Luncheon on the Sea
There was a Russian figure who would frequent the DPRK. Hailing from Siberia, he worked in his native region as first secretary of a provincial committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union before taking an important post at its Central Committee. He was a long-serving politician, magnanimous and audacious.
On August 2, 1999, when the Russian guest was staying at a resort off the East Sea of Korea, Kim Jong Il arranged a luncheon in his honour on a sailing boat.
He had summoned an official concerned the day before and said: During the guest’s previous visit I promised that I would have a rest with him next time, but I could not spare time to do so because of the tight schedule for my field inspection trip. He would be very sorry if he should go back without seeing me this time.
Then he ordered the official to prepare a luncheon on a boat at the seaside resort the following morning.
The official consulted the weather station, which forecasted heavy rain and strong wind for the morning. But Kim Jong Il dug his heels in, saying that a luncheon on a stormy sea would be an unforgettable memory.
The Russian guest was deeply moved by the story.
Kim Jong Il said to him on the boat: I am sorry that though I looked forward to seeing you during your current visit, I could not afford time because of the tight schedule. It seemed to me that there would be no more opportunity if I did not meet you today. So I arranged a luncheon in your honour despite the foul weather. I wish this would leave a good impression on you. Drinking may be more enjoyable in such weather.
When he took out a bottle of cognac, the guest exclaimed in wonder, “Isn’t that Georgian cognac?”
The host said with a friendly smile, “This is what you sent me last time. It would be no fun to drink it alone, so I kept it to share with you when you come again. Let’s drink it together to celebrate our meeting.”
He opened the bottle and filled a cup for the guest.
The latter did not imagine that Kim Jong Il was keeping the cognac until then.
The host said to the hesitant guest, “Why? I have heard that the Siberian people drink on both happy and sad days. Cheers.”