South Korean Opposition Leader Lee Jae-Myung Undergoes Vicious Attack
South Korean opposition party leader Lee Jae-myung was viciously attacked on Tuesday, sustaining a stab wound to the neck while interacting with reporters in the port city of Busan. The incident occurred as Lee was navigating a crowd of journalists after inspecting the site of a proposed new airport.
Dramatic footage aired on South Korean television channels captured the harrowing moment when an assailant, positioned in front of Lee, abruptly lunged at him, delivering a forceful blow to his neck. The 59-year-old leader could be seen collapsing amidst the chaos, prompting onlookers to rush to his aid. Quick-thinking individuals were observed applying a handkerchief to staunch the bleeding from the neck wound.
Eye-witness accounts suggest that the assailant initially approached Lee under the pretense of seeking an autograph before launching the unprovoked attack. Descriptions of the weapon used indicate it resembled a knife, amplifying the severity of the assault.
Emergency responders promptly intervened, transferring Lee to an ambulance and later airlifting him to Pusan National University Hospital. Initial reports indicate that Lee was conscious during transportation, despite evident bleeding. The severity of his injuries remains a focal point of concern.
In response to the shocking incident, Kwon Chil-seung, an MP from Lee’s Democratic Party, denounced the attack as an “act of terror” against Lee and a grave threat to democracy. Speaking outside the hospital, Kwon emphasized the imperative for a comprehensive police investigation into the incident, underscoring the urgency of safeguarding political figures from such violence.
Police authorities in Busan disclosed that Lee sustained a “one-centimeter laceration on his neck” and affirmed that he remained conscious with minor bleeding. Television footage captured the apprehension of the attacker, who was seen wearing a hat bearing Lee’s name. According to Yonhap, the assailant is now in custody.
Lee Jae-myung, a former child factory worker who overcame adversity after an industrial accident during his teenage years, rose to political prominence, in part, by championing his rags-to-riches narrative. Despite his loss to conservative Yoon Suk Yeol in the 2022 presidential race, Lee remains a formidable figure in South Korean politics, with polls indicating ongoing public support.
However, his political journey has been marred by controversies, including allegations of corruption and bribery. In September, Lee avoided arrest when a court dismissed a prosecution request for his pre-trial detention on various corruption charges. The opposition leader is set to face trial for bribery accusations related to a firm suspected of transferring $8 million illicitly to North Korea. Additional charges involve breach of duties during his tenure as the mayor of Seongnam city.
Lee, a vocal critic of the Yoon government, previously staged a hunger strike in August last year, denouncing what he deemed “incompetent and violent” policies. The assault on Lee comes at a critical juncture, reigniting concerns about the safety of political figures and the potential repercussions for the nation’s democratic fabric.