Ri Chun-hee

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Ri Chun-hee
Native name 리춘히
Pronunciation Lee Chun Hee
Born 1943
Tongchon, Gangwon, Japanese Korea
Residence Pyongyang
Citizenship North Korean
Alma mater Pyongyang University of Theatre and Film
Years active 1971–2012
Employer Korean Central Television
Known for Former head reporter for KCTV
Korean name
Chosŏn'gŭl 리춘히
Revised Romanization I Chunhi
McCune–Reischauer Ri Ch'unhi

Ri Chun-hee (also romanized as Ri Chun Hee, Ri Chun Hui [ɾi tɕʰun çi]; [1] born 1943) is a retired chief 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 while Korea was under Japanese rule. 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 in 1974, and was consistently on‑air from the 1980s.[2] Her career was unique for its longevity; while many at KCTV were demoted or purged, her career was never interrupted.[2] 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[6] and that North Korea had launched a missile[7] in February 2016.[8] She also announced the nuclear tests of September 2016 and September 2017.[9][10]

When she retired she told Chinese state-owned media that she would be working behind the scenes and training a new generation of broadcasters.[11]


Ri has received high acclaim from the North Korean authoritarians 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.[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.[12] Her melodramatic style has been parodied in the character of Kim Bong Cha, a North Korean correspondent on the tv show The Noose. Clips of her with fake subtitles also appeared in the 2017 South Park episode "Put It Down".[citation needed]

Ri usually appears wearing either a pink, Western-style suit or in a traditional Korean Joseon-ot.[9]


  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. ^ "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. 
  7. ^ "UN Security Council vows new sanctions after N Korea's rocket launch". BBC News. 7 February 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  8. ^ Demetriou, Danielle (7 February 2016). "North Korea launches missile in defiance of UN sanctions". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  9. ^ a b "What we know about Ri Chun-hee, the most famous woman in North Korea". BBC Newsbeat. 9 September 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  10. ^ Ji, Dagyum; Hotham, Oliver (3 September 2017). "North Korea announces successful test of hydrogen bomb". NK News. Retrieved 3 September 2017. 
  11. ^ https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/09/05/north-koreas-pink-lady-broadcaster-once-again-serves-up-earth-shaking-news-with-a-smile/
  12. ^ 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. 

Further reading[edit]