An annual Japan-South Korea cultural exchange festival was held in Seoul on Sunday, with this year’s gala coming amid heightened tensions between the two neighbors over trade and historical issues.

A venue for the grassroots festival was well-attended, including young South Koreans who are interested in what Japan has to offer.

Among visitors to the festival were South Korean Second Vice Foreign Minister Lee Tae-ho and Japanese Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Norikazu Suzuki.

While noting that relations between the two countries are deteriorating, Lee called for bilateral difficulties to be resolved through diplomatic efforts. “When there are problems, I hope they will be sorted out through dialogue and consultation,” he said.

“Personnel exchanges are all the more important because political and diplomatic relations between Tokyo and Seoul are worsening,” Suzuki said.

As part of the festival, visitors were given opportunities to try on traditional South Korean garments.

A 21-year-old South Korean university student from Incheon, near Seoul, said South Koreans and Japanese should get along with each other even though bilateral relations are strained.

Due to the tensions, visitors had to go through security checks at the entrance of the festival site — the first time security checks have been carried out since the festival was launched in 2005.

On Sept. 28-29, Japan will host the festival at Hibiya Park in central Tokyo.

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