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Belgium recalls ambassador to South Korea after wife slaps shop employee

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Belgium’s ambassador to South Korea will leave his post in the coming weeks after his wife assaulted a clothes shop employee in an incident widely seen on social media.

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Foreign affairs minister Sophie Wilmes has decided to end Peter Lescouhier’s tenure this summer after three years, the foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.

Footage from security cameras showed the ambassador’s wife, Xiang Xueqiu, slap the face of a storekeeper in the South Korean capital, Seoul, who tried to stop her approaching a colleague on April 9.

The colleague had suspected the wife was trying to leave the shop with an item of clothing she had not paid for.

Belgium’s foreign ministry said Xiang had met the shop employee to apologize for her “unacceptable behavior” and was cooperating with police, adding that her diplomatic immunity had been removed after a South Korean police request.

Lescouhier had served his country loyally, the ministry said, overseeing a successful state visit in 2019.

“It has, however, become clear that the current situation does not allow him to continue carrying out his role in a serene manner,” the ministry said.

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