Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
Ri Chun Hui is the main news anchor for Korean Central Television (KCTV), a radio broadcaster on Korean Central Broadcasting Station and voiceover actor in DPRK documentary propaganda films. Ri is one of the country’s most famous faces and voices, having announced the death of DPRK President Kim Il Sung and the country’s 2006 nuclear test, among other events. Ri also serves as a presenter (host) on KCTV television specials aired on or around national holidays.
Ri Chun Hui was born in 1943. Ri received a performing arts education. She began her career as an actress in radio and at Korean Film Studios. She started working at KCTV in 1971, eight years after the TV network was established. She appeared in KCTV’s first color broadcast in 1974.
Ri became a constant presence on KCTV in the 1980s. She has read numerous reports about the country’s leadership, national events and official government statements and commentaries. Ri Chun Hui has also narrated Pyongyang rallies and parades, as well as documentary films about the lives and activities of KIS and KJI.
Ri’s career is rather remarkable for the DPRK media business in that she has never been purged or demoted. KCTV, KCBS, the DPRK’s publishing and film entities and the government and party organizations that control them (i.e. Central Broadcasting Committee, CC KWP Propaganda and Agitation Department) are routinely subjected to generational and political personnel attrition. Ri has seen many of her colleagues and supervisors dismissed, demoted or sent for re-education.
Ri Chun Hui and members of her family have been tied to KJI and other center elites for almost four decades.
According to a 2009 Reuters story (based from an official Choson Sinbo profile of Ri):
“She has a very aggressive voice, one that North Koreans would say ‘fills up the screen’,” said Kim Yong, who defected from the North and became a TV personality in South Korea.
“Listening to South Korean newscasters when I first arrived sounded like hearing mom and dad talk in their room. The newscasters sometimes stumbled on words, while the ones in North Korea are never allowed to, or they’ll get fired,” Kim said.
Herskovitz, Jon and Christine Kim, “The voice that launched a thousand North Korean tirades,” Reuters, November, 18, 2009 <http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5AH0IF20091118?pageNumber=1>