Mark Lippert, U.S. ambassador to South Korea, had to undergo surgery for two and a half hours involving 80 stitches on his face following a knife attack during a breakfast meeting by a militant Korean nationalist. Lippert suffered a four-inch gash on the side of his face while attending a meeting at an art center on Thursday morning in Seoul. The assailant used a fruit knife in his attack on the ambassador.
As per the eye witnesses, the diplomat had been compelled to fend for himself while seated on the breakfast table, and got his left wrist punctured before security officers could subdue the attacker. The 42-year old ambassador left the scene with blood oozing out of his face and hand, and the chaotic blood splattered situation. The attack took place at around 10.40 pm GMT, and he got a phone call from President Obama immediately wishing him speedy recovery. The attending doctors described his condition as stable after a very satisfying and successful surgery. The cut on his wrist had damaged a nerve which had been repaired. Doctors added that the diplomat may have to stay in the hospital for 3 to 4 days.
The attacker has been identified as Kim Kijong, 55, known to police as a militant activist. He had been awarded a suspended jail term in 2010 for hurling a piece of concrete at an ambassador from Japan at Seoul. The assailant wearing traditional Korean clothing, shouted in support of the re-unification of the North and South Korea, and against the war exercises by the U.S. and South Korea before attacking Mark Lippert. As per an eyewitness Michael Lammabrau, the attacker yelled something, reached out to the ambassador, and struck him on the face with a kitchen knife.
Park Geun-hue, the South Korean President, described this as an attack on the U.S.-South Korean alliance, and the U.S. State Department strongly condemned this act of violence. The police in a statement told that the assailant taken into custody acted alone, but belonged to the re-unification group, the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, which had hosted the event on Thursday.