Zeroing in on former chef Fujimoto’s re-visit to North Korea (2)

Wife and daughter not totally happy about reunion


 Kenji Fujimoto (not his real name), former chef of the deceased General Secretary Kim Jong-il, met the supreme leader First Secretary (now Chairman) Kim Jong-un on the first day of his recent visit to North Korea. After the second day, Fujimoto’s family and Kim Chan-sung, director of the office of secretaries, accompanied him.


Fujimoto engages in conversation with Kim Chan-sung (left), director of the office of secretaries, during his visit to North Korea; Photo provided by a person involved in Fujimot’s North Korea visit.

 During his stay in North Korea for more than ten days, Fujimoto toured major facilities and festivals and had meals at high-class restaurants in the city everyday. Fujimoto had his daughter Jong-mi keep a simple diary in Hangeul for his own memory.

 “On April 13, I visited the tomb of the madam (Ko Yong-hui, wife of Kim Jong-il) located behind the Revolutionary Martyrs’ Cemetery (equivalent to a national cemetery). As I climbed the stairs, I could not stop my tears. She was really an unforgettable madam.”

 “On April 16, Deputy Chief Kim Chan-sung and I visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun (the mausoleum for Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il). I really miss Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il.”

 To Fujimoto, his closest North Koreans other than his own family are probably Kim Jong-il and his wife. Still, his diary is filled with praises for North Korea.

 Besides his own family members, Fujimoto spent the longest time with Director Kim. What was discussed in his conversations with Director Kim? Fujimoto declines comments on specific contents of his conversations.

 Kim Chan-sung “holds a rank equivalent to Korean Workers’ Party department head and his intimate knowledge about the North Korean power center is said to be second only to the supreme leader,” according to a South Korean expert on North Korea. He spent many days with Fujimoto and it is difficult to imagine that he did not tell Fujimoto anything important or Fujimoto did not ask him anything. In respond to a question about this, Fujimoto answered equivocally, “There are things I cannot mention here.”

 Fujimoto is equally hesitant to comment on his reunion with his wife Om Jong-nyo and his daughter Jong-mi. When he visited North Korea in 2012, he was informed by Jong-nyo that she had been seriously ill.

 “My wife still had health problems and was taking some medicines. My daughter is working at the central party (party headquarters).”

 His wife and daughter captured in pictures taken during his visit were not smiling and they appeared not totally happy about reunion with him. Fujimoto said his wife and daughter moved to a high-class apartment in Pyongyang at the time of his last visit to North Korean in 2012 and have lived there ever since. But that information is from hearsay in North Korea. It is not easy to find out the truth about it from his wife and daughter due to the fear of surveillance and eavesdropping.

 After his returned to Japan, Fujimoto was quoted by some news media as saying, “First Secretary Kim said he orders the missile strikes when he is upset (by the United States).” But Fujimoto said, “I did not say anything like that. That kind of statement might give an impression that he conducted a nuclear weapons test because he was upset. Next time I visit North Korea, I may be chastised.”

 Fujimoto’s attitude gives an impression that he is trying to defend Kim Jong-un so as to prevent the Western countries including Japan from perceiving him to be insane.

 Countries surrounding North Korea affected by its activities such as abduction, nuclear and missile tests have common challenges to fathom Kim Jong-un’s true intention and encourage him to normalize his country. Regardless of North Korea’s intention, activities of Kim Jong-il’s former chef who had dace-to-face meetings