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South Korean Kim Ki-jong, who stabbed US Ambassador Mark Lippert earlier this year, has been sentenced to 12 years in jail for attempted murder.

Kim Ki-jong, 56, attacked Mark Lippert at a breakfast function in a Seoul hotel on March 5.

The US ambassador in South Korea needed 80 stitches in his face and hand and was left scarred.

Kim Ki-jong, a known Korean nationalist, had made multiple visits to North Korea.

He said he was protesting against joint South Korean-US military drills but did not intend to kill Mark Lippert.Kim Ki jong ambassador attack 2015

The prosecution, however, argued the force of the attack was so great that it might well have been fatal. They had sought a 15-year prison term.

Kim Ki-jong was also convicted of assaulting a foreign envoy, but cleared of a charge under the National Security Law of assisting North Korea.

The Seoul Central District Court said he had “shown no repentance, attempting to justify his actions throughout the trial,” the AFP news agency reported.

Mark Lippert spent five days in hospital but has since returned to work and said the US mission in Seoul would remain “open and friendly”.

The US has some 28,000 military personnel based in South Korea, and the two militaries regularly carry out military exercises together.

The drills are an ongoing source of tensions with North Korea, which views them as preparation for war. They are also unpopular with many in South Korea, with demonstrations regularly staged against them.


US ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert could face a “bigger mishap” than the knife attack to his face last month if he does not stop insulting North Korea with “laughable” accusations, a North Korean propaganda unit said.

Ambassador Mark Lippert said in a speech on April 15 that if North Korea improves its human rights record and takes steps to end its nuclear program, it will be rewarded with prosperity and better ties with the outside world, including the US.

North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said Mark Lippert’s remarks were proof that Washington was intent on hostility.

Photo Yonhap

Photo Yonhap

“Lippert needs to drop the bad habit of rashly engaging in scheming chatter distorting the truth and instigating war by taking issue with us,” the committee said in a commentary published on April 16 on the Uriminzokkiri propaganda web site.

“Otherwise, next time, he could face a bigger mishap than getting cut in the cheek by a South Korean citizen,” it said.

North Korea frequently rails at the US, South Korea’s biggest ally, accusing it of preparing for imminent invasion.

A US State Department spokesperson said: “We have seen the statement which is unfortunately consistent with the nature of the regime and its rhetoric.”

Mark Lippert was slashed in the face with a fruit knife by a South Korean man with a history of erratic behavior at a breakfast forum in central Seoul that left a gash that required 80 stitches. He also suffered injuries to his arm.

South Korean police charged Mark Lippert’s attacker with attempted murder. He was not charged with any North Korea-related crime after being questioned over his multiple visits.

North Korea previously called the attack “deserved punishment” but denied any role in it.