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.
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.
South Korean police are seeking charges of attempted murder against Kim Ki-jong who attacked the US ambassador to Seoul, Mark Lippert.
Mark Lippert is recovering in hospital after Kim Ki-jong attacked him with a knife on March 5.
During the attack, Kim Ki-jong called for reunification of the two Koreas.
Police said they were also investigating Kim Ki-jong’s links with North Korea, after it was revealed he had made multiple visits.
“We are investigating whether there is any connection between the suspect’s visits to North Korea and the crime committed against the US ambassador,” Yoon Myeong-seong, head of Seoul’s central Jongno district said according to Reuters.
Kim Ki-jong, 55, also had a history of nationalist militant activity, media reports said.
A small group of people in South Korea see the US as the main obstacle to the reunification of a divided Korean peninsula.
Mark Lippert received 80 stitches to a deep cut in his cheek and is recovering in hospital.
Yoon Myeong-seong said authorities wanted to charge Kim Ki-jong with attempted murder, violence against a foreign envoy and business obstruction, Yonhap news agency reported. Police have requested a formal detention warrant.
Kim Ki-jong, who was apprehended after the incident, told police that he did not intend to kill Mark Lippert.
Yoon Myeong-seong also said they were considering charging him with violating South Korea’s National Security Law, which bans South Koreans from publicly sympathizing with the government of North Korea.
Kim Ki-jong also shouted opposition to annual US-South Korean military drills, which began on March 2, during the attack.
North Korea traditionally opposes the drills, which it describes as a rehearsal for invasion. Late on Thursday, it described the attack as “just punishment for US warmongers”, in a statement on state media.
Doctors said Mark Lippert would be discharged early next week.
The attack raised questions about security for diplomatic personnel. Mark Lippert had a bodyguard with him when the attack took place. Police were also there, but not at the request of the US embassy or the organizers of the event.
The responsibility for the safety of diplomats lies with the host nation.
After the incident, the South Korean government ramped up security for diplomatic missions, including the US embassy. Police said they were providing protection for Mark Lippert.
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