A Japanese chef who prepared sushi for North Korean leader Kim Jong Il for 13 years has recently published a book that claims to give a firsthand account of Kim’s luxurious lifestyle.
“I have read and seen various media reports on the general secretary, but I felt they do not tell the true story,” says the 56-year-old author whose book, “Kim Jong Il’s Cook,” bears the pseudonym Kenji Fujimoto.
“I thought I should write about the reality of (Kim’s life), which I had a chance to observe firsthand,” he is quoted as saying by the book’s publisher, Fuso Publishing Co.
Fujimoto says he traveled to the reclusive state in 1982 at the invitation of a North Korean-affiliated trading company in Japan. As a sushi chef, he soon gained personal favor with Kim because “toro” (fatty tuna flesh) — a popular sushi ingredient — was among Kim’s favorite foods.
Kim offered Fujimoto an elite North Korean female dancer — one of a group selected exclusively to entertain Kim and a handful of leaders — as a bride and gave him a luxury car as a present. Fujimoto traveled with Kim and his family to their private retreat and enjoyed horseback-riding and jet skiing with them, he writes in the book.
He writes of how Kim’s parties featured delicacies from around the world even as most North Koreans suffered from severe food shortages and how the leader’s motorcade traveled only during the dark to avoid being spotted by U.S. spy satellites.
In the book, Fujimoto also says that even top-ranking leaders can be easily sent to prison camps.
The cover photo is a group shot taken when Kim became the top commander of the North Korean military in 1991. It shows 22 people, including Kim, top leaders of the Workers Party of Korea and the military, as well as Fujimoto himself. Five of the senior leaders in the photo have since been removed, Fujimoto says.
Fujimoto reportedly now lives in Japan under an assumed identity.