As Japan and the Koreas prepare to meet at Friday’s summit to discuss North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, a feud is brewing over a dessert…Yes, symbolism (see below) is a big deal to the people of Japan and the dessert being prepared for the meal has enraged them.
THE DESSERT HAS BEEN DEEMED A “DISTASTEFUL OFFERING by Japan and has caused the launch of a protest: “We have asked that the dessert not be served.”
South Korea had planned to serve a mango mousse dessert called “Spring of the People”. It depicts small islands in Japan and in Korea whose sovereignty is disputed by Japan. It was to be served at Friday’s summit with the North but has Japan all worked up.
A CLOSER VIEW OF THE DISPUTED ISLANDS
Japan complained to South Korea about fans waving a flag with a similar design at a recent friendly women’s ice hockey game at the Winter Paralympics between the combined Koreas team and Sweden.
The bitter controversy comes as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in prepare to meet to discuss Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program on Friday.
Relations between the Koreas and Japan have long been strained by territorial disputes and simmering resentment over Japanese colonization of the Korean peninsula in the first half of last century.
Tokyo has also protested against the erection of statues commemorating Korean women and girls forced to work in Japanese military brothels during World War II.
Seoul says that Tokyo has yet to apologize for its wartime actions.
But Moon and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have vowed to present a united front and exert pressure on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.
The North-South summit in the village of Panmunjom is expected to be followed by a meeting between Kim and President Trump in May or June.
THE MENU – ALL ABOUT SYMBOLISM
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will be served Swiss rösti with a Korean twist at a summit on Friday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the South’s presidential Blue House said on Tuesday.
The fried potato dish was chosen as an homage to Kim’s childhood spent in Switzerland, the Blue House said in announcing the menu for Friday’s welcome dinner.
Baked John Dory, a dish made from the flat sea fish, will be served as a nod to Moon’s younger days in the South Korean port city of Busan.
North Korea has never confirmed Kim Jong Un was educated in Switzerland, but former classmates and teachers have said they spent time with him there. Swiss newspapers have also reported Kim went to school under a pseudonym in Switzerland.
Another item on the menu will be Pyongyang-style cold noodles, or naengmyeon, served in a chilled meat broth.
“President Moon had requested Pyongyang-style cold noodles from Okryu Gwan be included on the menu and North Korea gladly accepted,” said Kim Eui-kyeom, the Blue House spokesman.
Okryu Gwan is North Korea’s best-known restaurant famous for the dish, and has branches in China as well.
The cold noodles will be made by the head chef at Okryu Gwan, who will travel to the truce border village of Panmunjom where the two leaders will meet on Friday, the Blue House spokesman said.
Kim and Moon can wash down their meal with a fragrant wine made from azaleas.
Also on their table will be a distilled liquor called munbaeju that is 40 percent alcohol by volume and which originated in the North, but is now traditionally made in the South.
It turns out that the islands are depicted in more than just the dessert!
Images released by South Korea Wednesday show a similar map on the top of specially- designed chairs which seat Moon and Kim when they meet at the southern side of the Demilitarized Zone that divides the two countries. The Japanese have complained about those as well.