TIME North Korea

South Korea Confirms NYU Student Is Detained in North Korea

A North Korean soldier stands on the river bank in Sinuiju, North Korea, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong
AP A North Korean soldier stands on the river bank in Sinuiju, North Korea, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong, on June 12, 2013.

Student was said to have tried crossing into North from China border river

A man identified as a South Korean student at New York University is being detained in North Korea, according to the South’s unification ministry, one day after the North’s state news agency said it had arrested and charged him with illegally entering the reclusive country.

New Jersey resident Won Moon Joo, 21, was arrested April 22 after apparently attempting to cross a river that serves as part of the border between China and North Korea, the Korean Central News Agency said. An official from South Korea’s Unification Ministry said Sunday that its “judgment” was that Joo was being held but the circumstances over his detainment remained unclear, according to the Los Angeles Times.

John Beckman, a spokesperson for New York University, said in a statement that a student by the same name was a junior at the university’s Stern School of Business, though is not taking classes this semester. Beckman said the university has contacted the State Department and the South Korean Embassy.

[LAT]

TIME protest

Workers Rally on May Day Across the World

A masked protestor runs away from tear gas during a May Day rally at Okmeydani in Istanbul on May 1, 2015.
Yasin Akgul—AFP/Getty Images A masked protestor runs away from tear gas during a May Day rally at Okmeydani in Istanbul on May 1, 2015.

May 1 regularly sees clashes between police and militant groups in some cities

(HAVANA) — Left-wing groups, governments and trade unions were staging rallies around the world Friday to mark International Workers Day.

Most events were peaceful protests for workers’ rights and world peace. But May 1 regularly sees clashes between police and militant groups in some cities.

International Workers Day originates in the United States. American unions first called for the introduction of an eight-hour working day in the second half of the 19th century. A general strike was declared to press these demands, starting May 1, 1886. The idea spread to other countries and since then workers around the world have held protests on May 1 every year, although the U.S. celebrates Labor Day on the first Monday in September.

Here’s a look at some of the May Day events around the world:

TURKEY

Police and May Day demonstrators clashed in Istanbul as crowds determined to defy a government ban tried to march to the city’s iconic Taksim Square.

Security forces pushed back demonstrators using water cannons and tear gas. Protesters retaliated by throwing stones and hurling firecrackers at police.

Authorities have blocked the square that is symbolic as the center of protests in which 34 people were killed in 1977.

Turkish newswires say that 10,000 police officers were stationed around the square Friday.

The demonstrations are the first large-scale protests since the government passed a security bill this year giving police expanded powers to crack down on protesters.

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CUBA

Thousands of people converged on Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution for the traditional May Day march, led this year by President Raul Castro and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. After attending Cuba’s celebration, Maduro was to fly back to Caracas to attend the May Day observances in his own country.

The parade featured a group of doctors who were sent to Africa to help in the fight against Ebola. Marchers waved little red, white and blue Cuban flags as well as posters with photos of revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, his brother Raul, and the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

Additional marches were held in major cities around the island, including Santiago and Holguin in the east.

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SOUTH KOREA

Thousands of people marched in the capital Seoul on Friday for a third week to protest government labor policies and the handling of a ferry disaster that killed more than 300 people a year ago.

Demonstrators occupied several downtown streets and sporadically clashed with police officers. Protesters tried to move buses used to block their progress. Police responded by spraying tear gas. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

South Korean labor groups have been denouncing a series of government policies they believe will reduce wages, job security and retirement benefits for state employees.

___

PHILIPPINES

More than 10,000 workers and activists marched in Manila and burned an effigy of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III to protest low wages and a law allowing employers to hire laborers for less than six months to avoid giving benefits received by regular workers.

Workers in metropolitan Manila now receive 481 pesos ($10.80) in daily minimum wage after a 15 peso ($0.34) increase in March.

Although it is the highest rate in the country, it is still “a far cry from being decent,” says Lito Ustarez, vice chairman of the left-wing May One Movement.

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GREECE

In financially struggling Greece, an estimated 13,000 people took part in three separate May Day marches in Athens, carrying banners and shouting anti-austerity slogans. Minor clashes broke out at the end of the peaceful marches, when a handful of hooded youths threw a petrol bomb at riot police. No injuries or arrests were reported.

Earlier, ministers from the governing radical left Syriza party joined protesters gathering for the marches, including Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis — who was mobbed by media and admirers — and the ministers of labor and energy.

