Six-Party Table Crisis Alert
by Henrietta Wang
The lack of progress at the most recent round of the Six-Party Korean Nuclear Issue talks may well, gou-rou.com has discovered, been caused in large part by division over a rogue item of furniture.
The talks struck yet even more difficulties than normal when Xiao Wang, the caretaker at the Diaoyutai State Guest House, ordered the Penta-steady Conference Table, a pentagonal shaped table made by Sichuan furniture titan Chengdu Phoenix China Millennium Furniture Transmission Company. Wang, from Shunyi, admitted yesterday "I was confused by the English language brand name. I never really concentrated during English class at school."
"Mr Wang's lapse may have been temporary," prevaricated guest house manager Lao Dong, "but the effect on the talks was quite significant."
The Russians arrived first and sat at the table without realising anything was amiss. Closely following them was the Chinese side, who took up their position without any difficulties. The Japanese arrived next, and sat nearly opposite China's delegation, North Korea took up position between China and Russia, and South Korea sat between China and Japan. When the US delegation arrived, Mr Wang's blunder became all too apparent. Thirty minutes of embarrassed coughing were ended when Lao Dong bustled into the room with a temporary yellow trestle table, which was positioned for the US delegation at the side of the room near the coffee machine. This feat of bravery allowed the parties to begin drafting their initial joint statement on the brand name of the mineral water to be used during the talks.
The second day of talks was much harder. The US side arrived at the same time as the Russians, which led to a heated discussion of who should have to use the "special-town" table, as it had become known. The Russian delegation suggested that the Americans had already got used to being there, so should stay, whereas the Americans insisted that they had "done their time" and that it was someone else's turn. President Bush sent a special message of displeasure at the arrangment from his Texas ranch. Washington insiders suggest his personal discomfort may stem from vivid, humiliating memories of the many times he was forced to sit in "Moron Corner" at Yale.
In the end, it was a Japanese delegate who came up with the amazing idea of playing a daily round of musical chairs to decide who should be left at the "silly table". This idea was accepted in practice by all sides but a stalemate ensued when trying to decide who should operate the TCL hi-fi, and also which music should be used on the player. The deadlock remains to this day, and Xiao Wang, the man initially responsible for the so called "dunce desk" - and who has been listening in daily from an air conditioning duct in the south-west corner of the rooms - admits that he can see no movement by any of the parties for the foreseeable future. "Let's face it," he quips, "Nobody is going to take your opinions about nuclear weapons seriously when you are sitting over there in Smellsville."