North Korea has praised a recent knife attack on U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert as a "deserved punishment on war maniac U.S." and said it reflected the country's distaste for the United States.
Just before he was scheduled to give a lecture on the prospect of peace between the Korean peninsula on Thursday, Ambassador Lippert was slashed across the face by political activist Kim Ki-Jong, who was screaming demands for Korean unification.
At the time, South Korean President Park Geun-hye condemned the actions, stating, "This incident is not only a physical attack on the U.S. ambassador, but an attack on the South Korea-U.S. alliance and it can never be tolerated."
However, several hours later, North's state-run Korean Central News Agency released a statement praising the attack, referring to the weapon as a "knife of justice" and affirming the incident as a valid "expression of resistance." The news outlet added that the attack was a fitting punishment for "U.S. warmongers" and reflected the "anti-U.S. sentiment" in South Korea.
As previously reported by the Gospel Herald, North Korea is angered by the annual U.S-South Korea naval drills, which began earlier this week, and sees them as a threat to its national security. Last week, the country conducted an "armed protest" against the drills despite the South Korean and U.S. governments' claims that the military exercises are focused only on defense.
"The only means to cope with the aggression and war by the U.S. imperialists and their followers is neither dialogue nor peace. They should be dealt with only by merciless strikes," an unidentified spokesman for the North Korean military's general staff said in a statement carried by state media.
According to witnesses, Ki-Jong, 55, who is currently in police custody, yelled about stopping the drills and reuniting North and South Korea while he lunged at Lippert. Ki-Jong is reportedly known to police for his political activism; in 2010, he was given a suspended sentence for throwing a rock at the Japanese ambassador to Seoul.
"We have detained him and are investigating the cause of the attack and other circumstances," district police chief Yoon Myung-soon told the press.
In the meantime, Lippert was forced to undergo surgery as a result of the knife wounds on his face and left arm, according to Robert Ogburn, minister-counselor for public affairs at the U.S. Embassy. The Ambassador suffered a deep cut on the side of his face that required 80 stitches to close, and incurred injuries to his hand and arm while trying to defend himself. Doctors said that the injuries will require months to heal.
Fortunately, Lippert has said he is doing well and already tweeting to his followers about the situation.
"Doing well & in great spirits! Will be back ASAP to advance US-ROK alliance," Lippert tweeted on Thursday.
"He's good as can be expected, his spirit is strong," Secretary of State John Kerry told The New York Times. "He tends to soldier on, or as he said to me, sailor on."