South Korea

Symbolism on menu at summit dinner between North and South Korea

Dishes at a banquet following peace talks at Panmunjom include cultural and historical messages as ingredients

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2018, 2:05am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2018, 4:48am

Symbolism will be the main course of a banquet at Friday’s inter-Korean summit meeting, Seoul disclosed on Tuesday, with a menu featuring Pyongyang’s signature dish as well as food from the hometowns of the South’s recent leaders.

No detailed schedule has been released yet, but the dinner will be held after the meeting in the same Peace House venue on the southern side of the demilitarised zone in Panmunjom.

Some of the food will come from the North, including the North’s signature dish of cold noodles. Pyongyang also agreed to send a leading chef from Okryu-gwan, a famed restaurant in the capital city, to the venue.

Cold noodles come served in a cool mild broth and garnished with pieces of meat and vegetables. The long buckwheat strands are usually cut with a pair of scissors to simplify the eating process.

The South has its own varieties but even its diners tend to favour the Pyongyang version.

What’s at stake as two Koreas sit down?

Friday’s menu also includes rösti – a traditional Swiss potato fritter – with a Korean twist to remind Kim Jong-un of his childhood in Switzerland, Seoul said. Kim attended boarding school in the European country.

Other dishes feature seafood, meat and rice from the hometowns of South Korea’s leader Moon Jae-in and the Southern presidents who went to Pyongyang for the two previous summit meetings, Kim Dae-Jung in 2000 and Roh Moo-hyun in 2007.

“We prepared the welcoming dinner to honour the people who worked so hard for peace and unification of our people,” Moon’s office said.

Friday’s summit is a result of a months-long diplomatic campaign orchestrated by Moon, who advocates dialogue to bring the isolated and nuclear-armed North to nuclear negotiations.

Seoul has a tendency to make political points with its food choices. 

When US President Donald Trump visited last year, his meal included a prawn fished from the waters around Dokdo, disputed islands controlled by South Korea but claimed by fellow US ally Japan.