Ri Chun Hee: “The Nuclear Broadcaster” who Terrified the West

She appears in her traditional pink robe, giving the impression that the television screen is blooming, but suddenly the device trembles under the weight of a voice hinting that a third world war is about to erupt.

She is the most famous news anchor in North Korea, Ri Chun Hee, or the woman whose professional image has become so intertwined with her country’s history that she is now ingrained in the collective memory – local or international – as the one who made announcements that shook the world and repeatedly placed it on the brink of a nuclear war.

Now 81 years old, she lives in a luxurious residence gifted to her by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a modern residential area located on the banks of the Pothong River in Pyongyang.

Despite retiring 12 years ago and her absence from news screens, the broadcaster remains present in minds and history, reappearing with each new announcement of missile and bomb tests. She is the woman who has been bestowed with the strangest nicknames like “the hydrogenic broadcaster,” “the ballistic broadcaster,” and also “the nuclear broadcaster.”

Here is an overview of the broadcaster whose every appearance signified heightened tension throughout Southeast Asia and the world, increasing the chances of a war never before seen.

From a Different Perspective

Contrary to the nicknames given by the West and its media to Ri Chun Hee, North Korea’s official media considers her “a revolutionary broadcaster for the party for over 50 years since her youth.”

Her last official appearance dates back to April last year when Kim gifted her a luxurious house in the capital and personally came to hand it over, at which point the official agency published photos of her with the leader.

On that day, Kim expressed his hope that “she continues her work vigorously as she always has, in good health, worthy of the party’s spokesperson.”

As for foreign media not hostile to Pyongyang, they call her “the lady in pink” because of her penchant for wearing traditional Korean dresses (hanbok) in pink, a color that in no way reflects the content of her announcements since her first appearance on North Korean television in 1971.

In 2018, the broadcaster appeared on television to announce North Korea’s decision to freeze missile tests, just before the first expected summit between Kim and former US President Donald Trump.

It was the first “calm” appearance in decades, only making announcements about ballistic tests and nuclear programs, which terrified the world.

Explosive Nicknames

Despite the many explosive nicknames she has received, especially from the Western press, her closest-to-heart nickname remains “the grandma broadcaster,” and also “the people’s broadcaster,” a local title that filled her with pride, as previously reported by the official news agency.

Locally, the broadcaster took on one of the toughest tasks, announcing the most detailed news, a mission she carried on her shoulders for decades, being the first to appear on her country’s television when it switched to color broadcasting in 1974.

Since her appearance, the broadcaster has been tasked with announcing executions, the most famous being those ordered by former North Korean founding leaders Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il.

In a strange coincidence, the broadcaster herself appeared to announce the deaths of the two leaders successively in 1994 and then in 2011.

Being the broadcaster specialized in announcing ballistic missiles and hydrogenic and nuclear bombs, every time she appeared, the West trembled in fear that Pyongyang was about to declare a Third World War or the end of the world.

In a report published years ago about her, the British newspaper “Daily Telegraph” said: “Every time Chun Hee receives a statement, you feel like Pyongyang is about to declare an actual world war.”

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