Kim Jong Il’s Austrian fetish

The thing about wacky Kim Jong Il stories is that they’re generally impossible to prove or disprove so it’s gnereally best to treat them as little more than curiosities. That’s certainly true of Kim’s apparent taste for all things Austrian: "He only ate foreign food," the colonel said. "In Vienna, there was a special attache, ...

The thing about wacky Kim Jong Il stories is that they're generally impossible to prove or disprove so it's gnereally best to treat them as little more than curiosities. That's certainly true of Kim's apparent taste for all things Austrian:

"He only ate foreign food," the colonel said. "In Vienna, there was a special attache, a friend of mine, who only procured special foreign food for the dictator."

Kim Il-sung's craving once led to a delegation of cooks being sent to Austria to visit renowned culinary schools and some of the country's finest restaurants to collect recipes. The colonel, who speaks German fluently, served as translator.

The thing about wacky Kim Jong Il stories is that they’re generally impossible to prove or disprove so it’s gnereally best to treat them as little more than curiosities. That’s certainly true of Kim’s apparent taste for all things Austrian:

"He only ate foreign food," the colonel said. "In Vienna, there was a special attache, a friend of mine, who only procured special foreign food for the dictator."

Kim Il-sung’s craving once led to a delegation of cooks being sent to Austria to visit renowned culinary schools and some of the country’s finest restaurants to collect recipes. The colonel, who speaks German fluently, served as translator.

"’Learn everything’ – that’s what they were told," the defector said. "The crazy dictators heard rumours that Austrian cuisine was world-famous and that’s why they wanted [the cooks] to come here."

No offense to the homeland of Mozart, Frued and Rilke but I’m not sure Austria would be my first choice for culinary delights if I were a dictator with unlimited resources. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy  Twitter: @joshuakeating

More from Foreign Policy

A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed  according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.
A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.

Why Do People Hate Realism So Much?

The school of thought doesn’t explain everything—but its proponents foresaw the potential for conflict over Ukraine long before it erupted.

Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.
Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.

China’s Crisis of Confidence

What if, instead of being a competitor, China can no longer afford to compete at all?

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.

Why This Global Economic Crisis Is Different

This is the first time since World War II that there may be no cooperative way out.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.

China Is Hardening Itself for Economic War

Beijing is trying to close economic vulnerabilities out of fear of U.S. containment.