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GERMANY

Police in Berlin say the traditional ‘Walpurgis Night’ protest marking the eve of May 1 was calmer than previous years.

Several thousand people took part in anti-capitalist street parties in the north of the city. Fireworks and stones were thrown at police, injuring one officer. Fifteen people were detained. Elsewhere in the German capital revelers partied “extremely peacefully,” police noted on Friday morning.

At noon, Green Party activists unveiled a statue at Alexanderplatz in central Berlin of Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning, considered heroes by many on the left for leaking secret U.S. intelligence and military documents. The statue, called “Anything to say,” depicts the three standing on chairs and is scheduled to go on tour around the world, according to the website http://www.anythingtosay.com/.

In the central German city of Weimar far-right extremists attacked a union event. Police said 15 people were injured and 29 were arrested.

___

RUSSIA

In Moscow, tens of thousands of workers braved chilly rain to march across Red Square. Instead of the red flags with the Communist hammer and sickle used in Soviet times, they waved the blue flags of the dominant Kremlin party and the Russian tricolor.

Despite an economic crisis that is squeezing the working class, there was little if any criticism of President Vladimir Putin or his government.

The Communist Party later held a separate march under the slogan “against fascism and in support of Donbass,” with participants calling for greater support for the separatists fighting the Ukrainian army in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.

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ITALY

In Milan, police released water from hydrants against hundreds of demonstrators, many of them scrawling graffiti on walls or holding smoky flares during a march in the city, where the Italian premier and other VIPs were inaugurating Expo, a world’s fair that runs for six months.

An hour into the march, protesters set at least one parked car on fire, smashed store windows, tossed bottles and chopped up pavement.

Italian labor confederation leaders held their main rally in a Sicilian town, Pozzallo, where thousands of migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia have arrived in recent weeks after being rescued at sea from smugglers boats. Hoping to settle for the most part in northern Europe, the migrants are fleeing poverty as well as persecution or violent conflicts in their homelands.

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SPAIN

Around 10,000 protesters gathered under sunny skies in Madrid to take part in a May Day march under a banner saying “This is not the way to come out of the financial crisis.”

Spain’s economy is slowly emerging from the double-dip recession it hit at the end of 2013, but the country is still saddled with a staggering 23.8 percent unemployment rate.

“There should be many more of us here,” said demonstrator Leandro Pulido Arroyo, 60. “There are six million people unemployed in Spain, and many others who are semi-unemployed, who although they may be working don’t earn enough to pay for decent food.”

___

POLAND

Rallies in Warsaw were muted this year after Poland’s weakened left wing opposition held no May Day parade.

Only a few hundred supporters of the Democratic Left Alliance, or SLD, and of its ally, the All-Poland Trade Union, gathered for a downtown rally Friday to demand more jobs and job security.

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BRAZIL

President Dilma Rousseff skipped her traditional televised May Day address, instead releasing a brief video calling attention to gains for workers under her leadership.

In the video, Rousseff says the minimum wage grew nearly 15 percent above the rate of inflation from 2010-2014. Her office said the choice to roll out several short videos via social media Friday was aimed at reaching a younger public.

TIME Japan

Japan’s Shinzo Abe Is Talking in Washington — but He Needs to Talk to Asia

Shinzo Abe, Joe Biden, John Boehner
Carolyn Kaster—AP Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks before a joint meeting of Congress, April 29, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

The Japanese Prime Minister is a hit in Washington, but the reaction in China and South Korea will matter more

Shinzo Abe landed in the U.S. this week to great fanfare. Delivering the first-ever speech by a Japanese Prime Minister to a joint session of Congress, Abe proclaimed his resolve to “to take yet more responsibility for the peace and stability in the world.” Japan is busy trying to shape a new foreign policy course for itself after years of relative isolation on the geopolitical stage, a result of its pacifist constitution that dates back to its defeat and occupation by the U.S. after World War II.

Yet while much attention has been focused on Abe’s overture to Washington, just as critical to Japan’s re-emergence on the global stage is its relationship with its Asian neighbors — especially China and South Korea. How these two economic powers respond to a more assertive Japan will go a long way in determining how far Abe’s ambitions will take Tokyo.

After decades of hostility, Japan-China relations have markedly improved over the past six months. Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping have had productive encounters over the past two years, and have agreed to keep the lines of communication open going forward. China and Japan have both promised to use “dialogue and consultation” to deal with territorial disputes in the East China Sea and to work towards developing crisis mechanisms to avoid escalation.

