A man in his 60s, identified as Kim, has been formally arrested on charges of attempted murder for the stabbing of South Korea’s opposition leader, Lee Jae-myung. The attack occurred on Tuesday, prompting immediate police intervention, leading to Kim’s apprehension. Despite the severity of the incident, Lee Jae-Myung is reported to be out of intensive care, signifying a positive trajectory in his recovery.
Lee, the leader of the South Korean opposition party, was stabbed in the neck by an assailant who pretended to be a supporter during an event in the southern port city of Busan. The assailant, purportedly posing as an autograph-seeker, carried out the attack. The attacker maneuvered through the crowd, ultimately lunging at Lee and stabbing him on the left side of his neck.
Following the attack, Lee was initially taken to a hospital in Busan and later transported to Seoul, where he underwent nearly two hours of surgery. Though recovering well, Lee still requires close monitoring to mitigate potential complications, as stated by a doctor at Seoul National University Hospital on Thursday.
The 66-year-old suspect, identified as Kim, has been issued an arrest warrant by a court in Busan. Kim, who was detained at the scene, is now facing charges related to the stabbing incident.
The left-leaning Democratic Party, led by Lee Jae-myung, disclosed that several other individuals had previously threatened the politician’s life, pledging to identify and take legal action against the perpetrators.
The incident, condemned by both Lee’s Democratic Party of Korea (DP) and the ruling party, has sparked discussions on the security arrangements for public figures in a country where strict regulations limit the possession of guns and other weapons.
While South Korea generally maintains a low crime rate, there was an increase in mass stabbing attacks last year, with past instances of politicians being targeted. The incident has prompted increased security measures for prominent political figures amid emerging threats of violence against top officials in South Korea.
The Democratic Party acknowledged the fortuity that the assailant’s knife struck Lee’s vein rather than his artery, emphasizing the potential severity of the attack. Lee, who narrowly lost the 2022 presidential race to President Yoon Suk Yeol by a 0.73% difference in votes, aims to secure a parliamentary majority in the upcoming elections in April.
On Wednesday, police sought an arrest warrant for the accused assailant, who is expected to face charges of attempted murder. The suspect, detained at the scene, resides in the western city of Asan and is believed to have acted alone. Authorities are investigating the incident as a premeditated crime, with the motive still under scrutiny.