President Park visited injured U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert on Monday, immediately after returning to the country from her four nation Middle East tour. Lippert is recovering from Thursday's assault at Seoul’s Severance Hospital, where President Park also received treatment after a similar attack in 2006. She was knifed by a man with a box cutter during an election rally.
"As I experienced a similar attack, my heart is aching more for your suffering," Park told Lippert during the 10 minute meeting. She added that both Koreans and Americans were greatly impressed by his dignity and composure in handling the incident.
Lippert told Park that he and his wife have been moved by the Korean government and people's warm support, and that he'll do his best to further strengthen bilateral relations. According to the hospital, Lippert has been recovering faster than expected and could be released by Tuesday afternoon.
Along with Thursday's call on Lippert from Abu Dhabi after the attack, Park pledged a thorough investigation. She condemned the act, saying, "It is appalling and unimaginable that the U.S. ambassador fell victim to an act of terror in broad daylight in Korea."
High-level government officials and politicians continued their visits to Lippert after his surgery. Despite the unprecedented attack on the envoy, the R.O.K.-U.S. alliance seems strong, amid an outpouring of public sympathy and the support of many Koreans. Hospital officials have said that they have been very confused by the large number of Korean citizens who have called, volunteering to pay for the Ambassador's medical expenses. Many others have found out that Mark Lippert's home state is Ohio, and Ohio's state flower is the carnation. So many Korean people have piled up carnations for him in front of the U.S. Embassy alongside signs that say, "I am Lippert" in both English and Korean.
The attacker Kim Ki-jong, known as a pro-North Korean activist, was arrested on charges of attempted murder, violence against a foreign envoy, and obstruction of business. Although Kim denied an intention to kill, Agency France-Presse (AFP) cited District Police Chief Yun Myeong-seong's findings that Kim Ki-jong was carrying two knives on him at the time, and chose to use the larger of the two against the Ambassador. Chief Yun said, “But given the deep wounds on the ambassador’s face and arms and the fact that Kim chose the kitchen knife instead of a razor, we believe that he clearly had an intention to murder.”
Kim had said he attacked Lippert to show his resentment against the ongoing South Korea-U.S. military drills. Officials are now investigating Kim’s links to the North.