Ri Chun Hee, North Korea’s most popular female TV personality, delivers news about missile detonations with such fervor and excitement like no one else can.
Those who have been following recent news about North Korea may have caught a glimpse of the cheery 74-year-old usually donned in pink Korean Joseon-ot.
Known to many simply as the “pink lady” due to her usual wardrobe of choice, the passionate Korean Central Television (KCTV) broadcaster is the regime’s official bearer of major news announcements.
While already retired, she is often tapped by the government to read major headlines. She is often beaming with smiles when she relays the country’s bomb-related news in her booming voice.
Her latest appearance was on Sunday when she announced North Korea’s successful test of a reported hydrogen bomb.
According to CNN, Ri’s celebrity status in Pyongyang is so lit that a mere image of her can cause crowds to stop and applause.
A former actor, Ri is also popularly referred to as “the people’s broadcaster”. It was State founder Kim Il-sung who reportedly persuaded her to channel her acting skills through passionate speech reading.
When she retired, a 40-year-old protégé of hers who looks like her, took the tasks of delivering passionate announcements, using the same enthusiastic tone.
Reuters translated an account from North Korean state-run magazine Chosun Monthly of how Kim took Ri under his wing “with warm love and faith” to help her develop an authoritative voice.
“As these days passed, her voice grew to have an appeal so that whenever she would speak on the news, viewers were touched,” the article noted. “When Ri announced reports and statements, enemies would tremble in fear.”
Still, not much is known about the pink lady, other than she was born to a poor family in 1943 and studied performance art at Pyongyang University of Theatre and Film.
In the span of her over 40-year career, Ri only wavered her strong demeanor twice: when telling the country of Kim Il Sung’s death in 1994, and then of Kim Jong Il’s death in 2011.