Opposition party leader Lee Jae-myung stabbed in neck during Busan visit

By Park Sae-jin Posted : January 2, 2024, 14:37 Updated : January 2, 2024, 15:57
Courtesy of the Democratic Party
[Courtesy of the Democratic Party]

SEOUL -- Lee Jae-myung, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, was hospitalized after he was stabbed in the neck by a man during his visit to the southern port city of Busan. The assailant, who disguised himself as a Democratic Party supporter, approached the 59-year-old leader asking for an autograph. The attacker was apprehended at the scene by police.

The Democratic Party leader was visiting the site for a new airport on Gadeok Island southwest of Busan with fellow lawmakers on January 2. Lee was holding an on-site press meeting at about 10:27 a.m. (0127 GMT) when an unidentified man in his 60s or 70s approached the party leader with a knife. Lee was struck on the left side of his neck and fell to the ground bleeding.

According to the police, Lee was carried to a hospital by an ambulance about 20 minutes after the incident. Democratic Party spokesman told reporters that doctors suspect damage to the carotid artery and there is a possibility of hemorrhage. Lee received emergency treatment at the Busan University Hospital and was carried to the Seoul National University Hospital in central Seoul by helicopter at about 1:00 p.m.

The police told reporters that the assailant is exercising his right to remain silent and the law authorities plan to interrogate the suspect. Various witnesses told the police that the attacker had a paper crown with a slogan that said "I am Lee Jae-myung" and wore a pair of glasses. The man stood in the crowd silently before he approached Lee repeatedly saying: "Please give me an autograph."

According to witnesses, the assailant was holding a notepad and a pen in his left hand and the knife he used for the attack in his right hand. Evidence photographs released by the police showed that an 18-centimeter (seven-inch) camping knife was used in the attack.  

President Yoon Suk-yeol immediately released a statement and expressed concern over the attack on the leader of the opposition party leader. Yoon stated that under no circumstances should South Korean society accept this kind of act of violence.
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