North Korea Says Knifing Of U.S. Ambassador Was Fair Punishment
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Mar 5, 2015 No Comments ›› Jake Hammer

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Excerpted from USA Today: North Korea called the knife attack on the U.S. ambassador to South Korea on Thursday “just punishment” for U.S. military exercises with its southern neighbor.

Ambassador Mark Lippert was slashed in the face early Thursday while speaking at a breakfast forum in Seoul.

Referring to the weapon as the “knife of justice,” North Korea’s official KCNA news agency said the attack was a valid “expression of resistance.”

Lippert was cut on the right cheek by a man wielding a blade, according to witnesses. He was in stable condition after surgery at a hospital in Seoul.

YTN TV reported the assailant, identified by police as Kim Ki-jong, 55, screamed, “South and North Korea should be reunified” as he launched the attack. The two Koreas have been divided for decades along the world’s most heavily armed border.

Hours after the attack, Lippert tweeted: “Doing well & in great spirits!” He said he planned to return to work soon.

The attacker shouted anti-war slogans after he was detained and taken to a hospital. Seoul police said the weapon was a 10-inch blade. The U.S. State Department said in a statement Thursday that U.S. law enforcement is coordinating closely with Korean police, who are leading the investigation on the assault.

“The U.S.-ROK alliance is strong; we will not be deterred by senseless acts of violence,” Department spokesperson Marie Harf said in the statement. “Ambassador Lippert looks forward to getting back to work with his Republic of Korean counterparts to strengthen our bilateral relationship and to jointly address regional and global challenges.”

Kim’s main grievance appeared to be purported U.S. interference in Korean affairs, the Associated Press reported.

The NK News website said the attacker has a history of violence and extreme forms of protest.

In 2010, he threw two large cinder blocks at the Japanese ambassador to Seoul, whose interpreter suffered minor injuries in the attack, the website reported. The attack was in protest of Japan’s claim to disputed islands occupied by South Korea. Kim was sentenced to a three-year suspended prison term, according to local media.

Kim, who formed Uri Madang, a group that appears to be primarily opposed to foreign involvement in Korean affairs, set himself on fire in 2007 demanding the truth behind an alleged attack on a group member in 1988, NK News reported.

On Monday, South Korean officials said North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea hours before military drills between South Korea and the U.S. were due to begin. North Korea, which claims the drills are preparation for a northward invasion, warned of “merciless strikes” against its enemies, the AP reported.