Seoul: South Korea’s ruling party lawmaker Bae Hyun-jin is being treated in a hospital in the capital Seoul after being attacked in the head with a rock-like object by an unidentified person on Thursday, ahead of the National Assembly elections in April. The incident took place in southern Seoul after which the suspect was arrested at the scene, said a police official in Seoul’s Apgujeong district.
The severity of Bae’s injury wasn’t immediately clear. The police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to talk to the media, said Bae was conscious as she was being taken to the hospital. Local media reports suggest that her condition was not life-threatening.
Bae is a member of South Korea’s People Power Party. According to Yonhap, an aide described the incident when a male pedestrian walked up to Bae and asked, “Are you the lawmaker Bae Hyun-jin?” and struck her in the back of the head with a rock the size of an adult man’s fist.
Officers claim that the suspect is 15 years old and his motives for the attack was not immediately clear. Bae, 40, is a former TV news anchor who was elected to South Korea’s National Assembly in 2020. She also served briefly as President Yoon Suk Yeol’s spokesperson in 2022.
This is the second attack on lawmakers in less than a month and comes over three weeks after opposition Democratic Party leader Lee Jae-myung was stabbed in the neck during a visit to the southern port city of Busan on January 2. The man told investigators after his arrest that he wanted to kill Lee to prevent him from becoming a future president.
Lee, 59, the head of the main opposition Democratic Party, was airlifted to a Seoul hospital for surgery after receiving emergency treatment in Busan. Senior Busan police officer Sohn Jae-han said that officials near Lee quickly subdued the attacker and 41 officers were deployed to the area for crowd control and management. Lee was released from the hospital after eight days of treatment.
A liberal former provincial governor, Lee is known for his outspoken style. His supporters see him as an anti-elitist hero who could reform establishment politics, eradicate corruption and solve growing economic inequality. However, his critics view him as a dangerous populist who relies on stoking divisions and demonising his conservative opponents.
(with inputs from AP)