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.”