The world was shocked by a brutal knife attack inflicted on the U.S. Ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, on March 6. Regardless of the motive, it was a huge shock because it targeted the Ambassador who represents the U.S. the strongest ally nation’s capital city, Seoul, a city well praised for its safety.
The suspect who performed the terror attack, Kim Ki-jong, cried for an immediate stop to a Korea-U.S. joint military drill, claiming that it is an exercise to instigate a war with North Korea. On the contrary, the world knows that it is North Korea who has continuously threatened the South by firing missiles into the East Sea. I am entirely stunned by his accusation of the joint military drill as a preparation for a war with the North, since it, in fact, is performed periodically within Korean jurisdictional territory in defense of the North’s provocations.
Owing to the terror by Kim Ki-jong, the so-called North Korea sympathizers in South Korea are losing ground while the Korea-U.S. alliance is strengthening. Therefore, Korea-US joint military drills will continue, and North Korea, who championed the attack as “righteous punishment” against U.S., will once again solidify its image as a rogue state to the international community.
North Korea is currently under totalitarian dictatorship, with a meager GDP per capita of six hundred dollars. The state is in such destitution that international media recently reported on North Korean diplomats getting arrested in foreign airports on charges of illegal smuggling of gold. South Korea, on the other hand, is an economic powerhouse with a GDP per capita of $28,000 and a President and National Assembly that citizens voted into office by themselves. In light of these facts, something is very wrong to have North Korea sympathizers still active in South Korea, having betrayed their country of prosperity and freedom while turning to praise North Korea, a living hell perpetuated by three generations of hereditary succession.
Korean-Americans living in the U.S. were also anxious at the possibility of soured Korea-US relations arising from the Mark Lippert incident. South Korean domestic media covered it day-by-day as an unforgivable international humiliation. A mass of Koreans from both sides of the political spectrum gathered in front of the hospital where the Ambassador is being treated to sincerely wish for his early recovery – a rare scene where both conservatives and liberals spoke in unison.
A sort of pity arises in my mind as I trace Kim Ki-jong’s life, a former law student who has entered North Korea six times for the past thirty years, as a supporter of anti-Americanism. At fifty-five years of age, he should have took part as a contributor in building Korea’s economy and enjoyed a stable family life by now, but he has no family and facing heavy charges for performing an unprecedented diplomatic terror. Although he claims that he had no intention of taking Lippert’s life, he responds with irrelevant anti-American sentiments to questions concerning the body parts he targeted to hurt. Gathering from his conditions, his terroristic actions can only be attributed to the acute mental disturbance of a political extremist.
Now attention is focused on the results of Kim Ki-jong’s investigation and charges against him. If he is convicted of the charges of attempted murder and breaking national security law, some foreign media are likely to criticize Korea as a police state, while a lighter sentence will upset the US and other allied nations. Therefore, it is imperative that Korean government move forward with just and transparent legal proceedings to convey to the world that Korea is a typical example of successful democracy.
In Korea, the loathsome ideological battle was thought to have ended with the recent dissolution of the Unified Progressive party and the sentencing of the party’s former lawmaker Lee Seok-ki by the Constitutional Court. However, it is a sad reality that there are still backward folks who still sympathize with North Korea, the world’s worst human rights violator. Those who wish to live in North Korea should be sent there to live; let them live in a place where they want to live. We can turn around the tragic Lippert incident to strengthen the Korea-U.S. alliance, as well as to solidify our internal stability.