May 18, 2022

Japanese restaurant’s “cheap” ignites tensions with the Koreas


  • South Korean media called Japan for “typical cheap stuff” to promote claim
  • The North Korean state’s website said the dish “betrayed Japanese ambitions to capture the islands”
  • Seoul-administered island has been a source of tension since 1945

A long-standing territorial dispute between Japan and the Koreas over an island in the Sea of ​​Japan has arisen, thanks to a “cheap trick” played by a Japanese restaurant.

Reports of a seafood curry being sold at a Japanese restaurant that includes mounds of rice resembling the disputed island of Takeshima have angered South Koreans and North Koreans, The Guardian reported. The restaurant planted a Japanese flag atop the mound of rice, affirming the Japanese claim to the island.

Takeshima, also called Dokdo in Korea, is located halfway between Japan and South Korea. Although Korea controls the islets, its sovereignty is contested by Japan. The cluster of small islets has been a constant source of tension between governments and citizens of both countries since 1945. The cluster is believed to be in fertile fishing grounds and may contain huge deposits of valuable natural gas hydrate. of several billion dollars.

The report adds that the South Korean newspaper Dong-A-Ilbo quoted a university professor who said that Japan had used a “typical cheap trick” to promote its claims on the islands.

According to the North Korean state-controlled Uriminzokkiri website, the dish “betrayed Japanese ambitions to capture the islands.”

The island’s only permanent resident is Kim Sin-yeol, 81. A small police detachment also lives on the island with Kim.

As for the restaurant where the dish is served, it is located on Okinoshima Island in Shimane, the Japanese prefecture closest to the disputed territory. The dish, mounds of rice surrounded by a sea of ​​curry sauce, is accompanied by pickles and soup.

The island, also known as Liancourt Rocks, had previously sparked a proxy war between Japan and South Korea. In 2017, South Korea served then-US President Donald Trump fished the island’s waters at a state banquet during his visit to Seoul, angering Japan.

Relations between the countries deteriorated further after South Korea conducted annual military exercises near Takeshima. The feud was also reflected in the Tokyo Olympics after organizers of the games identified the islands as Japanese on an online map showing the route of the Olympic Torch Relay. This prompted South Korea to file a complaint with the International Olympic Committee.

The feud on the island comes amid a fierce dispute between neighbors over compensation for Koreans forced to work in the mines and factories of Japanese companies during World War II.

Takeshima Island, also known as Dokdo in Korea. Photo: Pixabay