Another Korean Lawmaker Viciously Attacked

Conservative South Korean legislator Bae Hyun-jin was walking in Seoul’s Gangnam neighborhood when an unknown person struck her in the back of the head. This is the second reported incident involving a politician in South Korea this month, the first being the stabbing of Democratic Party of Korea leader and renowned political figure Lee Jae-myung on January 2.

The defendant is facing attempted murder charges after attacking Lee, whose motive was to prevent her from running for president.

In the days leading up to the legislative elections in April, the country’s politics have grown more polarized and toxic, as these attacks have shown. People in South Korea are starting to treat politicians with more and more contempt and scorn due to what they perceive as their hypocrisy and egotism. Chonnam National University political science professor Yoon Sung-suk described last week’s attack as “unexpected” and demanded a thorough investigation and harsh punishment for the perpetrator.

On Thursday, when Bae was trying to enter a building in Seoul, a 15-year-old kid with ADHD approached her. Police questioned Bae twice about the governing People Power Party (PPP) delegate before she revealed that the kid had assaulted her with a brick and kept punching her in the head after he had lost control of his homemade weapon. She stayed in the hospital for two nights after being transferred there due to her head injuries, during which she complained of agony.

The stabbing of conservative opposition party leader Park Geun-hye in 2006 and the attack on US Ambassador Mark Lippert in 2015 are just two examples of the politically motivated violence that has occurred in South Korea. Democratic Party of Korea floor leader Hong Ihk-pyo stated their firm opposition to any type of violence or terrorism that threatens democracy, while PPP parliamentary floor leader Yun Jae-ok urged collaboration in ending the politics of hatred.

Hardline supporters of both the government and opposition parties in South Korea flooded social media and internet message boards the day following Bae’s attack with intense hate speech. The country’s politics are becoming more polarized, according to political science professor Lee Jun-han, who added that violent rhetoric and extreme narratives are also on the rise.