South Korea’s president visits injured US envoy
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s president visited injured U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert on Monday 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 at Seoul’s Severance Hospital, where Park Geun-hye also received treatment in 2006 when she was knifed 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 on Monday from a Middle East tour.
Park was quoted as saying “my heart ached more” because Lippert is in the same hospital because of a similar attack. Lippert told Park that he and his wife have been moved by the support the South Korea government and people have showed to him, according to a statement from the presidential Blue House.
Conservative activists and Christians have wished Lippert a quick recovery, held pro-U.S. rallies and conducted dance performances near the U.S. 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 on Tuesday.
The attacker, known as an anti-U.S. activist with multiple criminal records including a conviction for hurling a piece of concrete at the Japanese ambassador in Seoul in 2010, was arrested Friday for attempted murder and other charges.
The exact motive for Kim Ki-jong’s attack was not known but he shouted after the attack that he opposes the ongoing U.S.-South Korea military drills that Pyongyang condemns as a preparation for a northward invasion.
Police said Monday that some of the books, computer disks and other materials found at his home support rival 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.
The two Koreas have shared the world’s most heavily fortified border since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. The U.S., which fought alongside with South Korea during the war, stations about 28,500 troops in the South as a deterrence against the North.
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