The following happened on September 11, 1990, when President Kim Il Sung was on a visit to China.
Jiang Zemin, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, arranged a banquet to welcome Kim Il Sung on his visit.
At the banquet, while looking around at the Chinese officials present, Kim Il Sung set his eyes on one of them, and told Jiang Zemin that he remembered seeing the man once before.
After observing the official, Jiang Zemin said with a smile; “That is Xi Xishin, vice-director of the General Office of our Party. He recently visited your country as the head of a delegation of Party officials. You must have met him then.”
Shaking his head, Kim Il Sung said that he had failed to meet the delegation due to a lack of time, and added that even so, the official’s face was familiar to him.
“You must have mistaken him for someone else.”
“No. I’m quite sure.”
Kim Il Sung searched his memory, and then suddenly, he smiled brightly.
“Oh, I remember. He was a stenographer,” he said in a confident tone of voice.
“Is that so?” said Jiang Zemin in surprise. “As far as I know, he has never worked as a stenographer.”
“I’m sure. He was a stenographer,” confirmed Kim Il Sung.
He called Xi and shook him by the hand, saying that it was a long time since he had seen him last.
Xi was so surprised that he didn’t know what to say.
Kim Il Sung asked him if he had ever been present during a conversation between Chairman Mao Zedong and himself as a stenographer.
Xi remembered what had happened 26 years previously, and said: “Yes, I was present at a conversation as a stenographer in 1963 when you visited China.”
But he had failed to remember the exact year.
“It must have been 1964.”
Kim Il Sung corrected him, and said to Jiang Zemin: At that time I met Mao Zedong and held talks with him. I saw the vice-director sitting in a corner of the room, working as a stenographer. They say time flies like an arrow; the man who was a stenographer has grown up to be a cadre now.
Those present at the banquet were struck with wonder at Kim Il Sung’s remarkable memory.