Japanese Magician Invited to Kim Jong-il's Funeral

Princess Tenko /Mainichi Princess Tenko /Mainichi

A female magician from Japan has been invited to Kim Jong-il's funeral, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported on Wednesday.

The 51-year-old lady, who goes by the stage name Princess Tenko, was officially asked to perform a magic show in North Korea twice in 1998 and 2000. She also attended no fewer than 10 of the 'dear leader's' private dinners.

"I received the invitation via a phone call and an email from a member of Kim's family," said Tenko. "And I was asked to wear white."

Japanese media reported that even though North Korea announced it will not allow foreign representatives to come and pay their respects at the funeral next week, it appears that the country is inviting selected foreigners who were close to Kim.

Tenko said the last time she met the reclusive leader was at a dinner party in 2009. At that time, Kim drank several glasses of whisky and engaged in some horseplay at his own expense -- affecting a limp as a byproduct of his stroke, she said.

She also said that when she performed a Houdini-type trick that saw her escape from a tank filled with water, Kim ordered the tank to be filled with two tons of Evian water. Kim said that because the water in North Korea was not as clean as that used in Japan, mineral water would be better for her skin.

Tenko received a container-load of various presents, including a life-size portrait of herself decorated with diamonds, rubies and other jewels, Japanese media said.

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 22, 2011 09:20 KST