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The Ten Best Lines From GQ’s Story on Kim Jong-il’s Sushi Chef

Yes, Kenji Fujimoto always wears a do-rag and shades.
Yes, Kenji Fujimoto always wears a do-rag and shades. Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il was obsessed with eating and drinking: He spent $700,000 a year on cognac, loved toro, and craved Big Macs. Kenji Fujimoto served as the supreme leader’s sushi chef for eleven years, a time during which he also became Jong-il’s close confidant. Writer Adam Johnson interviewed Fujimoto, finding that the two men often acted like frat bros: They watched Schwarzenegger movies, pulled pubic hair pranks, and viewed Iron Chef together. Although this isn’t the first time that Fujimoto’s been interviewed, this is a long, fascinating profile that’s worth a full read. But since it’s Monday morning and you’re swamped with work, we’ve rounded up the greatest lines from the GQ article.

1. “It was Fujimoto who flew to France to supply the Dear Leader’s yearly $700,000 cognac habit. And when the Dear Leader craved McDonald’s, it was Fujimoto who was dispatched to Beijing for an order of Big Macs to go.”

2. “One day, several black Mercedeses arrived at the cooking school. The first car bore the license plate 2-16, Kim Jong-il’s birthday. The second contained five women kidnapped from Thailand to be used as sex slaves. Fujimoto was asked to get into a third car.”

3. “When he spent leisure time with Kim Jong-il, they drank Bordeaux wines and discussed Shogun-sama’s favorite Schwarzenegger movies.”

4. “Kim had also established an institute dedicated to his longevity. Its staff of 200 approved every element of Kim’s diet. Each grain of Kim’s rice was hand-inspected for chips and cracks — only perfectly shaped rice, grown in North Korea, was approved … All were impressed when Fujimoto served the freshest meal of all: still-living fish he’d fillet alive by cutting around the organs — a skill he’d learned while working at Japan’s Tsukiji fish market.”

5. “Kim Jong-il was a fan of cooking shows. Iron Chef was his favorite. When Fujimoto’s culinary travels took him to Japan, he stocked up on VHS tapes of the latest episodes so he and Shogun-sama could have long discussions about foie gras, truffles, and Kobe beef.”

6. “As a wedding prank, Kim Jong-il had the unconscious Fujimoto’s pubic hair shaved off.”

7. “Shogun-sama said, If you like me, why don’t you kiss me on the cheek? I don’t remember how 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.”

8. “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.”

9. “He remained on Kim’s good side, with the occasional lapse. He once failed to clean his room at a guesthouse, and Kim decided to make an example of him by taking away his kitchen. For six months, Fujimoto was forced to prepare sushi in a gymnasium.”

10. “In March 2001, Fujimoto casually mentioned to Kim Jong-il that he had a new Iron Chef video, an episode Kim had never seen. When they watched it together, Kim discovered the episode’s “mystery ingredient” was one he’d never tasted before: sea-urchin roe, or uni … Though Kim had banned Fujimoto from travel after his Tokyo arrest, the idea of a new delicacy proved too much.”

Dear Leader Dreams of Sushi [GQ]

Related: Kim Jong-il Had Kind of a Homoerotic Relationship With His Former Sushi Chef [DI]

The Ten Best Lines From GQ’s Story on Kim Jong-il’s Sushi