The United States said Friday it deeply appreciates the strong support its ambassador to South Korea received following a knife attack in March after a Seoul court handed down a heavy prison term to the attacker.
The Seoul District Court sentenced the 55-year-old attacker, Kim Ki-jong, to 12 years in prison on conviction of attempted murder and other charges. Kim slashed Amb. Mark Lippert on his face and wrist at a breakfast function in Seoul on March 5.
The attack left Lippert with deep gashes that required more than 80 stitches.
"We are aware of the verdict reached today by the Seoul Central District Court. Throughout the investigation, the U.S. government has fully cooperated with Korean authorities," State Department spokesperson Katina Adams said in comments sent to Yonhap News Agency.
"We continue to deeply appreciate the strong support of the Korean people and the Korean government following the attack on Ambassador Lippert in March. This support demonstrates the deep and enduring friendship between our peoples," she said.
Adams declined to comment on "the motivations of the attacker or the reasoning behind the verdict."
Kim, 55, was immediately arrested at the scene. As he was hauled away, he shouted opposition to joint military exercises that were underway between South Korea and the U.S. at the time, echoing calls from North Korea, which denounces such drills as a rehearsal for invasion.
Prosecutors pressed additional charges that Kim also violated the anti-communist National Security Law that bans any acts benefiting North Korea. But the court acquitted him of those charges, saying it is difficult to recognize Kim posed threats to the country's existence or liberal democracy.
Prosecutors said they would appeal the acquittal. (Yonhap)