Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Sushi Chef Sells Out

Driving home last night I listened to a news report about Kim Jong-il's anointing of his youngest son Kim Jong-un as his designated successor.

What struck me about the report was the insight that most of what is known about the personal life of Kim Jong-il and his family comes from the book Kim Jong Il's Chef. This is a 2003 tell all written, as the name implies, by the Dear Leader's former Japanese chef.

I was not able to find an English edition of the book, but you can read some excerpts in the February 2004 edition of The Atlantic Monthly. Here is a highlight:

Kim Jong Il is an avid equestrian, and has even appeared in a TV movie atop a snow-white horse. (All horses belonging to the Kim family are white.) I often accompanied him on long rides. A group of guides would lead the pack, followed by Kim Jong Il, his wife Ko Young Hee, the children, and me.

One day in 1992, as I was riding behind Kim Jong Il at a right-turning path, I noticed that his horse was standing by itself. Kim had fallen off the horse. It had apparently slipped on a bed of pebbles laid over some asphalt being repaired. Kim Jong Il had hit his head and shoulder quite hard and had fallen unconscious. A doctor was called immediately.

From that day, every evening at 10:00 P.M. for the next month, five or six of his administrative staff members and I would be injected with the same painkiller that Kim Jong Il was taking. He was afraid he would become addicted to it, and didn't want to be the only one.

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