The U.S. ambassador who was slashed by a knife-wielding man in Seoul this week was assigned a full-time unarmed bodyguard to protect him when the attack took place, the State Department said Friday.
The attack on Mark Lippert raised questions as to how suspect Kim Ki-jong was able to get close enough to the high-ranking U.S. official to slash at him with a knife.
Lippert, 42, suffered a four-inch gas to his face and a wound to his arm, and underwent three hours of surgery. He is expected to remain hospitalized until next week.
Deputy State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf said the State Department’s own security officers are typically only assigned to ambassadors in high-threat environments. Given the country’s strict gun laws, it is not uncommon for police in Korea to be unarmed, she said.
"We look at each post. Seoul is a very safe place," said Harf. "They're looking right now if there's anything else they can do."
Police are seeking to charge Kim with attempted murder in the attack. Police said the attack was carried out as a protest against joint military exercises by South Korean and U.S. troops, which Kim claimed interfered with reconciliation between North and South Korea.
The State Department is not reconsidering security measures at other U.S. posts as a result of this attack, Harf said.
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