Lee was surrounded by journalists during a visit to a construction site in Busan when a man pretending to be a supporter pushed through the crowd and lunged at him, stabbing him in his jugular vein.
He was first taken to a hospital in Busan, then flown to the capital Seoul where he underwent a two-hour operation, which doctors announced on January 4 was successful in closing his wounds (archived link).
But the police dismissed the claims as “misinformation”, saying Lee was stabbed with a knife, local media reported (archived link). Medical professionals who tended to him said his wound was inflicted by a blade.
Police, doctors said knife was used
Police investigating the attack said Lee was stabbed with a “climbing knife” around 17 centimetres long and with a blade of around 12.5 centimetres.
“After conducting a forensic analysis on the knife, we confirmed that the blood on the weapon matched Lee’s blood,” police said, adding the suspect is believed to have modified the knife to facilitate the crime (archived link).
In a live press briefing on January 4 following Lee’s surgery, Lee’s surgeon at Seoul National University Hospital also said his neck had a “stab wound of around 1.4 centimetres in length…inflicted by a knife” (archived link).
Ryu Sam-young, a former police chief and recent DP recruit who was noted by local media for leading the immediate response to the attack, told AFP he saw nothing resembling a chopstick or a similar object at the scene (archived link).
The person seen in the top right image holding a knife is a police officer, not the suspect.
Kim Ju-hwan, a reporter for the online newspaper Seoul Shinmun, took the photo that matches the second image in the collage. His photo was published in the newspaper’s report on January 2 (archived link).
“The person in the photo is a police officer who had recovered the weapon after the suspect had already been subdued – not the suspect himself,” Kim told AFP on January 3, adding that he saw no other weapon at the scene.
Seoul Shinmun deliberately cropped the upper half of the photo to conceal the police officer’s identity, Kim explained.
The image’s caption reads, “The knife believed to be the weapon used to attack Democratic Party chairman Lee Jae-myung.”
Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo shared in the misleading social media posts (left) and the original photo taken by Seoul Shinmun (right):
The person holding the knife in the Seoul Shinmun photo is wearing navy blue cargo pants — consistent with police uniforms.
The image on the left side of the collage was a screenshot taken from the 1:01:10 mark of YouTube livestream footage of the attack captured by Jeong Yang-il TV, a channel operated by one of Lee’s supporters (archived link).
The scene shows police officers tackling the suspect — pictured holding an object in his right hand — to the ground moments after stabbing Lee in the neck.
Below is a screenshot comparison of the image shared in the misleading post (left) and the corresponding frame from the original YouTube video (right):
The image at the bottom of the misleading collage shows a police officer holding the knife, as seen from other live footage of the event published by Kim Un-seon TV, a YouTube channel run by a Lee supporter (archived link).
Below is a screenshot comparison of the third photo shared in the misleading post (left) and the original footage published by Kim Un-seon TV (right):
The footage shows police officers appearing to search the suspect for his weapon, and a person can be heard saying “Here, I found the knife.”
The officer can again be seen holding the knife at the video’s 57:12 mark.