Belgian Ambassador Whose Wife Slapped a Shop Clerk Is Recalled
SEOUL — The store assistant adopted the ambassador’s spouse out of a Seoul clothes retailer, stopped her on the street and checked the label of her jacket to ensure it had not been shoplifted.
The shopper, Xiang Xueqiu, returned to the shop in a rage, slapping the assistant on the again of the pinnacle and one other within the face. She had not stolen something, however the assault was captured by surveillance footage and led to a police investigation.
The incident was a slow-burning diplomatic flap with weeks of embarrassing headlines. Now the Belgian embassy in Seoul has mentioned it’s going to recall Ms. Xiang’s husband, Ambassador Peter Lescouhier, “in the very best curiosity of our bilateral relations.”
Mr. Lescouhier is scheduled to depart his put up someday this summer time. The bilateral buying and selling relationship between Belgium and South Korea was price greater than 4 billion euros, or almost $5 billion, final yr.
Mr. Lescouhier served with “dedication” in South Korea for 3 years, the embassy mentioned in a assertion on its Fb web page final week. “It has nevertheless change into clear that the present state of affairs doesn’t enable him to additional perform his position in a serene means.”
A slap within the face will try this.
In accordance with the Fb put up, the embassy waived Ms. Xiang’s diplomatic immunity within the case on the request of the South Korean police. Nevertheless it stays unclear whether or not she is going to face costs or if native prosecutors will convey them.
In a assertion on Tuesday, South Korea’s Overseas Ministry confirmed that Ms. Xiang had agreed to cooperate with the investigation, and left open the potential of a legal trial or punishment.
An officer on the Yongsan Police Station in Seoul, which is dealing with the case, mentioned on Tuesday that the station had not acquired “something official” from the Belgian embassy concerning Ms. Xiang’s diplomatic immunity. (The officer requested anonymity to debate an ongoing investigation.)
The embassy didn’t reply to emailed questions looking for remark.
The saga first gripped the South Korean public in April, after surveillance footage captured Ms. Xiang slapping the 2 store assistants on the retailer in central Seoul. South Korean information media reported that an assistant adopted Ms. Xiang out of the shop and checked the tag in her jacket as a result of the shop offered the identical merchandise.
Almost two weeks after the incident, the Belgian embassy mentioned in a assertion that Ms. Xiang had been hospitalized after struggling a stroke. It mentioned she would cooperate with police investigators and apologize in particular person on the retailer as quickly as she recovered.
“The Ambassador of Belgium sincerely regrets the incident involving his spouse,” the assertion learn, providing an apology. “Regardless of the circumstances, the best way she reacted is unacceptable.”
Many South Koreans had been unmoved by the apology and mentioned they had been offended it had not been delivered in particular person to the victims. The uproar on social media was so intense that Julian Quintart, a DJ from Belgium who lives in Seoul and is a fashionable tv persona in South Korea, issued his personal apology to the store assistants and their households.
“Violence ought to by no means be the reply,” he wrote on Instagram in April, “and much more coming from somebody married to a diplomat.”
Youmi Kim reported from Seoul and Mike Ives from Hong Kong.
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