Kim Jong-un made his first public appearance in nearly three weeks last Friday (May 1), amid escalating rumours that the dictator had died. Claims emerged that he was “gravely ill” or had passed away, after “botched” heart surgery to fit a stent last week. Since his reemergence, many have questioned his motives for hiding away while theories about his death spiralled out of control. One North Korea defector claimed it may have been part of a plot to expose the traitors in his inner circle. With the theorist warning that a “murderous rampage” for their disloyalty may be yet to come. Despite being on the throne for nine years, little is known about Kim Jong-un and his highly-secretive hermit state. But one insider, who worked for the nation’s reigning family gave invaluable insight into their inner workings and detailed the bizarre ploys to keep them happy. This included one extremely unusual food preparation technique to ensure they only consumed the finest cuisine. This came at a time when the nation grappled with a food crisis, where many were severely malnourished and others starving to death.
Japanese sushi chef Kenji Fujimoto spilled the beans on what it was like to serve North Korea’s first family in the 2003 memoir ‘I Was Kim Jong-il’s Cook’.
He was the first person to go on record about what the Kim family were truly like and the shocking demands they made.
The cook was employed by the nation’s deceased leader Kim Jong-il from 1988, where he prepared his master’s favourite dishes and served as a “playmate” for their future dictator.
Despite a rocky start to the relationship with Kim Jong-un, after he caught the “prince’s vicious stare”, he became attached.
Mr Fujimoto recalled “I cannot forget the look in the Prince’s eyes. It’s as if he was thinking, ‘This guy is a despicable Japanese’.”
Despite his closeness to the Kims’, Mr Fujimoto explained that he knew never to cross them or do anything that could risk causing upset.
He recalled being condemned to six months in a labour camp after he didn’t clean the room in one of Kim Jong-il’s properties, in one account.
Meanwhile with the future head of the hermit state, who was tipped to usurp his older siblings from a young age, he developed an unusual friendship.
He bonded with Kim Jong-un while listening to Whitney Houston, catching fish and flying kites – serving as his “playmate” from the age of seven until he was 18 years old.
Mr Fujimoto described the former leader’s love of sushi and how he would show the dictator different types of the fish-based cuisine – that Kim Jong-il would then demand to be added to the menu.
He would be sent by airplane to obtain fruit from Singapore, caviar from Russia or Iran, and then fish from his home nation Japan – all while many in the nation struggled in absolute poverty.
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While the specific years were not specified, a North Korean leader demanding expensive ingredients on a lavish shopping list is nothing new.
Four years after Kim Jong-un had become Supreme Leader in 2011, he was dining on the world’s finest cheeses, champagne and alcohol.
A report from the International Trade Centre Map reported he had spent more than £33million on ultra-high end imported goods, all while more two million people were relying on meagre government food handouts.
But during the reign of his predecessor, Mr Fujimoto recalled the strict and absurd demands of the leader to ensure every inch of the family’s food was aesthetically perfect.
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Kim Jong-il regularly told him: “Food is first and foremost a feast for the eyes – its shape and colour should be enjoyed.”
His ridiculous requirements were exposed in bombshell revelations that staff were forced to sift through each individual grain of rice to find the finest for the leader’s meals.
Mr Fuijmoto revealed that only the best and most attractive made their way to Kim Jong-il’s dinner plate.
It is not known what happened to the ‘scraps’, which were not perfect enough for the ruler, but according to sources it seemed unlikely they would have been given to their starving population.
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