Tag Archive: Kenji Fujimoto

New North Korean leader Kim Jong-un distancing himself from former regime?

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Kenji Fujimoto, former sushi chef of Kim Jong Il, recently visited the new North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in North Korea, and says the younger Kim is planning reforms similar to that of China.

So the theory is that Kim Jong-un might reform North Korea on the lines of China’s system of Market Socialism.

“When I go to Europe or Japan, I see overflowing products and food, but when I return to [North Korea], there is nothing,” Fujimoto quoted Kim Jong-un as saying. “Do we need to study China’s policies?”

Analysts have said that Fujimoto’s meeting is another sign that the younger Kim wants to distance himself from the regime of his father and grandfather Kim Il-sung, who founded the Stalinist state.

“Judging by what Kim Jong-un has done in the last month or so he is not merely distancing himself from his father’s regime, but is doing so with remarkable boldness and speed,” Andrei Lankov, who studied in Pyongyang and now teaches at South Korea’s Kookmin University, said.

Fujimoto, who was invited to North Korea by Jong-un, said North Korea is really being run by Kim Jong-un’s aunt Kim Kyong-hui and his uncle Jang Song-taek. “Although Kim Jong-un was chosen as the successor, only one out of every 10 policies he presents will probably be implemented,” he said.

Former sushi chef to Kim Jong-il visits Kim Jong-un in North Korea

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North Korea Kim Jong-un and wife Ri Sol-ju
Kim Jong-un with his wife Ri Sol-ju

The late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s former sushi chef visited North Korea for the first time in 11 years, and apparently there were no hard feelings as he met new leader Kim Jong-un and his wife Ri Sol-ju, according to Japan’s Kyodo News.

The chef, who goes by the pseudonym Kenji Fujimoto, was Kim’s personal chef from 1989 until 2001 and has published several books about this time in the secretive country. Fujimoto’s 2003 memoir offered a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the North’s ruling household.

The young North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, called Fujimoto by his real name, said “Long time no see’ and told him he was always welcome in the North, according to the chef. Kim’s younger sister Yeo-jeong also came to the party where they met, but his older brother Jong-chol was not there.

Fujimoto treated the young North Korean leader to blue-fin tuna that he brought with him.

The two discussed no hairy issues like the North’s bizarre abductions of Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 80s or Pyongyang-Tokyo relations in general, Fujimoto said.

Fujimoto went to North Korea on July 21 and also met his family in Pyongyang during the visit. Why Kim Jong-un invited Fujimoto back remains something of a puzzle. Back in 2001, the chef virtually fled the North after being accused of spying, leaving his North Korean wife and children in Pyongyang.

“Kim Jong-un has recently been showing signs of opening up his country and may be seeking to send some kind of message to Tokyo with this treatment of Fujimoto,” an informed source said.