South Korean opposition leader Lee Jae-myung stabbed

South Korean opposition leader Lee Jae-myung stabbed

Lee Jae-myung, the leader of South Korea’s main opposition party, was stabbed in the neck Tuesday morning, according to police and live television footage.

Mr Lee, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, was visiting the southern port city of Busan when an unidentified man stabbed him in the neck with a knife-like weapon, footage shows . Mr Lee, 59, had just finished answering journalists’ questions after visiting the site of a planned airport and was making his way through a crowd of journalists and supporters when he was attacked.

Busan police said the attacker had been arrested, but they provided no details about Mr. Lee’s condition or the attacker’s motives. Mr. Lee was bleeding from his neck before being taken into an ambulance, according to media reports and photos from the scene.

As of early afternoon, there was still no official statement on Mr Lee’s condition, but local media suggested his injury was not life-threatening.

Footage of the attack showed the attacker approaching Mr Lee through a group of television cameramen, apparently posing as one of his supporters; he wore a crown-shaped headpiece emblazoned with the words “I am Lee Jae-myung”. Supporters and police overpowered the man after the attack and took him away in a police car.

Mr. Lee was narrowly defeated by Yoon Suk Yeol, a conservative, in South Korea’s last presidential election, in 2022. He has since been the subject of a series of investigations by state prosecutors. State for corruption and other criminal charges.

He denied all charges against him and went on a three-week hunger strike in protest, accusing Mr. Yoon of using the criminal justice system to intimidate his political opponents. A court has refused to allow prosecutors to arrest Mr. Lee, but he faces a series of trials.

Mr. Yoon expressed “deep concern” about Mr. Lee’s safety after Tuesday’s attack, ordering his government to conduct a prompt investigation and support the opposition leader’s medical treatment, the official said. office of the president in a statement.

“The president emphasized that this form of violence should under no circumstances be tolerated in our society,” the statement said.

South Korean politics have become increasingly polarized in recent years, and rancor between Mr. Yoon’s supporters and Mr. Lee’s has grown in the run-up to April’s legislative elections.

But physical attacks against politicians are rare. In 2006, conservative politician Park Geun-hye, then opposition leader, was hit in the face with a box cutter by a man who had sharply criticized her. Ms. Park won the 2012 presidential election.

In 2015, a self-described nationalist who had expressed anti-American sentiments cut the face of Mark W. Lippert, then the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, with a kitchen knife.

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Eric D. Eilerman

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