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South Korean attacker denies links to North

By Elizabeth Shim
Kim Ki-jong, the assailant who attacked the top U.S. envoy to Seoul on Mar. 5, in currently under investigation. He has denied links to North Korea but South Korean police found North Korean books during a preliminary investigation. Photo by YTN/Yonhap
Kim Ki-jong, the assailant who attacked the top U.S. envoy to Seoul on Mar. 5, in currently under investigation. He has denied links to North Korea but South Korean police found North Korean books during a preliminary investigation. Photo by YTN/Yonhap

SEOUL, March 9 (UPI) -- Investigations in the case of an armed South Korean assailant who attacked the top U.S. envoy to Seoul on March 5 has uncovered several documents of North Korean origin, South Korean police said Sunday.

The books included a volume on North Korean cinema by former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and at least five other books published in North Korea. The books were most likely acquired by Kim, the assailant, when he traveled to North Korea between 1999 and 2007, Yonhap reported.

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South Korean police said that its digital forensics team is investigating Kim's computers, cell phone and deleted data.

Kim Kim-jong, the attacker, could be tried for violating South Korea's National Security Law if police investigation uncovers evidence Kim has outwardly praised or supported the North Korean regime.

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In a March 6 interview with South Korean press, Kim denied any links to the North, but Yonhap reported he lightly nodded when asked whether his intention was to murder the top U.S. envoy.

The incident stunned ordinary South Koreans but Lee Sung-yoon, a Korea expert at Tufts University, told The New York Times the knife assault has given North Korea the chance to take advantage of a South Korean "ambivalence toward the United States and pan-Korean ethnic nationalism."

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South Korean political progressives, who usually take a more critical approach to the U.S.-South Korea alliance, are launching a counteroffensive against members of the governing Saenuri party, Yonhap reported.

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In the aftermath of the incident, Saenuri party member and lawmaker Yi Wan-young said the attack was a pro-North Korean terrorist act that was the result of progressive government policies, with opposition members balking at the suggestion.

The New York Times reported U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert was recuperating from a four-inch slash on his face that required 80 stitches. Yonhap reported on Monday Lippert is recovering "faster than expected and will be released early this week."

South Korean President Park Geun-hye visited Lippert Monday. Park had experienced a similar knife assault in 2006.

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