Korea – The Korea Times – Original Article (English)

To treat a gash on his right cheek caused by a knife attack by a radical activist Thursday morning, U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert is expected to remain hospitalized for three or four days. The wound, which is 11cm long and 3cm deep, required more than 80 stitches. Doctors who treated Lippert said the ambassador also suffered a 3cm long penetration wound on his left arm.


According to the Yonsei University Severance Hospital medical team treating him, Lippert also sustained damage to tendons in two fingers. They said two surgeries were carried out simultaneously which took about two and a half hours and that the ambassador is in stable condition.


The attacker, 55-year old Kim Ki-jong, shouted demands calling for a halt to the annual Korea-U.S. military exercises that are now underway.


At about 7:50am, Lippert was rushed to Kangbuk Samsung Hospital and then at 9:22am moved to the Yonsei University Severance Hospital where two surgeries were performed, including 80 stitches to his face. The surgeries were successful and Lippert was Tweeting positive messages by late afternoon: “Doing well and in great spirits … deeply moved by the support!”


Professor Choi Yun-rak, who performed the surgery on his arm, said the nerves of Lippert’s pinkie were damaged and tendons of thumb and index finger were also partially cut. “The nerve repair went successfully, and the fingers will fully recover their functions after about six months,” he said.


The American diplomat, who assumed his post in October, was attacked at about 7:40am at Seoul's Sejong Center for the Performing Arts where he was about to give a lecture on Peace, Unification of the Two Koreas and the Prospects of Korea-U.S. relations.



The attacker, who heads his own reunification research institute and has a history of attacking members of foreign embassies, was immediately pounced on, disarmed and arrested. He once set himself on fire near the Blue House to protest an alleged attack on his institute.


According to the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, the assailant was invited to the event but didn't RSVP. The organizer allowed Kim to enter even though he wasn't on the list of attendees.


After being told about the incident during a trip to the Middle East, President Park Geun-hye said, “This is an attack on the Korea-U.S. alliance. The government is taking all necessary measures including holding a thorough investigation and has reinforced security.”


Park expressed regret for the attack and wishes for Lippert's quick recovery to President Barack Obama and the U.S. government.


Shin Jae-hyun, director-general for North American Affairs at the Foreign Ministry, said the suspect shouted slogans about peace and unification on the Korean Peninsula and against war and Korea-U.S. military drills.


The attack took place four minutes after the assailant arrived. Saenuri Party lawmaker Chang Yoon-seok, who was seated beside the ambassador, said Lippert was assulted just as he began eating his first course and before his planned speech. As Lippert spoke of his son, born in Seoul in January, and how he would like to have his second child born here, Chang said the attacker, seated at a table further away, approached and began slashing.


Impact on Relations


Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yong was ordered to quickly provide the U.S. government with an explanation and to ensure that the incident won’t negatively affect U.S.-South Korea relations.


While the assailant demanded that annual Korea-U.S. military exercises be halted, the Defense Ministry said they would continue.


Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Ambassador Lippert have confirmed that the Seoul-Washington alliance would remain strong despite the assault, the government said.


"The Korea-U.S. alliance is too strong to be affected by this incident alone," said Yun was quoted as saying after a phone conversation with Lippert.


The government said four senior officials in the U.S., two from each side, had met and agreed to work closely to prevent the assault from damaging the alliance. Despite the move, some experts express concern that the incident will likely have an adverse impact.


The four officials were Korean Ambassador to the U.S. Ahn Ho-young, Korean Consul General to the U.S. Cho Hyun-dong, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel and Sung Kim, Washington's former top envoy to Seoul who now serves as special representative for North Korea policy and deputy assistant secretary of state for Korea and Japan.


"Ahn and Cho expressed regret over the incident," the Foreign Ministry said. "They and their U.S. counterparts agreed on the need to work closely to prevent the incident from developing into a diplomatic problem and negatively affect the Korea-U.S. alliance."


The government said cooperation will be crucial following controversial remarks by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman on Feb. 27.



Concerns were raised that Washington may have taken sides with Tokyo in regard to Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's efforts to whitewash the colonial misdeeds of his country.


