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Belgium recalls ambassador from South Korea

May 28, 2021

A video of the Belgian ambassador′s wife attacking two shop employees caused anger around South Korea. The woman apologised but has had her diplomatic immunity stripped.

Seoul, the capital of South Korea
Seoul, the capital of South KoreaImage: Getty Images

Belgium will end its ambassador's three-year stay in South Korea after the diplomat's wife allegedly attacked two shop staff.

A video of the incident on April 9 went viral in the Asian country. The ambassador's wife, Xiang Xueqiu, attracted fury after claiming diplomatic immunity.

Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes ordered Ambassador Peter Lescouhier to return home from Korea ″in the best interest of our bilateral relations.″

What happened in the incident?

According to reports, Xiang put on some clothes in a Seoul boutique and then walked out without paying for them.

A shop assistant ran after the ambassador's wife to challenge her about the clothes she was wearing.

Xiang then allegedly pulled at one worker's arm and slapped another who had tried to intervene.

The incident was caught on CCTV and shared on social media by the family of one of the assaulted employees.

The Belgian ambassador to South Korea and his wife later apologised in private to the workers.

How has Belgium reacted?

Belgian Foreign Minister Wilmes decided to end Lescouhier's posting this summer in direct response to the incident.

″It has become clear that the current situation doesn't allow him to further carry out his role in a serene way," Wilmes said in a statement.

Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes
Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie WilmesImage: Christophe Licoppe/BELGA/dpa/picture-alliance

The Belgian foreign ministry called Xiang′s actions ″unacceptable behavior″ and stripped her of diplomatic immunity.

The statement added that Xiang "will of course continue to cooperate with the Korean authorities as needed."

jc/rt (AFP/Reuters)