US envoy Mark Lippert to be discharged from Seoul hospital after knife attack

SEOUL (AFP) - US ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert will be discharged from hospital Tuesday where he has been treated for injuries he sustained in a knife attack last week, doctors said.

Mr Lippert, 42, suffered deep gashes to his face and hand after he was attacked by a knife-wielding nationalist activist at a breakfast function in central Seoul.

The US diplomat had all 80 stitches from his face removed and the pain in his left wrist has also subsided, head of Yonsei University Health System Jung Nam Shik told reporters.

"The ambassador is in a very stable condition," Mr Jung said, adding that Mr Lippert will be discharged by 3pm local time.

The assailant Kim Ki Jong was formally charged with attempted murder on Friday, despite his pleas that he never intended to kill the ambassador.

Kim, 55, has a previous conviction for hurling a rock at the then Japanese ambassador in 2010.

Activists have described Kim as a loner whose behaviour had become increasingly erratic, forcing his friends and colleagues to shun contact with him.

Kim has said he attacked Mr Lippert as a protest against ongoing South-US army drills, which he blamed for souring inter-Korean relations.

The annual drills, known as Foal Eagle and Key Resolve, have long been condemned by Pyongyang as rehearsals for invasion.

Kim has insisted he acted alone, and North Korea has accused the South of launching a "vicious" smear campaign to tie its leadership to the attack.