North Korea praised the razor blade attack on the U.S. ambassador in South Korea, calling it “deserved punishment” for America’s warmongering activities.
Ambassador Mark Lippert, 42, was leaving a breakfast event when he attacked by Kim Ki-jong, 55. Lippert was slashed on his face and left hand. Hospital officials told Yonhap news that he narrowly escaped more serious injury — “had the cut on his face been deeper, it could have damaged a major artery.”
Yonhap reported that the assailant had a history:
Kim was also behind the first-ever assault against a foreign ambassador here, which took place in 2010. He was given a suspended jail term for throwing pieces of concrete at then Japanese envoy to Seoul Toshinori Shigeie. In a book detailing the incident published last year, Kim reportedly idealized terrorism.
South Korean intelligence sources said Kim had visited North Korea six times between 2006 and 2007. He also tried to erect a memorial altar in late 2011 for late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in the heart of Seoul.
In 2007, Kim set himself on fire in front of the presidential office in Seoul, asking for an inquiry into a rape that allegedly took place at his office in 1988.
The Korean Central News Agency in North Korea hailed the attack as a “knife shower of justice” to the United States.
“The stupidity and isolation that comes from that country doesn’t deserve a response,” Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) told CNN.
Annual joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea began Monday and run through March 13. Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, and Great Britain are also participating in the exercise, according to Combined Forces Command.
Lippert became ambassador in Seoul last fall. He used to be chief of staff to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and is close to President Obama, whom he advised on foreign policy in his first presidential campaign.
“I think that there will be more security around both the Lipperts in the future. But I — knowing Mark, he is going to do everything possible to be still outgoing and where people can see him. He walks usually from his residence to the embassy. He doesn’t go in a car or flotilla of cars. I think he tries to be as open as possible. Of course, the Koreans themselves want him to have more security,” Leahy said.
“But I think people have to realize every one of our ambassadors, they go to represent the United States, of course they face certain threats, but they do that because they’re loyal Americans and they want America well-represented. Mark is probably the epitome of that. I testified at his confirmation hearing saying if we want to send the face of America, here’s the man to do it with, and we have. And I understand the South Koreans are very upset by this. And I applaud their sentiment toward him. Right now we just want him to get better. And I — there will be a balance on security. There has to be. The most important thing is for American ambassadors to be able to be with the people of the country to show the face of America.”