Disputed ‘Islands’ in Curry: A ‘Cheap Trick’ by a Japanese restaurant inflames tensions with Koreans.
Due to a “cheap prank” conducted by a Japanese restaurant, a long-standing territorial dispute between Japan and the Koreas over an island in the Japan Sea has erupted.
According to The Guardian, reports about a shrimp curry sold at a Japanese restaurant that includes piles of rice resembling the disputed Takeshima island have enraged both South and North Koreans. The restaurant raised a Japanese flag on top of the rice mound, claiming Japanese sovereignty over the island.
Takeshima, commonly known in Korea as Dokdo, is situated halfway between Japan and South Korea. Japan contests Korea’s sovereignty over the islets, despite the fact that Korea controls them. Since 1945, the group of small islets has been a source of conflict between the governments of the two countries and their populations. The cluster is said to be located near productive fishing areas and could contain massive reserves of natural gas hydrate worth billions of dollars.
According to the story, a university lecturer told the South Korean newspaper Dong-A-Ilbo that Japan had used a “typical cheap tactic” to support its claims to the islands.
The meal “betrayed Japanese plans to seize the islands,” according to North Korea’s state-run Uriminzokkiri website.
Kim Sin-yeol, 81, is the only permanent resident on the island.
On the island with Kim, there is also a small police force.
The restaurant where the dish is served is located on Okinoshima Island in Shimane, Japan’s prefecture closest to the disputed region. Rice pyramids encircled by a sea of curry sauce are served with pickles and soup on the side.
Previously, the island, also known as Liancourt Rocks, sparked a proxy war between Japan and South Korea. During his visit to Seoul in 2017, South Korea fed then-US President Donald Trump shrimp harvested in the island’s seas during a state banquet, angering Japan.
After South Korea conducted yearly military maneuvers near Takeshima, tensions between the two countries worsened further. The enmity was reflected in the Tokyo Olympics when the islands were mistakenly classified as Japanese on an online map depicting the Olympic torch relay route. South Korea had filed a complaint with the International Olympic Committee as a result of this.
The island dispute comes amid a tense standoff between the neighbors over compensation for Koreans forced to work in Japanese mines and factories during WWII.