The Korea Herald


Prosecution launches special team to investigate stabbing of Lee

A 66-year-old man surnamed Kim is under police investigation on suspicion of attempted murder

By Park Jun-hee

Published : Jan. 2, 2024 - 14:53

    • Link copied

Lee Jae-myung, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, is being transferred to an ambulance after sustaining an attack by an unidentified person in Busan, Tuesday. (Yonhap) Lee Jae-myung, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, is being transferred to an ambulance after sustaining an attack by an unidentified person in Busan, Tuesday. (Yonhap)

Prosecutor General Lee One-seok on Tuesday ordered the Busan High Prosecutors’ Office to form a special investigative team to look swiftly into the stabbing of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea leader during his visit to Busan at the hands of an unidentified man.

He also ordered prosecutors to team up with the police to investigate the case thoroughly, according to the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office.

“The prosecutor general has asked that a special probe team be formed in consideration of the gravity of the issue as an act of terrorism against a political party representative,” the SPO said in a press release. It said that Lee has also ordered the development of a system to foster close cooperation among relevant agencies and stern measures against any acts of political violence.

His announcement came after the chief of the National Police Agency, Yoon Hee-keun, ordered the Busan Metropolitan Police Agency to form a special team to investigate the attack on Democratic Party Chair Lee Jae-myung.

Yoon also ordered the team to look thoroughly into the details of the assault, the motivation behind it and whether anyone else had been involved, vowing he would beef up protections of prominent figures to prevent such incidents from occurring again.

The special probe team is composed of some 69 police personnel who are investigating Lee’s attacker on suspicion of attempted murder, as well as looking into whether the suspect is a member of any political party or whether there was a specific motive behind the attack.

At around 10:27 a.m. on Tuesday, the opposition party leader, who had been addressing the press, was stabbed in the neck by an unidentified man.

The attacker, a man surnamed Kim, born in 1957 and living in South Chungcheong Province, was taken into custody at the scene. He was taken to the Busan Gangseo Police Station and has testified that he committed the crime with the intent of murdering the opposition leader, according to officials.

The 66-year-old attacker reportedly had pretended to be a supporter of Lee and approached him asking for an autograph before stabbing him in the left side of the neck with an 18-centimeter knife, a police investigation has found. The suspect reportedly purchased the weapon online and has no criminal record.

Meanwhile, Lee was transferred to Pusan National University Hospital approximately 20 minutes after the stabbing. Bleeding continued, but he remained conscious. Later, he was airlifted to the Seoul National University Hospital in central Seoul for surgery due to concerns that his jugular vein might have been damaged.

Approximately 50 police officers had been present at the site for crowd and traffic control, as stated by police, rather than for the protection of the opposition leader.

Police do not maintain a dedicated security team for politicians. Only during official election campaign periods -- usually two weeks before voting day -- are security teams activated.