70-year-old YouTuber smashes DP chief in head
Two days before the presidential election, a 70-year-old man with a highly political YouTube channel ran up behind Song and slammed him in the head several times with the hammer near the Sinchon U-Plex square in Seodaemun District at around 12:05 p.m., according to police.
Song had just arrived to deliver a campaign speech. The assailant, wearing a floppy black hat and dressed in hanbok (traditional Korean attire), approached him from behind holding a selfie stick, apparently to film the scene with his mobile phone. Footage filmed by a bystander showed Song being struck on the head three times by the assailant with a hammer wrapped in a black plastic bag wielded in his other hand.
The assailant was restrained by people at the scene and arrested on the spot by Seodaemun police.
Song, bleeding from the head, was immediately moved to the emergency room at Severance Hospital in Sinchon. DP campaign officials said Song was conscious and got stitches for non-life-threatening wounds to his head.
Rep. Kim Young-jin, the DP's secretary-general, later told reporters in front of the hospital that Song's head was "torn and bleeding" after the attack.
Kim said that a CT scan showed that the outer layer of Song's skull was partially depressed, and that he was found to have a concussion "but there was no damage to the inside of the brain and tissues, nor any signs of brain hemorrhage."
Seodaemun police said they are questioning the suspect on charges of violating the Public Official Election Act and assault. The police are investigating his motive and the circumstances of the attack on Song.
The assailant apparently had been following Song on the campaign trail since last month, as seen through videos he uploaded to his own YouTube account.
Witnesses said the assailant shouted, "I am against South Korea-U.S. military exercises," and said, "I can't pass on such a world to young people."
He wore a sign around his neck with the name of his YouTube channel. His YouTube channel included videos filmed from DP campaign events for presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung held in Seoul including in Gwanghamun, Jamsil and Yongsan.
Strangely, they appeared to be generally in support of the DP's Lee.
But a number of videos uploaded to his YouTube channel were critical of the DP's Song and main opposition People Power Party (PPP) presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol, with titles like, "Retire anti-nationalist Song Young-gil."
The attack on Song drew bipartisan criticism of acts of violence during the election period.
The DP campaign committee "strongly condemned" the attack in a statement, and said, "It is a serious threat to democracy to interfere with the election campaign with violence.
It added that Song would cancel his schedule for the rest of the day to get medical treatment and rest.
Song recently recovered from an ankle injury in December, which forced him to get around in a wheelchair and on crutches for weeks.
DP candidate Lee spoke to Song over phone after learning of the attack while on the campaign trail in Busan.
"Violence is an act that undermines our precious democracy," said Lee while campaigning in Busan.
The main opposition People Power Party (PPP) campaign and its candidate Yoon strongly denounced the attack as an unjustifiable act of violence.
"We hope for the speedy recovery of Chairman Song Young-gil, above all, with serious concerns about the violence that took place just two days before the election," said Lee Yang-soo, spokesman for the PPP campaign committee, in a statement. "Violence is unacceptable for any reason."
Yoon on his Facebook account posted, "Any violence that obstructs the election can never be justified."
PPP Chairman Lee Jun-seok wrote on his Facebook page, "Looking at the YouTuber's channel, I think he's been following Chairman Song for a long time, and it seems to be a planned crime. I heard he [Song] was taken to the hospital, and hope for his safety."
President Moon Jae-in said in a statement, according to presidential spokesperson Park Kyung-mee, "Violence in an election is an act of terrorism against democracy. It should never happen. Hate and violence cannot change the world."
BY SARAH KIM [email@example.com]