World

South Korean opposition leader ‘stabbed in neck’ during visit

South Korea’s opposition leader Lee Jae-myung has been stabbed in the neck during a visit to Busan, according to local media.

He was attacked as he toured a construction site at a new airport, said the city’s emergency office.

It said Lee – who heads the main opposition Democratic Party – was conscious but his exact condition is unknown.

A party official said he had been taken to a local university hospital.

An unidentified man approached the politician for an autograph before lunging in with a knife-like weapon, reported South Korea‘s Yonhap news agency.

The man, who appeared to be in his 50s or 60s, was quickly restrained and arrested, said Yonhap.

YTN television showed Lee grimacing and collapsing to the ground, with other images showing people pressing a handkerchief to the side of his neck.

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Lee was taken away on a stretcher. Pic: AP
Image:
Lee was taken away on a stretcher. Pic: AP

It said he had been left with a gash of about 1cm.

Lee lost the 2022 presidential election to Yoon Suk Yeol by a narrow margin.

He is currently on trial for alleged bribery – which he denies – relating to a development project when he was mayor of Seongnam near Seoul.

The liberal is also known for his outspoken style, with supporters seeing him as an anti-elitist crusader, but critics view him as a populist who stokes divisions and demonises conservative rivals.

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The politician was in the southern port city of Busan
Image:
The politician was in the southern port city of Busan

President Yoon Suk Yeol condemned the attack and expressed deep concern for Lee’s condition, said a spokesperson.

South Korea has strict gun laws but there is a history of political violence using other weapons.

Lee’s predecessor, Song Young-gil, suffered a head wound when he was attacked with a blunt object at a public event in 2022.

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