U.S. ambassador leaves hospital for homeAfter six days of treatment including two surgeries that required 80 stiches on his face, U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert left the hospital on Tuesday and expressed his appreciation for the public’s outpouring of support.
“I feel pretty darn good all things considered,” Lippert said, as he addressed a group of reporters before leaving Severance Hospital in Seoul. “I want to express my profound gratitude to the Koreans and Americans alike who so bravely, gratefully and selflessly responded to the scene of the attack and the medical team that delivered world-class treatment.”
Lippert was attacked Thursday morning at a public event by radical activist Kim Ki-jong. Shouting for Korea and the United States to halt their annual joint military drills, Kim slashed Lippert on his face and left arm using a 25-centimeter (9.8 inch) knife.
The top U.S. envoy underwent two surgeries simultaneously at Yonsei University's Severance Hospital, where he stayed for follow-up treatment.
The American diplomat also used the press event to dismiss concerns that the attack would dent relations between the United States and Korea. “This incident has only strengthened our love and affection for this country and our belief in the unbreakable bond that exists between the United States and the Republic of Korea,” he said.
He also said the “scary incident” will not deter his signature public diplomacy to engage the Korean people.
“I will still be a dongne ajeossi and Sejuni appa, as people in Korea have called me,” he said, referring to his newly earned nicknames in Korea.
Dongne ajeossi refers to a man around the neighborhood. The U.S. ambassador regularly walks his basset hound, Grigsby, around his residence in downtown Seoul, where he has conversed with the Korean public. Sejuni appa means “father of Sejun,” a reference to the Korean middle name the Lipperts’ gave their son, born in Seoul in January.
When asked if security protection for him would be improved in the future, the ambassador refused to discuss the specifics for follow-up measures. However, he said he still sees Seoul and Korea as safe.
For the press conference, the ambassador was dressed in a dark suit, and bandages were placed on his right cheek over the wound. He also wore a brace on his left arm.
Dr. Yoon Do-heum, head of Severance Hospital, confirmed that all the remaining stiches had been removed earlier in the morning, while continued attention would be needed on Lippert’s left arm.
Following the 15-minute press conference, Lippert left for his residence.
Security was heightened for his discharge, and about 100 journalists came to the media conference. About 200 police troops were deployed outside the hospital and an ID check was conducted on anyone entering the conference. Around 12:40 p.m., the U.S. Embassy in Korea went through the personal belongings of journalists and collected paper cutters.
Meanwhile, concerns over a possible dent in the Korea-U.S. alliance in the aftermath of the attack on Lippert appeared to have united conservatives in Korea, a recent survey showed, and President Park Geun-hye’s approval rating went up over the last week.
Her trip to the Middle East also contributed to the increase, according to Realmeter, which conducted the poll from March 2 to 6.
Park’s approval rating climbed by 4 percentage points over the week and stood at 39.3 percent during the first week of March.
In the survey, 54.6 percent of the respondents gave negative evaluations of Park’s performance, down 3 percentage points from the previous week.
During Park’s trip to the Middle East, her approval rating increased markedly. On March 2, the second day of her tour, her approval rating stood at 37.9 percent. On March 3, it went up again to 38.7 percent, and to 38.8 percent the next day.
On March 5, when Lippert was attacked, her rating was at 38.7 percent but went up again to 40.3 percent. It marked the first time her daily approval rating surpassed 40 percent since Jan. 14.
In the poll, 2,500 adults nationwide were questioned via both mobile and landline phones. The poll has a 95 percent confidence level, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
BY SER MYO-JA [email@example.com]