Saturday, September 18, 2021

Belgian ambassador to South Korea apologises after wife assaults shop assistant

The case has provoked anger in South Korea amid claims his wife will be able to claim diplomatic immunity in order to avoid prosecution.

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Belgium’s ambassador to South Korea has apologised for his wife’s “unacceptable” reaction to a confrontation with shop staff in Seoul.

CCTV footage shows Peter Lescouhier’s wife, Xiang Xueqiu, slapping a shop assistant.

The incident took place in early April at a store in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korean media is reporting.

Xiang was reportedly in the shop trying on different clothes for about an hour before she left.

Staff of the upmarket clothing store were concerned she may have been shoplifting.

She was followed out of the shop by one of the staff who wanted to check the clothes she was wearing – originally from the same store – were her own.

After the check, the ambassador’s wife reportedly followed the staff member back into the shop and, in a confrontation caught on CCTV, appeared to push and slap another staff member who tried to intervene.

“I didn’t know who the woman was when I was assaulted, but she looked confident and didn’t seem to be sorry,” the second employee, who complained of a swollen check from the slap, was quoted by South Korean media as saying.

The embassy statement said Lescouhier “sincerely regrets the incident” and “wants to apologise” on his wife’s behalf. “No matter the circumstances, the way she reacted is unacceptable.”

The Belgian embassy in Seoul released a statement saying Xiang, 63, is currently in hospital recovering from a stroke.

She will cooperate with a police investigation into the incident as soon as she is able, the statement added.

The case has provoked anger in South Korea amid claims Xiang will be able to claim diplomatic immunity in order to avoid prosecution.

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