By Hyung-Jin Kim and Jiwon Tune | Related Press
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s tough-speaking liberal opposition chief, Lee Jae-myung, was stabbed within the neck Tuesday by an unidentified knife-wielding man who tried to kill the politician throughout his go to to the southeastern metropolis of Busan, police mentioned.
Lee, 59, the top of the primary opposition Democratic Get together, was airlifted to a Seoul hospital after receiving emergency remedy in Busan. Lee’s get together later mentioned he was recovering at an intensive care unit on the Seoul Nationwide College Hospital following a two-hour operation.
The assault occurred as Lee walked by a crowd of journalists and others after a tour of the proposed website of a brand new airport in Busan. The attacker approached Lee, saying he needed his autograph, then stabbed him within the left facet of his neck, senior Busan police officer Sohn Jae-han mentioned in a briefing.
Sohn mentioned Democratic Get together officers rapidly subdued the attacker earlier than law enforcement officials detained him. He mentioned 41 law enforcement officials had been deployed to the realm for crowd management and site visitors administration.
TV footage confirmed Lee, his eyes closed, mendacity on the bottom as an individual pressed a handkerchief to his neck. A witness, Jin Jeong-hwa, advised YTN tv that Lee had bled so much.
Movies circulated on social media confirmed the suspect, carrying a paper crown studying “I’m Lee Jae-myung,” in a doable try and pose as a supporter.
Sohn mentioned the suspect, aged about 67, advised investigators that he purchased the 18-centimeter (7-inch) knife on-line. He mentioned police are investigating the motive for the assault.
Different officers confirmed to The Related Press that police are anticipated to request that the suspect be formally arrested for alleged tried homicide as a result of he advised investigators he supposed to kill Lee.
Lee’s Democratic Get together referred to as the incident “a terrorist assault on Lee and a critical risk to democracy.” It referred to as on police to make a radical, swift investigation.
On the Seoul Nationwide College Hospital, get together spokesperson Kwon Chil-seung advised reporters that Lee’s jugular vein was broken and that he had a medical process referred to as revascularization. Kwon cited the hospital, whose public affairs workplace refused to reveal Lee’s standing, citing privateness guidelines.
Police and emergency officers earlier mentioned Lee was aware after the assault and wasn’t in essential situation.
President Yoon Suk Yeol expressed deep concern about Lee’s well being and ordered authorities to analyze the assault, saying such violence wouldn’t be tolerated, in response to Yoon’s workplace.Lee misplaced the 2022 presidential election to Yoon by 0.7 share factors, the narrowest margin recorded in a South Korean presidential election.
Current public surveys indicated Lee and his principal conservative rival Han Dong-hoon, a former justice minister, are the 2 early favorites to succeed Yoon as president when his single five-year time period ends in 2027.
Since his defeat, Lee has been a harsh critic of Yoon’s main insurance policies. Final yr, Lee held a 24-day starvation strike to protest what he referred to as Yoon’s failure to oppose Japan’s launch of handled radioactive wastewater from its crippled Fukushima nuclear energy, his dealing with of the nation’s post-pandemic economic system and his hard-line insurance policies on North Korea.
Lee faces an array of corruption allegations, together with that he offered illegal favors to a personal investor who reaped large earnings from a doubtful housing challenge within the metropolis of Seongnam, the place Lee was mayor for a decade till 2018. Lee has denied authorized wrongdoing and accused Yoon’s authorities of pursuing a political vendetta.
Final September, a South Korean court docket denied an arrest warrant for Lee over the allegations, however Lee faces a unbroken investigation by prosecutors. The court docket listening to was organized after the opposition-controlled parliament voted to elevate Lee’s immunity to arrest, a transfer that mirrored rising divisions inside his Democratic Get together over his authorized troubles.
Lee, who additionally served as governor of Gyeonggi province, which surrounds Seoul, is thought for his outspoken type. His supporters see him as an anti-elitist hero who may reform institution politics, eradicate corruption and remedy rising financial inequality. Critics view him as a populist who depends on stoking divisions and demonizing his conservative opponents.
Different violence in opposition to high-profile figures has occurred in South Korea lately.
In March 2022, Tune Younger-gil, then the chief of the Democratic Get together, was assaulted by a person wielding a hammer throughout a rally for Lee forward of the presidential vote. Tune was handled for stitches however prevented critical damage.
In 2015, then-U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert was slashed within the face and arm by an anti-American activist. The assault required 80 stitches to shut the reduce on Lippert’s face.
In 2006, Park Geun-hye, then a conservative opposition chief, was knifed by a person with a field cutter throughout an election rally. She was given 60 stitches to shut an 11-centimeter (4-inch) gash on her face. Park was elected president in 2012.