U.S. Ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was injured on Thursday in a knife-wielding attack by a South Korean male assailant.
The attacked shouted opposition to the ongoing U.S.-South Korea annual joint war games.
Lippert, U.S. ambassador to Seoul took office in 2014 as the youngest envoy for the post.
He was slashed in his cheek and hand with a knife blade at about 7:40 a.m. local time when he was preparing for a lecture at a venue in Sejong Cultural Center in central Seoul.
The assailant, Kim Ki-jong, 55, was head of a South Korean progressive cultural activity group.
In July 2010, Kim received a suspended two-year jail term for throwing two pieces of concrete at the Japanese ambassador to Seoul.
While being arrested, Kim shouted his strong opposition to “war exercises,” apparently indicating the South Korea-U.S. annual military exercises code-named “Key Resolve” and “Foal Eagle” that kicked off on Monday.
Lippert was quickly taken to a nearby hospital to receive treatment on his cut in right part of his face and on the left hand.
When newsmen asked him the reason behind the attack the assailant said that the U.S. would “restore its reason” by his act.
Kim added that the South Korea-U.S. war games have prevented Korean families, separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, from being reunited.
He said he did the right thing as he has protested against war in the past 30 years.
The envoy, believed to be one of the closest aides to President Barack Obama, gained popularity among South Koreans for his amicable actions and words toward the country.
He gave a Korean name, Sejun, to his son born in Seoul in January and it was posted online through his SNS account.
The White House condemned the act of violence, saying that Obama had called Lippert and wished him speedy recovery.
It was the first attack against a U.S. ambassador to South Korea as concerns spread that such an act of violence may worsen the South Korea-U.S. alliance.
Worries recently emerged over ties between Seoul and Washington as comments by U.S. Undersecretary of State, Wendy Sherman, on South Korea-Japan relations raised controversy.
Sherman said on Friday that it would not be hard for “a political leader anywhere to earn cheap applause by vilifying a former enemy, ” referring to frosty relations between South Korea and Japan.
Her comments were interpreted as the U.S. taking sides with Japan on the issue on wartime history shared by Seoul and Tokyo.
The attack on the U.S. envoy represented an anti-American sentiment shared by some South Koreans that hostile U.S. policy on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) may delay the two Koreas’ reunification.