While this might not sound like much, it is a significant achievement for two Asian heavyweights who have long been at each other’s throats. China’s rise casts a long shadow over all of Asia, but Japan has signaled a willingness to collaborate, boding well for the future. Japan’s dramatically improved relationship with India should also make China cautious in its dealings with Japan. There remain a host of issues to work out — particularly over Japan’s actions during World War II — but the China-Japan relationship now has the best trajectory of any bilateral relationship in the G20.

Yet for all the progress Japan has made with China, its relationship with South Korea — technically an ally — remains strained. The trilateral relationship among the U.S., Japan and South Korea is critical to American plans for the region, but historical disputes have threatened this framework. During World War II, South Korean women were forced to work for the occupying Japanese army as “comfort women” — a euphemism for sex slaves.

While Abe said in a speech at Harvard University on Monday that his “heart aches even now” for the victims, he has stopped short of officially recognizing and apologizing for the practice, as Seoul has demanded. Abe maintains that previous government apologies for Japanese wartime aggressions are sufficient. The South Koreans clearly disagree, with a Korean newspaper denouncing Abe as “the root of the problem” on its front page this week. With a sputtering economy and a government weakened by scandal — South Korea’s Prime Minister resigned on April 27 after bribery accusations — it is no wonder that Seoul is eyeing Japan’s aspirations warily.

The U.S. has tried to stay out of this charged dispute, and is taking a page from its playbook with another key American ally: Turkey. Out of concerns for Turkish feelings, President Obama has refrained from uttering the G word to describe the mass killing of Armenians in Turkey early in the last century. That caution — even though most historians accept that a genocide occurred — is calculated to avoid damaging a strategically important relationship.

In Japan, Abe has the political capital to apologize for historical aggression, but chooses not to. Japan is too important to Obama’s “pivot to Asia” strategy to risk estranging its leaders, especially with the critical Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal on the horizon.

If the pivot to Asia is to succeed and Japan’s new foreign policy ambitions are to be realized, America’s democratic allies in Asia need to find a way to move forward. Abe is talking in the U.S., but what matters is whether Asia is listening.

TIME South Korea

South Korea Ferry Captain Sentenced to Life in Prison

Judges preside over verdicts for the sunken South Korean ferry Sewol's crew members who are charged with negligence and abandonment of passengers in the disaster at Gwangju High Court in Gwangju, South Korea, April 28, 2015.
Ahn Young-joon—AP Judges preside over verdicts for the sunken South Korean ferry Sewol's crew members at Gwangju High Court in Gwangju, South Korea, on April 28, 2015

The South Korean ferry captain responsible for a ferry disaster will face an increased life sentence in prison

(SEOUL) — The South Korean ferry captain responsible for last year’s disaster that killed more than 300 people, mostly school children, was given an increased sentence of life in prison Tuesday by an appellate court that convicted him of homicide.

A district court in November had sentenced Lee Joon-seok to 36 years in prison for negligence and abandoning passengers in need but acquitted him of homicide. Victims’ relatives criticized the verdict at the time, saying it was too lenient. Prosecutors earlier had demanded the death penalty for Lee.

Lee’s sentence was increased because the Gwangju High Court additionally convicted him on the homicide charges while upholding most of other charges that led to his November conviction, according to a court statement.

The appellate court sentenced 14 other navigation crew members to 18 months to 12 years in prison, the statement said. In November they had received sentences of five to 30 years in prison.

The court said it decided on Lee’s homicide conviction because he fled the ship without making any evacuation order though he, as a captain, is required by law to take some measures to rescue his passengers.

Lee’s behavior was “homicide by willful negligence,” the court judged. “For whatever excuses, it’s difficult to forgive Lee Joon-seok’s action that caused a big tragedy,” the court statement cited the verdict as saying.

Lee and the 14 crew members have been the subject of fierce public anger because they were among the first people rescued from the ship when it began badly listing on the day of the sinking in April last year. Most of the victims were teenagers who were en route to a southern island for a school trip.

Lee has said he issued an evacuation order, but the court statement said two of the 14 crew members acknowledged that there was no evacuation order. Many student survivors have said they were repeatedly ordered over a loudspeaker to stay on the sinking ship and that they didn’t remember there any evacuation orders made by crewmembers before they helped each other to flee the ship.

Court spokesman Jeon Ilho said both prosecutors and the crew members have one week to appeal the verdicts.

