North Korea calls Seoul knife attack on US ambassador 'deserved punishment' for South Korea military exercises

Kim Jong-un's official KCNA news agency described the bloody assault as 'the knife of justice'

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The Independent Online

North Korea has hailed the bloody assault on the US ambassador to South Korea this morning as “deserved punishment” carried out by “the knife of justice”.

In an inflammatory news piece issued by the official KCNA news agency, North Korea linked the attack on diplomat Mark Lippert to annual US-South Korean military exercises.

Kim Jong-un’s regime has denounced the drills as preparations for an invasion, but a South Korean military official said they would not be derailed by the Seoul attack and are due to go ahead for eight weeks as planned .

Mr Lippert, 42, has issued his own reaction to the incident which left him bleeding across a breakfast meeting table at a government arts centre across the street from the US embassy.

He is expected to stay in hospital for four days after receiving 80 stitches to a gash on his face and nerve damage to the wrist, but wrote in a tweet: “Doing well and in great spirits… Will be back ASAP to advance US-ROK [Republic of Korea] alliance!”

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Security personnel detain an assailant who attacked the US ambassador (Reuters)

South Korean police are reportedly investigating whether the assailant, identified as 55-year-old Kim Ki-jong, had any ties to North Korea. Witnesses said he shouted a pro-unification slogan before slashing at the diplomat with a small fruit knife.

Police said the event Mr Lippert was attending on Thursday morning was hosted by a group that supports Korean unification – of which Kim is a member.

Read more: US ambassador to South Korea in Seoul knife attack

He had visited North Korea eight times from 2006 to 2007, where he planted trees near the border city of Kaesong, a South Korean Ministry of Unification official said.

Kim said while in police custody he had acted alone. South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that Kim also said he was part of a group that had cut and burned a US flag on the embassy grounds in Seoul in 1985.

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