Belgium’s ambassador in Seoul, Peter Lescouhier, has formally apologized after CCTV footage showed his wife hitting two staff over a confrontation about shoplifting, prompting an investigation from South Korean police.
The video, recorded on April 9, captured a disagreement over shoplifting as workers at the store attempted to question Lescouhier’s wife, Xiang Xueqiu, after she tried to leave the premises having tried on clothes. CCTV images show Xiang slapping one worker who prevented her from approaching the colleague who accused her of planning to leave without paying for the item of clothing.
Lescouhier’s apology on behalf of his wife, released via a bilingual Facebook post, stated that he “sincerely regrets the incident” and, “no matter the circumstances, the way she reacted is unacceptable.”
The footage was released to media outlets after the alleged assault in the hope that an “incident never recurs,” causing anger among residents of South Korea over the poor treatment of employees in the service industry.
South Korean police confirmed on Wednesday that they want to speak to Xiang, claiming they haven’t been able to reach her since two officers spoke to her at the scene of the incident, as “she is in the hospital”, having suffered a stroke last week.
Despite having diplomatic immunity due to her husband’s position, Ambassador Lescouhier said that his wife will cooperate with police when she becomes available.
The Belgian embassy confirmed that the ambassador’s wife had been hospitalized but didn’t provide further comment on her condition.
It is not clear if the staff who were involved wish to press charges, or if the police plan on attempting to prosecute Xiang, should South Korea waive diplomatic immunity.
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