SEOUL: South Korean police vowed Monday to press on with attempted murder charges against the man who injured US ambassador Mark Lippert in a knife attack, despite the assailant’s denial that he intended to kill.
Doctors said Lippert, 42, was recovering well from Thursday’s assault by nationalist activist Kim Ki-Jong, which left the envoy requiring surgery to repair deep gashes to his face and hand.
District police chief Yun Myeong-Seong said Kim, 55, had revealed under questioning that he had prepared two weapons for the attack – the knife and a razor which he didn’t use.
“He said he had… no intention to kill,” Yun told reporters. “But given the deep wounds on the ambassador’s face and arms and the fact that Kim chose the kitchen knife instead of a razor, we believe that he clearly had an intention to murder.”
Kim, who has a previous conviction for hurling a rock at the then Japanese ambassador in 2010, was formally charged with attempted murder on Friday. Yun said police were also analysing books and other materials found at his home as part of an investigation into Kim’s possible links with North Korea.
Kim had visited the North seven times and once tried to erect a memorial in Seoul to the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il after his death in 2011.
Kim has said he attacked Lippert as a protest against ongoing South-US army drills, which he blamed for souring inter-Korean relations. The annual drills, known as Foal Eagle and Key Resolve, have long been condemned by Pyongyang as rehearsals for invasion.
Kim has insisted he acted alone, and North Korea has accused the South of launching a “vicious” smear campaign to tie its leadership to the attack.
South Korean President Park Geun-Hye visited Lippert in hospital on Monday after returning from an overseas tour, her spokesman said. Park received a facial injury in 2006 after being attacked by a razor-wielding man when she was campaigning as a legislator.
The president was touring the Gulf region when the ambassador was attacked, but had spoken with Lippert by phone. The ambassador had some of the 80 stitches on his face removed Monday morning and was recovering well and expected to be released Tuesday afternoon, his doctors said.