The long, troubled history of the suspect in U.S. ambassador's attack

U.S. Ambassador: Eighty stitches and two hours of surgery
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    U.S. Ambassador: Eighty stitches and two hours of surgery


U.S. Ambassador: Eighty stitches and two hours of surgery 01:38

Story highlights

  • Suspect Kim Ki-jung was captured after U.S. ambassador was slashed in Seoul
  • Kim had history of anti-U.S. sentiment and sympathies for North Korea

(CNN)The suspect behind the knife attack on the American ambassador to South Korea had a long, troubled history and often blamed the U.S. for tensions in the Korean Peninsula.

Kim Ki-Jong, 55, was quickly overpowered and taken into custody after he attacked U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert with a fruit knife Thursday morning.
    Police say Kim's motive for the attack was to improve North-South Korean relations and to stop the annual military exercises held jointly by the U.S. and South Korea.
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      U.S. ambassador to South Korea attacked


    U.S. ambassador to South Korea attacked 02:44
    It wasn't the first time Kim has taken drastic steps to make his point.
    -- In 2010, Kim was given a suspended jail sentence for hurling a concrete block at a Japanese envoy to South Korea, according to the Yonhap news agency. That incident is believed to be the first attack on a foreign ambassador in South Korea.
    -- Kim allegedly harbored sympathies for North Korea, according to Korean media reports. Yonhap reported that Kim had visited North Korea six times between 2006 and 2007, had attempted to erect a memorial for former North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il in Seoul, and once set himself on fire in front of the presidential office.
    -- He was frequently seen at protests, wearing a beret and blaming U.S. policies for straining relations between North and South Korea.
    Kim was a member of the Korea Council For Reconciliation and Cooperation, which hosted Lippert at the Thursday event where the attack occurred. The group advocates reunification of the Koreas as well as humanitarian aid to North Korea. Kim was one of its 181 members, but wasn't on the list of those invited for the event, according to police. But he was allowed in because an event staff recognized him from the organization.
    A witness who was sitting next to Lippert during the attack said Kim was known for having "unpredictable behavior" in the organization. Even though he appeared somewhat disheveled Thursday morning, he was able to enter the event because the staff was familiar with Kim, police said.

    Planning for days

    Immediately after he allegedly slashed the ambassador in the face and arm, Kim was tackled to the floor.
    As he was transferred to a hospital Kim shouted, "The South Korea-U.S. military drills must stop."
    Every year, the United States and South Korea hold joint military drills, which both countries say are defensive and non-provocative in nature. But the exercises also draw criticism from the North Korean regime, which characterize the drills as rehearsals for an attack on the regime.
    Kim also told South Korean reporters that he had planned the attack for 10 days, and claimed responsibility for burning a U.S. flag at the embassy in the 1980s.
    A website associated with Kim, displayed a photo of him with protesters holding a sign that read: "Stop war exercises that block North-South Korean dialogue." The picture was taken at February 24, in front of the U.S. embassy, according to his website.
    It also contains a picture of an American soldier inside a red crossed-out circle.
    On Thursday, Kim shouted at reporters, saying that the U.S. was to blame for blocking family reunions of North and South Koreans who have been separated since the Korean War.
    On the website, he lamented that "the whole atmosphere of the Korean peninsula is freezing up like a frozen soil."