When the North Korean government announced that it had tested a hydrogen bomb capable of fitting on an intercontinental ballistic missile on Sunday, there was a familiar face on state television delivering the message to millions of North Koreans.
Ri Chun-Hee is famous for being the most recognized news anchor in the isolated nation and is known across the globe for her dramatic on-air style. She read a statement from North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Institute on air, saying the test “marked a very significant occasion in attaining the final goal of completing the state nuclear force,” according to a copy of the statement obtained by CNBC.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Ri Came From Very Humble Beginnings
Ri was born into a poor family in 1943 in Tongchon county in Gangwon province, according to Wikipedia. She studied performance art at Pyongyang University of Theatre and Film and was recruited by KCTV.
She began appearing on air in 1971 and was a staple of North Korean news broadcasts for decades.
According to a 2008 story in North Korea’s Chosun Monthly magazine, the late Kim Il-sung personally helped develop her career and create her forceful on-screen delivery.
“When Ri announced reports and statements, enemies would tremble in fear,” the magazine wrote, according to Reuters.
2. She Made the Official Announcements of the Deaths of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il
Ri went on air to announce the deaths of North Korean leaders Kim Il-sung in 1994 and Kim Jong-il in 2011. She departed from her usual forceful persona and instead was emotional, crying and holding back tears during the broadcast, Sky News reported.
3. She Officially Retired in 2012
Ri, now 74, announced her retirement from KCTV in 2012. She returned to television in January 2016 to announce North Korea’s test of a hydrogen bomb, according to The New York Times.
She has appeared on television periodically to make major announcements.
4. Ri is known for wearing her trademark pink dress
Ri often appears on television wearing a bright pink dress, or hanbok.
Hanbok means “Korean clothing,” but according to Wikipedia, it “usually refers specifically to clothing of the Joseon period and is worn as semi-formal or formal wear during traditional festivals and celebrations.”
5. Ri’s career has been the subject of parody
Ri has inspired many parody accounts across the region, including this YouTube video depicting her playing MineCraft with Kim Jung-Un:
In 2011, a Taiwanese reporter was pulled from the air for mocking Ri, according to the Korean Herald.
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