Go to contents

Burglary in the Belgium Embassy Residence

Posted July. 16, 2004 22:13,   


A thief broke into the Belgium Embassy residence in Itaewon (Yongsan-gu, Seoul). Ambassador Koenraad Rouvroy (58 years old) and his wife were found tied up for over six hours and some money and valuables were stolen.

Police pointed a 24 year-old illegal foreign laborer from the Democratic Republic of Congo, identified as “K,” as the suspect and is in pursuit of him.

This incident can spark a diplomatic issue in the respect that the security was loose enough for a thief to break into an embassy residence in an area crowded with foreign embassies.

Occurrence of the Robbery—

A thief broke into the Belgium Embassy residence in Itaewon-dong Friday around 1~2 a.m. He tied up Ambassador Rouvroy and his wife, who were sleeping in their room in the second floor, and ran away after stealing their money and valuables.

Police said that a black man with a mask tied the ambassador couple’s hands and feet in the back with electrical cords and gagged their mouths with tapes. Then, he confined the ambassador in the boiler room and the wife in the second floor attic separately.

The ambassador’s 62 year-old driver, who is known by his surname Park, said, “A Filipino housemaid showed up at the residency around 7:15 a.m. and reported to me that the ambassador couple was tied up. So I filed the theft report to the police.”

The ambassador couple showed no serious external injuries. Still, they suffered from shock and are currently being treated at the Soonchunhyang University Hospital.

The thief is known to have stolen two credit cards and some money, but the exact amount is not confirmed.


The police is now focusing its investigation on acquaintances. This is because after jumping over the residence wall, the thief is believed to have broken into the house through an underground path that outsiders cannot easily locate. Police added more reasons to its belief, saying that it is not easy for a stranger to find the attic and the burglar did not need to break any facilities to get in the second floor room.

Regarding this, Ambassador Rouvroy stated, “It seems that ‘K,’ who was fired recently, did this crime out of discontent.” Police suspended K’s departure from Korea according to this statement.

Neglected Security?—

Currently, there are a total of 163 embassies and their residences from 87 countries in Seoul. Some 1400 residence guards are on duty.

In particular, since the Spain train terror in March this year, the police increased the security for the residencies of the countries which dispatched soldiers to Iraq. However, Belgium is not one of these countries so that only one guard and one patrolman have been policing it.

There are possibilities that this incident may develop to become a diplomatic issue if neglected police guard was a problem.

According to Article 22 in the Vienna Convention regarding diplomatic relations, it states, “The country of the residence has a particular duty to protect the legation from any intrusion.”

Kim Gi-jung, professor of Politics and Diplomacy at Yonsei University, said, “When a foreign embassy residence is intruded, this can be seen that the nation’s public peace is very much in risk. We may receive a lot of diplomatic remonstrance regarding this incident. We should also show deep regret for this.”

An officer in the Regional Police Headquarters, however, said, “The police was on duty as usual that day. It happened because the Belgium embassy did not have their burglar prevention system in perfect working condition. Therefore, it is hard to call only us to account for this.”