Seoul Mayor Attacked, Called Communist

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SEOUL -- Seoul’s new mayor, Won-soon Park, was attacked on Tuesday by a middle-aged woman during a civil defense drill in a local subway station, reports the Korea Times.

The 62-year-old woman, identified by her surname Park, approached the mayor from behind as he was being briefed on the use of gas masks in the City Hall metro station in downtown. Slapping him twice on the back, she was heard to scream “communist” and “step down” at the mayor before authorities dragged her away.

An independent civic activist with no experience in office, Mayor Park won what is seen as the country’s second most powerful office last month. Both the ruling Grand National Party as well as the opposition Democratic Party are interpreting the results as a condemnation of politics as usual.

The election for Seoul mayor is widely seen as a litmus test for the coming presidential elections in 2012, with growing chatter revolving around Cheol-soo Ahn, a former medical doctor and one of the country’s most successful high-tech entrepreneurs.

Ahn had been expected to compete for the mayoral slot before throwing his weight behind Park, who has not minced words in criticizing South Korea’s current political direction, including its handling of North Korea.

Current President Myung-bak Lee took a hard-line stance on North Korea immediately after taking office in 2008, ending a decade of policies aimed at fostering reconciliation between the two. Park has suggested a return to the earlier strategy, riling conservatives who remain vehemently opposed to the communist North.

According to the Korea Times, city officials are not looking to press charges against the assailant, who reportedly attacked former presidential candidate and opposition member Dong-young Chung during an August rally.

In that attack, she is said to have “leaped at him, grabbed his hair and collar,” calling him a “running dog of [North Korean leader] Kim Dae-jung and [Former South Korean President] Roh Moo-hyun! You communist!”