Tuesday, March 10, 2015

US ambassador injured in South Korea

Mark Lippert, the US ambassador to South Korea was slashed with a razor by an activist on March 5th. He was to give a lecture in Seoul. It was fortunate that the injury was not fatal. He was admitted to a hospital. Park Geun-hye, the Korean president, visited the hospital on 9th.

The Guardian: US ambassador to South Korea slashed with a razor by political extremist

The perpetrator who was arrested just after the incident was Kim Ki-Jong. He is a left-winged activist. He condemned the ambassador about the attitude against Japan and North Korea during the assault. According to his insist, joint military exercise of the US and South Korea has made it difficult for South Korea to be united with North Korea.

It seems that there is a backbone of this incident. Wendy R. Sherman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs in the US mentioned on February  28th that it was no good to agitate nationalism in her speech. Her intention was deemed to control the Korean policy being blaming Japan for the war crimes. Some Korean citizens are likely to have got angered by her comment.

US Department of State: Remarks on Northeast Asia

Actually, Kim has a similar crime history. He threw a piece of concrete at the Japanese ambassador in July 2010, resulting in an injury to an officer. He received a suspended prison sentence. At the time of this case, public opinion was supportive to the perpetrator, because Japanese were not liked by Korean, according to some journalists.

However, the present case is quite serious. This incident is potentially harmful to the relationship between the US and Korea. The Korean government may be eager to reduce the negative impact of this case.

Of course, it is unlikely that the US will become hostile to Korea immediately because of this incident. But, Korea will face a tough situation in diplomacy for a while. Recently, Korea has been struggling to keep close to both the US and China. But the US seems to want Korea not to be so much friendly with China. It will become difficult for Korea to decline the political requests of the US.

In Japan, a similar case happened in 1964. A mental disordered offender attacked Edwin O. Reischauer, the US ambassador to Japan. He took serious injury, but saved his life in hospital. Reischauer was very supportive to Japan, and there is no evidence that this incident had a negative impact on the relationship of both nations. By the way, he was infected with a hepatitis virus due to the transported blood of Japanese. These cases revealed two big problem in Japanese public health, mental hygiene and blood administration.

Different from the case of Reischauer, the perpetrator has a definite political intention. It makes the situation more complicated.

It seems to be challenging to fix this situation. I hope both Korean and the US government to keep calm and maintain a good relationship.


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