• Kyodo


The late Kim Jong Il’s sushi chef said Saturday he met with new North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife during a two-week trip to the communist country that began last month.

Upon his arrival at Beijing airport from Pyongyang, Kenji Fujimoto told reporters he was happy to be reunited with Kim Jong Un and meet his recently unveiled spouse, Ri Sol Ju, whom he described as “pretty and charming.”

Fujimoto’s first visit to North Korea in 11 years came at the invitation of Kim Jong Un, with whom Fujimoto became acquainted while serving as his father’s sushi chef from 1989 to 2001.

Asked what he talked about with the North’s new leader, who assumed power after his father died in December, Fujimoto said they discussed “many kinds of issues” but declined to provide any details.

When pressed about whether they covered issues related to bilateral diplomatic relations, such as ways to address the past abductions of Japanese nationals, Fujimoto only replied, “I did not visit for government work.”

Asked what impressed him the most, Fujimoto quoted Kim Jong Un as saying that we “will welcome you whenever you come to our country.” Fujimoto said he thanked Kim for his kind words.

Fujimoto was reunited with his North Korean wife and daughter during the trip. “(The family) had been waiting for me for 11 years. I’m such a happy man,” he said.

Kim Jong Un also “very much enjoyed” eating bluefin tuna that Fujimoto offered him as a present, he added.

In a memoir of his life as one of Kim Jong Il’s chefs, Fujimoto said that Kim Jong Un was the late leader’s favorite child because his dynamic and extrovert nature was similar to his father’s.

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