Kim had also established an institute dedicated to his longevity. Its staff of 200 approved every element of Kim’s diet. Each grain of Kim’s rice was hand-inspected for chips and cracks—only perfectly shaped rice, grown in North Korea, was approved. According to Fujimoto, the rice had to be cooked over wood harvested from Mount Paektu, the sacred mountain where, North Korean propaganda claimed, Kim was born under a double rainbow and a newly born star. All were impressed when Fujimoto served the freshest meal of all: still-living fish he’d fillet alive by cutting around the organs—a skill he’d learned while working at Japan’s Tsukiji fish market.
For special occasions, Fujimoto traveled great distances to procure ingredients for elaborate banquets. He would take a North Korean Air Koryo plane to Beijing, then a commercial airliner to either Moscow or Prague, places Kim stored a private jet. From there, it was off to France for wine or Denmark for ham. Mostly he flew to Japan to buy fish, where the first stop was always a ramen stand at Tsukiji run by Fujimoto’s old friend Inoue. Fujimoto brought many officials to eat Inoue’s noodles, including Kim Jong-un’s brother Kim Jong-chul.