Main opposition leader airlifted to hospital after being stabbed in the neck


South Korean opposition leader Lee Jae-myung airlifted to hospital after stabbing incident

In a shocking turn of events, South Korean opposition leader Lee Jae-myung was airlifted to a hospital in Seoul after being stabbed in the neck during a visit to the port city of Busan. The incident unfolded on Tuesday morning as Lee was walking with journalists, and a man suddenly lunged out of the crowd, stabbing him on the left side of his neck.

Disturbing images circulating in South Korean media showed the 59-year-old politician lying on the ground with his eyes closed, surrounded by concerned officials who applied pressure to his neck with a cloth. Lee, who leads the main opposition Democratic Party, received emergency treatment at Pusan National University Hospital before being flown to Seoul National University in the capital.

Medical staff at Pusan National University Hospital expressed concerns about a potential injury to Lee’s jugular vein, which carries blood from the head to the heart. The severity of the stabbing raises worries about possible significant or additional hemorrhage, according to Democratic Party spokesman Kwon Chil-seung.

The attacker, wearing a paper crown bearing Lee’s name, approached the politician under the pretense of seeking an autograph. However, he swiftly launched the assault using a weapon estimated to be between 20 and 30 centimeters (7.9 – 11.8 inches) long. Authorities apprehended the assailant at the scene, but he has thus far refused to provide any motive for his actions.

This is not the first time South Korean politicians have faced such acts of violence. Despite stringent gun laws in the country, attacks with other weapons have occurred, prompting heightened security measures during major events involving high-profile political figures.

Lee, a former governor of Gyeonggi province, ran for the presidency in 2022, narrowly losing to conservative candidate Yoon Suk-yeol in a fiercely contested campaign. Yoon expressed “deep concern” over the attack on Lee and called for a swift and thorough investigation, emphasizing that such acts of violence should never be tolerated under any circumstances.

Lee’s predecessor, Song Young-gil, was similarly attacked in 2022 when an assailant struck him on the head with a blunt object during a public event. Former president Park Geun-hye also experienced an attack with a knife in 2006, requiring surgery for a facial wound when she was the leader of the conservative opposition party.

Lee’s political career has been marred by various scandals. He currently faces bribery charges related to a firm suspected of illicitly transferring $8 million to North Korea. Additionally, he is accused of breaching his duties as the mayor of Seongnam, where a city company incurred losses of 20 billion won ($15 million) during his tenure.

As authorities continue their investigation into this shocking incident, South Korea remains on high alert, emphasizing the need to ensure the safety of political leaders and prevent any further acts of violence.

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