At an Olympic dinner reception designed to break the ice between two nations still technically at war, the dessert said it all. Dark chocolate tempered in the shape of barbed wire lay over a map of the Korean peninsula rendered in thin blue chocolate, a representation of the heavily militarised border that separates Games host South Korea and its old enemy in the North.
The guests, including leaders of North and South, were invited to pour melted white chocolate on top – and the barbed wire would dissolve. The dessert, called ‘A Plate of Hope’, was what South Korean President Moon Jae-in planned to serve his dozen VIP guests, which were to include US Vice President Mike Pence, at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics’ pre-opening party yesterday. But Pence had other ideas. He left the reception after just a few minutes, skipping the hopeful dessert and a potentially awkward encounter with North Korea’s nominal head of state, Kim Yong-nam. “South Korea has some difficult homework to solve regarding some countries,” Moon told the gathering of some 200 VIPs at the reception before Pence arrived.
“There are some who would not want to be in the same room together if it wasn’t for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. But what is more important than anything is that we are together.” Pence arrived at the reception late and had planned to leave directly after a photo session but Moon asked him to “come and say hello to friends”, Moon’s presidential spokesman said.
Pence came to the table and shook hands with all of the VIPs on the head table except Kim Yong-nam, and left the reception five minutes later. Unlike Pence, fellow attendee Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did shake hands with Kim Yong-nam, the South’s presidential Blue House said.
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