The North Korean government wasted no time celebrating the act of terrorist Kim Ki Jong, who assaulted U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert in Seoul yesterday with what is being described as a “fruit knife.” North Korean state-run Korean Central News Agency declared the attack “just punishment for U.S. warmongers.”
The BBC reports the translated KCNA text, which describes the attack as a “knife shower of justice” and declared it “just punishment.” The publication also claimed the attack was a sign of growing anti-U.S. sentiment within South Korea generally, not the act of one deranged man.
KCNA has an English-language website, where only one article can be found regarding the attack on Lippert. That article’s tenor is much more subdued than the translations of KCNA’s Korean language coverage. Nonetheless, the article claims that “the recent case amid mounting anti-Americanism reflects the mindset of south Korean people censuring the U.S.,” and lauds the attacker Kim as “a representative of the Uri Madang, a civic organization demanding peace against war.” “The puppet police are strictly guarding U.S.-related facilities allegedly to cope with emergency,” it concludes.”
That is not to say that KCNA typically censors itself in English. In another article on today’s homepage, a KCNA reporter writes: “The DPRK is fully ready to blow up the bases of the U.S. imperialists and their allies… The service personnel and people of the DPRK have a will to counter any slightest provocation of the enemy with a great war of justice for achieving national reunification and will never miss the chance.”
Lippert’s assailant has been identified as 55-year-old Kim Ki Jong, a serial violent political actor who USA Today reports set himself on fire in 2007 to protest foreign involvement in South Korean affairs and previously flung a brick at a Japanese diplomat. BBC adds that Kim frequently visited North Korea before his attack and had been on authorities’ radar for some time.
Kim is said to have rushed over to a table where Lippert was sitting and stabbed his face repeatedly, shouting, “South and North Korea should be reunified.” NBC News notes that Kim shouted “I carried out an act of terror” as he was hauled away by law enforcement.
Lippert sent out a tweet this morning describing himself as being in good spirits. NBC reports that the ambassador required a three-hour surgical operation to close his wounds. The right side of his face required 80 stitches to sew back together in the aftermath of the attack. Medical officials at the hospital noted that “some paralysis of his face and left arm senses are expected,” but did not specify how permanent that situation would be.
Lippert noted that he would return to work “ASAP” on his Twitter account, which he uses frequently along with the Twitter account for his basset hound, Grigsby, which appears to continue to be active.