U.S. Ambassador attacked in South Korea
(CNN) — U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert was attacked in Seoul, possibly by more than one person, according to U.S. government sources in the U.S. and South Korea. He is in stable condition, according to a U.S. embassy spokesperson.
Lippert was injured by a small razor blade, according to Seoul police. His injuries are not life threatening, according to Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman.
“The President called U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, Mark Lippert, to tell him that he and his wife Robyn are in his thoughts and prayers, and to wish him the very best for a speedy recovery,” said Bernadette Meehan, National Security Council spokesperson.
According to South Korea’s YTN news channel, Lippert was about to deliver a speech at a breakfast being held at Sejong Hall in Seoul. The report says nothing specific about the attack, only that yelling was heard and then the bloodied ambassador was taken to hospital.
The YTN report also says a suspect identified by last name “Kim” was detained. The report says Ambassador Lippert was injured around his face and on his arm.
An official with the South Korean Police Agency said Lippert was attacked by a small razor blade. He received injuries on his right cheek and hand. He is being treated.
The suspect — believed to be in his 50s — is detained and currently under investigation.
The incident happened at 5.42 p.m. ET.
Lippert has been a confidant of President Barack Obama ever since he arrived in the Senate in 2005. Lippert worked with Obama on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and traveled the world with the senator as he garnered the foreign policy experience that helped pave the way for his presidential campaign.
When Obama declared he would run for president in the 2008 race, Lippert was by his side again, and was on the road with the candidate and ultimately served as the chief foreign policy adviser for the Obama campaign.
In 2007, Lippert was deployed as a Naval Reserve Lieutenant to Iraq to work as an intelligence officer with Navy SEALS.
In a Wall Street Journal story that year, Lippert was profiled while he was in Iraq in a story which included an anecdote about him receiving an email on his Blackberry from then-Sen. Obama which read, “I miss you, brother.”
Lippert’s deployment was not without irony, because he was in Iraq at a time when his boss was actively campaigning against what he said was a “dumb war.”
After his deployment, Lippert returned to Washington and served as deputy national security adviser and the chief of staff for the National Security Council in the Obama White House. In October 2009, however, he decided to return to active duty. He was deployed to Afghanistan and he also served as an intelligence officer for the Naval Special Warfare Development Group in Virginia Beach.
“He is a close friend, and I admire and respect his devotion to our country and answering the call to active duty service,” Obama said in a statement at the time. Lippert was nominated to be the top Asia policy official in the Pentagon in 2011 amid stories that he had clashed while on the NSC with former national security adviser, retired Gen. James Jones, which were reported in Bob Woodward’s book “Obama’s Wars.”
Woodward wrote that Jones resented Lippert and another former Senate aide Denis McDonough, who later was to become White House chief of staff, referring to them as part of the “politburo” who he thought thwarted the effective framing of policy.
Woodward reported in the book that Obama affectionately referred to the two close aides by the Doctor Seuss nickname of “Thing One and Thing Two.”
Last year, Obama nominated Lippert to serve as ambassador to South Korea.