SEOUL: South Korea’s opposition Democratic Party leader Lee Jae-myung was stabbed in the neck on Tuesday (Jan 2) by a man who pushed through a crowd in Busan pretending to be his supporter.
Lee, who narrowly lost the 2022 presidential election, was surrounded by journalists and supporters at a construction site in the southern port city when a man lunged and struck him in the neck, South Korean television channels showed.
He was bleeding but conscious as he was rushed to a local university hospital, the Yonhap news agency reported, before being flown to the capital Seoul for surgery, according to party spokesman Kwon Chil-seung said.
The transfer to Seoul was possible after medical staff determined his condition was not life-threatening based on emergency treatment and a CT scan, a Pusan National University Hospital official told Reuters.
Kwon, speaking outside the hospital soon after Lee was airlifted by helicopter, said medical staff suspected damage to a jugular vein that carries blood from the head to the heart.
“There is concern that there could be large haemorrhage or additional haemorrhage, according to medical staff,” Kwon said.
“This is an act of terror against Lee and a serious threat to democracy that should never occur under any circumstances.”
The attack by the assailant, seen in video footage and photographs, unfolded quickly while Lee was touring the site of a proposed airport in Busan.
The man – who appeared to be in his 50s or 60s and wearing a paper crown with Lee’s name on it – approached and asked for an autograph as Lee spoke among a throng of supporters and reporters, then lunged forward and attacked him, video footage showed.
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