Kim Ki-jong, 55, who attacked Ambassador Mark Lippert in March at a forum discussing Korean reunification, was also found guilty of assault of a foreign envoy. Court officials couldn’t immediately confirm the report.
55-year-old Kim attacked the United States ambassador with a knife last March 5 in Seoul, South Korea, during a breakfast meeting that was organized by the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation.
Lippert sustained serious injuries after the attack that required 80 stitches to his lower jaw, but he suffered no serous facial nerve damage from a blade that went in an inch deep into his face.
Yang Moo-jin, a professor at South Korea’s University of North Korean Studies said that the North is unlikely to take any serious action against military personnel for the land mine provocations, because it is denying responsibility for the incident.
The South Korean protester assaulted Lippert before the latter could even deliver his speech.
The joint drills always trigger a surge in tensions with the North and Kim argued they were responsible for blocking a resumption of inter-Korean dialogue. Prosecutors said they would appeal Kim’s acquittal on those charges.
In the wake of the attack Lippert was rushed to hospital, where he underwent two-and-a-half hours of surgery.
Kim was also charged with violating South Korea’s National Security Law, which prohibits citizens from supporting or praising North Korea.
It was not Kim’s first attack on a top diplomat.
Kim has visited the North seven times and once tried to erect a memorial in Seoul to the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il after his death in 2011. This week, he posted photos on his Twitter account of him and his wife, Robyn, walking in a central Seoul park with their dog, who has his own following among Koreans.
In 2010, he received a suspended two-year prison sentence for throwing a piece of concrete at a Japanese ambassador to South Korea, according to the Yonhap news agency.