Any struggling chef might be delighted to answer a want ad in the newspaper and come to find what he assumed would be late nights in a tiny, sweltering kitchen turned out to be a cushy government job. But if the government in question happens to be that of North Korea, it can lead to a second career in retroactive espionage. Such is the case of a sushi chef to North Korea's belated dictator Kim Jong-Il who escaped the country in 2001, but dined with current supreme leader Kim Jong-Un as recently as 2012. As one of the few people who has had access to the notoriously cagey despot, this chef has made thousands of dollars selling inside information to media outlets and, it's speculated, governments.
His name? Fujimoto. Kenji Fujimoto. Okay, it doesn't ring like James Bond, but it's only an alias anyway. Still, state secrets? Fake names? Kenji is what would happen in a Tom Clancy reimagining of Jiro Dreams of Sushi. How did he get away, you ask? Apparently he left on a trip to Tokyo to buy sea urchin and never returned. Obviously, "a pack of cigarettes" wouldn't have given him enough of a window. While some have questioned Fujimoto's intel, he did predict that Kim Jong-Un would rise to power instead of his older brother, and at a Tokyo Press Club conference last year the chef accurately predicted North Korea's December rocket launch, lending to his credibility. He's also been known to spill some stranger-than-fiction secrets about his former employer's son. Here are a few of the highlights:
• He claims the dictator was born in 1983, making him the world's foremost millennial menace.
• As a child, Kim Jong-Un tried to burst in on Fujimoto while the chef was using the toilet.
• At age 17, Kim Jong-Un asked to borrow the chef's Whitney Houston CD.
• Kim Jong-Un invited Fujimoto back to Pyongyang in 2012 so the chef could make good on a promise that the two ride horses together.
Unfortunately, Fujimoto shirks any potential hero status by also defending North Korea's brutal government. Then again, that hasn't stopped him from taking the money of detractors looking for inside information that might lead to his former employer's demise. Oh well, so much for my based-on-a-true-story screenplay Sushi Spy.