N.Korea's Cherished Newswoman

A report published in a North Korean magazine on Tuesday reveals the unusual treatment accorded to one of that nation's most beloved newswomen. The story in the monthly magazine Naenara describes the life of Ri Chun-hi, an anchorwoman at the state-run Korean Central Broadcasting Station.

"She lives with her husband, two sons, a daughter-in-law and a granddaughter in a house in a beautiful place in Pyongyang, the capital," the magazine said. "The modern dwelling house and car were given to her as gifts by the state."

The 65-year-old Ri is also quite familiar to South Koreans as she is in charge of announcing official North Korean statements directed at foreign nations. Ri was the presenter in the beige suit who on Oct. 9, 2006, read the announcement that North Korea had conducted a nuclear test. Ri is also in charge of anchoring reports about North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, typically beginning with the phrase, "Our Korean People's Army supreme commander Kim Jong-il."

Anchorwoman Ri Chun-hi of North Koreas Korean Central Broadcasting Station announces that the communist country has conducted a nuclear test on Oct. 9, 2006. Anchorwoman Ri Chun-hi of North Korea's Korean Central Broadcasting Station announces that the communist country has conducted a nuclear test on Oct. 9, 2006.

Born in Tongcheon, Gangwon Province in 1943, Ri has worked with microphone in hand for 37 years since graduating from the Pyongyang University of Dramatic and Cinematic Arts in February, 1971. "She grasps the hearts of viewers with her strong and appealing voice," the magazine gushed. "She strikes the enemies so severely that they have become dumbfounded when she announces statements and talks."

North Korea's female news announcers enjoy the privilege of getting their hair styled at the country's best beauty salon, Changgwangwon in Pyongyang. Their hairstyles and clothes lead the country's fashions. They are also allowed opportunities to try on clothes made by the national clothing institute before anybody else.

The communist county usually selects its announcers from graduates of the Pyongyang University of Dramatic and Cinematic Arts or the language and literature departments of Kim Il Sung University. Winners of national speech contests are also chosen.

The announcers change their intonation and speaking voice according to the contents of the news they are presenting. When delivering news about South Korea or the U.S. they speak in a sharp tone, but they instantly switch to a solemn voice when reading news related to Kim Jong-il.

englishnews@chosun.com / Apr. 16, 2008 07:16 KST