Suspect in South Korean politician's stabbing apologizes as victim leaves hospital in good health

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The suspect in the near-fatal attack on one of South Korea’s most prominent politicians apologized to the press on the same day his victim left the hospital in good spirits.

Opposition leader Lee Jae-myung, 59, left Seoul National University Hospital on Wednesday in good spirits after recovering from a severe stab wound to his neck.

“Our respected and dear citizens, I feel sorry for causing concerns for you and I’d like to say thank you. Our people saved me,” Lee said.

SOUTH KOREAN OPPOSITION LEADER STABBED IN THE NECK EXPECTED TO RECOVER, DOCTOR SAYS

Lee Jae-myung hospital

South Korean opposition leader Lee Jae-myung speaks as he leaves a hospital in Seoul, South Korea. Lee was stabbed in the neck by a knife-wielding man who approached while asking for his autograph. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Lee, the chief of the main opposition Democratic Party, was brutally attacked while visiting the southern port city of Busan last week. 

The suspected attacker is a man in his 50s or 60s who wore a paper crown with Lee’s name printed on it, according to photographs. He approached Lee asking for an autograph among a crowd of supporters before he lunged forward and attacked, video footage showed. 

The assailant was quickly subdued and arrested at the scene. The attack left a gash in Lee’s neck that is about one centimeter long, according to YTN television.

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Lee Jae-myung

South Korean opposition leader Lee Jae-myung on a stretcher, is carried by a rescue team in Busan, South Korea, on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024. (Ha Kyung-min/Newsis via AP)

“I feel sorry because I caused concerns to the people,” the suspect told reporters on Wednesday at the Busan prosecutor’s office. 

Journalists asked the man if he was acting alone in the assassination attempt. 

“Yes,” he replied. “How could I plan this with someone else?”

Lee Jae-myung

South Korean opposition leader Lee Jae-myung speaks as he leaves a hospital in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024.  Lee was stabbed in the neck by a knife-wielding man who approached while asking for his autograph. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

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Police have not yet released a comprehensive report on the incident, but officials say the crime was politically motivated.

“It’s analyzed that the suspect’s subjective political belief led to the extreme crime,” said Busan Police Chief Woo Cheol-Mun

Lee said Wednesday as he left the hospital that he hopes the incident will bring an end to “politics of hatred and politics of confrontation and return to politics of mutual respect and co-existence.”

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