South Korean police quiz Belgian envoy’s wife over assault

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - SEOUL, May 7 — Police have questioned the wife of Belgium’s ambassador to South Korea over accusations she hit two boutique staff in the head in a row over shoplifting, officials said Friday.

Ambassador Peter Lescouhier has previously said that he “sincerely regrets the incident involving his wife”, adding that he “wants to apologise on her behalf”.

“No matter the circumstances, the way she reacted is unacceptable.”

The woman, named in media reports as Xiang Xueqiu, “was questioned Thursday”, said a detective at Yongsan police station in central Seoul, without providing further details.

Reports say the envoy’s wife tried on clothing in the Seoul store before walking out, prompting an assistant to run after her to ask about an item she was wearing and triggering the confrontation.

CCTV camera footage showed her pulling at one employee’s arm and hitting her in the head, before slapping another worker who tried to intervene across the face.

The footage — provided by the family of an alleged victim — was widely reported by local media and circulated online and turned public opinion sharply against the ambassador’s family. 

The Belgian embassy issued the ambassador’s apology in a bilingual post as it sought to contain the damage, but its Korean translation sounded heavy-handed, further souring some reactions. 

“You are apologising in that tone?” asked a poster on Naver, the country’s largest portal. “Do you really reflect your country’s stature?”

Ambassadors’ wives enjoy diplomatic immunity but the embassy said she would cooperate with police. — AFP

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