A year after sinking, 295 bodies have been retrieved but nine others are missing. There is still lingering public criticism against the government over its handling of the sinking, the country’s deadliest maritime disaster in decades. Violence occurred during a Seoul rally led by relatives and their supporters earlier this month, leaving dozens of people injured.

Last week, South Korea formally announced it would salvage the ship from the ocean floor off the country’s southwest coast. Relatives of the victims hope that might locate the missing, including four students, and help reveal more details about the sinking. Some experts are skeptical about those wishes and remain opposed to spending taxpayer’s money to lift the civilian vessel.

Officials say the salvage job is estimated to cost $91 million to $137 million and take 12 to 18 months.

Authorities blame excessive cargo, improper storage, botched negligence and other negligence for the sinking, and have arrested about 140 people. Critics say higher-level officials haven’t been accountable.

TIME North Korea

See Kim Jong Un Celebrate Ascent of North Korea’s Highest Peak

This photo taken on April 18, 2015 and released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 20, 2015 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un on a snow-covered Mount Paektu during sunrise in Ryanggang Province.
KNS—AFP/Getty Images This photo taken on April 18, 2015 and released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 20, 2015 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un on a snow-covered Mount Paektu during sunrise in Ryanggang Province.

“Climbing Mt. Paektu provides precious mental pabulum more powerful than any kind of nuclear weapon,” said a state media report.

North Korean state media released a collection of celebratory images of leader Kim Jong Un at the summit of the country’s highest peak.

The state-run Rodong newspaper reported that Kim climbed Mt. Paektu on Saturday with a group of fighter pilots and other party and military leaders.

The country’s media is keen on portraying the supreme leader—a member of this year’s TIME 100—in action, such as when video surfaced of him flying a small plane.

North Korean propaganda says Mt. Paektu, which rises some 9,000 feet, was the birthplace of Kim Jong Il, the current leader’s father — though historians say he was actually born in Soviet Russia.

“When one climbs snow-stormy Mt. Paektu and undergoes the blizzards over it, one can experience its real spirit and harden the resolution to accomplish the Korean revolution,” the Rodong report said. “Climbing Mt. Paektu provides precious mental pabulum more powerful than any kind of nuclear weapon and it is the way for carrying forward the revolutionary traditions of Paektu and giving steady continuity to the glorious Korean revolution.”

TIME South Korea

Victims of South Korea’s Sewol Ferry Disaster Remembered One Year On

A relative of a victim of the Sewol ferry disaster holds a flower as he stands on the deck of a boat during a visit to the site of the sunken ferry, off the coast of South Korea's southern island of Jindo
Ed Jones—Reuters A relative of a victim of the Sewol ferry disaster holds a flower as he stands on the deck of a boat during a visit to the site of the sunken ferry, off the coast of South Korea's southern island of Jindo April 15, 2015

Nine bodies remain unaccounted for, and the disaster’s anniversary is again heating up as a political issue

Thursday marks one year since the Sewol ferry sank off the southwest coast of South Korea. But for Lee Keum-hui, it feels like only a day or two since she lost her daughter Eun-hwa, who was one of 476 passengers setting out from Incheon for Jeju, a resort island.

“Some people say it’s time to move on, but how can we do that when our daughter’s body is still out there somewhere?” said Lee, 46, sweeping at the placid waters off Paengmok Harbor, the nearest point on land to the tragedy.

Eun-hwa is one of nine passengers who were never recovered. Lee and her husband still make the nearly five-hour trip from Ansan, a southern suburb of the capital, Seoul, down to Paengmok two or three times a week. There, they sit and hope that somehow their daughter’s remains will be returned to them.

South Korea was overwhelmed with grief when the Sewol sank. People struggled to fathom how a routine ferry ride could lead to 304 deaths, many of them students on a high school field trip. As the ordeal dragged on, the initial sadness segued into fury as the public accused the government of an inept rescue effort.

South Korea engineered a quick rise from poverty after the 1950–53 Korean War and is today one of the world’s wealthier, and more technologically advanced, countries. The shock of the Sewol sinking was compounded by disbelief over how, in a country that had come so far, a simple ferry ride could go so terribly wrong.

In ramshackle Paengmok Harbor, the farthest point on mainland South Korea one can get from the shine of the capital, normal life has mostly returned, with the rescue mission having been called off last autumn. Before last year it was little known beyond the locals who rely on it as a port for fishing boats and traveling to nearby islets.