However, Kim told police that he planned the attack alone and had no accomplices, and denied that the assault had anything to do with Sherman's remarks.


[Editor's Note: At a seminar in Washington last week, Sherman reportedly said, “Of course … it's not hard for a political leader anywhere to earn cheap applause by vilifying a former enemy,” she said, after pointing to various disagreements that relate to Japan’s colonial past. “But such provocations produce paralysis, not progress.” held a rally in central Seoul calling for the U.S. to apologize over Sherman's controversial remarks on Northeast Asian history [photo, left]. Politicians from across the South Korean political spectrum condemned her comments, arguing that the situation was a result of Tokyo failing to acknowledge its historic aggression toward Korea.]


Experts said the assault on Lippert will not hurt the Korea-U.S. relationship, but that the incident may hinder Seoul's efforts to convince Washington to take its side over Japan's wartime atrocities.


They speculated that the government and civic groups may for the time being find it hard to raise issues with Washington over historical disputes between Seoul and Tokyo.


"The assault won't lead to frayed U.S.-Korea ties" said Kim Hyun-wook, a professor at Korea National Diplomatic Academy, an institute run by the Foreign Ministry. "But it's likely that Korea will need to set aside historical disputes with Japan for the time being and instead soothe the U.S. … Such a situation will frustrate government effort to share with the U.S. its views of Tokyo's wartime atrocities."


He also speculated that protests by civic groups in front of the U.S. Embassy over Sherman's comments would subside.


Kim Yeoul-soo, professor of international politics at Sungshin Women's University, agreed.


"I believe Lippert played a key role in the U.S. government's prompt response to Korea's criticism of Sherman's remarks."


On March 2, the U.S. Department of State said Tokyo's wartime sexual enslavement of women was a "terrible, egregious violation of human rights."


A History of Attacks Against Diplomats


According to the government, this wasn't the first time the assailant had attacked a diplomat in Korea. During a lecture in 2010, Kim Ki-jong threw two cement blocks at then-Japanese Ambassador to Korea Toshinori Shigeie. An embassy interpreter was injured. Kim recieved a two-year suspended sentence.


“Kim has six prior criminal convictions,” said North American Affairs Director General Shin Jae-hyun. “It is our understanding that he habitually attacks foreign embassies workers here.”


Kim violently resisted arrest, claimed his ankle was injured during the capture and demanded a lawyer.


At 11am Kim was sent to a nearby clinic, arriving for questioning at the Jongno Police Precinct around 12:38pm. A police official said they may seek attempted murder charges as they obtain a detention warrant.


Shortly after the attack, Kim told journalists that for the past 30 years he had participated in anti-war protests and he demanded that Seoul and Washington immediately halt their war games. He also said annual joint military drills have prevented the reunions of families separated by the Korean War.


“The Key Resolve exercise is ruining inter-Korean relations,” Kim said immediately after he was wrestled to the ground. “I'm not ashamed. I used this knife to peel a fruit.”


When he arrived at the police station at 12:30pm, journalists again asked why he attacked Lippert. Kim said, “Only in this way will the Americans come to their senses.”


According to the police, the U.S. Embassy made no request for added security during the ambassador’s visit to the event. Under the Presidential Security Act, police protection is provided whenever an embassy makes such a request.


“The U.S. Embassy, citing security reasons, did not inform us in advance about the ambassador’s schedule,” said a police official. “They informed us earlier that morning and the U.S. Embassy provided its own security detail.”


The Jongno Police Precinct decided independently to send a unit and deployed intelligence detectives, but didn't screen participants or search their belongings.


“Because we sent the unit without an official request, we couldn't search the participants. Without such a request by the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, which organized the event, or the U.S. Embassy, no search would have been performed,” he said.


Born in Gangjin, South Jeolla in 1960, Kim Ki-jong graduated from Sungkyunkwan University Law School in 1984. He has devoted most of his career to unification issues and carrying out anti-American and anti-Japanese activities. In 1984, he established the unification research group Woori Madang.


According to the Unification Ministry, Kim was hired as an instructor by the Institute for Unification Education, a post he held between 2006 and 2009. The Ministry also said he visited North Korea's Kaesong Industrial Park in eight times between 2006 and 2007, all for a campaign to plant trees in the border city.


