U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea Mark Lippert is “doing well and in great spirits” after being brutally cut in a bloody attack on Thursday morning local time in Seoul . He added in a tweet that he and his family were “deeply moved by the support! Will be back ASAP to advance US-ROK alliance!” He was rushed to a local hospital after the incident and he is expected to remain there for three to four days, according to a press briefing held by hospital officials on Thursday.
The assailant was wielding a razor and shouted “South and North Korea should be reunified,” the Associated Press reported. Police officials said a suspect, Kim Ki-jong, has been detained.
“We can confirm that U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea Mark Lippert was assaulted this morning in Seoul while giving a speech,” State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said. “We strongly condemn this act of violence,” she added. Both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry reached out to him to check on his recovery, according to National Security Council and State Department spokespeople.
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Lippert was attacked by an armed assailant while on his way to attend a morning lecture, official sources told Seoul’s Yonhap news agency.
During a press briefing held on Thursday local time, a spokesperson for South Korea’s ministry of foreign affairs also spoke against the attack and vowed to protect all diplomatic missions. He also expressed condolences to the Lippert and his family and said authorities would investigate the incident fully.
A popular figure around Washington and in Seoul, Lippert, 42, began his term as ambassador in fall of 2014. Previously, he held senior positions in the Defense Department, including as U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian affairs and as chief of staff to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. He was deputy director of foreign policy for President Barack Obama’s transition team and served as chief of staff for the National Security Council. He also served as a top adviser to then-Sen. Obama.