RYAN LIPPERT WRITES – At an event where a peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula was being discussed on March 4, U.S. ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert was attacked by a knife-wielding activist who demanded the reunification of the two Koreas and expressed opposition to the annual U.S.-South Korean military drills.
The assailant, Kim Ki-Jong, was arrested shortly after the attack and authorities are currently trying to decide whether he should be charged with attempted murder. This is not the first time his preferred means of expressing his political views have gotten him into trouble. In 2010, he threw blocks of concrete at a Japanese diplomat, asserting that the division of the Korean Peninsula was Japan’s fault.
He spent a couple of years in prison, as well as three years on probation. Shortly after he served his sentence, Kim allegedly went to North Korea and planted trees while he was there. He also built a small altar to honor the memory of Kim Jong Il shortly after his death in 2011.
It is currently assumed that Kim acted alone in this incident. However, after a raid on his office, police claim to have found evidence that suggests he may support North Korea. Kim denies all accusations that he harbors any pro-North Korean sentiment. In South Korea, the National Security Law, which makes acts that jeopardize state security illegal, has been used to prosecute alleged supporters of North Korea.
Experts argue that due to North Korea’s alleged efforts to influence public opinion in the South, the reclusive country is somewhat responsible for Kim’s actions.
Whether Kim was working for North Korea or not, the Hermit Kingdom’s state-run media has praised the attack. Some Western media outlets state that the North called the attack a “knife shower of justice” or “a knife baptism of justice,” although no such statement exists in the original KCNA article. Whether this is a simple translation error remains to be seen.
Ambassador Lippert is no longer in the hospital and is expected to recover from his wounds.