However, with the sunken hulk still off the coast and nine bodies unaccounted for, Paengmok remains the site of grieving by families and their supporters.

The long, narrow pier is strewn with tokens of the tragedy. Banners with messages of support hang from the railings, imploring, “We won’t forget” and “Kids, come back. It must be so cold out there.” There are flags with the names of the nine passengers who were never recovered. One of them, frayed by the sharp wind that constantly blows in off the water, carries the name Cho Eun-hwa, Lee’s 16-year-old daughter.

The disaster’s anniversary is again heating up as a political issue. Bereaved families have staged large protests in Seoul, calling for the government to carry out a thorough investigation.

In the emotional aftermath of the sinking, the nation’s Prime Minister Chung Hong-won resigned, in what he said was a gesture of responsibility amid a culture of neglecting safety measures. In addition, President Park Geun-hye’s approval ratings plummeted from about 60% to less than 40% in the wake of the tragedy.

Cheonghaejin Marine, the company that operated the Sewol, was also pilloried for failing to follow basic safety protocol and having, a couple of years before, carried out a dangerous refurbishment of the ship that allowed it to carry more passengers but also made it more vulnerable to tipping over.

The firm’s CEO was sentenced to 10 years in prison last November for having violated maritime safety laws. The ferry’s captain, Lee Joon-seok, received 36 years for professional negligence causing death, while the ship’s engineer was sentenced to 30 and other crew members between five and 20 years.

At the time of the ruling, some bereaved families argued that the captain was getting off too easy and should have been sentenced to death. Lee was reportedly not at the helm at the time the Sewol began listing and, along with other crew members, fled the ship while most passengers languished aboard.

Kang Min-kyu, the vice principal of Danwon High School, where many of the young victims studied, committed suicide two days after the disaster. The 52-year-old was among the 172 passengers rescued but couldn’t live with the fact that so many of his young charges were less fortunate.

Late last year, South Korea’s National Assembly passed a law that mandated the formation of a special committee to look into the sinking. However, the investigation hasn’t gotten off the ground because of disagreements between the families and government over the body’s composure and the limits of its authority.

In addition to her hopes for an official probe, Lee says she won’t be able to move on from losing Eun-hwa until her daughter’s remains have been recovered. “We’ve been here for the past year, and our goal is still the same: to find our beloved child,” Lee said.

In Korea’s Confucian culture, great importance is placed on holding a ceremony to mark the end of a person’s life. And experts say moving on is especially difficult for parents who could only watch on TV as their children perished.

“The parents’ grief has been exacerbated by their inability to have intervened, to have assumed the role of their child’s protector,” said Ansuk Jeong, a Ph.D. in community psychology and research professor at Yonsei University in Seoul.

Kwon Oh-bok, a 61-year-old who lost his brother, nephew and sister-in-law, has spent the past year living in a small housing unit at Paengmok provided by the local government.

When the Sewol sank, Kwon’s brother’s family of four was on their way to start a new life in Jeju, having purchased a tangerine farm. Kwon’s 6-year-old niece was the family’s only survivor and now lives with an aunt.

Kwon says he’s still waiting for some kind of closure and would like the government to raise the prone hull from the seabed, a process that could take more than a year, and cost $110 million, according to a study commissioned by South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

“Once they raise the ferry I’ll be ready to leave, but not until then,” Kwon said.

Lee wears Eun-hwa’s student ID card around her neck, with a headshot of the young girl with a slight smile and dark, horn-rimmed glasses. Lee says her expectations have dropped precipitously since she first came to Paengmok. Having arrived last April hoping Eun-hwa would be rescued alive, this faded into the simple desire to see her only daughter’s face one last time.

Now, facing the reality of Eun-hwa having spent one year in the briny depths, Lee says, “I just want to hug her bones.”

TIME Aviation

Korean Air Flight Attendant Sues Over ‘Nut Rage’ Incident

Passengers wait to check in at the domestic check-in desk of Korean Air Lines Co. at Gimpo Airport in Seoul, South Korea, Dec. 2014.
Lee Jin-man—AP Passengers wait to check in at the domestic check-in desk of Korean Air Lines Co. at Gimpo Airport in Seoul, South Korea, Dec. 2014.

Kim Do-hee alleges she was physically and verbally assaulted after serving an airline executive macadamia nuts

A Korean Air flight attendant is suing the airline and one of its vice presidents after the executive allegedly assaulted her over the serving of macadamia nuts.

