In North Korea, Ri Chun Hee, the country’s most famous news anchor, has been serving up a forecast of bombs, missiles and destruction for four decades and it was her familiar face that went over the air once again to cheerfully announce North Korea’s latest successful nuclear test.
Though Ri retired from the screen in 2012, she’s still the North Korean government’s go-to spokeswoman. She reemerged Sunday to inform North Koreans that a sixth nuclear detonation had gone smoothly, The Washington Post reported.
“The test of a hydrogen bomb designed to be mounted on our intercontinental ballistic missile was a perfect success,” Ri said, clad in her typical pink robes. “It was a very meaningful step in completing the national nuclear weapons program.”
Here’s a clip of Ri making a similar announcement last year.
Around the world, the 74-year-old has become known as North Korea’s pink lady — recognized for her dramatic and cheerful description of the country’s military successes.
Sunday’s announcement came about with the pomp and circumstance that has become characteristic for Ri — seated in front of a bucolic painting of a lake, adorned in formal pink robes and with uttering her message with her signature theatrical flair.
Ri is a figure so iconic in North Korean media she has been likened to Barbara Walters. She has endured three generations of North Korean leaders and tearfully broke the news of the deaths of Kim Il Sung in 1994 and his son Kim Jong Il in 2011 — she ditched the pink robes for those announcements in favor of black mourning robes.
Not much is known about Ri’s background other than that she was reportedly born into a poor family in what is now the southeastern part of the country. She later attended theater school in Pyongyang, joining state television as it was beginning to take shape in 1971 and launching a career that would span decades.
A North Korean state-run magazine paid homage to Ri in a 2009 article saying, “As these days passed, her voice grew to have an appeal so that whenever she would speak on the news, viewers were touched,” according to the Reuters translation. “When Ri announced reports and statements, enemies would tremble in fear.”