Ri Chun-hee

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Ri Chun-hee
Native name 리춘희
Pronunciation Lee Chun Hee
Born (1943-07-08) 8 July 1943 (age 74)
Tongchon, Gangwon, Japanese Korea
Residence Pyongyang, Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Citizenship North Korean
Alma mater Pyongyang University of Theatre and Film
Years active 1971–2012; 2016-
Employer Korean Central Television
Known for Former head reporter for KCTV
Korean name
Chosŏn'gŭl 리춘희
Revised Romanization I Chunhui
McCune–Reischauer Ri Ch'unhŭi

Ri Chun-hee (also romanized as Ri Chun Hee, Ri Chun Hui [ɾi tɕʰun çi];[1] born 8 July 1943) is a news presenter for North Korean broadcaster Korean Central Television (KCTV). She is most notable for her characteristic emotional and sometimes vitriolic tone, described as "passionate", "vaguely menacing", and "aggressive".[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Ri was born in 1943 to a poor family in Tongchon in Gangwon, Japanese Korea. She was cultivated by the North Korean government because of her background of abject poverty, which is considered a sign of political trustworthiness in the country. Ri studied performance art at Pyongyang University of Theatre and Film and was recruited by KCTV.[3][4]


Ri began work onscreen in February 1971,[4][5] became chief news presenter of KCTV and was consistently on‑air from the mid 1980s.[2] Her career was unique for its longevity; while many at KCTV were demoted or purged, her career was never interrupted.[2] When she retired in January 2012, she told Chinese media that she would be working behind the scenes and training a new generation of broadcasters.[6]

She came out of retirement to announce North Korea's claim to have carried out an H-bomb detonation in January 2016[7] and a missile launch[8] in February 2016.[9] She also announced the nuclear tests of September 2016,[10] September 2017[11] and the missile test in November 2017.[12] Later, she announced the suspension of North Korean nuclear and intercontinental ballistic testing in April 2018[13] and the Singapore summit between Kim and Donald Trump in June 2018.[14] The London Telegraph commented that she had been "entrusted with announcing great moments in North Korean history".[15]


Ri has received high acclaim from the North Korean regime for her resonant voice, impressive mood and outstanding eloquence.[citation needed] She is known for her melodramatic announcing style. She often speaks in a wavering and exuberant tone when praising the nation's leaders, and conversely with visible anger when denouncing the West. According to Brian Reynolds Myers, a professor at Dongseo University and an expert in North Korean propaganda, her training in drama serves her well, given the large amount of showmanship that is typical of North Korean broadcasting.[3]

When she made the official announcement of Kim Il-sung's death in 1994, Ri was visibly crying during the broadcast. Likewise, when she announced Kim Jong-il's death in 2011, she was seen holding back tears.[16] Ri usually appears wearing either a pink Western-style suit or in a traditional Korean Joseon-ot,[10] She is nicknamed the "Pink Lady".[17]


  1. ^ Makino, Yoshihiro (16 December 2011). "North Korea's 'People's broadcaster' missing". Asia & Japan Watch. Asahi Shimbun. Archived from the original on 8 May 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Madden, Michael (2010). Bermudez, Joseph S., Jr., ed. "Ri Chun Hui" (PDF). KPA Journal. 1 (10): 4–5. Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 January 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Werman, Marco; Strother, Jason (8 December 2009). "The voice of North Korea". The World. Public Radio International. Archived from the original on 18 June 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "북성명 때마다 '전투적인 그녀'". The Chosun Ilbo (in Korean). Seoul. 16 April 2008. Archived from the original on 22 March 2015. 
  5. ^ Herskovitz, Jon; Kim, Christine; Popeski, Ron (18 November 2009). "The face that launched a thousand North Korean tirades". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2 January 2016. 
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-11-07. Retrieved 2017-11-01. 
  7. ^ "Famed N. Korean newscaster comes out of retirement to anchor story on purported H-bomb detonation". Women in the World in Association with The New York Times - WITW. 6 January 2016. Archived from the original on 16 January 2016. Retrieved 6 January 2016. 
  8. ^ "UN Security Council vows new sanctions after N Korea's rocket launch". BBC News. 7 February 2016. Archived from the original on 7 February 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  9. ^ Demetriou, Danielle (7 February 2016). "North Korea launches missile in defiance of UN sanctions". Telegraph.co.uk. Archived from the original on 7 February 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  10. ^ a b "What we know about Ri Chun-hee, the most famous woman in North Korea". BBC Newsbeat. 9 September 2016. Archived from the original on 9 September 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  11. ^ Ji, Dagyum; Hotham, Oliver (3 September 2017). "North Korea announces successful test of hydrogen bomb". NK News. Archived from the original on 3 September 2017. Retrieved 3 September 2017. 
  12. ^ "North Korea says new missile puts all of US in striking range". BBC News. 29 November 2017. Archived from the original on 29 November 2017. Retrieved 29 November 2017. 
  13. ^ "North Korea 'suspends' missile and nuclear tests". www.msn.com. Retrieved 2018-04-21. 
  14. ^ Smith, Nicola; Riley-Smith, Ben (11 June 2018). "North Koreans finally told about Kim Jong-un's Singapore summit with Trump". The Telegraph. 
  15. ^ Smith, Nicola; Riley-Smith, Ben (11 June 2018). "North Koreans finally told about Kim Jong-un's Singapore summit with Trump". The Telegraph. 
  16. ^ Harris, Elizabeth A.; Mackey, Robert (19 December 2011). "The Lede: On North Korean State Television, News of the Leader's Death and Floods of Tears". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 15 September 2015. 
  17. ^ http://www.businessinsider.com/who-is-ri-chun-hee-north-koreas-pink-lady-news-reader-kim-jong-un-2018-6

Further reading[edit]