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A news reporter points to the scene of the scuffle between the street cleaner and the Belgian ambassador to South Korea’s wife Xiang Xueqiu. Photo: SBS

Belgian ambassador’s wife in new scuffle, this time with South Korean street cleaner

  • Police say fight broke out after the cleaner’s broom accidentally brushed against Xiang Xueqiu, wife of Ambassador Peter Lescouhier
  • Xiang and her husband are to leave South Korea this summer, following a previous controversy in which she was filmed slapping a clothing store shopkeeper
South Korea
The wife of the Belgian ambassador to South Korea got into a scuffle with a street cleaner on Monday, just months after she created a stir by hitting a shopkeeper and a saleswoman.

Police said Xiang Xueqiu, the spouse of Ambassador Peter Lescouhier, fought the cleaner in a park in the central district of Yongsan, Seoul, after the cleaner’s broom accidentally brushed against Xiang while he was sweeping the ground.

“She then brought down her foot on my lunchbox hard and kicked it away. It flew about a metre,” the sweeper, 65, told SBS TV.

“I followed her to protest but when I reached her, she turned and slapped me hard on the face,” he added.

The sweeper admitted that he then pushed Xiang to the ground.

He said he offered her his hand to help her get back up but she “hit me in the face for a second time”.

The two reportedly traded more blows before police officers arrived on the scene.

However, the case was closed as neither party wanted to press charges against each other, Yonhap news agency said.

A spokesman for the Belgian embassy declined to comment.


Seoul police seek Belgian envoy’s wife after she allegedly slapped shopkeeper

Seoul police seek Belgian envoy’s wife after she allegedly slapped shopkeeper

The scuffle is the second controversy in recent months for Xiang, who was previously questioned by police over allegations she had slapped a clothing store shopkeeper in the face and another staff member on the back of the head in April. That incident had apparently occurred after Xiang was wrongly accused of stealing clothes from the store, because she was wearing a garment similar to those on sale.

On that occasion, Ambassador Lescouhier apologised on his wife’s behalf, saying he sincerely regretted the incident.

South Koreans want Belgian envoy’s wife to front up after slapping shopkeeper

“No matter the circumstances, the way she reacted is unacceptable,” he wrote on Facebook.

On June 23 police dropped the assault case against Xiang regarding the clothing store incident, citing her diplomatic immunity and the alleged victims’ request that she not be punished.

In the “interest of bilateral relations”, Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès decided in May that the ambassador’s tenure would be ended and that he and his wife would leave South Korea this summer, The Brussels Times reported.