Kim Jong Il’s Sushi Chef Talks to GQ

Although former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il golfed 38 under par, turns out he wasn’t so good at racing jet skis. But he didn’t mind going to the sauna. Naked. With his chef.


In a story appearing in GQ next week, the former sushi chef and confidant to the Shining Star of Paektu Mountain, Kenji Fujimoto, dishes on what life was like with “Shogun-sama,” as Fujimoto called him.

Fujimoto says the “Dear Leader” took a particular liking to him. The man of a million titles —  Ever-Triumphant General, Highest Incarnation of the Revolutionary Comradely Love — regularly demanded affection from Fujimoto.

“Every time Shogun-sama said to me, Do you like me? I answered, Of course, I like you so much. I was thinking about making a joke—I don’t like you, I despise you. I wanted to say that as a joke, but I had no courage. Shogun-sama said, If you like me, why don’t you kiss me on the cheek? I don’t remember h ow many times I kissed him. A hundred times? A hundred kisses. We would go to the sauna together, naked. Shogun-sama said, Oh, you have a good body, a masculine body. I said, I’m good at sports. It’s not too much to say I was a good playmate for Kim Jong-il. And every time he asked me to kiss his face, he always said to me, If you betray me, you will… Then he would go silent and make a gesture of a knife going into my stomach.”

As a test of loyalty, Jong Il once challenged Fujimoto to a jet ski race. The sushi chef and nanny to Jong Il’s son, Kim Jong Un, thought about purposely losing the race, but since the Great Sun of Life had told him to do his best, he kept the lead.

Though the average North Korean would have been executed for embarrassing Jong Il, Fujimoto said he spared him (probably because of his “good body”) and simply told him, “you won.”

Fujimoto also gives himself credit for Jong Un’s love of the Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls. More from the piece…

“Shogun-sama called Fujimoto and informed him that the nannies had been fired: Fujimoto would be the boys’ new playmate, a position he would hold until Kim Jong-un was 18. Fujimoto introduced them to video games, remote-control cars, and most important, basketball. Fujimoto’s sister in Japan sent him VHS tapes of Bulls playoff games, so Kim Jong-un’s first taste of Western hoops came from watching Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman—men who became his heroes.”

Read the full article on May 21 for more about Fujimoto flying to France to fuel Jong Il’s $700,000 per year cognac habit and love for Clint Eastwood.

Illustration Credit: Jungyeon Roh for GQ