Belgian ambassador to South Korea apologises after wife slaps shop worker

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media captionXiang Xueqiu appeared to push and slap the shop worker

Belgium's ambassador to South Korea has apologised for his wife's "unacceptable" reaction to a confrontation with shop staff in Seoul.

CCTV footage shows Peter Lescouhier's wife, Xiang Xueqiu, slapping a shop assistant.

Staff had wanted to check the clothes she was leaving in were her own amid concern she may have been shoplifting.

The Belgian Embassy in Seoul says Ms Xiang, 63, is currently in hospital recovering from a stroke.

She will co-operate with a police investigation into the incident as soon as she is able, the statement added.

The incident took place on 9 April at a clothing store in Yongsan-gu, Seoul.

Ms Xiang was in the store, trying on clothes for about an hour before she left, South Korean media report.

She was followed out of the shop by one of the staff who wanted to check the clothes she wore - originally from the store - were Ms Xiang's own.

The ambassador's wife is then reported to have followed the employee back into the shop and, in a confrontation caught on CCTV, appeared to push and slapped another staff member who tried to intervene.

image copyrightReuters
image captionThe shop worker said she had a swollen cheek after being slapped

"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 employee, who complained of a swollen check from the slap, was quoted by South Korean media as saying.

The embassy statement said Mr Lescouhier "sincerely regrets the incident" and "wants to apologise" on his wife's behalf.

"No matter the circumstances, the way she reacted is unacceptable," it added.

Ms Xiang had been "unable to respond to the police invitation right now as she is under medical care following a stroke she suffered in the beginning of last week.

"We hope her health will improve quickly, so she will soon be able to assist with the police investigation, so we can all put this regrettable incident behind us."

The case has provoked anger in South Korea amid claims Ms Xiang would be able to claim diplomatic immunity in order to avoid a prosecution.

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