North Korea: Former chef says Kim's uncle executed over 'pleasure brigade' including girls as young as 15
Kenji Fujimoto, a sushi chef who worked for the Kim family between 1989 and 2001, has said Jang Song Thaek was given the task of recruiting women - some as young as 15 - to please the late dictator.
Mr Jang, the uncle to the young leader, would often abuse his position in the talent hunting process, and that may provide some insight as to why he was executed on 12 December 2013, he told NK News.
“[Kim Jong Un] hates that kind of thing the most. His grandfather Kim Il Sung did similar things. His father also had quite a history with women. So having seen them, he wanted to prove that he’s different and that he would eradicate such practices,” Mr Fujimoto said.
Speaking to NK News, Mr Fujimoto said: “Mr Jang Song Thaek had relations with multiple women. Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un could not forgive this, so he executed Mr. Jang Song Thaek, his caretaker and guardian.”
He explained that Mr Jang’s role was similar to that of a “manager” of a Japanese talent agency. During the Kim Jong Il era, he would audition girls for interviews with the late North Korean leader.
“If they were singers, they would sing right there. There would be separate auditions for dancers. The panel would ask them to raise their legs and all that,” Mr Fujimoto said.
But for the women to first get to auditions, they would be required to spend the night with Mr Jang - despite his marriage to Kim Jong Un’s aunt, Kim Kyong Hui.
Bradley K. Martin, the author of Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty, has questioned the reliability of Mr Fujimoto and has contradicted his claims, saying that “none of my research suggested that Jang was in charge of recruitment.”
Dr Adam Cathcart, a professor at the University of Leeds and specialist in North Korea, also thought it unlikely that Kim Jong Un would take such a moralistic approach to decision making, considering his latest encounters with Dennis Rodman, the former basketball player and friend of the Kim family.
“So the young leader wants to be seen as less corrupt and hedonistic than his father, [but] lets Dennis Rodman come and shares the American’s chilled vodka?,” Dr Cathcart said.
Mr Fujimoto fled North Korea in 2001. He was pictured on his return in 2012 embracing Kim Jong Un. Since then, he has conducted a number of interviews with high profile media revealing the intimate details about Kim Jong Un - leaving his wife and daughter, who still live in Pyongyang, susceptible to recriminations.