South Korea’s Opposition Leader, Lee Jae-Myung

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Lee Jae-Myung was Stabbed in Neck During Busan Visit

In a shocking turn of events, Lee Jae-myung, the outspoken and prominent leader of South Korea’s liberal opposition, became the target of an attempted assassination during his visit to the proposed new airport site in Busan. The incident unfolded as Lee was surrounded by reporters and onlookers, with video footage capturing the moment when 66-year-old man stabbed in the neck with a seven-inch knife.

Lee Jae-myung, stabbed in neck

Lee Jae-myung suffered a 1cm laceration on the left side of his neck, as reported. Following the incident, he was transported to the hospital via airlift. Medical professionals have assured that the wound is not life-threatening. Following emergency treatment in Busan, Lee was airlifted to a Seoul hospital and underwent a two-hour operation. Reports indicate that he is now in stable condition at the intensive care unit of Seoul National University Hospital.

The attacker, who seemingly posed as a supporter, was swiftly overwhelmed by the crowd and apprehended at the scene. Authorities are currently investigating the motive behind the attack, with potential murder charges looming over the suspect, who revealed that he had purchased the weapon online. The attack occurred when Lee was walking through a crowd of journalists and onlookers after inspecting a proposed site for a new airport in Busan. The assailant, feigning a request for an autograph, stabbed Lee in the left side of his neck. The attacker was quickly subdued by Democratic Party leaders, and he was later taken into custody by the police. Investigators are currently looking into the reason for the attack, and they plan to formally request the suspect’s arrest for attempted murder.

Social media users have been sharing a video of the suspect wearing a paper crown with the words “I’m Lee Jae-myung,” apparently in an attempt to pass for a supporter. As a “terrorist attack” and a “serious threat to democracy,” Lee’s party denounced the incident and called for an expeditious police investigation. Deeply concerned for Lee’s well-being, President Yoon Suk Yeol emphasized that such violent acts will not be accepted.

Following a two-hour surgery at Seoul National University Hospital, the Democratic Party officials stated that Lee was in a stable condition in the intensive care unit. In addition to doing vascular reconstruction, which included removing blood clots, the surgery entailed treating a stab wound to the jugular vein. Party spokesman Kwon Chil-seung called the incident a “terror attack” on Lee and highlighted how serious the situation was. After the attack, which happened at around 10:30 a.m., Lee received emergency care at Busan National University Hospital before being flown to Seoul for surgery.

Lee, who Yoon defeated by just 0.7 percentage points in the 2022 presidential contest, has continued to be an outspoken opponent of Yoon’s policies. When Yoon’s one and only five-year term ends in 2027, Lee and his conservative opponent, Han Dong-hoon, appear to be the early favorites to take over as president. Yoon’s stance on matters like North Korea, the post-pandemic economy, and Japan’s dumping of treated radioactive wastewater has drawn special criticism from Lee after his election loss.

Amidst his political engagements,  Lee Jae-myung faces corruption allegations, including accusations of providing unlawful favors to a private investor involved in a controversial housing project during his tenure as mayor of Seongnam. Despite denying any legal wrongdoing, Lee has framed these allegations as a political vendetta orchestrated by Yoon’s government.

This alarming episode has sent shockwaves through South Korea, prompting heightened scrutiny and concern over the safety of political figures. As the investigation unfolds, the public awaits further details on the assailant’s motives and any broader implications for the country’s political landscape.

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