SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) -- The foreign ministry expressed regret to Australia's ambassador to Seoul on Friday after a South Korean citizen was assaulted in southern Australia in an apparent racist attack over the coronavirus.
In Australia's southern city of Albany, a local woman reportedly assaulted a Korean man with her fist on March 15 after telling him to stop moving around and stay at home in what was believed to be an attack driven by racial hatred over the global spread of the new coronavirus.
Seoul has criticized such attacks for eroding global collaboration against the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Friday, a foreign ministry official voiced regret over the incident and called for efforts to prevent a recurrence in a phone call with Australian Ambassador to South Korea James Choi, a senior ministry official said.
"The South Korean Embassy in Australia also sent a letter to the Australian government regarding this matter," the senior official told reporters on condition of anonymity. "It pointed out the insufficient response by the Australian police and called for a stern response."
The increasing number of such hate incidents, including racial slurs targeting Asians, has been a source of concern for the foreign ministry and one reason why it has been stressing international cooperation in preventing them in key diplomatic events.
Earlier in the day, First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Sei-young held a conference call with his counterparts from six countries, including the United States, Japan and Australia, and requested multinational efforts to prevent racial hate crimes.