The Belgian Embassy released a statement in which it said Ambassador Peter Lescouhier apologized for his wife’s “unacceptable” reaction to a confrontation with shop staff in Seoul.
Xiang Xueqiu, the wife of the Belgian ambassador to South Korea, reportedly slapped a shop worker who checked her purchase. The ambassador’s wife was in the store trying on clothes for about an hour before she left. Staff asked the wife if she paid for the clothes she was wearing at the time because the shop was selling the same clothes. Then she is reported to have followed the staff back into the shop and pushed, and slapped 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,” said the second staff member who suffered a swollen cheek from the slap.
The Belgian Embassy in Seoul issued an apology on Facebook on April 22nd. The Ambassador expressed “sincere regret over the incident involving my wife on April 9th,” and wished to apologize to the victim on behalf of his wife. “No matter the circumstances, the way she reacted is unacceptable,” the embassy said. “The Belgian ambassador to South Korea was informed that his wife would be questioned by police as soon as possible, but she had since been hospitalized for a stroke and had not been able to attend a police investigation. So, the ambassador didn’t comment or interview on the case, as the investigation was still ongoing,” it added. “We hope that the ambassador’s wife will improve quickly, so she will be able to cooperate with the police investigation and we can put this regrettable incident behind us,” the embassy statement said. More than 600 comments have been generated by the Facebook post about the fact that the ambassador should have delivered his apology in person, instead of online.
Around 28 days after the assault on the member of staff, the wife was eventually questioned by police. Yongsan Police Station in Seoul said it investigated Belgian Ambassador Peter Lescui’s wife on charges of assault on May 6th. But the case has still provoked anger in South Korea because the wife would be able to claim diplomatic immunity to avoid a prosecution.