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Activist slashes US envoy to S Korea

A militant Korean nationalist has slashed the face of the US ambassador to South Korea at a breakfast meeting in Seoul, but the envoy was not seriously hurt,reports BBC.   Mark Lippert, 42, was also cut on his left hand, with blood spattered over the breakfast table.  Security officers subdued the attacker, one pinning him down with a shoe on his neck, until he was arrested.

North Korea has described the attack as “just punishment for US warmongers”.  The North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said he had delivered a “knife shower of justice”.  The attacker, named as Kim Ki-jong, 55, appears to have broken his ankle during the attack and was taken away on an ambulance trolley after questioning.

South Korean police, who are in the process of obtaining warrants to search his home, are seeking to establish whether he has close ties with the North, the BBC’s Stephen Evans reports from Seoul.  Mr Lippert had hospital treatment but later wrote in a tweet: “Doing well and in great spirits… Will be back ASAP to advance US-ROK [Republic of Korea] alliance!”

US President Barack Obama called his ambassador to wish him “the very best for a speedy recovery”, a US official said.    Nobody believes that pro-North Korean groups represent a majority of South Koreans but they are still a significant minority and part of the political landscape.

In November, South Korea’s constitutional court ordered that the Unified Progressive Party be dissolved even though it had five members elected to parliament. The authorities said the UPP posed a threat to South Korean democracy. One of its leaders was jailed.

The counter-argument of the leftist nationalists is not so much that they want to be ruled by Pyongyang or fall under a North Korean system but that the American military presence in South Korea perpetuates a division within one people – the Korean people.

The strong feelings of pro-Pyongyang activists become most obvious when anti-Pyongyang activists launch balloons into the North loaded with propaganda messages. The two sides confront each other, with much jostling and shouting. There was a small pro-US demonstration after the attack on the ambassador but some on the streets of the capital said they applauded it.

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