South Korean Opposition Leader Stabbed in Neck During Public Visit to Busan

BUSAN, South Korea – On Tuesday, opposition leader Lee Jae-myung of South Korea was stabbed in the neck by an unidentified assailant during a visit to the city of Busan, according to police. The 59-year-old head of the main opposition Democratic Party was airlifted to a hospital in Seoul after receiving emergency treatment in Busan and is now reported to be recovering in intensive care following a two-hour operation.

The attack occurred while Lee was walking through a crowd of journalists and others after touring the proposed site of a new airport in Busan. The assailant approached Lee under the pretense of asking for his autograph, then stabbed him in the left side of his neck, according to senior Busan police officer Sohn Jae-han.

Despite the attack, Lee was conscious and not in critical condition immediately afterward, according to police and emergency officials. The suspect, identified as a 67-year-old man, told investigators that he purchased the 7-inch knife online. Police are currently investigating the motive behind the attack and are expected to request the suspect’s formal arrest for alleged attempted murder.

The incident has prompted President Yoon Suk Yeol to express deep concern over Lee’s health, ordering authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the attack. This act of violence has been labeled as a “terrorist attack” on Lee and a serious threat to democracy by his Democratic Party, which is urging law enforcement to swiftly investigate the matter.

The attack on Lee comes in the wake of his narrow loss to President Yoon in the presidential election, with recent public surveys pointing to Lee and his main conservative rival as early favorites to succeed Yoon when his term ends in 2027. Despite his defeat, Lee has remained a vocal critic of Yoon’s policies and has faced allegations of corruption, which he has vehemently denied.

This incident is the latest in a series of violent attacks on high-profile figures in South Korea in recent years, raising concerns about the safety of public officials in the country.