Ri Chun-hee (also romanized as Ri Chun Hee or Ri Chun Hui[1] [ɾi tsʰun çi]; born 8 July 1943) is a North Korean news presenter for North Korean broadcaster Korean Central Television. She is most notable for her characteristic emotional and sometimes vitriolic tone, described as "passionate", "vaguely menacing", and "aggressive".[2] She announced her retirement in 2012, but still occasionally presents the news of major developments.[citation needed]

Ri Chun-hee
Born (1943-07-08) 8 July 1943 (age 79)
CitizenshipNorth Korean
Alma materPyongyang University of Theatre and Film
OccupationNews presenter
Years active1971–present
EmployerKorean Central Television
Known forNewsreader for KCTV
Korean name
Revised RomanizationRi Chun(-)hui
McCune–ReischauerRi Ch'unhŭi

Early life and educationEdit

Ri was born in 1943 to a poor family in Tongchon in Gangwon, Japanese Korea. Ri studied performance art at Pyongyang University of Theatre and Film and was recruited as a newsreader 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 onwards.[2] Her career was unique for its longevity; while many at KCTV were demoted or purged, her career was never interrupted.[2] When she announced her retirement in January 2012, she told Chinese media that she would be working behind the scenes and training a new generation of broadcasters.[6] The UK's Daily Telegraph commented that she had been "entrusted with announcing great moments in North Korean history".[7] American journalist and author Bob Woodward referred to her as North Korea's Walter Cronkite in his 2018 book Fear: Trump in the White House.[8]

Ri came out of retirement to announce major news stories. She announced North Korea's claim to have carried out an H-bomb detonation in January 2016[9] and a missile launch in February 2016.[10] She also announced the nuclear tests of September 2016,[11] September 2017[12] and the missile test in November 2017.[13] Later, she announced the suspension of North Korean nuclear and intercontinental ballistic testing in April 2018[14] and the Singapore summit between Kim and Donald Trump in June 2018.[15] On April 15, 2018, Ri read a report that named Kim Jong-un's wife, Ri Sol-ju, as the "First Lady" for the first time.[16][17]

In 2022, Kim gave luxury houses to Ri and other North Korean elites. Ri narrated a state media video of Kim giving her a tour of her new Pyongyang home.[18] Ri later said her new home is "like a hotel", adding her and her family “stayed up all night in tears of deep gratitude for the party’s benevolence".[19]


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 its enemies. 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.[20] Ri usually appears wearing either a pink Western-style suit or in a traditional Korean joseon-ot.[11] She is nicknamed the "Pink Lady" and "North Korean News Lady".[21]

See alsoEdit

  • Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, Iraqi Minister of Information nicknamed "Comical Ali" by Western media for his animated speaking style


  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. ^ "North Korean broadcaster Ri Chun Hee, serving up apocalypse since the 1970s — with a smile - the Washington Post". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2017-11-07. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  7. ^ Smith, Nicola; Riley-Smith, Ben (11 June 2018). "North Koreans finally told about Kim Jong-un's Singapore summit with Trump". The Telegraph.
  8. ^ Woodward, Bob (2018). Fear: Trump in the White House. Simon & Schuster. p. 91. ISBN 978-1-5011-7553-4. on September 9, 2016, ... North Korea had detonated a nuclear weapon ... Seismic monitors had instantly revealed that the vibrations recorded were not caused by an earthquake. ... Dispelling any doubt, North Korea's 73-year-old female version of Walter Cronkite, Ri Chun-hee, appeared on state-controlled television to announce the test.
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ "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.
  14. ^ "North Korea 'suspends' missile and nuclear tests". www.msn.com. Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  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. ^ "Kim Jong-un elevates wife to position of North Korea's first lady". The Guardian. Seoul. Agence France-Presse. 2018-04-19. Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  17. ^ "Ri Sol Ju Attends Chinese Ballet Performance | North Korea Leadership Watch". www.nkleadershipwatch.org. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  18. ^ "Kim gives North Korea's most famous newscaster a luxury home". AP NEWS. 14 April 2022. Retrieved 14 April 2022.
  19. ^ "North Korea's 'national treasure' TV anchor 'wept all night' after Kim Jong-un gave her luxury home". ITV. 14 April 2022.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ Perper, Rosie. "North Korean state media's most famous announcer is a 74-year-old grandmother who Trump said should be on US cable news". Business Insider. Retrieved 2022-04-14.

Further readingEdit