In 2007, Kim created another group to promote Korea’s sovereign rights over Dokdo, islets also claimed by Japan. And in October 2007, he set fire to himself near the Blue House. In July 2010, he carried out the attack on the Japanese ambassador.


Kim's younger brother Kim Ki-chang told the JoongAng Ilbo that because of his extreme actions, his older sibling had been estranged from his family for years. “He was trying to prove something, but society wasn't accepting it, so he probably acted even more radically,” the younger brother said.


Investigation Begins


Because almost all senior foreign affairs officials are with President Park in the Middle East, including Presidential Senior Secretary for Foreign and Security Affairs Ju Chul-ki and Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, the government decided to assign newly-appointed Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo to deal with the aftermath of the attack.


Lee ordered an investigation into whether anyone else was involved in the attack and oversaw Lippert's medical treatment. He also ordered police and the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs to improve the security for diplomatic missions, including the U.S. Embassy.


It also said Washington's position on historical tension in Northeast Asia remains unchanged and that it should be dealt with in a way that "promotes healing and reconciliation."


"It's pretty embarrassing that Lippert was attacked," Kim said.


Attempted Murder Charges


Police said Friday they have requested an arrest warrant for a South Korean man on attempted murder charges for slashing U.S. Ambassador to Seoul Mark Lippert's face and wrist in a show of discontent over ongoing bilateral military drills.


None of the wounds were critical, and Lippert was well on his way to recovery as of Friday morning, according to Yoon Do-heum, head of Severance Hospital where the envoy underwent surgery.


It was the first time a U.S. envoy here has been attacked. Kim was also behind the first-ever assault of a foreign envoy here when he threw a rock at a Japanese ambassador to Seoul in 2010.


Kim had told officers that he plotted the attack to stop the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises that kicked off earlier this week. The exercises are part of Seoul and Washington's efforts to better deter threats from North Korea. Kim said he thought the drills hampered inter-Korean reconciliation. The two sides have remained technically since the 1950s after the Korean War ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty.


Yoon Myeong-seong, chief of Jongno Police which is leading the investigation, said an arrest warrant was requested for charges of attempted murder, violence against a foreign envoy and business obstruction. A special investigation team has been assembled cpmprised of nearly 100 prosecutors and police officers, and will be led by the anti-terrorism bureau of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office.


An official at the National Police Agency said on condition of anonymity that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has asked South Korean authorities to share information on the investigation but will not participate. It will instead make inquiries about the direction of the ivestigation.


Kim told police that he had no intention to kill. But Chief Yoon said the fact the act was premeditated and that he slit Lippert multiples times with a
25-centimeter-long knife, including in the face, was enough to show that Kim willfully neglected that possibility.


A preliminary ivestigation shows that Kim had been to North Korea seven times between 1999 and 2007. Kim didn't appear suspicious during these trips which were approved by the Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs. He also tried to erect an altar in the heart of Seoul in memory of late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in December 2011, shortly after he passed away.


Police are already searching Kim's home and office in the Seodaemun district of western Seoul for documents and hard drives. They said the items will help them learn how Kim planned the attack and why. They also intend to illuminate whether he had an accomplice. Police have also been issued a warrant to obtain Kim's phone records.

Posted By Worldmeets.US,


Authorities said the U.S. envoy had not been one of the personnel requiring 24-hour guarding. The U.S. Embassy had also not requested bodyguard service, they added.


Lippert is known to have close personal ties to the White House and an extensive network of contacts within the National Security Council and Pentagon and has been very engaged with the Korean public, even setting up a Facebook page for his pet basset hound Grigsby.


The White House said Obama called Lippert after the attack to wish him a speedy recovery and the U.S. State Department issued a statement saying, “We strongly condemn this act of violence.”


Lippert, 42, became the youngest-ever U.S. envoy to Seoul last year. His wife gave birth to a son here, to whom they gave a Korean middle name. He was previously the assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs from 2011 to 2012.



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[Posted By Worldmeets.US, March 6, 2015, 1:55am]








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