A prominent South Korean politician was stabbed on Tuesday during a site visit to the southern port city of Busan.
South Korean opposition leader Lee Jae-myung was stabbed in the neck by a man who reports suggest is in his late 60s or 70s. The suspect stabbed the politician in the left side of his neck.
BREAKING: South Korean opposition leader is attacked and injured by an unidentified man, officials say https://t.co/ifEJxNiZ17
— The Associated Press (@AP) January 2, 2024
According to the BBC, the attacker approached the South Korean opposition leader, asking for an autograph. The man then took out a sharp object and repeatedly stabbed the unsuspecting Lee with a weapon that was about 20 cm to 30 cm long.
Videos of the incident, which circulated on social media, showed Lee collapsing into the crowd before falling to the ground. Several people in the crowd restrained the attacker before authorities arrested him.
Photographs taken immediately after the attack showed Lee lying on the ground with his eyes closed. One individual can be seen pressing a white cloth to the politician’s neck.
Brutal. South Korean politician stabbed in the neck.
Koreans are f-ing nuts.
The most jingoistic, racist county I’ve ever lived in …
Totally bonkers. pic.twitter.com/40KMD8luOY
— Havee Snowball Chu Chu (@realDrBrendan) January 2, 2024
Kwon Chil-Seung, a spokesman for Lee’s Democratic Party of Korea, revealed doctors believe the politician sustained an injury to his jugular vein and would have to undergo surgery, with fear of further bleeding rising. The jugular vein carries blood from the head to the heart.
“After being transferred to Seoul National University Hospital, we plan to operate quickly. We strongly condemn the attack and consider it a clear act of democracy destruction,” Kwon said.
Lee’s attack adds to his list of troubles, following his indictments on corruption and breach of trust. Prosecutors are accusing him of allowing private developers to make illegal profits from a property project while he was mayor of Seongnam. Prosecutors asked the court to hold him remain jailed while he awaits his trial, but the court denied the request.
Lee, who lost the 2022 presidential elections by just 0.73% difference in votes to current President Yoon Suk Yeol, has denied all accusations and has continued to claim the charges are politically motivated.
Lee’s 2022 election loss in 2022 is the closest presidential race in South Korean history. He is expected to run again in 2027. Lee’s condition has not been made public.