Panmujom, April 25, 2018 — South Korea has custom made furniture for Friday’s summit between President Moon Jae-in and the North’s leader Kim Jong-un — with chairs featuring disputed islands controlled by Seoul but claimed by Tokyo.One thing the rival Koreas share is a resentment of Japan, which imposed brutal colonial rule on the peninsula from 1910 to 1945, and the gesture is likely to irritate Tokyo.
Japan and the South are both US allies but their relationship is strained by historical and territorial issues, including Dokdo, islands controlled by Seoul but claimed by Tokyo, which calls them Takeshima.
The new walnut chairs to be used by the two leaders’ seven-strong delegations at Friday’s summit at Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) each feature a map of the peninsula.
The tiny disputed islands are clearly marked, pictures released by the Blue House showed Wednesday.
Photographs of the dishes planned for the summit dinner show a mango mousse destined for dessert that also displays a stylized map of the peninsula with the islands prominently marked.
Symbolism abounds in other aspects of the layout, with the delegations meeting in the Peace House around an oval table 2,018 millimeters wide to mark the year.
“The oval table reflects wish to see the North and the South to sit down together and hold frank talks without any feeling of distance despite 65 years of division,” the presidential Blue House said.
Traditional white porcelain vases will decorate corners of the room, filled with flowers including peonies to symbolize greetings, daisies for peace, and wild blooms from the DMZ.
The two previous inter-Korean summits in 2000 and 2007 both took place in Pyongyang.
It is not the first time Seoul has made a point of including the islands in diplomatic processes.
When US President Donald Trump visited Seoul last year, his meal included a prawn fished from the waters around Dokdo, sparking protests from Tokyo.
And at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in February, the two Koreas marched together behind a unification flag that including Dokdo, prompting a Japanese denunciation with cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga called the flag “unacceptable”.