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(2nd LD) U.S. envoy to Seoul injured in razor attack

All Headlines 09:27 March 05, 2015

(ATTN: RECASTS lead, 2nd para; CORRECTS detail in 8th para; UPDATES with details, background throughout; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, March 5 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert was injured Thursday in an attack by a razor-wielding assailant who said he was against the ongoing military drills between the two countries.

The male suspect, identified as 55-year-old Kim Ki-jong, cut Lippert's face and wrist with a razor blade around 7:40 a.m., as the envoy was preparing for a lecture at a venue in downtown Seoul, police said.

Lippert, bleeding, was rushed to a nearby hospital, police said, adding Kim was arrested immediately.

Witnesses said Kim, coming from behind, pushed Lippert onto the table and started assaulting him.

It is the first time a U.S. ambassador has been assaulted in South Korea.

Lippert, 42, took office last year as the youngest U.S. ambassador to South Korea ever. His wife gave birth to a son here in late January and the couple gave him a Korean middle name. He was formerly the assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs from 2011 to 2012. He also served as Hagel's chief of staff at the Pentagon.

The suspect shouted his opposition to the annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle military exercises that started Monday, police said. The exercises are part of Seoul and Washington's efforts to better deter threats from North Korea.

Police said they were questioning the suspect to determine the motive for the attack.

In July 2010, Kim received a suspended two-year prison term for throwing two pieces of concrete at a Japanese ambassador to Seoul. He published a book last year in which he details his assault on the Japanese envoy, Tosinori Shigeie.

Kim is the head of a liberal organization that protests Japan's territorial claims over South Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo. He changed the address of his family register to Dokdo in 2006 after the Japanese prefecture of Shimane designated a day named after Takeshima, which is what the islets are called in Japan.

pbr@yna.co.kr

sojungpark@yna.co.kr
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