Stabbed South Korean Opposition Leader ‘Recovering Well’

This picture taken on March 3, 2022 shows South Korea’s presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung of the Democratic Party gesturing to his supporters during an election campaign in Seoul ahead of the March 9 presidential election. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP)

Leader of the South Korean opposition party Lee Jae-myung was stabbed in the neck; while he is healing nicely, he still need close observation to prevent complications, according to a doctor at Seoul National University Hospital on Thursday.

On Tuesday, while Lee was mobbed by reporters in the southern port city of Busan, his attacker—posing as a supporter—pushed through the crowd and attacked him, severing his left side of the neck with a knife.

The 66-year-old suspect, known only by his last name Kim, was being held at the site when a court in Busan issued an arrest warrant for him on Thursday, according to the Yonhap news agency.

Lee was wounded in the jugular vein during the attack and was first sent to a hospital in Busan. He was then airlifted to Seoul, the country’s capital, where he had surgery that lasted almost two hours.

The surgeon, Min Seung-kee, reported that Lee “is fortunately recovering well.”

At a press conference, Min revealed that Lee had sustained a “1.4 centimeter pierced wound that cut through his muscle” and that “bouts of bleeding were found” in his neck.

According to the surgeon, the knife “cut about 60% of the internal jugular vein.”

Thankfully, however, there were no indications of any injury to the airway, throat, brain nerve, or arteries.

Even though Lee is recuperating, close observation is still required because the wound may cause problems, according to Min.

Following the party leader’s Wednesday transfer from the intensive care unit to the general ward, the Seoul hospital held its first briefing since Lee’s surgery on Thursday.

According to Lee’s Democratic Party, it would have been “pure fortune” if the attacker’s knife had cut his artery rather than his vein.

In the closest presidential contest in South Korea’s history, Lee was defeated by President Yoon Suk Yeol in 2022.

Flight risk

The Busan court issued an arrest order for suspect Kim, according to Seoul’s Yonhap news agency, citing “concerns” that he would flee.

On suspicion of attempted murder, the prosecution had asked for an arrest warrant.

The defendant was apprehended at the scene after being overpowered, and the warrant permits the authorities to keep him in custody.

Kim informed the media on Thursday that he had provided the police with an eight-page “statement of defence,” and that they should consult it to understand his justification for the attack.

Police have not made the document public.

Yonhap reports that Kim was employed as a real estate agent in the province of South Chungcheong, which is located approximately 115 kilometers (71 miles) south of Seoul.

Yonhap stated that Kim was having financial problems and had not been able to pay the rent for his office for seven months, citing delivery alerts for registered mail from banks at his office among other documents.

In previous years, a number of prominent South Korean leaders have faced public attacks.

In 2022, Song Young-gil, the Democratic Party’s leader prior to Lee, was struck in the head by an old man using a blunt object.

In 2006, Park Geun-hye, then the leader of the conservative party who later became president, was assaulted with a knife at a rally. The attack left a scar on her face.

Written by PH

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