By Park Hye Ri
Photos = Office of the President
First lady Kim Keon Hee on May 21 attended a luncheon with her Japanese counterpart Yuko Kishida in Hiroshima, Japan.
“First lady Kim and Japanese first lady Kishida had okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes) and discussed various topics such as the friendly dinner on the day before of the G7 (Group of 7) summit, the culinary cultures of both nations, family and pets, health and hobbies,” presidential spokesperson Lee Do Woon said that day in a news release.
The luncheon was at a restaurant in Hiroshima.
Earlier on May 7 in Seoul, first lady Kim expressed her excitement over okonomiyaki at the official dinner between the leaders of Korea and Japan at the president’s official residence in the capital’s Hannam-dong neighborhood.
The Office of the President said the prime minister’s wife remembered this and directly set up the luncheon.
“In just two months since March, the leaders of Korea and Japan have met face to face at home and abroad three times,” first lady Kim said. “As first lady Kishida and I have met often and shared our feelings, I hope that the people of the two countries interact more closely.”
In response, the Japanese first lady suggested more frequent mutual visits and interactions.
Before the luncheon, first lady Kim took part in a program for the spouses of G7 leaders at Hiroshima’s Shukkeien Garden.
She looked around the garden and got to know the others, giving her thoughts on her visit to Hiroshima and the culture of each participating country.
Later on the evening of May 21, first lady Kim held talks with German counterpart Britta Ernst, wife of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, at the presidential office in Seoul during the chancellor’s official visit to Korea.
Welcoming the German first lady’s first visit to Korea, she said, “Your visit to Korea is all the more meaningful on the 140th anniversary of Korean-German exchange and 60th anniversary of Korea’s dispatch of mine workers to Germany.”
When first lady Ernst said she visited the Demilitarized Zone, her Korean counterpart said, “This place vividly shows the reality of the division of the Korean Peninsula,” lauding Germany for overcoming its pain of division and eventually reunifying.
Turning to bilateral talks on the return of cultural properties, first lady Kim said, “I hope for concrete cooperation between professional institutions of both countries, such as joint research on the sources of Korean cultural heritage in the possession of German museums.”
First lady Ernst said Berlin is paying attention to and making efforts toward the return of cultural properties and pledged continued consultations.
Both women expressed their hopes for further development of amicable bilateral ties through a wide range of cultural exchange, the spokesperson said.
While first lady Ernst’s trip to Korea was short, first lady Kim said, she hopes the latter sampled Korean cuisine and experienced the culture and visits again. Her German counterpart responded by thanking the Korean government’s hospitality and said she will experience diverse aspects of Korea.