Park makes surprise visit to hospitalized US envoy

March 9, 2015
President Park Geun-hye makes a surprise visit to U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert at Severance Hospital in western Seoul on March 9, 2015. (Yonhap)

President Park Geun-hye makes a surprise visit to U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert at Severance Hospital in western Seoul on March 9, 2015. (Yonhap)

SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) — President Park Geun-hye on Monday made a surprise visit to the hospital where the top U.S. envoy has been recovering from wounds he sustained in a knife attack last week.

The visit is the latest in a series of moves by South Korean political leaders to console U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert over the bloody attack.

A South Korean activist slashed him in the face and wrist at a lecture hall in downtown Seoul on Thursday when Lippert was scheduled to give a speech, the first terrorist attack on a top U.S. envoy in Seoul.

“My heart ached to think that you suffered the same thing,” Park said in a meeting with Lippert at Severance Hospital in western Seoul immediately after returning home from a four-nation tour of the Middle East.

Park was referring to the stitches she received on her face at the same hospital in 2006 after being slashed by a knife-wielding man during an election campaign in Seoul.

Park — who spoke to the U.S. envoy by phone from Abu Dhabi on the day of the attack — wished him a speedy recovery and expressed hope that Lippert will work with South Korea for the development of bilateral relations.

Hospital officials said Lippert has been recovering faster than expected and could be released as early as Tuesday afternoon. The wounds required more than 80 stitches.

Lippert said through an interpreter that he and his wife were deeply moved by the interest and consolations by South Koreans and their government, according to Park’s office.

The U.S. envoy vowed to make efforts for the development of bilateral relations.

The assailant, Kim Ki-jong, was detained on charges of attempted murder, violence against a foreign envoy and obstruction of business.

Kim claimed that the attack was intended to end annual joint Seoul-Washington military exercises, which he claims hinder efforts to reunify the two Koreas.

The annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle military exercises that started last Monday are designed to better deter threats from North Korea. The North claims the drills are a rehearsal for a nuclear war against it.

North Korea’s state media hailed the attack on Lippert, saying it was “deserved punishment” for a warmonger such as the U.S.

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