South Korean Politician Is Attacked in Seoul


A South Korean lawmaker was attacked in the head with a blunt object in Seoul on Thursday and taken to a hospital where she was being treated for injuries that were not life-threatening, according to her staff and physicians.

Bae Hyunjin, of the ruling People Power Party, is the second South Korean politician to be physically assaulted while in public in less than a month.

Yang Jaeyu, her chief of staff, said that the attacker approached her asking, “Are you the People Power Party lawmaker Bae Hyunjin?” twice before striking her with what he called a “rocklike object.”

Security camera footage shared by her office showed the assailant walking through a doorway closely behind her before repeatedly hitting the lawmaker as she fell over backward onto the floor and tried to resist the attack.

She was being treated at Soonchunhyang University Seoul Hospital, Han Dong-hoon, the leader of her party, told reporters Thursday night.

“This is something that should never have happened,” he said, “and the truth needs to come out, and the culprit needs to be brought to justice.”

Ms. Bae, 40, a former anchorwoman for South Korean broadcaster MBC, is in her first term as a lawmaker. She was elected in 2020. She briefly served as a spokeswoman for then-president-elect Yoon Suk Yeol after his election in 2022.

Physicians at the hospital where she was being treated told reporters that she was conscious when she arrived at the emergency room, and that she had suffered a laceration of about a centimeter on her head, with no significant bleeding or fractures.

The suspect was detained at the scene and being investigated by police, according to Yonhap, a South Korean news agency. The chief detective of the police station in Gangnam district, where the attack happened, could not be immediately reached.

On Jan. 2, a man stabbed Lee Jae-myung, the leader of South Korea’s main opposition party, in the neck as the politician made his way through a crowd. Mr. Lee was taken to the hospital and released about eight days later. The suspect, who said he was politically motivated, was arrested and expected to be charged with attempted murder.

In a statement on social media, Mr. Lee called Thursday’s episode “unbelievable” and said, “No political terrorism of any kind is acceptable.”

Park Jung-ha, the People Power Party’s spokeswoman, said in a statement: “In these turbulent times of extreme politics and the politics of hate, we are deeply concerned by yet another act of violence and political terrorism.”

The attacks, just a few weeks apart against politicians on both sides of the political spectrum, could be an indication of the increasing divisions and rancor that have colored South Korean politics.

Physical attacks on politicians have been a rare occurrence in South Korea. The highest-profile incident was a 2006 attack on then-opposition leader Park Geun-hye, a conservative politician who later went on to win the presidency. She was slashed in the face by a man who was a fervent critic.

Choe Sang-Hun contributed reporting.



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