The Guardian

South Korean opposition leader 'could have been killed' in knife attack – party



South Korean opposition leader Lee Jae-myung narrowly escaped death after being stabbed in the neck, a party lawmaker said on Wednesday, as police were issued a warrant to search the assailant's property.

As Lee was surrounded by reporters in the southern city of Busan on Tuesday, a man posing as a supporter pushed through the crowd and lunged at Lee, stabbing him in the left side of his neck with a knife.

Lee, who sustained injuries to his jugular vein, was first taken to a hospital in Busan and then flown to the capital, Seoul, where he underwent a two-hour surgery. He is currently recovering in intensive care.

“Medical staff in Busan said that if the attacker's knife had pierced Lee's carotid artery, he could have died instantly at the scene,” Democratic Party lawmaker Jung Chun-rae said at a party meeting on Wednesday. ” he said.

“Mr. Lee is currently recovering in the intensive care unit, but his condition is very serious and it is difficult to visit him,” it added.

Doctor and Democratic Party lawmaker Kang Chung-hee later said Lee had suffered “serious injuries.”

According to Yonhap News Agency, police announced on Wednesday that they plan to apply for an arrest warrant for the 66-year-old suspect, whose last name is Kim, who was taken into custody at the scene.

The warrant allows police to keep the suspect in custody.

A local court issued a warrant to search the suspect's home and office as part of the investigation, Yonhap News reported, adding that police would focus on determining the exact motive behind the attack.

According to Yonhap News, South Korean authorities plan to charge the assailant with attempted murder, and the assailant told police that he intended to kill Lee.

Congressman Chung said, “The perpetrator's confession that he intended to kill her is extremely shocking.''

Video broadcast on South Korean television showed police pinning down a suspect who was holding up pro-Lee slogans.

A witness told local broadcaster YTN that the 59-year-old politician was “talking to reporters and walking towards his car when the attacker asked for his autograph.”

According to Yonhap News, Kim was working as a real estate agent in South Chungcheong Province, about 115 kilometers south of Seoul.

Yonhap News reported that Kim is facing financial difficulties and will not be able to pay the monthly rent for his office for seven months, citing a registered mail message from a bank in Kim's office. Reported that it could not be done.

– Incorrect information –
South Korea is gearing up for a crucial April 10 election, with Yoon's conservative party aiming to regain a parliamentary majority for the first time since 2016.

For the opposition Democratic Party, victory in the general election is seen as an important prerequisite to prepare for the next presidential election in 2027.

Lee is facing calls from within the party to resign as party leader ahead of the general election in April.

Misinformation about the attack on Lee was spread online, with some claiming the entire incident was staged, a claim Chung said was “cruel and corrupt.”

“When I see headlines like 'fake blood with fake knife' or 'YouTuber brings up conspiracy theory' it makes me wonder how cruel and corrupt people can be,” he added.

In the past few years, several prominent South Korean politicians have been attacked in public.

In 2022, an elderly man hit Song Yong-gil, who had led the Democratic Party before Lee, in the head with a blunt object.

In 2006, Park Geun-hye, then leader of the Conservative Party and later president, was assaulted with a knife at a rally. The attack left a scar on her face.

In 2022, Lee lost to conservative Yoon Seok-yeol in the closest presidential election in South Korean history.

Lee, a former child factory worker who dropped out of school as a teenager and suffered a work accident, rose to political stardom in part because of his rags-to-riches story.

He is widely expected to run again for president in 2027, with recent opinion polls showing he remains a strong candidate.

But his bid for the top job has been overshadowed by a series of scandals, with him still on trial on bribery charges related to a company that allegedly fraudulently transferred $8 million to North Korea.

The bodies of five people linked to various scandals from Lee's past have been discovered, many of whom appear to have committed suicide.

Source: guardian.ng

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