Attack proves strength of relations
The alliance between South Korea and the United States remains robust regardless of the attack on U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert by an anti-American activist. “The U.S.-ROK alliance is strong and will not be deterred by senseless acts of violence,” said U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf. Lippert, who has served in Seoul since October, was attacked on Thursday by an extremist during a breakfast forum in downtown Seoul. His injuries were not life-threatening.
The two governments immediately issued statements that the incident would not influence traditional ties between the two allies. Washington sensibly chose to word it as a “senseless act of violence,” rather than as an act of terrorism. Its cool-headed response is just as admirable as Lippert’s, who, while hospitalized, wrote on this Twitter account: “Will be back ASAP to advance US-ROK alliance!” In Korean, he added, “Let’s go together!”
Americans generally agreed with their government’s response, regarding the incident as an oddity by a radical individual that does not represent general Korean sentiment. Kurt Campbell, the former U.S. assistant secretary of state for Eastern Asia and pacific affairs, added that Thursday’s incident will only undermine efforts by those seeking to hurt relations between South Korea and the United States. This barbaric and cowardly act, he observed, will only strengthen bilateral ties.
Likewise, Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at RAND Corporation, noted that socially or psychologically unstable people can inflict harm on other in any society and believes the incident was perpetrated by a radical individual.
The public voluntarily condemned the attack and wished Ambassador Lippert a fast recovery. Lippert - who remained calm even as he was led away bleeding on Thursday - thanked everyone for their support soon after undergoing surgery and saw his Twitter followers increase nearly tenfold. His “Let’s go together” comment was retweeted and remade into a popular slogan.
So far, he has been one of the most popular American envoys to Korea, showing an eagerness to learn Korean and mingle with civilians. And his popularity has only increased after the attack. If it was intended to cause a rift between the United States and Korea, it utterly failed. It only proved our underlying mutual trust and brought us closer.
The incident must be thoroughly investigated. Until then, unnecessary speculation must be restrained so that the people may remain united in light of this unfortunate incident.
JoongAng Ilbo, March 7, Page 30