Sunday, November 22, 2009

The high priestess of North Korean propaganda

The one certainty in unpredictable North Korea is that if the state detonates a nuclear device or leader Kim Jong-il visits a duck farm, Ri Chun-hee will be on TV boasting about the amazing accomplishment.

Ri is the forceful grandmother speaking with the authority of the state as the main newscaster for North Korea's only TV channel. Ri, born in 1943, is an actress turned newscaster who first took to the air in 1971 when the North's state TV channel was taking off.

Kim Il-sung, who nurtured her "with warm love and faith", Kim pushed her to be a broadcaster.

Usually dressed in traditional Korean clothes, Ri is supposed to fill the role of the most trusted name in news in the North Korean state with expertise in propaganda and developing cults of personality for its leaders.

"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.

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Ri Chun-hee

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