South Korea’s opposition Democratic Party leader Lee Jae-myung was stabbed in the neck by an autograph seeker during a visit to the southern city of Busan on Tuesday, January 2, 2024.
A party and emergency officials told the press that Lee was airlifted by a fire department helicopter to the Pusan National University Hospital for treatment.
Lee, who almost won the 2022 presidential election was conscious and received emergency treatment after being attacked by an unidentified autograph seeker who wore a paper crown with Lee’s name on it.
“He is conscious and receiving treatment at the hospital,” a Democratic Party official said.
According to reports, the attack occurred while the former presidential candidate was touring the site of a proposed airport. The attack left him with an injury on his neck though hospital officials did not confirm the details of his injury.
Appearing in video footage posted on Social media X, the assailant approached and asked for an autograph as Lee spoke among a crowd of supporters and journalists, he then jumped forward and attacked him. He winced and collapsed to the ground.
The assailant was quickly subdued by men including police officers who were present and did not answered police questions about his motives.
President Yoon Suk Yeol’s office condemned the attack and instructed that Lee receive the best care and recover from the injury.
“This type of violence must never be tolerated under any circumstances,” President Yoon’s office said.
A former governor of Gyeonggi province, Lee narrowly lost to conservative Yoon as president on May 10, 2022.
Lee is currently on trial for alleged bribery stemming from a development project when he was mayor of Seongnam near Seoul. However, Lee has denied any wrongdoing.
Although it has strict restrictions on gun possession, South Korea has a history of political violence. The fact that there is always a police presence at major events, political leaders are not normally under close security protection.