8 July 1943 |
Tongchon, Gangwon, Japanese Korea
|Occupation||News anchor at Korean Central Television|
|Known for||Being a head reporter for KCTV|
|Revised Romanization||I Chunhi|
Ri Chun-hee (also romanized as Ri Chun Hee and Ri Chun Hui; born 8 July 1943) is a retired news anchorwoman 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”. Ri made the official announcements of the deaths of Kim Il-sung in 1994 and Kim Jong-il in 2011. In a news report by CCTV News on 24 January 2012, Ri announced her retirement as chief newsreader at KCTV. In January 2016, she came back to claim that North Korea had carried out hydrogen bomb tests.
Early life and education
Ri was born in 1943 to a poor family in Tongchon, Gangwon, 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 did not major in journalism but in performance art at Pyongyang University of Theatre and Film and was recruited by KCTV.
Ri began work onscreen in 1971, became chief news presenter of KCTV in 1974, and was consistently on‑air from the 1980s. Her career was unique for its longevity; while many at KCTV were demoted or purged, her career was never interrupted. After retiring in January 2012, she came out of retirement especially to announce that North Korea claims to have carried out an H-bomb detonation in January 2016 and that North Korea had launched a missile in February 2016.
Ri has received high acclaim from the North Korean authorities for her resonant voice, impressive mood and outstanding eloquence. 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.
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. Her melodramatic style has been parodied in the character of Kim Bong Cha, a North Korean correspondent on The Noose.
Honours and privileges
Ri has been awarded the titles "People’s Broadcaster" and "Heroine of Labour". These honours have given her numerous material advantages, such as a modern house, a deluxe car, and access to entertainment, fashion, and clothing otherwise inaccessible to the average North Korean.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- on YouTube announcing Ri's retirement
- "The only woman North Korea trusts to deliver its most important propaganda: Ri Chun-hee – the news anchor Kim Jong-un wheels out when he wants to impress the world". dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
- 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.
- "북성명 때마다 '전투적인 그녀'". The Chosun Ilbo (in Korean). Seoul. 16 April 2008. Archived from the original on 22 March 2015.
- 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.
- "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. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
- "UN Security Council vows new sanctions after N Korea's rocket launch". BBC News. 7 February 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
- Demetriou, Danielle (7 February 2016). "North Korea launches missile in defiance of UN sanctions". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 7 February 2016.