NATIONAL

Summitry and symbolism: Seoul plays up imagery at talks

By AFP
  • Published : Apr 27, 2018 - 14:00
  • Updated : Apr 27, 2018 - 14:06
Daisies for peace, an oval table exactly 2,018 millimetres wide and a huge picture of a mountain representing inter-Korean reconciliation: the room hosting historic talks between the leaders of North and South Korea dripped with symbolism.

As camera shutters clicked furiously, Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in, flanked by their trusted advisers, took their seats at the oval walnut table that was supposed to enable "frank talks without any feeling of distance", according to host officials.

 
South Korean President Moon Jae-in talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their meeting at the Peace House at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Also at the meeting are South Korea`s National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon (L), Blue House Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok (3rd L), North Korean leader Kim Jong Un`s sister Kim Yo Jong (R), and North Korean official Kim Yong Chol. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters (Yonhap)

Traditional white porcelain vases adorned the corners of the room, filled with flowers including peonies to symbolise greetings, daisies for peace, and wild blooms from the DMZ.

And looming large over the meeting, a huge image of Mount Kumgang, a scenic resort in the north which attracted legions of South Korean tourists in the early 2000s until North Korean soldiers shot a visitor dead in 2008 and the trips ended.

The two leaders exchanged pleasantries in front of the picture before Kim told his host he was "flooded with emotion" at crossing into South Korea.

But the symbolism was not all aimed at inter-Korean relations.

The chairs the leaders used in the meeting room sparked fury in Japan, as they featured disputed islands controlled by Seoul but claimed by Tokyo.

One thing that brings the rival Koreas together is a shared resentment of Japan, which imposed brutal colonial rule on the peninsula from 1910 to 1945. (AFP)