FINDING FUJIMOTO: Join the search for the missing sushi master in North Korea

PART 3: How Fujimoto and I first met


NEXT: PART 4: The search begins for Mr. Fujimoto


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March 4th, 2017 | the Paektu Blog | Michael Spavor 

I'm quite proud to say that I've actually had the rare and privileged opportunity to meet Mr. Fujimoto on several occasions in Beijing, Tokyo, and also in Pyongyang. When we first met, we kinda hit it off, and since then we've become somewhat good friends as we share some very unique and odd things in common.

During a visit to Japan in early 2016, I had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Fujimoto Kenji through the introduction of a mutual friend. At that time he was working at a restaurant outside of Tokyo and decided that it would be easier to come into the city to meet with me. We met for lunch in downtown Tokyo, and ate some amazing sushi at a restaurant that he recommended.  We had quite an engaging conversation and quickly became friends.  I met Fujimoto again by coincidence in April 2016 and again spent time discussing each other's plans and perhaps how to collaborate in the future.

On the surface, it seems that Mr. Fujimoto and I couldn't be more different; however, after getting to know each other, we found we have a few common skills and similar experiences.

I had heard previously that Mr. Fujimoto spoke some Korean, but after meeting him in person I realized that he is actually fluent, and he is fluent in the DPR Korean dialect. As a Korean speaker, it is quite rare or next to impossible to find others who speak Korean with a northern accent who are not DPR Korean. The exceptions are a German diplomat I met when I lived in Pyongyang, who possessed a perfect Korean accent, and I've bumped into a few other DPR Korean speakers around Pyongyang, such as two Russian diplomats, and I once ran into Joseph Dresnok (the American defector), who spoke DPR Korean, but that is another story altogether.

So Fujimoto speaks fluent Korean, which was convenient because I wasn't sure how we would communicate when we first met since I only speak about a dozen words in Japanese and he doesn't speak too much English, but we soon realized that we can communicate in Korean, effortlessly, and with North Korean accents, which was pretty cool.

In addition, we have both met the current leader of North Korea, Marshall Kim Jong-Un, on multiple occasions but Fujimoto has many years on me and spent about 12 years living in North Korea. I had the privilege of meeting leader Kim Jong Un when I organized the last three Dennis Rodman visits to North Korea in 2013 and 2014.  The longest continuous time that we spent together was three days, on the east coast on vacation with the leader, his family, and "friends" such as the famous Korean basketball player Ri Myong Hoon, the Morangbong Band (the definitive North Korean female pop band), and of course Mr. Rodman.

I had the privilege of meeting leader Kim Jong Un when I organized the last three Dennis Rodman visits to North Korea in 2013 and 2014.  The longest continuous time that we spent together was three days, on the east coast on vacation with the leader, his family, and "friends" such as the famous Korean basketball player Ri Myong Hoon, the Morangbong Band (the definitive North Korean female pop band), and of course Mr. Rodman.

Needless to say we had much to talk about ...


I haven’t seen Mr. Fujimoto since April of last year, but now that I’ve found him I’m going to visit his new sushi restaurant "Takahashi", this April for the first time. The trip is planned from April 14th to 17th 2017 and it is during the 105th Birthday celebrations of the country’s founder. It’s going to be an amazing trip to see North Korea!  See below for more information on how to join.

Michael Spavor | Paektu Cultural Exchange



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日本語の情報 .pdf   Download PDF


PART 1: Introduction 

(with video)

PART 2: The Man, the Chef, and the Mystery: Who is Fujimoto Kenji?

PART 3: How Fujimoto and I first met    

PART 4: The search begins for Mr. Fujimoto

PART 5: Welcome to Takahashi Pyongyang's Newest Sushi Restaurant!  

(photos & video of Restaurant)   

PART 6: The Takahashi Sushi Bar & Ramen Restaurant Review

(posting pictures and video's from our April 14-17th trip


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