In a lawsuit filed this week in New York, Kim Do-hee alleged that Cho Hyun-ah became physically and verbally abusive after Do-hee served her the nuts on a plane at John F. Kennedy International Airport that was headed to South Korea last December, the New York Times reports. Cho, who wanted the nuts to be served on a plate, demanded that the aircraft return to the gate so Kim could be taken off the flight in what’s since been called a case of “nut rage.”

Cho, the daughter of Korean Air’s chairman, resigned from her job following international attention and is currently serving a prison sentence after a South Korean court found her guilty of violating aviation safety regulations. In the lawsuit, Kim alleges that she was told to lie to authorities about the confrontation and make public appearances with Cho in order to rebuild Cho’s public image.

Kim is seeking unspecified damages. A spokesperson for Korean Air had no comment to the Times.

[NYT]

Read next: Daughter of Korean Air Boss Treated Crew ‘Like Slaves,’ Chief Steward Says

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME North Korea

South Korean Activist Plans to Airdrop 10,000 Copies of The Interview to North Korea

Stunt planned for late March could raise tensions between the two countries

Despite North Korea’s best efforts to stamp out The Interview, the comedy film about the attempted assassination of Kim Jong-Un may yet land on its territory.

Defector-turned-activist Park Sang-Hak is planning to send as many as 10,000 copies of the movie and 500,000 propaganda leaflets across the North Korean border by balloon on an unspecified date at the end of the month, AFP reports.

The demonstration will coincide with the five-year anniversary of the sinking of a South Korean warship, which the country has blamed on North Korea.

The South Korean government has acknowledged activists’ right to send the balloons but asked them to refrain in order to avoid increasing increasing tensions. North Korea has said it will respond with “cannons and missiles” if the propaganda balloons cross its borders.

“Nobody can stop it,” Park said. “I will keep sending leaflets into North Korea at the risk of my life.”

[AFP]

TIME South Korea

The U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Has Left Hospital 5 Days After a Knife Attack

"I feel pretty darn good, all things considered"

The U.S. ambassador to South Korea was discharged from a hospital in Seoul on Tuesday, less than a week after being slashed in the face with a knife by a Korean nationalist.

Ambassador Mark Lippert said he would not forgo the approachable demeanor he has become known for despite the attack, Reuters reported.

“We have made it our mission to be open and friendly, and that will not change,” Lippert said at a news conference following his exit from the hospital.

The 42-year-old ambassador was left with a punctured wrist and a deep cut on his face, which required him to get 80 stitches.

His assailant, Kim Ki-jong, has a history of violent attacks on diplomats, having been arrested in 2010 for attacking the Japanese ambassador with a block of concrete. The potential charges against the 55-year-old attacker, who said he was protesting last week’s U.S.–South Korea joint military drills, include attempted murder.

“I feel pretty darn good, all things considered,” said Lippert, adding that he hopes to be back at work after recovering fully. “I mean, it was obviously a scary incident. But I’m walking, talking, holding my baby, hugging my wife, so I just feel really good.”

TIME South Korea

Seoul Police Probe U.S. Ambassador Attacker’s Visits to North Korea

U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert on March 5, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea
Kim Ju-sung—AP U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert on March 5, 2015, in Seoul

State media in Pyongyang applauded the slashing of Mark Lippert

The knife-wielding nationalist who attacked the U.S. ambassador to South Korea is having his travel history to North Korea reviewed as police weigh charging him with attempted murder.

Kim Ki-jong slashed Ambassador Mark Lippert’s face in a knife attack ahead of a Korean reunification forum Thursday, leaving a 4-in. gash on his face and a wound on his left hand. Kim claims the attack was a protest against this week’s joint military exercises by South Korea and the U.S.

On Friday, Kim’s house was raided by police, who hope to obtain a detention warrant against the prounification zealot. But central to pursuing an attempted murder charge will be evaluating Kim’s presence in North Korea over the past decades.

Kim made seven trips to North Korea from 1999 to 2007, according to Seoul police officials.

“We are investigating whether there is any connection between the suspect’s visits to North Korea and the crime committed against the U.S. ambassador,” said Yoon Myeong-seong, a local police chief.

Meanwhile, state media in Pyongyang applauded Kim’s actions with typical belligerence, describing the incident as “deserved punishment” for U.S.–South Korean military cooperation, and saying the 55-year-old wielded “the knife of justice.”

[Reuters]

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