The United States’ ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert was slashed on the face and left hand during an attack in Central Seoul Wednesday. The knife-wielding assailant approached the envoy while he was at a performing arts center, preparing for a breakfast forum on Korean unification.
The attacker reportedly screamed war slogans and called for the reunification of South and North Korea after the police detained him.
“We strongly condemn this act of violence,” said U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf. She also said that Lippert is under treatment at a local hospital for his injuries, though his condition is stable.
U.S. President Barack Obama also called the ambassador to wish him a speedy recovery, according to a White House official.
Identified as Kim Ki-jong, the suspect is believed to be a member of the pro-Korean unification group and has previously been charged for throwing concrete at the Japanese ambassador to South Korea. Kim also has a record of militant Korean nationalistic activism.
Presently, 28,500 U.S troops are stationed in South Korea as a deterrent against North Korea, but some national activists consider the presence of U.S army a barrier between the unification of both the countries. The rival Koreas divided in 1945 along the world’s heaviest guarded border.
Mark Lippert was appointed ambassador to South Korea in 2014 after serving the position of U.S. assistant secretary of defense.