In a shocking incident on Tuesday, Lee Jae-myung, the leader of South Korea’s main opposition party, was stabbed in the neck during a public appearance in the southern city of Busan. The attack occurred while Lee was on a tour of the construction site of the Gadeokdo New Airport, leaving him with a 1-centimeter laceration on the left side of his neck.
Despite being bloodied, Lee remained conscious after the attack, and party officials reported that he was in stable condition. The assailant, a man in his sixties, was swiftly arrested at the scene. The attacker approached Lee under the pretense of seeking an autograph before carrying out the assault with an 18 cm (7 inch) long knife purchased online, according to Busan police.
Democratic Party spokesperson Kwon Chil-seung revealed that Lee suffered a 1-centimeter laceration on the left side of his neck, with suspected damage to his jugular vein. Concerns about potential additional bleeding prompted doctors to transfer Lee from Busan to Seoul National University Hospital, where he is expected to undergo surgery.
Describing the incident as an act of “terrorism” and “a serious threat to democracy,” the Democratic Party condemned the attack on Lee Jae-myung. The party’s floor leader, Hong Ik-pyo, confirmed that Lee was “in a conscious state” in the hospital earlier in the day.
South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol expressed “deep concern” for Lee’s safety, emphasizing that such violence should not be tolerated under any circumstances. President Yoon ordered a swift investigation into the attack.
Political polarization in South Korea has been evident in recent years, and Lee, a liberal former provincial governor, has been an influential figure. He narrowly lost the presidential election to Yoon of the conservative People Power Party in March 2022. Lee subsequently assumed the leadership of the Democratic Party, gearing up for the upcoming parliamentary elections in April.
In response to the incident, South Korea’s national police agency pledged to enhance personal protection for “key personnel” to prevent similar cases from occurring in the future. The attack on Lee Jae-myung has sparked concerns and garnered attention both domestically and internationally, prompting a call for calm among party members and an appeal for a thorough investigation.