S. Korean opposition leader in ICU after stabbing attack before election – National

South Korea’s opposition Democratic Party leader Lee Jae-myung remained hospitalized in intensive care on Wednesday, a day after a stabbing attack on him shocked political leaders vying for the upper hand in an election majors in three months.

Surgeons operated on Lee for more than two hours Wednesday evening to repair a major blood vessel in his neck that was severed when an attacker rushed in and stabbed him with a knife.

“The act of terror against President Lee Jae-myung was clearly a challenge to democracy and a threat to democracy,” Democratic Party leader Hong Ik-pyo said at a party leadership council meeting. .

South Korean opposition leader Lee Jae-myung on a stretcher is carried by a rescue team in Busan, South Korea, Tuesday, January 2, 2024. Lee was attacked and injured by an unidentified man during a visit Tuesday to the city of Busan, in the southeast of the country. , emergency officials said. (Ha Kyung-min/Newsis via AP).


He called for a swift investigation and tighter security for high-profile political figures, echoing renewed questions about security during election campaigns in a country with a history of political violence despite tight restrictions on possession of documents. weapons.

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Jin Jeong-hwa, a party supporter who witnessed the attack at the scene, said the incident clearly showed the need for stronger and professional security protection for political leaders, not just police deployed to keep watch.

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“People like opposition leaders really need a dedicated security service,” Jin said in an interview with Reuters. He added that it was clear from his experience at political events that Lee was at high risk of threats to his personal safety.

Lee, a tough-talking progressive who narrowly lost the 2022 presidential election, had rallied the party to retain the parliamentary majority it holds against President Yoon Suk Yeol’s conservatives.

South Korea holds crucial elections on April 10 in which conservatives will attempt to win back a majority for the first time since 2016 and support President Yoon Suk Yeol’s business-friendly policies, including tax cuts, deregulation and social reforms.

The attack on Lee, which unfolded quickly but was widely captured in footage from the open-air public event, shocked both his party and his rivals, who condemned any violence against political figures.

South Korean opposition leader Lee Jae-myung is seen after being injured in Busan, South Korea, Tuesday, January 2, 2024. Lee was attacked and injured by an unidentified man during a visit on Tuesday in the southeastern city of Busan, rescue officials said. said. (Sohn Hyung-joo/Yonhap via AP).


Lee was flown from Busan, where the attack took place, to Seoul on Tuesday where he underwent surgery to reconstruct the jugular vein that pumps blood from the head to the heart and insert a tube to support the damaged vessel.

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He was conscious and recovering in the intensive care unit, party officials said.

The leader of the conservative People Power Party has scaled back planned public events, and both parties have urged their members to refrain from comments that could inflame voters while Lee recovers.

Lee lost to Yoon by less than 1% of the vote, the narrowest margin, in a bitterly contested presidential election and has since faced allegations of corruption stemming from a development project while he was mayor of a town near Seoul. He denies any wrongdoing.

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