Seoul: Already irritated over joint US-South Korea drills, North Korea has justified the knife attack on US ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert, reports said.
According to Korean Central News Agency, North has termed the attack as "Just punishment for US warmongers," adding that it was a valid "expression of resistance", the AFP said.
The man who carried out knife attack on US ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert, was a pro-North Korean activist and miffed with joint US-South Korea military drills, reports said Thursday.
Armed with a 10-inch knife, the assaulter on Wednesday evening lunged at the US ambassador while he was preparing to deliver a speech in downtown Seoul, slashing him on his right cheek and hand, the police said.
In the moments after the knife attack, video footage showed the ambassador holding his injured cheek with one hand and the other hand bloodied from an injury to the wrist.
Lippert was operated upon for by a plastic surgeon and an orthopaedic surgeon for more than two hours and is now in a stable condition, however the doctors will keep him in the hospital under observation for the next three to four days, said an AFP report.
According to Yonhap news agency, the assailant who has been identified as 55-year-old Kim Ki-Jong, has in past carried out pro-North Korean activities, the police said.
The assailant is said to have carried out a similar act in 2010 whe he had hurled a stone at the then Japanese ambassador to Seoul.
According to an AFP report, the 55-year-old attacker is said to head an organisation which pitches for the reunification of the two Koreas and leads protests against Japanese claims to a group of small islands controlled by South Korea.
Just a day before carrying out the attack on the US envoy, he had expressed his anger over the joint US-South Korea drills, blaming them to be an obstacle in the resumption of a dialogue between North and South Korea. After the attack, he was also reportedly heard shouting slogans against joint US-South Korea military exercises.
The attack on the US envoy comes at a time when US and South Korea have launched their annual joint military exercises this week, causing the North to fume as usual.
In protest, North Korea fired two short-range ballisticmissiles into the Sea of Japan, also warning 'merciless strikes'.
We can confirm that U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea @mwlippert was assaulted this AM in Seoul, injuries are not life threatening.
— Marie Harf (@marieharf) March 5, 2015
Condemning the "act of violence" US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said that Mark Lippert's injuries were not life-threatening and that he was receiving treatment.
Lippert is said to have had a very close relationship with President Barack Obama since 2005 when he was a Senator. He was in Obama's inner circle.
Obama has reportedly called up Lippert and extended his best wishes for a speedy recovery.
Denouncing the knife attack, South Korean President Park Geun-Hye condemned the assault as "intolerable", calling it an attack on the South Korea-US military alliance.