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Ambassador’s wife claims diplomatic immunity after slapping incident in Seoul shop

The wife of Belgium’s Ambassador in South Korea has claimed diplomatic immunity to evade prosecution for the assault of two shop assistants. The Ambassador’s wife is suspected of having slapped the two shop assistants after they had challenged her about suspected shoplifting. 

The incident happed last month in a store in the South Korean capital Seoul. The Ambassador’s wife had tried on two items of clothing just prior to her running out of the store. A shop assistant ran after her and challenged her about an item of clothing that she was wearing. This lead to a heated exchange.

CCTV images that were broadcast on the South Korean television channel SBS show the Ambassador’s wife grab the shop assistant’s arm and give her a clip round the ear. The incident caused a storm of outrage in South Korea and the Belgian Ambassador Peter Lescouhier posted an apology in Korean and English on Belgium’s Seoul Embassy Facebook page. The partners of Ambassadors enjoy diplomatic immunity. 

The Belgian Embassy had said that it would cooperate with the South Korean police. However, the Head of the Yongsan Police Station in the centre of Seoul says that the Embassy now says that it intends to retain the Ambassador’s wife’s right to immunity so no further legal action can be taken.


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