A Japanese restaurant serving seafood curry added to existing bilateral friction between Japan and Korea.
The curry was served with two mounds of rice in the shape of the disputed Takeshima islands, or Dokdo, as the Koreans referred to, the Guardian reported.
Served with a side of pickles and soup, a Japanese flag was also planted on the rice, symbolising the country's claim over the islets.
The island of Okinoshima, where the restaurant is located at, is the closest Japanese island to the disputed islets.
"Cheap trick" to promote Japan's claim
Unsurprisingly, the dish wasn't well received by Koreans.
According to the Asahi Shimbun, a professor from South Korea, talking to the country's newspaper, Dong-A-Ilbo, described the move as a "typical cheap trick" in promoting Japan's claim on the islets.
North Korean criticised the move as well, with its state-controlled news site Uriminzokkiri describing it as Japan's "ingrained ambition to capture the territory and exercise militarism".
Islands claimed by both Japan and South Korea
South Korea, North Korea and Japan all claim sovereignty over the islands and the surrounding Exclusive Economic Zone.
The first Korean territory that were taken by Imperial Japan in 1905, South Koreans attach a great deal of historical sentiment to the islets, and Japan's claim over the islands continued to fan anti-Japanese sentiments among them.
Japan claims the islands as part of the territory it incorporated prior to its imperial conquest during the Second World War, and used the principle of terra nullius (nobody's land under international law) to justify its claim.
It considers the islands as part of its Shimane Prefecture.
Territorial dispute soured Japan-Korea relations further
The curry incident was the latest incident that soured Japan-Korea relations.
During the 2020 Tokyo Olympics torch relay, South Korean officials protested against Japan's inclusion of the islets in their map on the Games' organising committee website, JoongAng Daily reported.
Prior to that, in 2017, Japanese officials had raised their objections when shrimps caught in the waters of Dokdo were served during a state banquet when former United States President Donald Trump visited South Korea, Korean Herald reported.
The territorial dispute was not the only contentious issue -- the comfort women issue has long been a sticking point in bilateral ties.
According to Associated Press (AP), the Seoul Central District Court had ruled on Jan. 8 that the Japanese government must compensate 100 million won (S$123,600) to each of the 12 women who had earlier filed a lawsuit in 2013 for their suffering serving as "comfort women" during the wartime period.
The term "comfort women" was a euphemism used for Korean women who were sent to the front lines of the Japanese army brothels across Asia, and lived under conditions of sexual slavery.
In response, Japan has urged South Korea to drop its demands for wartime reparations, with its Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi accusing South Korea of worsening the strained relations between the two countries.
Top image via Zak Zak
Follow and listen to our podcast here