Millennium Post

Battling the choice of dessert

Battling the choice of dessert
South Korea's choice of dessert for Friday's historic inter-Korean summit has left a bitter taste in Japan. Even to seasoned diplomats, that sounds absurd. It is almost like dragging the sublime to the ridiculous. First, was it all that necessary to give details along with photos of what the likes of Moon and Kim would taste and eat between their crucial sessions? And, now, that is done, does Japan have to make such an issue of tiny islands, it claims to be theirs, featuring in the dessert? Tokyo has lodged a formal protest about the mango mousse planned for the dinner between President Moon Jae-in and North Korea leader Kim Jong-un because the dish features a map of the Korean Peninsula that includes a contested island that is claimed by Japan. Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Kenji Kanasugi, Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, had told the South Korean embassy that the inclusion of Takeshima, or Dokdo island in Korea, was "very regrettable" and "not acceptable." Japan says that South Korea is illegally occupying the rocky islands that lie east of the peninsula, and it's an issue that has long soured relations between the two countries. Seoul has spared no effort in its preparations for the summit, the first time the leaders of North and South Korea have met in more than a decade. In the room in the Peace House where they will meet, the normal rectangular table has been replaced by an oval one. Moon's office hopes that the shape will encourage the summit's participants to talk candidly. Other design features focus on a shared history between the two countries, including incorporating elements of a Hanok, a traditional Korean house. At the dinner after the summit, each course on the menu comes with a heavy dash of symbolism. Guests will be served a dish from the hometown of the three South Korean presidents who will have hosted an inter-Korean summit. They will eat food from the Korean Peninsula's far north and south, including cold noodles, dumplings and barbecued beef. There will even be food sourced from the demilitarised zone itself. Thankfully, no mention has, as yet, been made of food tasters. Food tasters are a concept long associated with important personages such as political leaders and business tycoons. The most common image of a food taster is someone who serves as a guinea pig for his employer, sampling meals before they are served to ensure that no one has tampered with them (particularly by introducing poison or some other harmful substance). True, no mention has been made about their presence during the Summit. But, at this rate of publicity, nothing can be ruled out.
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