South Korean President Park Geun-hye yesterday visited injured US Ambassador Mark Lippert amid an outpouring of public sympathy and support for the envoy who is recovering from an attack by a knife-wielding man.
Lippert has been hospitalized since Thursday last week at Seoul’s Severance Hospital, where Park also received treatment in 2006 when she was attacked by a man with a box cutter during an election rally. Park was then an opposition party leader.
Park’s office said the president went to the hospital shortly after she returned to South Korea from a Middle East tour.
Park was quoted as saying “my heart is aching more” because Lippert is hospitalized at the same hospital due to a similar attack. Lippert told Park that he and his wife have been moved by the support the South Korean government and people have shown him, according to a statement from the presidential Blue House in Seoul.
Conservative activists and Christians in South Korea have wished Lippert a quick recovery, held pro-US rallies and conducted dance performances near the US embassy in Seoul. High-level government officials and politicians have visited him, and one well-wishing man even tried to offer dog meat to him.
Hospital officials said they expect to release Lippert today.
The alleged attacker, known as an anti-US activist who was previously convicted of hurling a piece of concrete at the Japanese ambassador in Seoul in 2010, was arrested on Friday last week. Kim Ki-jong could face charges including attempted murder.
Police said the exact motive for Kim’s action was not known but he shouted after the attack that he opposes the ongoing US-South Korea military drills that Pyongyang condemns as a preparation for an invasion of North Korea.
Police yesterday said that some of the books, computer disks and other materials found at his home indicate support for North Korea, which could result in charges of violating an anti-Pyongyang security law. Critics want the law abolished, saying past authoritarian rulers have used it to suppress their political opponents.
North and South Korea have shared the world’s most heavily fortified border since the 1950-53 Korean War concluded with an armistice, not a peace treaty. The US, which fought alongside South Korea during the war, stations about 28,500 troops in the nation as a deterrent against North Korea.
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