South Korean Opposition Leader Stabbed, Airlifted to Seoul for Surgery

Busan - South Korean opposition leader Lee Jae-myung was stabbed in the neck on Tuesday during a visit to Busan, a major port city in the southeast of the country. He was subsequently airlifted to a hospital in Seoul for surgery. Officials confirmed that while the injury is serious, it is not life-threatening.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the incident occurred at 10:27 a.m. while Lee, the chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP), was visiting the construction site of a new airport on Busan's Gadeok Island. The assailant, a man in his 60s wearing a paper crown, posed as an autograph-seeker before attacking Lee on the left side of his neck. Lee was immediately taken to Pusan National University Hospital, where he received emergency treatment for a 1-centimeter laceration to his neck. He was then airlifted to Seoul National University Hospital for further surgery.

The Democratic Party expressed concerns about potential severe bleeding around Lee's jugular vein. A hospital official, speaking anonymously, indicated that the location of the wound on the jugular vein was less dangerous compared to a potential injury on the carotid artery, which could have been fatal at the scene.

Eyewitnesses reported that the male suspect approached Lee pretending to be a supporter and requested an autograph amidst a crowd of supporters and reporters before launching the attack. The suspect was promptly arrested at the scene and taken into police custody.

Police identified the attacker as a man born in 1957 with the surname Kim. He reportedly used an 18-centimeter-long knife, purchased online, for the attack. The Busan Metropolitan Police Agency announced plans to charge Kim with attempted murder, as he confessed to intending to kill Lee. Soh Je-han, an officer at the agency, stated that an investigation into the exact motive is ongoing. Additionally, the police are examining whether Kim is affiliated with any political party.

President Yoon Suk Yeol expressed deep concern over the incident and instructed the police and relevant authorities to swiftly investigate, ensure Lee's quick transportation to the hospital, and provide adequate treatment. He emphasized that such violence should never be tolerated.

The Democratic Party condemned the attack, labeling it a terror act and a threat to democracy. The party's chief spokesperson, Rep. Kwon Chil-seung, expressed that such incidents should never occur. In response to the attack, the country's police chief announced the formation of a special investigation team in Busan and pledged to strengthen security protection for key personnel to prevent similar incidents.

Prosecutors have also formed a special investigation team to thoroughly investigate the attack.

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