Mark Lippert, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, was injured by an armed attacker who slashed his face and wrist Thursday morning in Seoul with a knife with a 10-inch blade, according to law enforcement. YTN TV in South Korea reported that the suspected assailant is 55-year-old Kim Ki-jong, who screamed, “South and North Korea should be unified!” According to a witness speaking to YTN TV, the attack occurred when Lippert was seated for breakfast before a lecture organized by the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation. Police said the assailant also shouted anti-war slogans as he was detained.
“We can confirm that U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea Mark Lippert was assaulted Thursday morning in Seoul while giving a speech. We strongly condemn this act of violence,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement. The State Department also confirmed that Lippert was taken to a local hospital and that his injuries are not life-threatening. Photos show Lippert with his hand pressed against his face, dripping with blood. The ambassador received 80 stitches and tweeted he is "doing well" and "in great spirits" on Thursday.
Citing a police official, the AP reported the suspect was sentenced to a three-year suspended prison term in Seoul in 2010 for throwing a piece of concrete at the Japanese ambassador, whom he missed and hit his secretary instead. Kim was protesting Japan's disputed claim to islands occupied by South Korea. The suspect also reportedly tried to self-immolate while protesting outside the presidential Blue House in 2007 over an alleged 1988 rape in his office, according to news reports.