S. Korean Protester Who Slashed U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert Gets 12 Years

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By Alex Johnson

The protester who attacked the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, with a knife in March was convicted of attempted murder Friday and sentenced to 12 years in prison, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

Kim Ki-jong, 55, was convicted of attempted murder, violence against a foreign envoy and obstruction of business in the attack March 5 at a breakfast function in Seoul, which left Lippert with deep gashes on his face and arm requiring more than 80 stitches.

"Kim seems to have had a strong will to attack the victim, choosing a knife to repeatedly slash the part of the body that had a direct connection with life," Seoul Central District Judge Kim Dong-ah said, according to Yonhap.

South Korean officials have said the attacker was motivated by fierce anti-Americanism. Lippert was targeted because he was an accessible symbol of the U.S., they said.

Related: How the Attack on U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert Happened

A suspect in the knife attack on U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert, identified by police as 55-year-old Kim Ki-jong, is carried on a stretcher off an ambulance as he arrives at a hospital in Seoul on March 5.AP — file

Kim Ki-jong was acquitted of the crime of praising North Korea, which he was charged with after a large number of books and other materials that appeared to espouse North Korean viewpoints were confiscated from his home.

The court said the materials — mainly academic publications — were appropriate for someone who was studying inter-Korean politics in graduate school to have in his possession.

Prosecutors said they would appeal that judgment as a breach of national security law, according to Yonhap.