Late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's former sushi chef on Wednesday talked about his recent visit to North Korea and published photographs he took with senior figures there.
The photos were taken by new leader Kim Jong-un's personal photographer and show Kenji Fujimoto (not his real name) with Kim, his wife Ri Sol-ju and his uncle Jang Song-taek, the eminence grise behind the North Korean throne.
Appearing on Japan's TBS network, Fujimoto said he attended a dinner with the young North Korean leader in Pyongyang on July 21. "The traitor has returned, comrade general," Fujimoto said he told Kim upon meeting him. "It's okay. It's okay," Kim replied as he embraced the former sushi chef, who has made a second career telling tales out of school about North Korea.
Fujimoto claimed Kim recalled playing tennis and basketball and smoking cigarettes with him. Ri allegedly thanked him for visiting and added, "The supreme leader always talked about you."
But when asked what was discussed over dinner, Fujimoto said, "I was drunk so I don't remember what was said."
The former sushi chef did not offer much detail about what happened during his meeting with Kim, apparently conscious that North Korean officials were incensed by comments he made to Japanese reporters in Beijing on his way back to Japan.
Fujimoto said he decided to return to North Korea after a Korean Japanese whom he had met in Pyongyang came to his office on June 16 and said his wife and child back in the North missed him and Kim wished to see him again.
The former sushi chef fled the North back in 2001 after he was accused of spying and left behind his North Korean wife and child. TBS said the friendly welcome he received was clearly a publicity stunt.