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South Korean Lawmaker Treated for Head Cuts After Being Attacked with Rock

In Europe
January 26, 2024

(Bloomberg) — A South Korean ruling party lawmaker was in stable condition after being struck repeatedly in the head by a rock-wielding assailant in the second attack this month on a prominent politician, which has stoked safety concerns.

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Bae Hyun-jin, who once served as a spokeswoman for President Yoon Suk Yeol, was being treated for injuries including lacerations at a Seoul hospital after the attack Thursday. The male suspect taken into custody soon after the assault claimed to be 15 years old, police said, without releasing a motive for the incident. Police said the suspect is a minor.

Video taken from a surveillance camera inside a building foyer showed Bae being struck several times by the assailant who was wearing a dark coat and had his face covered. People nearby soon intervened and remained on the scene until police arrived, Yonhap News reported.

Bae’s office told Yonhap the assailant approached the lawmaker, confirmed her identity and then attacked her. The name of the suspect has not been released nor any details about how he prepared for the assault.

“This incident is unacceptable and should be thoroughly investigated,” the presidential office quoted Yoon as saying as it wished Bae a speedy recovery.

Bae had also served as a spokeswoman for Yoon’s conservative People Power Party from 2020 and been a TV news anchor before entering politics.

The attack comes after the main opposition party leader Lee Jae-myung was stabbed in the neck by a knife-wielding assailant during a visit to the southern coastal city of Busan earlier this month.

Lee underwent surgery and was released from the hospital about 10 days later. The man accused of stabbing Lee had followed the politician for months and wanted to prevent him from becoming president, police said.

“Political terrorism of any kind should not be tolerated,” Lee posted on his Facebook page. “We must respond thoroughly and decisively.

Read: South Korean Party Leader Was Stabbed by Stalker Over Politics

South Korea is set to have elections for parliament in April where Yoon’s PPP will be trying to take over the majority held by Lee’s Democratic Party.

There have been several high-profile cases of political violence in recent years in South Korea ahead of elections. In 2022, Lee’s predecessor Song Young-gil was attacked by a man with a hammer during a campaign event and was treated for a gash to his skull.

In 2006, former President Park Geun-hye, who was then the leader of the major opposition party, was treated for an 11-centimeter (4 inch) cut on her face when a man attacked her during a campaign appearance. Park is the daughter of assassinated former President Park Chung Hee.

–With assistance from Shinhye Kang and Sohee Kim.

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