By Ju-min Park
SEOUL (Reuters) - A South Korean man who slashed the U.S. ambassador in the face with a fruit knife was jailed for 12 years on Friday after being found guilty of attempted murder.
Kim Ki-jong, 55, who attacked Ambassador Mark Lippert in March at a forum discussing Korean reunification, was also found guilty of assault of a foreign envoy. He was acquitted of a third charge of violating the National Security Act.
Lippert suffered a deep gash to his face that required 80 stitches and injuries to his wrist, putting him in hospital for five days.
Kim has said the attack was a protest against joint military drills by U.S. and South Korean troops.
Prosecutors last week sought a 15-year prison term for Kim, whose seven trips to North Korea had raised questions about a possible Pyongyang connection.
Kim has denied any connections to the North. The North's official media said the attack was "deserved punishment" for Lippert but denied any role in it.
North and South Korea are technically still at war after the 1950-1953 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.
South Korea and major ally the United States hold regular joint military exercises, which North Korea condemns as preparations for war.
The attack prompted an outpouring of public support in South Korea for Lippert, whose outgoing and approachable style has made him popular since he took up his post in November.
(Editing by Jack Kim and Nick Macfie)