Yonhap via Agence France-Presse After visiting the site of a new airport, Lee Jae-myung was walking in the port city of Busan, surrounded by a swarm of journalists and supporters, when a man stabbed him in the neck, according to footage released by local television.
South Korean opposition leader Lee Jae-myung was stabbed in the neck Tuesday during a trip to Busan and admitted to intensive care after undergoing surgery, his party said.
“Damage to the internal jugular vein has been confirmed,” Kwon Chil-seung of the Democratic Party said in Seoul after the operation. Mr. Lee “is currently in intensive care and recovering,” he added.
After visiting the site of a new airport, Mr Lee was walking through the port city, surrounded by a swarm of journalists and supporters, when a man stabbed him in the neck, according to footage broadcast by local television .
The politician “was walking to his car while speaking to journalists when the assailant asked him for an autograph before attacking him in the neck with what appeared to be a knife,” a told a witness to local channel YTN.
Lee Jae-myung, 59, then collapsed to the ground as several people rushed to help him and cover his wound.
Mr. Lee, conscious, was first taken to Busan National University Hospital, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported.
He was then airlifted to the National University Hospital in the capital, Seoul, for surgery, according to Kwon Chil-seung, a lawmaker from his Democratic Party.
Conservative President Yoon Suk Yeol, who defeated Lee Jae-myung in the 2022 presidential election, expressed “deep concern for the security” of his opponent, according to a spokesperson for the South Korean presidency, Kim Soo-kyung.
He added “that our society should never tolerate this type of act of violence, regardless of the circumstances.”
“An Act of Terror”
“This is an act of terror against Mr. Lee and a serious threat to democracy that should never happen under any circumstances,” lawmaker Kwon Chil-seung said outside Busan Hospital, calling for opening of an “in-depth” investigation.
According to images broadcast by South Korean television, police officers struggled with the attacker and pinned him to the ground. The latter wore a headgear on which appeared a slogan in favor of Mr. Lee.
The attacker was then arrested and did not comment on the motivations for his action, according to Yonhap, citing police sources.
Mr. Lee is expected to run again for the presidential election in 2027. A former worker and governor of Gyeonggi province, the most populous in the country and which surrounds Seoul, he proposed original measures during his 2022 campaign, including a universal minimum income and free school uniforms.
But his candidacy was marred by a series of scandals. He was notably criticized for a real estate transaction considered dubious. Rumors had also given him links with the mafia and his wife had been accused of illegal use of public funds.
In September 2023, Lee Jae-myung avoided arrest after a court rejected a prosecutor's request for remand while awaiting trial on various corruption charges .
He is suspected of corruption in connection with a company that allegedly illegally transferred $8 million to North Korea.
Mr. Lee is also accused of causing a company owned by the city of Seongnam of which he was mayor to lose 20 billion won (some 20 million Canadian dollars).
He began his working life at age 11 in a glove factory. Two years later, he suffered a professional accident. His arm became stuck in a press, resulting in lifelong disability.
After attending law school, Mr. Lee became a human rights lawyer and entered politics in 2010. He was hospitalized in September following a 19-day labor strike. hunger started to denounce the “incompetent and violent” policies of the current conservative government.