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Supreme Court chief justice denounces Molotov cocktail attack as “undermining rule of law”

Supreme Court Chief Justice Kim Myeong-su on Wednesday condemned an attack in which a Molotov cocktail was thrown at his car, calling it a “grave event undermining the rule of law.”

Around 9 a.m. on Tuesday, a 74-year-old man identified only by the surname Nam threw a Molotov cocktail at the car carrying Kim as it passed the Supreme Court entrance. One of the car’s rear tires caught fire, but the flames were immediately extinguished by court security guards. Kim suffered no injuries, and Nam was caught on site by the police and taken into custody. 


During a meeting with Minister of the Interior and Safety Kim Boo-kyum and National Police Agency head Min Gap-ryong on Wednesday, Supreme Court Chief Justice Kim said attacks on judges and court staff, who must deliberate in accordance with the law and their consciences, are a grave matter that shakes the foundation of constitutionalism. He also called for cooperation from the police and related agencies for tighter security around the court. 

Nam admitted to all the allegations against him, saying he had committed the crime out of anger at the court, according to the Seocho Police Station in Seoul. “(I committed the attack) to protect my own rights,” he said to the local media outside the police station. 

Supreme Court Chief Justice Kim Myeong-su (Yonhap)
Supreme Court Chief Justice Kim Myeong-su (Yonhap)

Nam, a pig farmer from Hongcheon, Gangwon Province, is believed to have acted out of revenge for a recent court ruling against him. In 2016, he filed a lawsuit against the government, demanding 200 million won ($177,000) in damages for loss of business after his organic product certification was revoked in 2013. On Nov. 16, the Supreme Court upheld the lower courts’ decisions and he lost his case.

Nam has been staying in a temporary shelter outside the court building, holding demonstrations every day since September. He said he had planned the attack, observing Kim’s license plates and arrival times as he stood protesting. The police found four more plastic bottles inside Nam’s bag filled with a flammable substance that he had bought at a paint shop in Seoul the day before.

The authorities are currently investigating. They have searched Nam’s home in Hongcheon, as well as the temporary tent set up in front of the court, and plan to request digital forensics on Nam’s mobile phone.

By Choi Ji-won (