Prosecutors have been investigating whether
Kim Ki Jong, the man who attacked the U.S. Ambassador to South Korea, Mark
Lippert, has any affiliations with North Korea, but proving he maintains direct
ties with Pyongyang may be difficult. Police raided Kim’s office on the 8th of this month and have found 30 pieces
of evidence thought to contain pro-North Korea content. These
materials have been sent to an external body for further analysis and police
will determine whether these materials evince a breach of National Security Law, which prohibits “activities compromising the
safety of the state.” The law, enforced since 1948. has
been used to proscribe pro-North Korean activities.
Kim adamantly denies any affiliation with
or support for North Korea. However, experts assert that North Korea has joint
responsibility for the recent attack, as it has continually resorted to
pro-North Koreans and left-wing cohorts to foster anti-American, anti-(South
Korean) government propaganda within South Korea. Moreover, North Korea has actively lauded Kim’s assault as “a knife baptism of
justice” and “reflection of the
South’s criticism and protest of the United States.”
Yoo Dong Yul, head of the Korea Institute
of Liberal Democracy, told Daily NK, “The North has
continually waged espionage operations in South Korea to garner support for
North Korea. As a result, the recent attack can be seen as a fruition of the
North’s efforts to instill the spirit of revolution in
people such as Kim.”
this sense, North Korea cannot shun responsibility even if the attack itself is
concluded as Kim’s single-handed crime.” Yoo went on to explain that North Korea
seeks to cultivate an anti-American social atmosphere by showing not only to
American troops stationed in the South, but also to tourists, that the
so-called American imperialism colonizing other nations is not sound.
Experts in North Korean studies fear that
pro-North Korean extremists might use the recent aggression against Ambassador
Lippert as a precedent for further assaults on United States
delegations and their affiliated institutes.
Another expert on North Korea who requested
anonymity also weighed in on the situation, “Since the South Korean constitutional
court disbanded Unified Progressive Party last December, the society at large
has become more leery of pro-North Korean movements. However, the dissolution
of the party also heightened the ‘spirits’ of pro-North Korean activists. The chance of them implementing
extreme acts like that of Kim Ki Jong has increased.” He added that even if these activists do not have direct connections with North Korea, the possibility for them to commit intermittent acts of terror should not be disregarded.
recent attack is quite likely to adversely affect the relationship between
South Korea and the United States. Second, third equivalents of Kim Ki Jong
attacks might occur,” Shin In Kyoon, head of the Korea Defense Network, said of the situation. “Our government must strive to
make sure that the recent incident does not influence the ROK-US alliance. If we
consolidate the ROK-U.S. relationship, pro-North Korean activists will
realize that such method of their struggle was an egregious mistake.”
Yoo followed up by pointing out how “imperative” it is for South Korea to show
its citizens “just how dangerous North Korea’s military and pro-North Korean activists are.” He followed this by calling for counter measures to forestall North Korea’s espionage operations in South Korea.”
The assailant, Kim Ki Jong, has reportedly been the head of
a liberal reunification movement group called “Urimadang” and continually denounced the joint military exercises between
South Korea and the United States.
Kim also proclaimed last year that the U.S.
should transfer wartime operational control of combined forces on the Korean Peninsula to South
Korea, which the U.S. has assumed since July of 1950, a month after the
outbreak of Korean War. On the 3rd of last month, he wrote a blog entry in
which he accused Key Resolve, a joint military exercise between South Korea and
the U.S., of foiling family reunions of two Koreas, estranged since the Korean
War (1950-1953). This argument directly reflects the North’s perspective.
When Cheonan, a South Korean naval ship,
was torpedoed by North Korea in 2010, he incited controversy by calling for a
joint investigation between the two Koreas. He is known to be a founding member
of a internet broadcasting station run by Hwang Sun[a pro-North Korea activist who was recently indicted for violating National Security Law], which frequently featured pro-North Korea content.