President Park Geun-hye ended up having to sit next to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the APEC Summit in Bali, Indonesia on Monday despite assiduously trying to avoid him amid chilly ties.
The seating arrangement was in alphabetical order of participating countries, so Korea comes after Japan.
Park and Abe ignored each other as they sat side by side. A Cheong Wa Dae official said the two leaders "looked in different directions" and did not exchange greetings as they passed by each other during the event.
It was a vivid illustration of how bad things have got due to the Abe administration's lurch to the far right.
In a meeting in Seoul last week with visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Park said constant Japanese attempts to whitewash the island country's past atrocities led to a "lack of trust" between Seoul and Tokyo.
In contrast, Park's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping was extremely amicable. Park used a line from a Chinese poem to illustrate how keen she is to improve relations. The line came from a work of calligraphy Xi gave Park during her trip to Beijing in June.
The Chinese leader noted this was his third meeting with Park since June and said t demonstrates the "close ties" between the two countries.
Also at the APEC Summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin celebrated his birthday with other heads of state singing "Happy Birthday" and sharing a cake.