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Assailant Slashes GNP Leader’s Face

Posted May. 22, 2006 03:01,   


A man identified as Ji cut Grand National Party (GNP) Chairwoman Park Geun-hye with a knife at 7:30 p.m. Saturday as she was about to make a support speech for Oh Se-hoon, the GNP’s Seoul mayor candidate, in front of the Hyundai department store in Shinchon, located in Changcheon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul,

The cut, extending from her right ear to chin, was 12 centimeters long and from one to three centimeters thick. It damaged Park’s salivary glands and chin muscles, making it impossible for her to speak for about two weeks.

However, since the cut swerved two or three centimeters from her carotid artery and jugular vein, the wound is not fatal.

Meanwhile, when Ji attacked the GNP chairwoman, a man identified as Park, 54, ran up from the right side up to platform and threw tables and microphones at the audience.

Ji and Park, arrested by Park’s bodyguards and GNP members on the spot, are under investigation at the Seodaemun Police Station. They denied working together in the attack.

During questioning at the station, Ji said, “I was sentenced to more than 14 years in prison even though I didn’t do anything against law. It was so depressing that I attacked Park.” According to police, Ji has eight previous convictions related to violence and injury against others and was released last August from the Cheongsong prison.

On the other hand, another suspect Park, after attending a wedding ceremony for his elementary school alumna’s child held near the speech site, says he attended this event by chance. Park was drunk when he was arrested. Park is a member of ruling Uri party who has paid a 4,000 won membership fee every month since March 2004 when the impeachment bill against President Roh Moo-hyun was passed in the National Assembly.

In regard to this, President Roh Moo-hyun ordered the prosecution and police to set up a joint investigation team headed by Lee Seung-gu, director of the Seoul Seobu District Prosecution’s Office. The team has five prosecutors and 35 policemen.

The political parties are also moving very fast now. Followed by a supreme members’ emergency meeting held last Saturday night, the GNP had a supreme council and general meeting of Assembly members yesterday in which it called for a thorough investigation of this incident. They also viewed that this is a political terror that is orchestrated by figures behind the scenes targeting the life of a leading candidate of the opposition party.

The GNP announced its resolution after having an emergency meeting of its assembly members, saying, “This is political terror that targets the chairperson of the major opposition party with the intention to kill her,” adding, “We strongly urge the government to reveal the truth and who stands behind the scenes by operating the most qualified investigation team.”

Lee Jae-oh, floor leader of the GNP, said, “Considering the fact that the police attempted to play down this incident by treating such a well-organized and planned political terror incident as a simple disturbance by saying “The criminal was drunk,” it is a very important step to set up a special investigation team jointly organized by the prosecution and police for transparent investigation.”

The GNP also called for the dismissal of Lee Tae-soon, commissioner general of the Korean National Police Agency, who commented that Ji was drunk. At the same time, the GNP decided to organize a team for investigation of political terror acts headed by the party’s supreme member, Kim Hak-won.

The ruling Uri Party also held an Election Polling Committee emergency meeting presided over by its chairman Chung Dong-young at the party’s office and concluded that “this is an unacceptable terror attack threatening the fair election process. We should be alert to prevent any violence like this from occurring during the election period.”

After hearing a report from secretaries related to this incident, President Roh Moo-hyun also said, “This is a thing that shouldn’t occur,” and ordered a thorough investigation.

Jae-Myoung Lee Sung-Won Park egija@donga.com swpark@donga.com