NYT: South Korean Leftists Balk at Well-Wishes for Slashed Ambassador

Yonhap News

American Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert has been released from the hospital Tuesday after a violent knife attack by a pro-North Korean nationalist. During his stay in the hospital, Lippert received a near-universal outpouring of support from South Koreans grateful for the U.S. partnership–support The New York Times claims, based on the words of two bloggers, “has provoked a backlash” among leftist South Koreans.

NYT reports Tuesday that leftists in South Korea are accusing those supporting Lippert of “worshiping” America, quoting two bloggers:

 “This is too much! What they did was almost like god worshiping,” one blogger said. Another compared the wave of “I love America” feelings to shrines that ancient Koreans built to worship China for sending troops to help fight Japanese invaders.

NYT also quotes an American professor working in Seoul, who accused the South Korean government of “hyper-politicizing what was really an isolated incident … linking it to a campaign against ‘pro-North Korea followers’ and as a way to drum up support for the U.S.-South Korean alliance.”

The paper also notes that crowds of South Koreans had organized outside the Seoul hospital caring for Lippert, expressing thanks to America for the tight alliance the two nations share and wishing Lippert a speedy recovery. While citing objections to this behavior, the article does not note the reaction of the North Korean government to Lippert’s attack: a statement praising the “knife shower of justice” delivered to the sitting Ambassador.

Other reports highlight the efforts of South Koreans to support Lippert.

In front of the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, passersby erected a makeshift monument of carnations for Lippert. An article in The Korea Times, titled “Lippert Earns Plaudits for Undaunted Spirit,” highlights individual expressions of support for Lippert, particularly in light of his statements following the attack that it would not change the “friendly” nature of his relationship with the country.

One particularly enthusiastic supporter, a 70-year-old man, tried to enter the hospital tending to Lippert to bring him dog meat and seaweed soup, insisting that hospital staffers deliver him the food and that it would help him recover faster. It is believed that Lippert–a vocal lover of dogs, whose pet Grigsby is a South Korean celebrity in his own right–did not partake in the allegedly healing meal.

Lippert left the hospital Tuesday and delivered a statement to the press, in which he asserted he was feeling “pretty darned good, all things considered.” He also asserted that he would remain “open and friendly” in diplomatic matters with South Korea. While doctors noted he is expected to still suffer some pain in his arm and face, the 80 stitches initially required to reconstruct the gash in his face have since been removed.