U.S. ambassador to South Korea slashed in face by assailant

U.S. ambassador to South Korea slashed in face by assailant

U.S. ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert was slashed in the face by a Korean assailant at a breakfast forum in the capital early on Thursday, police and a witness said, but was not seriously wounded.

Lippert, 42, was bleeding from a facial wound but was walking after the attack as he was taken to the hospital. He was later reported to be in a stable condition.

A White House official in Washington said Lippert's injuries were not life-threatening. U.S. President Barack Obama called Lippert to wish him a speedy recovery, White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said.

The assailant, identified by police as Kim Ki-jong, 55, wore traditional Korean clothing and shouted that North and South Korea should be reunited. He also shouted that he opposed war exercises, an apparent reference to annual joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises that began this week.

"The guy comes in wearing traditional Korean brown and tan dress. He yells something, goes up to the ambassador and slashes him in the face," said Michael Lammbrau of the Arirang Institute think tank, who witnessed the attack.

"People wrestled the guy to the ground, the ambassador was still in his chair. The ambassador fought him from his seat. He was escorted out afterwards. There was a trail of blood behind him. He had about a seven inch-long gash on the right side of his face," he said.

Lammbrau said the man shouted about Korean independence while he was being restrained on the ground. "It sounded like he was anti-American, anti-imperialist, that kind of stuff."

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, speaking on CNN, said Lippert was a respected and well-liked Asia expert.

"Thankful that the injuries are not life-threatening, that he's being treated and we will get to the bottom of what happened here and do a full investigation," she said.

The event was hosted by the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation.


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